Welcome back to the next installment of Vintage Kenner Star Wars Figures. Last week, we covered the end of Empire Strikes Back which was, in actuality, was a small grouping of three revision waves.
This week, we move into real heart of vintage Star Wars with the first wave of Return of the Jedi figures. There are almost as many ROTJ figures as there are everything else (ANH, ESB & POTF), combined.
This first wave, today, is rather large and contains a few fan favorites. Additionally, there are seven running change figures from previous releases in this wave. All-in-all, there were 24 different figures in this wave; 17 of which are new character releases.
[In addition to shelf talkers which are the small logo strips on store shelves, the above Toy Center display was the common “large” display in stores during this time]
The running changes in this wave have all been covered in detail in previous issues of Catch a Wave. If you’d like pictures and further information, please visit the appropriate issues of Catch a Wave.
However, here is a short breakdown of the seven running change figures in this wave:
New “Gunner photo” and figure has Blond hair
OBI WAN KENOBI
New Photo and Figure has Big Head
New “Desert Scene” Photo
New Photo and figure has brown snake
Because we are adding 17 new characters to the previous 48, this wave is affectionately known as the 65-Back wave since 65 figures are pictured on the backs of cardbacks. Many have the advertisement for the Emperor mail away promotion.
[Example of a 65-Back ROTJ Header Cardback]
[The Emperor mail away promotion front-of-card splash sticker]
There are two new figures in this wave that have noteworthy mold variants – Luke Jedi and Biker Scout – one with a noteworthy accesory variant – Bib Fortuna – and a variety of questionable variants that have to do with materials used/production factories which some do and others do not consider to be actual variants. All of them will be covered, below.
Here is the wave breakdown:
[Red molded arms shown]
Nothing really to report on this figure. One of the relatively inexpensive figures on the aftermarket. “It’s a trap!” will live in infamy. There is a slight variant for this figure in that some of them have red molded arms with white painted shirt and others have white molded arms with red painted hands. Ackbar was released only on Return of the Jedi cardbacks with the same photo.
[Green saber and snap cape shown]
This is one of the best figures in the entire vintage line and highly sought after in the aftermarket, especially the first version which came with a blue lightsaber rather than a green one.
Prior to the film’s release and all the way up through the teaser poster, Luke’s lightsaber was assumed to be blue. When final special effects photography was completed, it was revealed to be green, instead.
Kenner quickly changed the saber color to green, but blue examples would have been released in the earliest shipments of 65-Back cases. They are extremely rare on cards and pretty rare in general.
This figure has a second variation, as well. Luke’s Jedi robe is sometimes sewn together at the neck and other examples have a snap. Most examples of the carded figure have green lightsabers and sewn robes.
Additionally, some figures have flesh molded heads with painted hair and others have brown molded heads (the hair color) and painted faces.
Luke Jedi exists on Return of the Jedi and Power of the Force cardbacks, both with the same photo.
[Blue saber variant]
This is another of the highly sought after figures in the vintage line and it is extremely accurate and has excellent accessories. The only criticism is that the head is a little small in order to accomodate the helmet.
The figure is in great proportion when the helmet is on. There are no variants for this figure. Leia Boushh exists only on Return of the Jedi cardbacks with the same photo.
Again, not a ton to report on this figure other than that it is a great sculpt and a fairly hefty figure which match the persona of the character, nicely.
Gamorrean Guard is one of the inexpensive aftermarket figures in the line and is fairly common. There are no variants for this figure. Gamorrean Guard exists on Return of the Jedi and Power of the Force cardbacks, both with the same photo.
One of the most highly sought after figures in the vintage line and a fantastic sculpt with soft goods robes. There are no variants for this figure and it exists only on Return of the Jedi cardbacks with the same photo.
Another straightforward figure with no variants. Not a very sought after figure in the aftermarket. Chripa exists only on Return of the Jedi cardbacks with one photo.
Another straightforward figure with no variants. Logray is not a highly sought after figure in the aftermarket and exists only on Return of the Jedi cardbacks with one photo.
[Grey limbs shown]
Perhaps the least sought after figure in the entire vintage line (one of them, anyway), Klaatu does technically have a variant in that there are slightly different color limb variations, but these are generally chalked up to material differences in different factories and production runs. They can either have tan limbs or grey limbs. There is no priority over different versions. Klaatu exists only on Return of the Jedi cardbacks with one photo.
[Painted face shown]
In my opinion, this is an underrated figure in that it is an army builder and has a highly accurate weapon. Either way, they are inexpensive on the aftermarket. There is a variant of this figure that flies under the radar and it is similar to the Luke Jedi figure whereas one version has a flesh molded head and the other is a grey molded head with a painted face. Either way, this figure was only produced on Return of the Jedi cardbacks with the one photo.
A common figure and also quite inexpensive. There are no known variants for this figure. Weequay exists only on Return of the Jedi cardbacks with one photo.
Another common and relatively inexpensive figure on the aftermarket. There are no known variants for this figure. Squid Head only exists on Return of the Jedi cardbacks with one photo.
General Madine has a similar variant to those above in that he either has a flesh molded head with painted hair or a grey molded head with a painted face. He is a very common and inexpensive figure although, loose, his very small accessory is often missing. Madine only exists on Return of the Jedi cardbacks with one photo.
Another relatively common and inexpensive figure in its normal U.S. release.
The cool and legendary thing about this figure is that early U.S. marketing photos showed Bib with a dark red robe and many people are under the impression that examples actually were released in the United States.
In fact, while they were released, they were only released in Mexico under the Lili Ledy branded foreign header cards. They are quite rare. Be aware that there are MANY fakes out there and one should be careful when buying them.
Be sure they are absolutely factory sealed just to be on the safe side, but be prepared to pay a lot for a legitimately authentic example. In the U.S., only the brownish cape was released. Bib was only released on Return of the Jedi cards with one photo.
[Mexican Lili Ledy red robe variant]
This figure has no known variants and is rather common. Ree-Yees exists only on Return of the Jedi cardbacks with one photo.
[Long Mask Snout shown]
This figure has a legitimate mold variant that is widely recognized as an official variant. Some have the “short” mask snout (the middle black area) and others have a “long” mask snout.
This is a fairly popular figure in that he had an associated vehicle made and is also an army builder. Scout troopers exist on Return of the Jedi and Power of the Force cardbacks, both with the same photo.
[Short mask snout variant]
The last figure that rounds out the “popular” figures from this wave, Lando Skiff was a fantastic mold with great accessories. Unlike the Leia Boushh, the head is not too small and the proportions are great on this figure. There are no known variants of this figure and it was only released on Return of the Jedi cardbacks with one photo.
Originally a mail away figure that would have arrived in a white box, Nien Nunb did make it into this release. It is a fairly common and inexpensive figure and there are no known variants. Besides the mailer box, Nien Nunb was only released on Return of the Jedi cardbacks with one photo.
Phew! That’s a lot of figures for one wave. The common figures in the wave can be had for $50 or less unless they are in AMAZING condition. Loose, those can be had for $10 or less. The more sought after figures will run well over $100-$150.
Variants like Luke with a blue saber and red robed Bib fortuna will be very expensive if you can even find one. Next week, we hit wave #2 of ROTJ. Until then, be well, thanks for reading, play hard, but play nice.
NOTE: All products, pictures, names, descriptions and logos are property of their respective copyright and trademark holders. No items are listed for sale. All information is for educational purposes, only.