Flashback Friday – Vintage Boba Fetts
Our love of Star Wars hobbies are made up of both eagerness for new collectibles and nostalgia for the old. Today, Flashback Friday, we’ll look back at the old, as we investigate not one, not two, but three vintage Kenner Boba Fett figures – the 3.75″ mini-action figure, 12″ large-size Boba Fett action figure, and the tiny die-cast figure that came with the Star Wars Micro Collection Bespin World playset.
Little Fett – Boba Fett Mini-Action Figure
If you were a kid in the ’70s who collected Star Wars figures, there is a good chance you still have a 1979 edition 3.75″ Boba Fett figure in your collection. Out of all the vintage figures, he was (and still is) one of the fan favourites that Kenner offered at the time. In an era when we knew very little about this mysterious bounty hunter, the tantalising teasers in Kenner advertising and on the packaging of other figures were a stroke of marketing genius to pump the popularity of a character who played a central role in The Empire Strikes Back, despite his minimal screen time.
Compared to today’s figure tooling, the vintage rendition is a simple interpretation, but all the detail is there, suggesting the sculpt was based on a good selection of reference photos (unlike the cantina creatures of the first 20 figures). He has only 5 points of articulation, and the minimal, neutral pose of most of his mini-action figure peers, but these attributes characterise the vintage style and in no way detract from his class and charisma. The molding of his torso required some compromise of his jetpack design – and we all wish we had one of the few rocket-firing prototypes that were never released as an actual consumer product, but which are floating around out there in the collections of a few lucky fans (as seen below, where a line-up of examples were on display at Star Wars Celebration III). Head on over to ToysRGus.com for more images and stories related to the rocket-firing versions.
Boba was, of course, the first new Empire Strikes Back character to be released as a mini-action figure. Or, more correctly, some might say, he was a Star Wars Holiday Special character at that time, as that was where we first saw him (in animated form), some time before the theatrical release of Episode 5. The original Star Wars-logo card/packaging introduced Boba Fett with an explanatory resume overlying airbrushed flamethrower effects: “A fearsome interplanetary bounty hunter; a threat to the Rebel Alliance, especially Han Solo; a new character in ‘Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back‘”. He went on to appear on an ESB card, and 2 different Return of the Jedi cards – one with the original photo image, and a second utilising a scene from the skirmish at the Pit of Carkoon.
Big Fett – Large-Size Boba Fett Action Figure
Comparatively speaking, the 12″ vintage version of Boba is harder to find, particularly with all his original accessories intact. He’s the Star Wars version of the Six Million Dollar Man and GI Joe wrapped into one super-posable figure. A dozen points of articulation, including multi-axis joints at his shoulders and elbows, removable belt, bionic eye, flip-down rangefinder, blaster with shoulder sling, jet pack with rocket, directional jet nozzles, removable cape, grappling hook, …and even individual Wookie fur braids. That’s a lot of action packed into a 1979 figure. No wonder bits and pieces invariably get lost over time.
Boba Fett and fellow bounty hunter IG-88 were the only Empire Strikes Back characters to be immortalised in this 12″ format. Boba was available in both Star Wars and ESB packaging (IG-88 came in ESB packaging only)… and then, in 1980, the line was abruptly discontinued. I guess, looking on the positive side, we can be thankful that all the best heroes and villains were covered under the Star Wars banner of this line (I wish there’d been a tusken raider too, though), and what we did get under the Empire Strikes Back banner were a pair of new and interesting characters.
Each of these two Kenner Fett action figures was a classic in its own right, for very different reasons. The “large-size” is a holy grail of vintage 12″ collecting, while his mini companion is a must-have for anyone with even a vague sense of nostalgia. For best effect, you have to let your mind wander back to that time when we’d only seen a few minutes of Fett on the big screen, and he truly was a mysterious “fearsome interplanetary bounty hunter”.
Tiny Fett – Die-Cast Micro Collection Boba Fett
In the slightly less “action-capable” category, we also have the one-piece die-cast metal Boba Fett figure, that came with the Kenner Micro Collection Bespin World playset. This Boba had zero points of articulation, being forever locked in a single pose. That didn’t mean he lacked play-ability though… the short-lived Micro Collection line, which was produced during a brief window in 1982, was highly modular and reconfigurable, with lots of movable play features like action levers, elevators, and opening doors.
The Boba Fett figure from this line stands about 1.25″ tall, and is sculpted holding an interpretation of his blaster rifle. He came packed in either the Bespin Freeze Chamber playset, or the larger Bespin World playset, which included the Freeze Chamber as well as the also-sold-separately Bespin Gantry and Bespin Control Room playsets. The Bespin Freeze Chamber came with 8 different die-cast figures (Boba Fett, Darth Vader, 2x different stormtroopers, Han Solo, Han in Carbonite, Lando Calrissian, and Lobot), while the Gantry and Control Room each came with 4 figures (2x different Luke Skywalkers and 2x different Darth Vaders each). The Bespin World playset, therefore, came packed with 16 figures in total.
The Micro Collection figures were small, but surprisingly well detailed. Boba Fett comes with each of his costume pieces appropriately painted, to nearly the same level as the 3.75″ mini-action figure. The paint on these metal collectibles is vulnerable to chipping over the years, but for Fett, this just makes his armour appear more battle-damaged.
The Kenner Star Wars Micro Collection line was a fun concept, but due to poor sales it was prematurely discontinued, with a number of playsets part way through design or production. Although it never got a chance to reach its full potential, many sets were sold in New Zealand, with the Bespin-themed items in particular being quite well distributed. They are fondly remembered, and although often battered, chipped, and a little yellowed, many still exists in the collections of kiwi fans.
Celebrate the vintage Boba Fett figures with apparel from the Toys On A Shirt store.