Confessions of a ‘Star Wars’ Collector: The Ones That Got Away & Yes! New Acquisitions

I saw this listed on eBay for $86.00 (including shipping). Nope. No sale. Photo Credit: vintagestarwarsnc (eBay seller)

Greetings, Dear Reader. It is late morning on Friday, April 16, 2021 here in New Hometown, Florida, and it is another gray, cloudy spring day. Currently, the temperature is 74˚F (23˚C) under cloudy skies. With humidity at 92% and the wind blowing from the south-southwest at 6 MPH (10 KM/H), the feels-like factor is 73˚F (22˚C). Today we can expect light rain throughout the daytime hours and the high will be 80˚C (27˚C). Tonight, the forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and a low of 71˚F (22˚C).

If you are a regular reader of A Certain Point of View, Too – or its banned-on-Facebook older sibling on Blogger, A Certain Point of View – you probably know that I’ve been a Star Wars fan since October of 1977 and an avid (but not completist) collector of Star Wars figures since March of 1978. Most of my collection – or what survived several hurricanes and a cross-Florida move from Miami to, ahem, here – consists of Kenner/Hasbro 3.75-inch action figures from various collections spanning the years between 1978 and 2010, although as of late I’ve been acquiring the larger six-inch scale from Hasbro’s Star Wars The Black Series.

Decisions, Decisions

When I started my collection back in 1978[1], I made several  decisions regarding what I’d buy or ask for as birthday/Christmas presents. The first one was, “I will only get the small action figures, the vehicles, and the “playsets” that represent important locations in the movies.” That meant skipping on the larger 12-inch action figures and any “non-canon” item sold by Kenner or any Star Wars licensee. My bedroom in our then-new townhouse was not as tiny as the room I live in now, but it also had to accommodate a writing desk and bookshelves for, you know, books.

So even if I saw a Star Wars item that I liked at a store like Lionel Play World or FAO Schwartz, I often had to think it over before buying it. If it were an action figure or vehicle based on someone or something from the films – such as Greedo or Darth Vader’s TIE Fighter – I either bought it right there and then or it would go on my “will get on the next visit to the store” list.

However, if it was something Kenner had invented – such as the Imperial Troop Transport[2] from 1979 – my philosophy was “If someone gives me one as a gift, cool. But I’m not going out of my way to buy it.”  I was constrained – as I am now – by financial and space limitations, so I often abstained from buying non-canon items that Kenner invented in order to sell more Star Wars toys.

The other decision that I made as a 15-year-old was the other side of the coin, if you will. Since I was not going to be an “absolute completist” – no children’s books like the Star Wars Storybook would be added to my library, for instance – I would go for being a Kenner mini-action figure completist, instead.

I almost – but not quite – accomplished this goal. By the time Kenner ceased making new Star Wars figures before being gobbled up in a series of toy company mergers in the late 1980s and ended up as a subsidiary of its former arch-rival Hasbro, I owned 100 of the 115 3.75-inch Kenner Star Wars action figures, or 86.96% of the total production run.[3]

Although most of the figures I did not buy back then were from Kenner’s last waves – the Power of the Force, Droids, and Ewoks lines, specifically, some of them were from the Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi waves.

The Ones That Got Away: Notable Figures I Never Bought

By the time Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi premiered on Wednesday, May 25, 1983, I was already having trouble keeping my vow to acquire every Kenner 3.75-inch figure. I was a senior in high school in 1982 when many of the figures in Kenner’s The Empire Strikes Back were in stores, and for various reasons I didn’t buy some of them.

The most notable figures I didn’t get were:

  • (Twin Pod) Cloud City Car Pilot
  • 4-LOM (Bounty Hunter) – a mail-away offer figure
  • See-Threepio (C-3PO) (Removable Limbs)

I didn’t own Kenner’s Twin Pod Cloud City Car; I was busy with my high school studies and, in any case, I never saw it on shelves on the rare occasions that I looked for it at Toys-R-Us at the Miami International Mall. I also never sent the five Proof of Purchase seals to a P.O. Box in  Maple Plain, Minnesota for a free 4-LOM.

I don’t remember, exactly, why I never bothered with the C-3PO with Removable Limbs. It might have been because the persnickety protocol droid’s action figure was made from vac-metal material and, after a while, its four limbs were hard to pose because as time passed, the joints wore out and, even though they remained attached to the figure’s torso, they were loose and didn’t have the rigidity they had when brand-new.

I probably thought at the time that if the standard Threepio figure had problems remaining upright, even on a display stand with a peg that supported it, C-3PO with Removable Limbs would be a nightmare to own. Plus I wasn’t crazy about the backpack – which was designed to be strapped to the Chewbacca action figure – because it didn’t look like the net-like device from The Empire Strikes Back.

So, yes. This figure got away from me. Not because I had to contend with other collectors or those lower-than-pond scum individuals known as “scalpers” to get a C-3PO with Removable Limbs, but because I didn’t want to deal with lost Threepio parts or trying to attach the backpack with the blown-apart protocol droid onto Chewbacca.

 Oh, Good. New Acquisitions

When I began collecting Star Wars The Black Series after The Caregiver gave me the 40th Anniversary Darth Vader with Legacy Display Stand as a Christmas present almost half-a-decade ago, I realized that, once again, lack of display/storage space and financial constraints would put a kibosh on my becoming a completist collector.

This would have been true even if our original plan of repairing/renovating my townhouse back in Miami had come to fruition, but it’s painfully obvious here in New Hometown, Florida. I only have one small room in which to sleep, write, game, and watch TV in, as well as to house some of my books – hardcovers, mostly – and my clothes, shoes, and other personal items.

Thus, as much as I love Star Wars The Black Series’ 6-inch action figures and my inner kid would love to own them all, I have to be particularly choosy whenever I get what the evil EV-9D droid from Return of the Jedi would call “new acquisitions.”

I thought that after getting my Star Wars The Black Series – Han Solo (Endor) figure a couple of weeks ago, that would be it for my figure purchases in Spring 2021.

Photo Credit: Hasbro via Amazon. (C) 2021 Hasbro and Lucasfilm Ltd.

But when I saw this deluxe two-figure set, Star Wars The Black Series Chewbacca & C-3PO Toys 6″ Scale The Empire Strikes Back Collectible Figures, for sale as an Amazon exclusive, I could not resist.

As I said before, I chose to not buy C-3PO with Removable Limbs for reasons that even now are valid when that figure was introduced 39 years ago. It bothered me a little bit when I made that choice because it meant that I wasn’t going to “collect them all!”  But I never bothered to look for it in comic bookstores back in Miami in the late 1990s when I restarted my collecting habits, nor did I want to buy one on eBay for ridiculously inflated prices.

However, since Hasbro’s Star Wars The Black Series figures look more authentic and come in displayable packaging, I decided to get this one, even though at $69.99, Star Wars The Black Series Chewbacca & C-3PO is quite a splurge, even for me.

As of this writing, the package with Chewbacca & C-3PO is marked as “Out for Delivery” so I don’t have it in my hands right now. But I bet by the time some of you read this, it will be in my possession and on a shelf. Now, excuse me while I look for a spot to place it on!

[1] My first figures (Artoo Detoo and See Threepio) and vehicle (Landspeeder) were given to me by my former neighbors in my Westchester/Coral Park neighborhood, the Blanchards, for my 15th birthday. My maternal grandmother, “Tata”, gave me a X-Wing fighter when she flew in for a visit from Bogota a few months later. The first figure I ever bought was the original Luke Skywalker (with extendable lightsaber), but I don’t remember if I got it before or after I got my X-wing. Probably before, but don’t hold me to it!

[2] I owned an Imperial Troop Transport briefly. My paternal first cousin, Ana Maria Diaz-Granados and her husband Juan went to visit us in Miami and, upon seeing my Star Wars collection, went to a toy store and bought me one. I thought it was cool because it was the first Kenner toy to add authentic sound effects from the original Star Wars movie – it played lines from C-3PO, R2-D2 and a Stormtrooper as well as some sound effects including a blaster being fired. These were stored on a 3″ wide vinyl record housed within the vehicle. By pressing one of the buttons on the top, the arm of the record player would move on to the next preset position and play the sound clip. I didn’t keep it for long; its non-appearance in any subsequent film always bugged me, so I sold it to make room for a more canonical item – the Dagobah Action Playset – in my shelves. Ironically, the 2014-2017 Disney XD animated series reintroduced the Imperial Troop Transport (with some alterations to the design of the vehicle) and made it canonical. I couldn’t, of course, jump back in time to 1981 to buy back my original ITT, so when Hasbro came out with one for its Star Wars: The Vintage Collection last year, I purchased it as a pre-order on Amazon.

[3] Because most of my Kenner stuff is in boxes, I don’t know how many I own in 2021. Certainly not the 100 figures I had when I started college in 1985; I know that my FX-7 Medical Droid and another figure were stolen in the late 1980s, and I’m pretty sure I had a few Imperial figures stashed in my now-vanished Imperial Shuttle vehicle, which vanished – gone with the wind, you might say – when Hurricane Wilma tore one third of our roof off in November of 2005. Last time I saw that beautiful replica of a Lambda-class shuttle, it was in a moving box being carried up to the attic; I needed to make my bedroom a bit more college-student like and decided to put away most of my collectibles in what my mom and I thought was a safe spot.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

3 thoughts on “Confessions of a ‘Star Wars’ Collector: The Ones That Got Away & Yes! New Acquisitions

  1. I’m sure I’ve told you before that my Mom threw out all of my original Star Wars figures that I had. I used to play with them in the backyard on the “mud planet” so I don’t know that they would be worth anything.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I remember you mentioned that sad anecdote on another one of my Star Wars figure-related posts! How utterly heart-rending, Patti.

      Ya know, when I started collecting these plastic thingies, I didn’t think about the whole “collector’s market” or “Man, these are gonna be worth big money someday” side of the coin. I did hear it from friends from time to time, but I was young, somewhat less mature for my age, and just thought about my figures as a way to remember the movie (and then later, movies) and have a harmless, fun hobby.

      I wish now that I had not sold my ITT and that I hadn’t had so many mishaps with my Kenner stuff. We never had the kind of money for the type of shelving I have now in my study, so no matter how careful I was with my Kenner stuff, my room was a death trap for figures and vehicles which had label-heavy deco. For a long time, most of my collection was intact. The first thing that got dinged badly was the Death Star Action Playset; it had so many fragile pieces that could (and did) break if you had a mishap while cleaning or dusting them. My room also faced due west and had huge sliding glass doors that led to the balcony. That’s when I discovered how badly direct sunlight treats stickers and even plastic surfaces.

      And my mother could only afford flimsy bookshelves made out of plywood that, over the years, became flimsier and eventually collapsed. That’s how my Landspeeder, which was my oldest intact Kenner-era vehicle, lost its windshield. (The rest of the vehicle was not scratched, but, ya know, Kenner no longer sent you spare parts or labels in 1997 like they did “back in the day,” so I was Sierra Oscar Lima on that.)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yep, I had the landspeeder too. I’m sure that had dirt and mud in places it shouldn’t. I’m getting rid of a lot of my collectibles this year. I’m having a huge yard sale and getting rid of stuff I don’t look at, no matter how sentimental it may be.

        Liked by 2 people

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