Star Wars was a huge part of my childhood,so I thought it would be a fitting tribute to list my 10 favorite vintage Star Wars figures. This list is in no particular order, as I find it difficult to say that I prefer any of these figures over the others. Also, this is simply a list of personal favorites, not necessarily figures that would be considered to be the best of the line. On with the list!
I think this Yoda figure is on the top 10 list of many collectors. Not only is it a good representation of the character from the film, but it also comes with some awesome accessories: a cane, a belt, a robe, and best of all, a snake (animal buddies are always an excellent bonus). When I was a kid, I always thought that the silver thing on his belt was his lightsaber. These days, I suspect it's the lamp that he steals from Luke. You can also see what I think is Yoda's flute on his belt.
Back in the day, Yoda was the hardest to find from the ESB waves. I seem to remember that Lucasfilm tried hard to keep Yoda under wraps, so when it was finally released, that secrecy added to the figure's mystique. This Yoda was so cool that even my grandmother had one and used it as an ornament for her Christmas tree.
Next up is 4-LOM, now known as Zuckuss. As a kid, I didn't know that Kenner accidentally switched his name with the insectoid robot bounty hunter. (Truthfully, I don't think they should have tried to correct the mistake later, as most collectors thought of that character as 4-LOM because of the vintage figure.) I always thought that 4-LOM was the coolest of the bounty hunters. First, he's a super-cool bug man. Second, he has a nifty coat that's squishy yet leathery. I think this material was unique in the vintage Star Wars line to the 4-LOM figure, which added to his idiosyncrasy. But I didn't play with 4-LOM much because I wanted to preserve his awesomeness for all time.
Chewie was my favorite Star Wars character as a kid. I played with Chewie so much that I had to buy multiple figures over the years because each figure's limbs got so loose that it was essentially unplayable. During the ROTJ years when I was consumed with Ewok madness, Chewie became the chief Ewok: he was Ewokesque in features, yet clearly the tallest and mightiest of the tribe. I seem to remember that his blaster broke very easily, so it went into my brother's untouchable "box of awesome accessories" for safe keeping.
Threepio (Removable Limbs)
Shiny things fascinated me as a kid. So, Threepio with his super-cool vac-metallized body was an awesome figure to behold. With ESB came a release of the figure with removable limbs, which I thought was one of the coolest play features ever. I loved to pop off his limbs, and switch his arms and legs, and... well, that's pretty much all you can do with this figure. But I guess I was an easily-entertained kid: as long as it was shiny with limbs that pop off, I was happy. He also came with a net, but I believe the net was made with that crappy vinyl so it didn't last long.
The AT-AT Driver was my favorite of the Stormtroopers. These troopers were largely cut out of ESB when it was formatted for TV (and most of my Star Wars viewing as a kid was via the TV) so my fandom of this figure wasn't through association with the movie. I think I loved it not only because of its cool design, but also because the character was the pilot of the AT-AT, with which I had a serious obsession. I mean, this dude pilots robotic dinosaurs! How much cooler can you possibly get?
As you can tell from my review of 4-LOM above, I loved weird aliens when I was a kid. And Hammerhead is arguably the weirdest. He doesn't really have much semblance to any animal, which made him a really interesting figure to examine. I always wondered where his mouth was; my brother and I decided that most likely his mouth resided in his stomach region. In order to eat, he would lift up his shirt and lo and behold, there would be a weird maw on his tummy. I also thought that he looked kind of like melted chocolate. So my perception of this figure ranged from freakish alien to chocolate monster.
I loved this figure for the same reasons as 4-LOM. It's a weird interpretation of a cool animal, this time of a squid. This figure has really cool cephalopod details in his head and hands. And like 4-LOM, Squidhead also has soft goods that are rockin' cool. The cloth cape in particular was really nifty, making Squidhead one of the few vintage Star Wars figures with a cloth cape. Since the cape was not removable, you couldn't lose it either.
I assigned Squidhead to be the pilot of the B-Wing. He was the only pilot who could navigate the asteroid field (read: my playroom furniture) at full speed... or, so I said.
Wow, this figure has seen better days. But back in the day Sensorscope Artoo was pretty awesome. The sensorscope added some great playability to the figure. I also liked the clicking noise he made when you turn his head. Like I said, I was easily entertained.
This is the only figure I've included on this list that I didn't have as a kid. When I first started collecting action figures post-childhood in the mid-90's, Amanaman was my holy grail. As you can tell from my previous picks, I love weird aliens and Amanaman was the weirdest of the weird in the Star Wars universe. It is also a substantial figure, being one of the tallest and heaviest of the figures available on the cards. I didn't even know this figure existed when I was a kid (after ROTJ, I went on to other toys and never even noticed the POTF85 wave). So, imagine my surprise when, 10 years later, I learn of a Star Wars figure of a freaky, colorful alien with a fantastic sculpt. The only catch was that it was worth the then-astronomical price of $20! Egads, I couldn't pay that much for an action figure, could I?! My, how times have changed.
I'm not ranking these per se, but if I were, Chief Chirpa would probably be at the top of my list. I've already said that as a kid I was a Ewok fanatic. I still remember that on the card backs of the first few waves of ROTJ figures the Ewoks were blotted out, but if you held the card at the right angle, you could just barely make out their general shape. Like Yoda, this added to the mystique of the figure.
Chief Chirpa's removable hood added to his coolness: take off the hood, and you have a generic Ewok. I suppose this figure could be considered my first army builder as I bought multiple figures of Chief Chirpa to construct a village of Ewoks.
But a wooden staff as a weapon simply would not do. So I equipped one of my Chief Chirpas with GI Joe weapons and Star Wars blasters, redesigning the character as a Boris the Bear style hero. Like Boris, Chirpa preferred UZIs.
That's it for my top 10 vintage Star Wars figures! Soon I'll write an article of my top 10 post-vintage Star Wars figures (POTF2 and beyond). Stay tuned!