Q&A: Vintage Kenner Mystery Box, Star Wars Toy Storage, and Japanese Black Series Variants

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, March 22, 2015

1. I've been wondering about something for the past 30+ years and thought you might be able to help me out. When I was a kid, my best friend had a metal box that he put all types of stickers on. One of them was a head-and-shoulders photo of the Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker figure. I had no idea where he got it and thought it might have been some sort of fan club item. I've never seen another one since. Do you have any idea where it might have come form?

This sounded familiar, and it turns out I also got one of these as a kid as part of a Kenner direct-mail campaign. Kenner sent out little boxes as part of a Young Jedi Knight promotion that, as far as I know, were largely unsolicited. Mine came with a Logray figure, but there are numerous samples of different ones out there. Part of the promotion was a poster, a figure, and a mail-in offer for another figure - R2-D2, C-3PO, Luke Skywalker, or Darth Vader. They had stickers for each, and as someone who had those four I had zero reason to send off for another one, free or otherwise. That's how I thought as a kid.

Another interesting facet of this mailing was the "Letter from Luke Skywalker," an especially clever tactic which Hasbro would use in its lines. G.I. Joe in particular made good use of it, and continued to use it as recently as a few years ago with a mail-in offer for Doc incorporating a ransom note of sorts from Cobra Commander. Not being overly familiar with marketing laws toward children in 2015 it wouldn't stun me if this sort of thing was no longer acceptable (or legal) much like the toys in a Kinder Surprise, but who knows? Toy manufacturers aren't doing a lot of active engagement with their young consumers - LEGO fans can sign up for a free magazine, but Mattel and Hasbro don't seem overly interested in this kind of engagement these days. Personally, I'd love to see (or run) something like this.



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2. My question is about long term storage. I've been collecting since about 2002 and have amassed nearly every 3.34" figure that Hasbro has put out there and have been displaying them all on shelves the entire time. The slowdown with new product combined with a new, smaller display room that's really overwhelmed by 1500 plastic people has led me to call it a day... for now. I'm in the process of packing my figures up and reuniting them with all the accessories they came with and putting them away until I have a larger room in which to display them. I've been doing my homework. I've got watertight plastic bins to keep them in. I've bought thousands of acid-free plastic ziplock bags to store them in individually and I've cleared out a space in my root cellar instead of the attic so they don't melt in the summer heat. My question is when placing the figures in the bins, is it best to put them in there "on their backs" or "standing up"? It seems that laying them flat distributes the weight enough where it doesn't feel like anything is being crushed, but when I pick up the tubs, they're actually quite heavy when full and I'm wondering if that's going to affect the toys - particularly the figures on the bottom - over the long term.

There are going to be problems - some you'll see coming, and some you won't. Plastic bags can result in moisture building up inside over time, and paint can "molt" - especially silver paint on lightsaber hilts. I had a Black Series Clone Pilot end up with a line of red across his arms because I accidentally had a Darth Vader lightsaber nearby and it leeched out the color. My point is this: mistakes will be made.

Generally speaking these are toys and are (mostly) durable. I would take special care regarding the accessories as those do seem to cause the most problems, as red plastic touching white plastic results in big problems and the same is true with various clear plastics. So far, I've seen or heard very few problems when it comes to dumping the figures themselves in a bin - you can use The Boiling Water Trick (or a hair dryer) to correct numerous bending issues later, and some things might just snap that you may not have saw coming. In particular, lightsabers and some skinny limbs. There's not much you can do about it, but odds are standing your figures up will help the most as they are less likely to be smooshed or squished. There are no guarantees, though, and anything can happen over the course of a few years inside a box. I mostly use tackle boxes due to the hard shell and some ability to let figures breathe a bit, which helps with moisture build-up. That and they're action figures - water won't necessarily hurt them if you dry them out quickly.




3. Finally got my hands on the "6 SDCC exclusives, however I noticed they are the Japanese versions. Other than the Japanese sticker on the back is there any difference between these and the other releases in different regions?

I am not aware of any - while there were several highly publicized differences in the past, today nobody is reporting new Japanese variants. I would suggest comparing yours to reviews and photo galleries and seeing if you can discover one, because I don't have access to the Japanese releases myself.




If you want new stuff, this past week and change was likely the storm before the calm before the storm. Saga Legends had not one but three waves drop in the last month alone, and another two waves of Mission Series have hit since late January. Unless Hasbro is keeping a few secrets - possible, as they never formally announced the just-released Endor figures at a show or in the press that I recall. There's a little more to go on for what we know of The Black Series and then whatever Hasbro decides to announce at Celebration, which I am guessing due to timing is going to be something of a non-event unless there's a surprise retro collection hitting this summer. (And if there is, they're doing a bang-up job keeping it secret.)

For those keeping track, this means that in 2015 so far we're having a decent year for the kid stuff and an awful, horrible year for the collector stuff. It's March and there have been no new The Black Series releases of any size. However the 3 3/4-inch 5-jointed figures have had 1 new ship and 11 Mission Series 2-packs (with 18 new sculpts) and 12 Saga Legends new figures (all new sculpts) for a grand total of 30 figures in 3 months, which is pretty amazing. Granted, the number of new-to-toys or at least new-to-single-cards is pretty tiny, but we did get the first-ever non-exclusive carded individually packaged Battle Poncho Luke Skywalker for the first time since 1985. It's not much, but I'll take it.  I forgot about the Saga Collection one in 2006.  Of those 18 figures, 13 are actually very much new (as in, new to realistic, new to animated, or new to figures period) and that's a lot more than I'd have guessed for the pre-movie cooldown period.

According to the least generous estimates, we're probably looking at another 2 Deluxe Black Series 6-inch creature packs, 8 more basic 6-inch figures, and at least seven or eight more Black Series 3 3/4-inch dudes before the new movie line. Which is, again, not terrible but it does help to continue to highlight what a colossal drag the smaller Black Series segment has become since its 2013 debut. Perhaps it really was an unlucky number, but at least we're getting more good new stuff at the lower price points right now. I just hope we don't see a sudden price surge like we did for Episode I. Or the big giant midnight stupidity we saw for Episode I. Or the return of rampant speculation and hoarding that came with some returning lapsed fans with Episode I. Oh anxiety, how I've missed you.

If you're still reading, hit up our front page to check out my look at the Hikari Greedo I just bought at work (I love it) and we'll be looking at the Endor figures all week in Figure of the Day starting Monday morningish. As always thanks for reading and sticking with us, I appreciate that you're here to read my ramblings every week.

--Adam Pawlus

Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.



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Endor Luke

Not to take away from his specialness, but there was an Endor Luke on a single card in the 2006 Saga Collection, so the Saga Legends one is actually the second one since 1985.

You're absolutely right! I

You're absolutely right! I forgot all about that one.