5-25-77: It was 38 years ago today that audiences first got to experience George Lucas' STAR WARS on the big screen. But it wasn't quite "in theaters everywhere," and in fact, was quite the opposite. Opening on fewer than 40 screens, STAR WARS (not yet known as "Episode IV" or "A NEW HOPE") was expected by many (Lucas included) to be a non-event. Soon, after audiences began lining up around the block for screenings, the phenomenon began, with some theaters showing the film continuously for over a year. As they say, "the rest is history," and what a rich history it's been, along with the infamous "Early Bird" release (an empty box) of the very first Kenner Action Figures for the 1977 holiday season. For today's special entry into Hasbro's Force Friday Countdown Calendar, three versions of the Kenner STAR WARS Luke Skywalker figure are presented - the 1978 Luke, the 1980 "Bespin Fatigues" version, and finally, the 1983 Luke Skywalker "Jedi Knight Outfit" edition. Two of those I actually have here at Rock Father HQ...
When it comes to STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE, the Boonta Eve Classic Podracing scene was undoubtedly one of the most action-packed highlights. While I never had any of the Titanium Series Podracers (pretty recent releases from 2008/2009), I did have the 1999 Podracers for the 3¾" figures, though I sold them when I decided to focus on the Original Trilogy. Today's entry in Hasbro's Force Friday Countdown Calendar focuses on two of the Podracers - those owned by Anakin Skywalker and his rival, Sebulba. So how about a Pod Race?
I don't know that there has been a single scene in a film outside of the STAR WARS Cantina (aside from JABBA's PALACE) that has spawned more individual action figures and hours of play. Even as a kid - in an era when STAR WARS (and action figures) was a new thing, the Cantina was legendary - despite only having seen it on the screen once or twice by the time the toys started coming out. The folks at Kenner jumped on it, releasing not one, but two playsets based on this "wretched hive of scum and villainy," both of which I had, and the second of which appears as today's entry into Hasbro's Force Friday Countdown Calendar.
It was 35 years ago today, May 21, 1980, that STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK hit theaters. Like many fans of the STAR WARS Saga, I hold EMPIRE (or, TESB) in high regard as my favorite - possibly because it's the first STAR WARS movie that I can remember seeing in the theater. That film also spawned some of my favorite toys not just from STAR WARS - but favorites, period - particularly those relating to Hoth and Bespin. From the latter, it was there that audiences first got a big-screen look at Bounty Hunter BOBA FETT, who had already made an appearance in the infamous STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL, and a parade of some sort. He, along with his ship, the SLAVE I, became instant favorites for kids like me, and over the years I've owned five incarnations of his famous ship.
It was 33 years ago today - May 20, 1982, that principal photography was completed on STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI. The conclusion of George Lucas' Original Trilogy was still a year away from hitting theaters, and the folks at Kenner were hard at work prepping the toys to accompany the new adventures and new worlds that audiences would soon witness on-screen. The most notable new locale in ROTJ was the Forest Moon of Endor - home to a divisive little species known as Ewoks. Personally, I've always been a fan of the Ewoks, and despite a sometimes-fashionable public dislike that some express for the furry little ones, they did spawn two made-for-television feature films, and a Saturday Morning Cartoon series. Today's featured entry into Hasbro's Force Friday Countdown Calendar is firmly-rooted on Endor, with the Kenner STAR WARS Ewok Village Action Playset. This is one that I never had, but it was still so cool to play with at friends' houses on occasion.
It was 1977 when audiences were first introduced to the mighty Wookiee, Chewbacca, who along with smuggler Han Solo, served as co-pilot of the legendary Millennium Falcon. It was on this day back in 1944 that actor Peter Mayhew entered the world, and in celebration of the 71st birthday of the man behind the furry mask, Hasbro is featuring the first-ever Chewbacca figure from the 1978 Kenner STAR WARS line as today's entry into their Force Friday Countdown Calendar. While Chewie and Han have had many adventures over the years, I, too have had my fair share with the Wookiee at my side. From backyard battles and trips to my Grandparents' farm (where I once thought my Chewbacca figure had fallen down a vent and into their massive fire-burning furnace) to a recent trip to Los Angeles, where I took my Kenner counterpart to a meeting at ABC, and to the famous Walt Disney Studios Lot and Disney Legends Plaza. While my original Chewie is long-gone, I currently own two vintage figures - the loose 1978 version, and a carded RETURN OF THE JEDI version that my wife purchased from Brian's Toys for me as a birthday gift back in the late 90s.
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