1978 - 1980: Kenner Star Wars Dolls

I have a huge collection of 12" Star Wars dolls. There are about 40 characters in my collection, though this isn't even a quarter of what has been produced over the past 35 years. There are hundreds of Star Wars dolls to collect from companies such as Kenner, Hasbro, Applause and others! The very first of these were produced by Kenner from 1978 to 1980.

There are 12 characters to collect in the Kenner series including Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2, Ben Kenobi, Darth Vader, Stormtrooper, Jawa, Boba Fett, and IG-88. I'm just missing Boba Fett and the Jawa, but I'll post photos of the rest of them here eventually...

Star Wars, 12 inch dolls by Kenner, 1978 - 1980


The very first, and in my opinion still the best, Star Wars dolls ever to be made were the 12 inch Kenner series originally available from 1978 - 1980. My brother had Darth Vader, Chewbacca and the Stormtrooper, and I had C3PO. The Luke Skywalker doll was the one on my wish list and I finally found one at a flea market in the early 1990s (before e-bay existed). Unfortunately I'm missing his lightsaber. Later in my 20s when I was more serious about collecting, Han Solo became the "Holy Grail" item of my collection. Someday I hope to get the Kenner Indiana Jones doll to go with it. The Luke doll was introduced in 1978 while Han Solo was added to the collection in 1979.


Here is a closer look at the excellent sculpting job for Luke and Han's face. I like the distinct 1970s style that they have while also being awesome likenesses of actors Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford.


While at a nostalgia show in March 2013 I finally found a belt for my Luke doll (seen at the top of the page). It was on another rather well played with Luke doll that was wearing Ben Kenobi's boots. When I compared these boots to the boots on my Luke doll I noticed that the top edge of Luke's boots were cut shorter and rather unevenly, which I thought was rather odd. So I searched online for images of the boots to see if they were made this way or if mine were just hand-cut by the previous owner. Strange as it may seem, I did find other pictures that confirmed Luke's boots were issued this way.

It seems that I was destined to own the Kenner Ben Kenobi doll this year. Two months after finding the brown boots, shown above, I attended Ottawa Comic Con and found the doll...missing his boots! The same vendor had Ben's robe on another 12 inch figure, so I bought it aswell and switched the costumes. Now all that I'm missing is Ben's brown Jedi robe and his lightsaber! The same vendor also had Princess Leia and was kind enough to give me a deal since she is missing a few parts. Her hair is not in the original style, and her belt and shoes are missing. However she does have her socks and the outfit is in fair shape.

Here is a closer look at the faces. Kenner did an especially awesome job on Ben Kenobi. This doll was released in 1979. Princess Leia and Luke were the first two dolls available from this series and were both released in 1978.


Here are Kenner's large size figures of R2-D2 and C-3PO, made in 1978. They are both in rough shape. R2 has discoloured so that he's now yellow instead of white, and I accidentaly broke C-3PO's foot when I was a kid. Both of these toys were well played with!

R2-D2 has a button on his front that opens a door on his back were the "secret plans" were kept. Originally R2 came with two plastic square discs that were found inside the secret compartment.

Here is the IG88 large size figure by Kenner made in 1980 next to Luke for size comparison. I'm missing IG88's weapons and bandolier. Unfortunately this was the last character Kenner made for their 12 inch series. I found this one a few years ago at a local nostalgia show that I've attended since the early 1990s.



Here is the blaster for Kenner's large size Jawa figure. It looks black in this photo but it's actually dark grey. I found this at a second hand store and didn't know that it was a Star Wars weapon, but it has that look to it so I brought it home. Since then I've learned that this is the weapon for the Kenner Jawa figure, which is awesome! What are the odds of that happening??? Now I just need a Jawa to go with it!

Original Kenner 12 inch doll series compaired to the Hasbro 12 inch doll series:

Here is Kenner's Ben Kenobi doll from 1979 (missing his brown robe) next to the Hasbro doll from 1996.

This is a comparison of the original Kenner C-3PO large size figure from 1978 with the Hasbro figure made in 1997.

Here is the original Kenner R2-D2 large size figure from 1978 next to Hasbro's R2-D2 from 1997.


Here's an awesome website showing all of the large size Star Wars figures from the 1970s and their accessories: http://theswca.com/images-toys/12inch/index.html

Chewbacca 22 inch plush toy by Regal Toy Limited, early 1970's
Here is a must have item for any die hard collector of Star Wars toys from the 1970's. This is the rare Chewbacca plush toy that was made by Regal Toy Limited, a Canadian toy company. This doll is 22 inches tall and was sold only in Canada for a brief time, likely in 1977 but no later than 1979. In the United States a 20 inch version was made by Kenner in 1977, which I understand was only available in the US. In any case, the Regal doll is harder to find. Both versions however are hard to find in complete condition as the dolls were originally sold with a rather cheaply made plastic shoulder strap (or bandolier) that contained four hard plastic squares. The shoulder strap was easily lost as were the plastic squares.

Finding these dolls with the original hangtag is also difficult. The hangtag for the US version is a large circle with full colour graphics on it, while the harder to find Canadian version had a much smaller tag printed with white text on a blue background. Regal also made a rare plush toy of a Jawa and a very scarce hand puppet (mouth puppet) of Chewbacca using the same brown furry fabric with the plastic eyes and nose. Kenner produced a plush toy of R2-D2 in 1977 that was available at the same time as these plush toys. This is a link to a site showing the Chewbacca puppet: http://theswca.com/index.php?action=disp_item&item_id=39750

Here is a closer look at the face of the Regal Chewbacca plush toy. This one has a taller forehead than it's American counterpart.

 The only manufacturers tag says "Regal Toy Limited" on the bottom left but does not have any copyright information. The opposite side of the tag is in French.

I thought it would be funny to also show what the Chewbacca doll looks like without his fur neatly combed!

Yoda Puppet, by Kenner, 1981

Here is the original Kenner Yoda puppet next to the 12 inch Luke doll for size comparison. The Hasbro Yoda doll from 1997, which is scaled to the 12 inch dolls, is also shown for size comparison. As Kenner didn't make a large sized Yoda figure back in the early 1980s this Yoda puppet had to do! The puppet originaly had white curly doll hair but it was often cut off, as is the case with this one. I found this puppet second hand at a yard sale and played with it a lot when I was a kid. That being said, I'm realy glad to finally have a 12 inch scaled Yoda doll! Below are some additional photos of the puppet.

  

Text and Photos © Mike Artelle 2011, 2013

2 comments:

  1. Very cool! Very nice shape. I have a lot of collectible toys but no Star Wars dolls. Had Vadar as a kid but lost it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi collectibletradingcardco
    Sucks that you lost Vader. I almost lost my brother's Darth Vader once along with his Stormtrooper and Chewbacca. He was so mad! Fortunately I found them all in a bag hanging on a doorknob in my classroom at school. That was a very close call! My brother still has them at his place. They're very cool toys! All the best.

    ReplyDelete