In the past, there have been numerous publications that have covered Kenner’s vintage Star Wars line but none have gone beyond simply scratching the surface of this incredibly layered section of the hobby. Now, thanks to vintage collector John Kellerman, there’s a new book on the block that attempts to delve deeper into the Kenner US line than any other publication before it. “Star Wars Vintage Action Figures” is a hardcover, 256 full-colour page book written by Kellerman that covers virtually anything and everything Kenner released Stateside between 1978 and 1985 under the Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and Power of the Force banners. The book is broken down into 10 info-packed chapters starting with basic topics helpful to the “newbie” collector then progresses to some of the more “hardcore” areas the hobby has to offer such as prototype and store display collecting. The chapter breakdown is as follows:
Chapter 1: About This Book – gives a brief introduction to vintage collecting, the book and the terms and codes contained within.
Chapter 2: Card/Figure Differences – features photos of all the figures released by Kenner in loose and carded form and concludes with a chart detailing the different cards the figures were released on.
Chapter 3: Card Front-Back Combinations – attempts to detail every possible card front and back combination and even includes some foreign releases as well. Also includes a comprehensive chart making this one of the most awe-inspiring chapters in the book
Chapter 4: Mailers – outlines every mail-away item offered by Kenner.
Chapter 5: Multi-packs – from the 16 rare 3 packs, the 2 ESB 6 packs, and everything in between including all known retail catalogue offers. Briefly mentions a variety of foreign packs as well.
Chapter 6: Misc. Figures and Related Items – covers creature figures such as the Dewback and Jabba The Hutt as well as display stands and the “Special Offer” vehicles and playsets
Chapter 7: Pre-production Items – a detailed chapter on early packaging mock-ups, proof cards, chromalins, and the infamous Rocket Fett.
Chapter 8: Displays – a very nice chapter on all the store displays produced by Kenner as well as an amazing section dedicated to prototype displays. Possibly my favorite chapter!
Chapter 9: Promotional Items – covers everything from catalogue inserts to promotional events launched by Kenner to help promote the line during its 8 year run.
Chapter 10: Grading/Fakes – outlines a standard grading system and briefly discusses the importance of knowing how to spot some of the many fakes currently being offered in today’s market.
Honestly, this is easily the most comprehensive book ever published on the subject of US Kenner Star Wars figures and all things related to them. There just hasn’t been any book that has come close to matching the overwhelming amount of information that John Kellerman has packed into each chapter, photo caption and chart; I just can’t stress that enough.
The only complaint I have about “Star Wars Vintage Action Figures” is that there is absolutely no coverage or even mention of the Droids and Ewoks lines of figures that were the 1985 animated contemporaries of the POTF line. That being said, the sheer size and volume of this book more than makes up for their lack of mention and when all is said and done, it’s quite possible that it just wasn’t feasible to include these subjects in an already full book.
“Star Wars Vintage Action Figures” is only available from John Kellerman’s Front Back Books
website for $34.95 US (plus shipping) and is well worth the price as already, it is a must have for any hobby reference library.