A regularly updated blog about my vintage Kenner Star Wars toy collection. Some stuff that I've recently acquired; some stuff that I've had since I was a kid. Some rare, some common, but all sharing the warmth, charm and character of the "first generation" of Star Wars toys - the ones we played with as kids in the late '70s and early '80s.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Imperial Shuttle Vehicle

One of the last (and greatest) toys released in the Return of the Jedi wave was this absolute monster - the Imperial Shuttle. This sucker retailed for almost $40USD (can't remember what it cost here in Canada) but it's worth every penny of that as a showpiece of Imperial might and technology. I am consistently impressed with the box art and design of the old Kenner stuff and the Shuttle is no exception - it's easy to imagine this ship gliding into a hangar bay on the second Death Star, running lights flashing, and gracefully touching down on the polished deck in front of an honour guard of stormtroopers in gleaming white armour...


ANYWAY... on to the features of the ship. First of all there's the cockpit crew area with room for two figures. The tinted glass canopy swings up neatly to provide access. Note the double-telescoping ramp just behind.

Shuttle in landing position. The wings lock in the upright position through connection with a gear mechanism inside the ship. Many examples will be seen nowadays with these gears broken by careless play. The dorsal fin snaps on and off, and must be removed if the ship is to fit in its box. Always a nerve-wracking exercise to snap off the wing as it's a tight fit with 30-year old plastic...

There's lots of little detachable greeblies on the ship as well. In this photo the wing root guns can be seen, along with the laser cannons sandwiching each wing. All of these are separate snap-on parts and are often missing...

Ship interior with nice decals and pegs for figures' feet.

Rear view of the ship showing yet another detachable greebly - the rear cannon piece in dark grey just above the engines. Cover on right side of hull detaches to provide access to the interior. The piece with the engine stickers folds down to reveal the battery compartment powering the "laser battle sounds" feature.

Welcoming "the Boss" (replication of box side photo). Note ramp that telescopes out.

These photos give a good sense of the scale of the ship. While nowhere close to the scale of the movie model, this is a large hunk of plastic and must have taken up significant space on retail shelves. I reckon only the vintage AT-AT had a bigger box.

As shown on the box, the ship can be "flown" by holding the front landing spar. Pulling the trigger on the spar allows the wings to fold down into flight position, and the rear twin landing gear pieces fold up into the body.

This is one of my favorite vintage pieces. It's funny - when I first got back into collecting vintage (around the mid-'90s) a boxed '84 Shuttle was around a $150-$200 piece. Then in 2002 Hasbro re-released the toy as an FAO Schwarz exclusive at a price point of $99+... and some vintage collectors freaked out. However the new piece, while made from the original molds, was actually quite different with weathering deco and no electronic sounds. In late 2006 it was the modern collectors' turn to pitch a hissy fit as the piece was re-released AGAIN as a Target exclusive at an insanely low price point - less than $60USD! You'd feel a little rubbed if you'd paid $120 for the same item only a couple years earlier... especially when Target dropped its price to $41.88. Yikes. At least you could say that an FAO Schwarz box has a bit of cachet lacking in a Target-branded item... right? ;-)

Anyway, as with all things Star Wars, vintage is best, and I'm glad to have this one in my collection, picked up on eBay late last year for just under $80. Shipping, on the other hand, ended up costing more than half of that again!

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