The Ultimate Guide to Vintage Star Wars Action Figures 1977-1985 (what a title!) is a book for fans of the classic Kenner Star Wars figures. And boy, is it cool. The book is by Mark Bellemo, a man who has written several other indispensable and fun books for toy collectors.
I’ve literally been waiting years for this book. You see, Mark wrote both a G.I. Joe guide and a Transformers collecting guide awhile back. He did a second version of the G.I. Joe book and also released Totally Tubular 80s Toys. These other efforts are great, but I’d been hoping for a guide for Star Wars figures to put alongside the G.I. Joe and Transformers guides to complete the 3 biggest toy lines of my youth.
The guide covers the figures, vehicles, and playsets from original run of Star Wars figures ’77 to ’85. Each figure has a bio that comes from the movies and most of the time has facts about the actual toy. Each figure also has images of the variants (and there are plenty). And for vehicles and playsets there’s images to point out easily lost pieces, which is a huge bonus if you’re looking to buy something, but are not sure if it has all the parts, if you are looking to complete an item and don’t know what you need, or if you happen to find some parts and don’t know what they belong to.
Also, each figure/vehicle/playset will have an estimated value. I usually ignore the prices on these things, since that sort of information is rather fluid and can date easy as years go by, however it is good to get a ballpark of what something might be worth now or at least see how much more some items are more highly sought after than others.
The structure of this guide is a little different from the G.I. Joe guide. The vehicles and playsets are kept in a separate section from the figures. In the guide to G.I. Joe the vehicles are listed by year with the figures, however with Joes the vehicles tended to only last for about as long as that year of figures lasted. With the Star Wars toy line they pretty much kept making the same vehicles year after year after they were introduced in a the movies. This structure helps to find items in the book, because you don’t have to page through a bunch of vehicles to get to the next set of figures.
One minor gripe that I have relates to the fact that I’m a fan of boxed and carded toys, but not every toy in this book as an accompanying image of it in it’s original packaging. This isn’t a huge deal for me, but it is a tad disappointing that the cool packaging (particularly on the vehicles) isn’t entirely represented.
One particular toy line that’s missing from this book is the Star Wars Micro Collection from Kenner, which consisted of small die cast ships and little playsets featuring small metal figures that were pretty much a pre cursor of the small sets done by Micro Machines. I’m guessing that they were left out due to space issues and they’re not technically “action” figures. Still, it would have been cool to have them included.
There’s an index in the back and while that should be pretty standard in this sort of book, the publishing company of the G.I. Joe guide left it out. So yeah, nice to have it!
Overall, this is another solid book by Bellemo. I’d recommend getting it now before it goes out of print.