Editorial: Stop Toying with Vintage Kenner-Themed Products

In 2018, products featuring Kenner’s vintage Star Wars action figure line have become quite popular. Everything from backpacks, shot glasses, greeting cards, calendars, and posters have appeared at various retailers both domestically and internationally. While these items are very welcomed and have the potential to strike many a nostalgic feel with longtime fans, it is their gross ignorance of the brand that makes many of these items a laughing matter more than a desirable purchase.

Many of the offending products use the same stock figure photos which first appeared a few years ago on the Topps Collectible Card Trader app. The problem begins here as some figures either have no or include the wrong accessories. More recent products have taken these images and applied them inaccurately to scenes/planets from Star Wars in which they never appeared. Trends International’s 2019 Star Wars Collector’s Edition Calendar is guilty of this.s-l225

Now before we delve into the most disastrous example of this lazy merchandise making, we are fully aware that these items are intended for more than the devoted collecting fan base. Some may blame Disney for opening the Star Wars license up to more vendors and producers, while others may say Star Wars has always had tons of merchandise as anything with Star Wars on it sells well. Regardless of the reason for the recent boom of vintage Kenner-themed products, the question is who are these items being produced for?

If the answer is children, then why use 40-year-old action figures? The average eight-year-old has no attachment or nostalgic connection to limited articulation and largely non-screen accurate toys from a company which no longer exists. If the answer then is for adults who grew up with these toys, then why have the powers-that-be allowed such an ignorant use of their property? Would Disney ever allow a product to be made where Ariel is pictured dancing with The Beast in his castle instead of Belle? And even more perplexing is how Lucasfilm, who since their inception, has been very strict with the accuracy of their intellectual properties, allow items to go to retail at major chains like Target with so many gross inaccuracies?

You may ask yourself, why do we care so much, its just a shirt? Well, in short, its shortchanges our childhoods, nostalgia, and memories.  Being lazy is a way of showing that one doesn’t care about a specific thing and in this case, that thing is the very customers these companies are attempting to capture sales from. And furthermore, with the seal of approval coming from Lucasfilm with the LFL copyrights adorning these products, fans and collectors can’t help but feel devalued by this as it eats away nostalgia and helps to misshape memories.

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Target currently carries a shirt in their stores as well as online which is the single best example of catering toward fans in the most ignorant and lazy fashion. Their “Boys’ Star Wars Character Toys Short Sleeve Graphic T-Shirt” is rife with errors and blatant omissions. To prove our point, the following are the 20 problems with this LFL/Disney product which unsuccessfully attempts to portray a Kenner Star Wars action figure for each letter of the alphabet.

  • Admiral Ackbar’s description is “Rebel General – Mon Calamari”. It should go without saying that he is an Admiral and not a General.
  • Boba Fett is pictured one again the wrong accessory. Also, according to Star Wars mythology, he is a not a Mandalorian making his description “Bounty Hunter – Mandalorian” inaccurate.
  • The Ewok listed for the letter ‘E’ is not a generic member of the tribe, but the leader of all Ewoks Chief Chirpa himself. Also, this figure is missing his staff accessory.
  • The letter ‘F’ is missing from this alphabet t-shirt.
  • Greedo is also pictured without his blaster he famously drew on Han Solo.
  • IG-88 too is missing weapons as he does not have his blaster nor his rifle.
  • The Jawa, again, no weapon accessory.
  • Kit Fisto’s inclusion on this shirt is simply baffling. This figure is in no way vintage and does not belong among this grouping of action figures. This character was not introduced until 2002 and this figure was not released until 2011. He is also missing both his Jedi robe and green lightsaber accessories. And lastly, there are were two different figures from the 80’s which began with ‘K’, Klaatu and Klaatu in Skiff Guard Outfit.
  • Luke Skywalker “Jedi Master – Rebel”; sigh, there is nothing about farmboy Luke which makes him a Jedi Master. This description is applied to Luke from The Last Jedi and not to his very first appearance in A New Hope.
  • Mace Windu like Kit Fisto does not belong on this t-shirt full of Original Trilogy characters portrayed by their vintage Kenner figures. This figure was produced in 2013 and is missing his purple lightsaber.
  • Nien Nunb’s name is misspelled. There should be an ‘N’ and not an ‘M’ before the ‘B’.
  • Obi Wan is not correct. There is a hyphen in Obi-Wan. And why no last name like everyone else?
  • Princess Leia’s description of being “Rebel – Force Sensitive” is out of place as she wasn’t truly shown to be Force Sensitive until Episode VIII.
  • The letter ‘Q’ is missing.
  • The letter ‘U’ is missing which is quite confusing because Ugnaughts were released in the vintage line.
  • The letter ‘V’ is missing.
  • Wicket is missing his spear.
  • The letter ‘X’ is missing.
  • Yoda, like his fellow Jedi Masters Kit and Mace, does not belong here. This Prequel version of him was released earlier this year and it in no way a vintage action figure even though a vintage Kenner figure was made of him in 1980.
  • Zuckuss is missing his rifle (although we are super happy to see him listed with his original and incorrect vintage Kenner name)

As one can see this shirt is just a mess. On the surface, it fails at even being an alphabet shirt. On a deeper level, it is a disaster when it comes to names and descriptions and has no consistency in images, figures or accessories.  This shirt does not do what the designer or team intended by appealing to vintage adult fans to buy for their children. This instead is an insult to long time fans and nothing more than a Star Wars cash grab to be consumed at Targets across the country.

That is Mos Espa from The Phantom Menace in the background and not Mos Eisley.

That is Mos Espa from The Phantom Menace in the background and not Mos Eisley from A New Hope

There are companies like Funko, Hasbro and Gentle Giant Ltd that know the history of the line and continually show their respect for it. There are many websites, like From4-LOMtoZuckuss.com, that specialize in Star Wars figures and would be more than happy to consult on creating a more authentic nostalgia to vintage-themed merchandise. In 2018, there’s really no excuse in being this lazy and it is because of this that we ask Lucasfilm and Disney to stop playing fast and loose with the nostalgia of our childhoods. Please don’t toy with our precious memories of playing with vintage Kenner Star Wars action figures by releasing such error-ridden work in tribute. Instead, either work with and/or hire someone with expertise on the subject or simply leave it be because our memories are worth too much to be carelessly toyed with.

Thanks to TOY RUN listener Chuck McMenamin for the heads up and t-shirt image.