Entries in Kenner (12)
Look at this beautiful photo of my book--with the two Star Wars figures I always wanted as a boy but couldn't have because Kenner didn't make them! The photographer is also the man behind one of my favourite new Star Wars blogs. If you haven't visited the YASWB Tumblr blog yet, go do it. YASWB puts a lot of thought into his photos and posts. I have sung his praises before here. If you're an old-time Star Wars fan, this blog is a real pleasure.
YASWB posted this terrific picture of my book, together with some very kind words for it, on 4 September, but I've only just seen it now. Here's a quote:
The book is written in a very humorous way and contains many smart and beautifully written statements about Star Wars and its impact on our lives. I consider this book a mandatory reading for everyone who grew up with the original Star Wars and its toys in the 70s and 80s and for everyone who wants to understand and learn about the beauty of the Star Wars of yesterday.
You can read the rest here.
Thanks for the kind words and the thoughtful photo!
Yesterday I happened upon the website of former Kenner Toys photographer Kim David McNeill Simmons. It turns out that Kim is the man who shot many, many of the photographs I drooled over as a boy. And now he's selling prints of his work from his website, such as the ones shown above, in sizes from postcard to 16 x 20 and beyond. Follow the link to see what's on offer.
The first thing you'll notice about this article is that the accompanying photo is NOT of vintage Star Wars action figures. Despite that false note at the outset, this is worth a look. From the piece:
Early in production, Kenner decided that the Luke Skywalker figure should have a telescoping lightsaber made of two distinct parts that would extend from the figure’s forearm. This feature was replicated for the Obi-Wan and Darth Vader figures but was quickly phased out due to fragility and difficulty in production. Kayleigh Francis of Aston’s Toy Auctions values this figure at £6000… with a whopping £7000 to £8000 for the Obi-Wan and Darth Vader versions.
Here's some footage from the upcoming Star Wars toys documentary, Plastic Galaxy. It includes interviews with Steven Sansweet, John Booth, several former Kenner employees, and more. This documentary has been repeatedly delayed but is now set to come out in September 2013. I look forward to it.
This video doesn't have the answer, but it does have 10 minutes of questions...
As I explain in A Long Time Ago, the little black promotional booklets Kenner included in its Star Wars vehicles and playsets back in the day (examples here and here) were just about my favourite reading material between the ages of five and eleven. I know I'm not the only one. In honour of these wonderful old pamphlets, I have created a version of my own with photographs of the people and places featured in my book.
If you have read the book already, you may get a kick out of putting some faces to the names. If (more likely) you have not, I hope this little nerdy in-joke will tempt you to shell out the price of a cup of coffee or two (US$4.99 for the e-book, $11.99 for the paperback).
Click on the full screen option for best effect.
Not the most faithful rendition of the various scenes...
I've blogged about more than a few unusual and surprising items since starting this blog nearly a year ago. But this is surely as oddball as it gets. Beggar's Canyon Toys is a web site offering to take your loose Kenner Star Wars action figures and "restore" them for you. This restoration process consists of mounting the figure to an authentic replica of the original cardback, then placing the new, would-be mint-in-box figure into a plastic case suitable for display. In short, Beggar's Canyon Toys puts your action figures back in their packages.
But there's more. Beggar's Canyon Toys will also replace missing weapons and other accessories--including, if needed, replacement vinyl capes. So if you always wished your Jawa figure was of the original (and highly collectable) vinyl cape variety, you can make it so for a mere US$2.50.
The LA Times' Hero Complex blog has a post about Kenner's disastrously mismanaged but brilliantly marketed entry into the action figure market with the so-called "Early Bird Certificate Package":
The hottest Christmas gift for 1977 was the one that wasn’t available — “Star Wars” had opened in May of that year but no one, least of all the toy company called Kenner, was prepared for the film’s galactic success and the massive consumer demand that followed.
Kenner was thrilled to hold the toy-making license for the George Lucas epic that was quickly becoming one of the largest grossing movies of all time but aside from a small amount of merchandise that hit stores at the time of the movie’s release, the toymaker was woefully unprepared to handle the hunger for Jedi products and playthings.
As the year wore on, that meant a yuletide dilemma that presented the danger of a truly historic missed opportunity. The toymaker’s solution: sell a simple cardboard box as a placeholder and a promise of toys to come.
The “Star Wars” Early Bird Certificate Package, as it was called, became the most coveted empty box in the history of retail. The package included a cardboard backdrop which featured a lineup of reproduced painted renderings of a dozen characters, among them C-3PO, Han Solo, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader. This would serve as a diorama where the first twelve action figures could be placed and displayed — after they became available of course, which would still be months away.