Star Wars

Star Wars Comic Ad

This Classic Comic Ad from the 1970’s has it all. Not only is it advertising one of the most popular toy properties of all time, but it’s doing it in a fashion that let’s you know how different the era was. Star Wars was not yet fully ingrained into our society that everyone knew everything about it. Like the fact that the artwork here has Darth Vader looking more like the Knight of Darkness than himself.

All of the characters look a bit off, but the artwork is still pretty amazing. It’s as if Star Wars went through a vintage sci-fi filter. All of the art here was done by the Joe Kubert school of cartoon art. The art almost looks like it was done by someone who had never seen Star Wars and wasn’t really familiar with the characters. It’s really great stuff.

And then there’s the prices, which are ridiculously cheap at $3.29 per figure. Even the concept of mail ordering an action figure from a comic book store seems absurd. Perhaps the craziest, is the idea of sending your credit card number THROUGH THE MAIL to some random store. Identity theft clearly wasn’t a concern back then. There’s even a little blurb for resident New Yorkers to stop on by their mall location. Last but not least, how can you not love the advertisement when it mentions Hans Solo. I presume that’s the Danish version of Han Solo?!

This ad is just a neat time capsule of the very early days of Star Wars. The mania had begun and the property was already proving to be a cash cow, but things were quite a bit different. Great art, cool retro concepts and vintage low prices make for a great comic ad.


It’s been a while, but we once again head into the dank and mysterious underworld filled with little plastic men and spring launching projectiles. It’s time for another… TALES FROM THE TOY AISLE!


My local Toys R Us is still filled to the brim with leftover Kung-Zhu, so let’s skip on over to Target instead, shall we?


First up is the new Stealth Strike Batman from the Batman Brave & The Bold line. I’d love to tell you my thoughts on this figure and the several other new guys in the line, but I’m not part of the kids whom it is aimed at, so I won’t!


Instead let’s talk Squinkies! Man these things are everywhere! This is the Marvel Squinkies set, but they make all sorts of them.


I bet Stan Lee made up all of these characters!


Kids seem to love them and who can blame them? Just look at this adorable little Ben Grimm. Keep reading for more wacky toys, including ones with glowing hearts!

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Playskool Heroes: Star Wars Jedi Force

Darth Vader and Stormtrooper

Kids-inch scale

By: Hasbro Playskool

$4.99 to $5.99 Retail



Today was a heck of a haul. I found a Tron 3-Man Lightjet on clearance for $7.50 (retail 29.99), I found Green Lantern Classics series 2 on clearance for 9 dollars apiece. Bought the whole set. Found the Halo wave 4 Brute figure. Snatched it up. Heck, I even found the new exclusive Samurai series Imaginext toys I’ve been waiting for weeks for at Target. Get.

But no matter what toys I found and for what deals, there was only one toy I couldn’t wait to open when I got home.



Packaging:

So let’s be real about this. This is clearly Playskool’s (read: Hasbro’s) response to the immensely successful Fisher Price’s (read: Mattel) Imaginext line of toys. I’m not knocking it at all. In fact, I love the idea! Now I can have cheap, cutesy versions of Marvel and Star Wars heroes to go along with my DC or Toy Story ones. It’s a whole new Minimates! SAVE ME FROM MYSELF!!!



Err…anyway, one of the first things you’ll notice before cranking them open is their box style. Hasbro has apparently completely ditched their previous Heroes lines in favor of these figures, and the new packaging is much more akin to the Imaginext boxes than previous Hasbro efforts. The box features no outer bubble, so the characters arms and heads can be moved while still in package. This is just about as close as you can get to Imaginext without slapping a Mattel logo on the box.



Just a fun little thing to note. Hasbro went with their new paper ties to hold the figures in place. Notice anything interesting about them? That’s right, they’re color-coordinated! Super! The Stormtrooper has his standard white paper tie and the Lord Helmet knockoff has a black one. I have no idea why they decided to do it that way as it likely had to cost money somewhere in there, but they did. I don’t really have any emotion toward it other than to say that it’s nifty. Don’t know why they did it, but it’s nifty.

Aesthetics:

Because these guys are so little I’m going to condense a lot of what I have to say about them.



They look great! I love love love the shortened designs of them. With the big hands and heads but trimmer bodies, they’ve maintained all the charm of the Galactic Heroes designs while giving them articulation identical to Imaginext. And Darth here even has soft goods for both his cape and his skirt. That way he can still interact with vehicles. Sweet!



You can see that Hasbro didn’t skimp on the details. These are great adaptations of the characters and I admire how much sculpting went into them considering the molds can’t be re-used much.

Well, I mean other than Spirit Vader, Commlink Vader, Force Fire Vader, Hot Rod Vader, Stealth Trooper, Shadow Trooper, 501 Trooper, and of course the Evolutions boxed sets. Still, thanks for the details, Hasbro!

Paint is not perfect, but is good for the scale. They have a lot of painted details like Vader’s Try-Me buttons on his chest and the bits and bobs on the Trooper’s helmet. Note that none of the weapons are removable.

Articulation:

You’re lookin’ at it.



That’s about the extent of it, honestly. Swivel necks, swivel-hinged shoulders, swivel wrists, and swivel (connected) hips. I had really hoped when I saw them in package that Hasbro would one-up Mattel so that the companies would have to compete to make the best toys, but it looks like both are going to rely on their licenses to sell the toys.

The articulation works to move their arms around a bit and fit them into vehicles, but I would have liked at least a ball neck. Oh well.

Value:

What can I say? At 6 bucks, these guys are a pretty great deal. I wanna say that the old Galactic Heroes and their equivalents were 7 or 8 bucks. These are taller and better articulated, but with that same great style.



They work great with Imaginext figures, which is going to go a long way toward making them accessible to parents. And for collectors, you’ll be happy to know that they do seem to feature some semblance of scale.



For instance, Vader is just barely shorter than the Imaginext Space Cop Guy, while the Stormtrooper only comes up to about his glasses. I would guess Chewbacca is even bigger than Vader, but I didn’t pick him up yet so I can’t say for sure.



As you can see, they are compatible with your existing Imaginext toys (or at least the ones I have). The guys are definitely affordable, and being that they’ve already gone whole-hog with tiered vehicle sized and multiple properties (Transformers and Marvel Universe are already in) I’d say these guys are a bona fide shoo-in for Hasbro and won’t break your wallet.

The cheapest I have found these is at K-Mart, by the bye. There, they were $4.99 for a two-pack. I bought mine at Target for $5.99.



The only thing really holding these guys back value-wise is the fun factor. With two heroes, you get a lot of fun with the characters alone. But with Imaginext you get a vehicle or gadget or something else that keeps you interacting with the toy past having an affinity for the character. The Transformer toys in this scale seem to be keeping with the Imaginext trend and look to be fun, but these guys will be limited to how they can interact with other playsets.

The only quality issue I ran into was in the legs. Without knowing if the articulation was exactly the same as Imaginext, I attempted to move the legs of both figures individually. They can do that, but not because they’re supposed to. The plastic in the legs is very soft (no doubt to help them fit in various vehicles) and the bar that connects them will absolutely twist inside the body. Be careful to move both legs at the same time and you should be fine. I expect by series 2 or 3 of these Hasbro will be using a much denser plastic there.

Score Recap:

Aesthetics: Adults: 9, Kids: 10

Articulation: Adults: 5, Kids: 7

Value: Adults: 8, Kids: 9

Overall: Adults: 7.3, Kids: 8.7

The figures are very cool. The Trooper is especially awesome and the reason why I went with this pack over Han and Chewie. I mean who doesn’t love a Stormtrooper? Honestly. There are only two points that hold this back from being a perfect set.

1. The aforementioned fun factor: Hasbro had the opportunity to break the mold here with articulation, but they went with the safety of what Mattel has already been doing for years. I’m not saying it’s not going to work out for them; it’s just not anything you haven’t seen before. Couple that with the decision for two-packs instead of the obvious marketability of one character and one action-feature droid per pack and you’ve got yourself a toy that’s waiting for another toy to make it awesome. If you already have plenty of Imaginext stuff, this will likely be less of an issue.

2. The troop builder phenomenon. You include a troop building figure with an established character? Whaaaaaa? Darth should have been packed with the Emperor. Hands down. If this had been a Stormtrooper and Sandtrooper or Scout Trooper or Imperial Officer or Tie Fighter Pilot or ANY kind of non-descript military unit, Hasbro could have put any exponent on the end of their profit and expected it to pay off. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need 5 Darth Vaders, Luke Skywalkers, or Landos on my desk.

Okay, maybe five Landos. But you’re pushing it!



The set is still great and comes recommended, especially is you liked the Galactic Heroes series. They’re cute and fun versions of characters that probably everyone who has ever visited this site loves and with the included playsets you can have one heckuva massive (and FUN) display at your creezy.

Thanks for reading and as always, it’s just a toy. Open the darned thing.


Wes has a new video review (don’t worry he’s not switching to all video) of a Star Wars/Transformers hybrid. Why a video review for this one? To show off the wicked transformation. Check it out!


Space exploration was really big in the 1960’s during the great space race. Science fiction was huge during this time, but by 1969 once man landed on the moon, interest began to wane. Lots of space programs were canceled, toys which had once been hot properties were destroyed and space was no longer of much interest to most people. Fast forward a little less than a decade to 1977 and space science fiction was hot again. Star Trek had become so popular in reruns that Paramount was planning to re-launch the show and make it the flagship of a network and Star Wars was bursting onto the big screen changing the landscape of the genre and much more.


Which led small toy company Ideal, to dust off some of their old 1960’s space toys and rebrand them all under one big generic umbrella. S.T.A.R. Team was just that, using a NASA-like logo and a variety of repuprosed old toys like Zeroids to serve as a catch-all to the popular trends of the day and draw in new fans who liked space and sci-fi again. Their most interesting creation however, was a reworked Captain Action figure, who became the chief villain of the toy line and was named Knight of Darkness!


S.T.A.R. Team had a variety of toys, which were mostly old space exploration roleplay toys reworked to be slightly more sci-fi. However the S.T.A.R. Team action figure line was much more creative in it’s scope. In addition to the Knight of Darkness, there was Zem-21, who was sort of like C-3P0 and the re-released Zeroids who were a bit like R2-D2. There was also a goofy guy named Kent, who showed up at the tail end of the line.


The real star of the line to me is the Knight of Darkness. He is definitely inspired by Darth Vader, but has a more phallic design that likens him a bit closer to Darth Helmet. While his design is definitely different, it’s not hard to imagine many parents being confused by this character and giving them to a youngster thinking this was the Sith lord. Kenner was barely cranking official Star Wars toys out at this point and those early Kenner Vader dolls didn’t exactly look like on screen replicas either.


Over time the Knight of Darkness has gotten a bad reputation by collectors and fans alike as just a poor ripoff of Darth Vader. Personally I think he has a lot of charm. Vader himself is nothing more than a mishmash of previous villain ideas all rolled into one. So why is the Knight of Darkness so bad?


This guy can usually be found loose on Ebay for about $20, but rarely complete. He came with a Captain Action Flash Gordon gun and Captain Action boots. These items have usually been lost or taken from him. No matter, I found an old pair of boots and an even cooler space ray gun for mine. If you’re looking for one MIB, you can expect to pay over $100 and have to search a lot more.


His chest typically has some deterioration as the silver has a tendecy to fall off with age. Beyond that, these guys hold up quite well. Since this is using a black version of the Captain Action body frame, it’s actually much more poseable than any actual Star Wars figure of the era.


According to the official Marvel Comics promotional book that came out featuring this character, the Knight of Darkness is an evil overlord of the Shadow Warriors. They have come from the Black Nebula to take over Earth. Pretty simple stuff, but classic and fun nonetheless.


The S.T.A.R. Team line only lasted a little over a year and despite Ideal’s best efforts, wasn’t enough to make the company a player in the toy business again. Ideal would be sold in 1982 to CBS Toys and eventually to Tyco, who would then be sold to Mattel. Interestingly the rights to the Zeroids along with Captain Action are now owned by a new company which is once again bringing Captain Action to the market… Could the Knight of Darkness follow suit?


Speaking of suits, George Lucas actually tried to file a lawsuit against Ideal over the S.T.A.R. Team and the Knight of Darkness in particular. However the case was almost instantly thrown out because 95% of the toyline was simply repurposed old toys. The Knight of Darkness defeated George Lucas… If that doesn’t make him a badass, what could?! I love the knock-offs with charm and the Knight of Darkness is that, plus much more.