Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Force is still strong!

Thirty-five years after Star Wars...
Its hard to imagine that George Lucas' Star Wars epic was shot some three decades ago.
Most of the actors who played the heroes and villians in this science fiction classic are either in their golden age or already dead.
But the toys that portrayed their screen character lives forever!

Action figures
Star Wars was a blockbuster Summer hit in 1977. It won seven Oscars in 1978 and was shown the same year in Malaysia. 
I was eight years old when the movie was shown at Cathay cinema in Jalan Bukit Bintang.
My aunt made sure she got the tickets for a first-class cinematic experience. And I recall a small booth selling toys and souvernirs related to the movie and it was truly an awesome thing at the time.
Four-inch action figures were sold at RM7.90 each. At that time, if you carry RM10 in your pocket, its a real big deal!
After the dust had settled, a toy shop in Sungai Wang plaza's second floor continued to retail the toys till it closed down in the mid-90s.

Crude stuff
If you have a Star Wars action figure from the 70s, you can use it to compare with its re-cast, that are miles apart in terms of quality, fit and finish. 
I purchased my Star Wars action figure in late 1979 when the 'Empire Strikes Back' toys were introduced in Singapore.
At the time, I had some pocket money and went shopping at Yaohan Department store in Plaza Singapura.
I paid SGD3.50 for an action figure that I had eagerly anticipated: Bobba Fett. This mysterious character caught my attention when it was previewed as a premium exchange offer in an ad published in 2000AD, a British science-fiction comic. 
When I saw Bobba Fett in a blister pack, I wasted no time and there was a gift redemption offer with the action figures. All I needed to do, is to purchase three figures: Bobba Fett, Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker in Bespin Fatigue to qualify for the redemption. The prize was a display base for 10 action figures.

Decades apart: Luke Skywalker from Episode 5
The Luke Skywalker toy was more cartoon than life-like.
It remained that way for a long time till modern technology with 3D scans and facial sculpture came to improvise the toy's characteristics.

You see the pictures above to compare.


Bobba Fett
I kept my Fett for more than 32 years and I am proud to say that its still in its pristine condition.
Back in the days, toys are meant to be removed from its package and be played.
The action figure cost me SGD$3.90  and it lasted for many-many years.
Now, Bobba Fett was released in small numbers as a mail-in offer in the US. It continued to be produced throughout the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
The earlier incarnation of Fett was basically a dull-looking figurine. Its the only character that stands out from the other in the Star Wars genre.
By today's standards, a mint on card Bobba Fett action figure can fetch about RM6K on the auction block.
Even the banged-up toys can earn a collector an easy USD$400 a piece if its still carded.
Loose toys are much more affordable if you can trace them and sometimes if you are lucky, you will find them in garage sales.

Generation Fett: The stark diffence between a figure produced in 1979 and 2004
 The Bobba Fett figurine in my keeps meant a lot to me.
It survived for 32 years and is now being housed in an arcrylic container. I placed a re-cast figurine side-by-side as a comparison.
Even in this day an age, I still get excited with Bobba Fett's action figure and as technology gets even better, I can look forward to the larger 12" Fett figure from companies like Sideshow toys...

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