Welcome back to another edition of Fitz’s Toy Chest!
This week I’m going to take you back to the world of 80s Kenner Star Wars and share with you the very LAST figure in the original line that I ever purchased….
Acquisition Year: 1991/92
Acquired via: Purchase, Decades Of Toys
Years In Possession: 27
Yes you read that right, 1991/92.
But Fitz, wasn’t the original Kenner line defunct and totally out of stores by 1987?
You’re correct, it was.
By 1991 there was only one way to get your hands on Star Wars figures outside of the odd garage sale or flea market, and that was at a vintage toy store.
Before the very late 80s early 90s, there really was no such thing as a vintage toy store. You can practically thank the Kenner Star Wars toys for creating that niche business.
During my senior year of high school my friend Ken and I noticed a new store had opened up near the high school in the tiniest shithole building you could imagine. We saw it driving home one day and what grabbed our attention besides the garish yellow painted brick facade was the fact that out front the owner had set up some very familiar play sets.
“Is that the fucking Ewok Village?” I said in disbelief. It sure was.
The store was called Decades of Toys and it was a glorified hoarder’s basement.
When we finally went in there one day there was shit stacked EVERYWHERE. And nothing was even approaching “mint” condition. It literally felt like someone just gathered up all the old toys from everyone they grew up with and opened a store to sell them. I’ve since seen nicer flea market stalls.
But despite the thin film of grime and dust on everything, it was awesome to see so many vintage toys in one place. Not just Star Wars either, he had a little bit of everything.
The kind that owned the place looked like Doug Henning’s mildly retarded brother. Or a thinner version of the filmaker’s friend in American Movie. He didn’t say a word as we browsed around his shop, instead he just sat there grinning at us behind a pile of toys. It was pretty unsettling to be honest.
He had the gray trays from the old Star Wars vinyl collector case set out on a counter displaying loose figures for sale, and one caught my eye. It was one of the very few figures I never got my hands on.
It was Anakin Skywalker. The old man version from end of the original cut of Jedi. Sebastian Shaw was the actor. And I had to have it.
Anakin was orginally one the many mail away offers that Kenner had over the entire Star Wars run. It was a genius marketing tool that they basically invented out of necessity when the toys weren’t ready for Christmas ’77. The first mailaway figures were the ones that came in the famous “early bird” set. Of course my first mailaway opportunity was the famous (or infamous) rocket firing Boba Fett (which of course arrived minus the advertised rocket firing action). Every major expansion of the line had a mailaway offer. Star Wars had Fett, Empire had 4-LOM and Bossk, Jedi had Nien Numb and the Emperor. Mailaways were awesome. All you had to do was save up 5 proofs of purchase and mail them in and a short 6-8 weeks later BOOM a new figure showed up in the mailbox.
Anakin was one of, if not THE LAST, mailaway figure Kenner offered and for whatever reason I just wasn’t in a hurry to get him. I guess I thought there was plenty of time, and they always reissued the mailaways as a carded figure that you could buy in the store. But by the timr that happened for Anakin, the line was winding down and getting harder to find in stores (at least new figures and not the same peg warmers that were always available and would eventually be clearanced out).
So I never got him.
He wasn’t exactly the same white whale as say a Yak Face, but when I saw him there in Decades of Toys, I wasn’t about to pass him up.
I want to say he was maybe $6 at the time? Even carded figures back then were still incredibly cheap compared to 2018. He wasn’t carded but he was absolutely pristine. The plastic still had a glossiness to it.
Maybe a year later Doug Henning moved from one shithole across the street to an even shittier shithole, and that’s where he stayed until, shocker, his business folded by ’93.
Well that’s all for this week, come back next time for another deep dive into a middle-age man-child’s happy place. That didn’t come out right. Come back in 2 weeks for another Fitz’s Toy Chest!