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Boba Fett (Rocket Firing)

Star Wars
by yo go re

In 1979, Kenner was expanding its Star Wars toyline and preparing to cash in on The Empire Strikes Back. To help build hype for the new movie (and to help move old product), they offered an exclusive mailaway figure of a new character who was going to be introduced in the movie. You sent in four proofs-of-purchase, you got the mysterious new Boba Fett figure. The first promo promised a rocket-firing figure; the next one put a black sticker over that portion of the card, because they'd decided not to include that feature - rumors persisted for years that someone's cousin or a friend of a friend totally got one of the rocket-firing, but no, it was never released. Every Boba Fett sent out had the rocket glued in place, and the back was remolded, and so the few dozen prototypes that had been made became sought-after collectibles most fans would never have a chance to own.

He's here at last! After 30 years, the Boba Fett figure with the rocket-firing backpack has reached this galaxy! The story of this mail away figure is well known among Star Wars fans, and we're here to deliver the goods. This figure is a re-creation of the original Boba Fett figure, with the addition of that all-important rocket-firing feature. Good things really do come to those who wait - and the wait is officially over! Enjoy!

Fast forward to 2010. Hasbro offered another mailaway, promoted on the packaging for their Vintage Collection figures: send in five UPCs and $7 for shipping, and you could get a rocket-firing Boba Fett. I initially misunderstood, and thought it would be like Animated Debut Boba Fett - ie, a modern figure painted in a retro style - but no, this is classic, vintage retro Fett all the way!

Don't just think this is some re-release, though: the molds that made the 1979 figure are long gone, and it's possible Hasbro doesn't even have the two-up anymore. According to folks who would know, this isn't a direct copy of the vintage figure, though it is as close as humanly possible. This figure is taller than the old one (standing 3⅞" tall) and some of the lines don't quite match up. It's amazing to look at a figure like this and realize that it's what would have passed for "very good" back in the day: that's why we say if you're creating a "best action figures of all time" list and you have anything older than, say, 15 years on there, you're deluding yourself. Toys are just objectively better today.

What detail there is is crisp. The lines on his boots, for instance, or the details on his gauntlets. The wrinkles of his suit are captured in broad strokes, because that was the style at the time, but don't mistake that for a soft sculpt. The antenna on his helmet is a molded piece that flows directly into his forehead, and the cheeks are sunken deeply.

Boba Fett's paint is simple. The figure is molded in a blue-grey plastic, then given sparse paint apps in just five colors: yellow, brown, green, red and blue. There is no shading, no blending, no complex paint masks to create battle damage or signs of wear... it's just solid blocks of color. Pity the poor Gen Xers who grew up playing with toys that looked this bad. And remember how lucky we are to have had a guy like Eddie Wires making our toys look more awesome than they had any right to.

Unsurprisingly, Boba Fett moves only at the Big Five: it was the Star Wars toys that codified that layout, so there's no reason it would be any different. Since the backpack is a molded part of the figure's torso, he's severely back-heavy; without any advanced joints, there's no way to tweak his balance, so the only way to keep him standing is to extend his arms in front of him. All he wants is hugs! He comes with a black blaster that's got a crisp mold, but almost no detail in the sculpt.

And then there's the backpack. The infamous rocket-firing backpack. The original (vintage) figure was initially designed with an ˩-shaped slot, though it was later changed to a J-slot. A tab on the rocket would fit into this slot and hook under the notch on the side, which is how it was intended to fire. This one is molded to look like an "L-slot" figure, though the launching mechanism actually works via a button, rather than an exposed tab: on the plus side, it's situated right where the tab would rest, which is clever design. The only downside is that it isn't red to match the missile.

The vintage missile was designed in two different ways: either with four sides, or with eight. The missile in this figure's backpack is sculpted to recall the eight-sider, which is the one that actually made it out to consumers back then. It doesn't fire, however: it's just a prop designed to duplicate the old look. The set includes a second projectile designed to be fired from the backpack, and this one meets modern safetly standards: it's 3" long, sticks out far on both top and bottom of the pack and has a blunt round tip. It fires several inches, if it doesn't get caught on anything.

Rocket Firing Boba Fett is packaged on a vintage-style card. It's got all the same graphics and info, right down to the Kenner logo. It's also a Star Wars card, not Empire or Jedi. The text in his flame burst is from the old card, but also showed up on one of the cardbacks when they needed to cover the info about the firing rocket. Turn this one around and the back shows the 1979 figure, along with several of the other 2010 Vintage Collection figures next to their old counterparts. And of course, it's sure to point out that "product shown is for historical depiction only and is not currently available." There's no plastic clamshell included this time, but you can still do the three-side trick to get Boba out.

This figure may have been designed to ape the original Boba Fett, but it's still better. The sculpt is simple, but the way it's molded is more advanced. The articulation is almost an afterthought, but the fact that we've finally got the firing rocket, years after we were meant to, makes this (if nothing else) a very interesting piece to have in your collection. It's a collector's piece, an oddity, not a toy that you'll have fun with.

-- 02/11/12


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