Book Review – Star Wars Vintage Action Figures

Kellerman Star Wars Kellerman Star Wars

“Star Wars Vintage Action Figures, a Guide for Collectors” by John Kellerman, is a new encyclopaedia of vintage figures, which can be purchased online from the publisher, Frontback Books. As a 260-paged hardback, it is a weighty tome which easily justifies its US$34.95 cost. Unfortunately that mass impacts on postage costs: shipping it into the country brings the total price to US$65.70 (approximately NZ$107 at today’s exchange rate). Does that diminish its value? Let me describe its contents so you may judge.

The book focuses solely on vintage action figures, and all related paraphernalia. It excludes discussion of vintage vehicles or playsets, except for the ones that came with figures either as standard issue or special offers. In keeping the subject matter tight and well defined, it achieves a comprehensive and detailed summary of the topic. The author has obviously been in the field for some time, and has done his homework. The 10 chapters of the book include: all card and figure differences/variations, all card front-back combinations, mailers, multipacks, miscellaneous figures and related items, preproduction items (one of my favourite chapters, which has the sketches and artwork that lead up to the well-known classic vintage Star Wars card design), shop displays, promotional items, and a brief synopsis of carded figure grading.

This guide goes well beyond the obligatory photos of loose and carded figures (but it was nice to see that the collectibles used for such features were of a very high quality), to the point where even the most experienced collector is bound to come across new facts and material. Detailed tables succinctly convey reference information of the pricing, variation, and combination types. And a lot of work surely went into exhaustively compiling some of the more esoteric historia; not to mention tracking down representative photos and images of items not meant to have lasted the decades they have endured.

To whom would this book most appeal? At the abovementioned price, this probably isn’t a book for the casual collector of new figures who hasn’t ventured into vintage-space. I consider myself an avid collector of vintage figures, having done so since their inception, and like to know the detail and history/backstory of such collectibles. If you fall into a similar category, then Kellerman’s book will fit well into your library.

This authoritative Star Wars guide is the only reference book dedicated to American Kenner vintage action figures that puts it all together. It presents the most comprehensive coverage in the following areas for these enduring collectibles:

  • Carded figures and card variations
  • Special Offers for figures
  • Packaging variations
  • Catalog multipacks
  • Proof card variations
  • Preproduction packaging
  • Kenner store and prototype displays

Featured in this book are production and preproduction collectibles with more than 900 full color photos and descriptions. This book is a “must” for all collectors, dealers and Star Wars enthusiasts.