Old Fossils and New Acquisitions – The Vintage Collection in Review, Part One

Last year, Hasbro thrilled a lot of the collecting community by confirming that they were bringing back one the biggest and best line of figures that they have ever produced, The Vintage Collection. If you have been reading these columns, it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of this decision and can’t wait for the return of this line in upcoming months. So, in preparation for the re-launch this year, I thought we would look back at what came before and see why this line was so epic and what all it accomplished in it’s two short years. The Vintage Collection (TVC) was born out of two preceding lines: The Original Trilogy Collection (2004) and The Saga Collection (2006). Those lines both featured “vintage” style packaging and detailed figure sculpts. TVC was to feature the super articulated figures and highly detailed vehicles with card backs and packaging that would remind collectors of the vintage Kenner line. The line was launched in 2010 and ran through 2012 and by the time it ended, it would give us vehicles and figures from all six movies, The Clone Wars TV show, and The Expanded Universe (now called Legends or EU). It would even include figures from deleted scenes for Return of the Jedi and re-releases that were on Revenge of the Jedi cards. TVC included exclusives from most major retailers in the forms of vehicles, multi-packs, single packed figures and even mail-away offerings. The bulk of the line was made up of the single packed figures on cards. The biggest draw to the line and it’s “hook” would be the vintage Kenner style packaging. So, the way I’ve structured this article is to cover each aspect of the line in individual sections.
The card-back, box and packaging style is near direct imitation of Kenner’s original line. HASBRO would bring back the simple black background with a character photo that takes up the majority of the cardback. The photo is surrounded by the familiar silver border that was always the hallmark of Kenner’s design. The title of the movie, show or expanded universe property the character was from, was at the top center of the card in the same red font that we all grew up with up. Personally, I thought that part of the novelty of this line was seeing The Clone Wars or The Phantom Menace in the vintage style design and font. Seeing modern era properties get this vintage treatment was a lot of fun. The standard bubble on the left-hand side of the card holds the figure making the photo the centerpiece and was a major eye catcher. Vehicle packaging was also a direct reproduction of the classic style, forgoing “windows” for a full box style with the classic design and style. These designs are instantly familiar to those of us who played with these toys in the 70’s and 80’s and was so much fun to see them applied to current toys in a line that was unapologetic in its attempt to play on collector’s love of nostalgia.
Single figures made up the bulk of this line with 115 being released over the course of its two years. Each figure would be numbered and released under the title of the property the character appeared in. For example, the first Darth Vader figure to be released in this line would be #8, but it would be released on both ESB and ROTJ cards along with a Revenge of the Jedi variant card. Later in the line, a new Darth Vader figure would be released on a Star Wars card and would be #93. Confused? Good.
I’m going to cover the basic figures from each movie starting with Star Wars and continue from there. We will come back and cover the exclusives later in the article. I won’t list each figure that was released for each movie, those lists are pretty easy to find, but I will try to cover the high points that the line produced for each movie.

Star Wars

There were 12 basic, numbered figures released for Star Wars from this line which is the least for any of the six films. I’m not using A New Hope, because in keeping with the vintage theme, HASBRO didn’t use A New Hope at the top of the card. The first figure from the movie was a Sandtrooper (#14) with a white shoulder pauldron and blaster. Figures from the first film continued throughout the line with the last being, oddly enough, another Sandtrooper (#112). This one was the squad leader with the orange shoulder pauldron and patrol droid. What I found odd from this part of the line was that while we got a few major characters like Luke-Death Star Escape (#39), Han Solo-Yavin (#42), and Darth Vader (#93), most of the releases from the first film were background characters from the Death Star or Mos Eisley cantina like Ponda Baba (#70), Bom Vindim (#53), Grand Moff Tarkin (#98), and Imperial Navy Commander (#94). I’m not really complaining mind you because those bigger characters got plenty of great treatment in other parts of TVC.
The Empire Strikes Back
The Empire Strikes Back fared a little better with 18 characters/figures released on this card, but here is where trying to keep track of what was released gets a little tricky. This film also sees the first mail away figure to the collection and gives it a number within the basic releases, which is a little confusing when trying to follow them. The first 11 figures released in TVC were released on TESB cards. That’s a long stretch for a line that draws characters from as many sources as this line does but that’s not the longest continuous streak of releases belonging to one film during this line. TESB releases begin with Dengar (#1) and end with Leia Organa-Bespin Gown (#111). We get more major characters from this film including three Luke Skywalker’s: Bespin Fatigues (#4), Dagobah Landing (#44) and Hoth Outfit (#95), two Leia’s: Hoth Outfit (#2) and Bespin Gown (#111), and two Han Solo’s : Echo Base Outfit (#3) and Bespin Outfit (#50). Darth Vader (#8) makes his first appearance in the line along with Boba Fett (#9), although both would appear on “Return of” and “Revenge of the Jedi” cards with the same number. I’ll touch on that more in the ROTJ section. The rest is a well-rounded list of characters from the movie, including Dack (Dak) Ralter (#7) and an extremely sharp looking Cloud Car Pilot (#11). We also got a mail-away Boba Fett in Prototype Armor (#61) on this card. We will look at the exclusives and mail-away figures in another section, but I wanted to mention it here only because it carries a number in the basic line assortment. This was the beginning of TVC and the line didn’t waste much time trying to show us it’s potential. Mail away offers and exclusives, the beginning of a numbering system, and getting off-beat characters like Dack on a vintage style card gave collectors an idea of what kind of cool treats we were in store for.
Return of the Jedi
This film got the lion’s share of releases when it came to the basic figures. There were 31 figure releases for this film, including five releases from deleted scenes. There is also a subset of 11 characters that were re-released on a Revenge of the Jedi card and three more that were only released of the “Revenge” card-back.
We’ll start with just the standard releases. ROTJ makes its first appearance in TVC with Darth Vader (8) and Boba Fett (9). These are the same figures that appeared in the TESB cards with the same number, the only difference being the new card. ROTJ has consistent releases throughout the run of the line until the very final figure produced, Darth Vader-Emperor’s Wrath (#115). That figure would be the end of TVC line. This film fares the best when it comes to having the best selection of characters. We get major characters of course, including General Lando Calrissian (#47) and R2D2 (#25) that make their first appearance in this line. Luke Skywalker gets a dual release as both Jedi Knight (#23) and Endor Captive (#23) with the same exact figure. Notice the same number for each release? We also get characters from the Alliance and Empire. Just to name a few examples, Admiral Ackbar (#22), Nien Numb (#106), Wedge Antilles (#28), TIE Fighter Pilot (#65) and Emperor’s Royal Guard (#105). Then, to round things out we get a lot of the rogues from Jabba’s Palace including two separate Weequays: Skiff Master (#48) and Hunter (#107), Gamorrean Guard (#21) and others. Finally, the Ewoks get a few releases with Wicket (#17), Logray (#55) and Lumat (#104). There’s a lot more characters to list and they are all great so I’m sorry if I missed a favorite of yours. ROTJ also had a five-figure release of characters that were featured in deleted scenes from the movie. Luke Skywalker-Lightsaber Construction (#87), Princess Leia-Sandstorm Outfit (#88), Lando Calrissian-Sandstorm Outfit (#89), Colonel Cracken-Millenium Falcon Crew (#90) and Rebel Pilot-Mon Calamari (#91). These types of releases are a rarity in toy collecting and one that I wish they would have continued with the other films. Without getting ahead of myself, these releases from the deleted scenes are probably one of my favorites aspects of this entire line. To further set itself apart from the other films in this line, ROTJ saw a small subset of 11 characters that were released on a Revenge of the Jedi Card, using the original title of the film, before Lucas famously changed it right before the release. Most of the major character releases get this card variation treatment along with a few minor characters and even some exclusives. While the basic line saw a White Rebel Commando (#26), the “Revenge” sub-set saw the Black Rebel Commando (#26) variant. The only way to get this variant is on the “Revenge” card.  Salacious Crumb (#66) and Mouse Droid (#67) were also released in this subset and were SDCC releases that were only available on this “Revenge” card, receiving a number in the basic release line. We’ll get back to those later. There was a lot to cover with this film but as I said before, ROTJ saw the most activity than any other film when it comes to character releases and variations in TVC. It’s pretty clear that TVC accomplished quite a bit in regard to Return of the Jedi. Great character variety, using the original name as a card variation, even mining deleted scenes for the movie itself for new releases was as innovative as HASBRO had ever gotten before. Personally, I love the treatment that ROTJ received because of how much I love the movie.
So, we are going take a break there for now. In the next article, we will look at the rest of the basic release line covering the prequels, The Clone Wars, and The Expanded Universe. Hope you enjoyed the read and I’ll be back soon!
**some images pulled from Rebelscum.com. Check their site out, it provides a wealth of information for any Star Wars collector**