As the world gears up for the start of a brand New Year, it's very common to take a little time to reflect on the past year. For today's Photo Archive
update, I thought it would be fun to flash back over 30 years of action figures of the most notorious bounty hunter in the galaxy...Boba Fett!
The legend of the man called Fett began in 1978 with the often-mocked Star Wars Holiday Special
, in a brief but memorable animated sequence that launched a fascination with this mysterious character. His subsequent appearances throughout the Classic Trilogy, in various comic books, novels, and video games only added to his notoriety, and Boba Fett remains one of the most beloved characters in the entire saga. For a character with less than 30 lines in the Classic Trilogy, he's gotten a lot of mileage over the past 30 years!
The history of Boba Fett as an action figure is vast. Starting out as the very first mailaway figure offer on the classic Kenner 20-back cards, the figure shown on the back was merely a mock-up kit-bashed prototype that promised a rocket-firing backpack. Due to safety issues, the rocket was securely attached in place, and the figure was sculpted to reflect his designs for The Empire Strikes Back
(TESB). Note that I said "designs" and not "appearance"...the figure's color scheme was very different from the film.
When Kenner relaunched the Star Wars
toy line in 1995, Boba Fett was included in the second wave, but this figure was based on his appearance in Return of the Jedi
(ROTJ). Kenner did finally release Boba with a rocket-firing backpack in 1996...although it was an oversized accessory that was from the toymakers' imagination. It wasn't until 1996 that Boba Fett was finally made into an action figure from TESB...this time as part of the Shadows of the Empire
multimedia crossover event, as part of a special comic pack with IG-88. In 2000, Hasbro (who had taken over Kenner) released the Special Edition figure in a unique boxed packaging, commemorating 300 action figures in the Star Wars
line. This ultimate version of Boba Fett from TESB featured a very detailed sculpt, extra articulation, and once again came complete with a rocket-firing backpack. This was the definitive version of Boba Fett for several years to come.
In 2002, everything we thought we knew about Boba Fett changed with Attack of the Clones
(AOTC). Boba was revealed to be a clone of Jango Fett, another notorious bounty hunter in the galaxy, who was selected to be the genetic template for the Grand Clone Army of the Republic. Boba was unique however, since he was not altered in any way, and Jango raised him as a son. The first action figure of Boba Fett from the Prequel Trilogy included extra accessories not seen onscreen, dressed in a familiar outfit that all other clone cadets wore.
For the Classic Trilogy era, there was a new "Pit of Carkoon" figure based on ROTJ which included a number of "action features" that Hasbro was really into at the time: quick-draw action, blast effects, and a really wonderful flame effect that could double as a display stand. There were two different color schemes for this release. The 300th Figure sculpt was repainted and released as a convention exclusive figure as part of the "Silver Saga Edition" celebrating Star Wars
' 25th anniversary. It was also repackaged as part of an exclusive multipack. Both of these versions did not include the firing backpack.
In 2004, the Classic Trilogy was finally released on DVD, and Hasbro brought back the "Pit of Carkoon" in the basic figure line...in yet another color scheme. But the biggest development of all was the Vintage Original Trilogy Collection
(VOTC) version of Boba Fett, which not only included a great sculpt and deco, but also super-articulation that would become the new standard for future Star Wars
figures to come. That same year, another release of the 300th Figure was also included with the Slave I
Oops, I forgot one...in 2005, the "Pit of Carkoon" figure was repackaged alongside a special cup, which can be seen here
. Carry on...
A lot had changed for Star Wars
by 2006. All 6 films had been released. The story had been told. But it wasn't over...not by a long shot. The next Fett figure released was in a "Battle of Carkoon"-themed wave, using the "Pit of Carkoon" upper body with the legs from the VOTC figure. The flame base accessory was included as well, which was a nice touch. Another exclusive multipack was also created, once again repacking the 300th Figure.
Battle Packs had become very popular ways of bringing out extra figures for fans who wanted to have all the characters from specific scenes, and one of them included a repack of the "Battle of Carkoon" figure. But history was made in 2006: a very significant feature was added to Boba Fett action figures from a surprising source...
Continually experimenting with new products, Hasbro created a Titanium Series line of "forged figures" that were more or less statues with limited articulation, made out of die-cast metal and plastic parts. The Boba Fett figure from the initial wave was the first-ever figure to include a removable helmet, revealing the face underneath the helmet. This has been made many times since then, but it happened here first! This figure was released in two color schemes: a realistic ROTJ deco and also a vintage "Patina" finish.
In 2007, Star Wars
celebrated its' 30th anniversary and no anniversary would be complete without Boba Fett! Starting off the celebration was a figure they said couldn't be done. The Star Wars Holiday Special
is generally ignored by most, but as I mentioned earlier, the animated sequence was pivotal in that it introduced Boba Fett. To acknowledge this, an "Animated Debut" Boba Fett figure was made using the VOTC figure as a based, but with additional accessories and a color scheme inspired by the animation appearance.
If that weren't enough, Hasbro also celebrated the saga by creating a series of "McQuarrie Signature Series" figures bringing to life the designs of artist Ralph McQuarrie. The Boba Fett figure in this series incorporated designs by artist Joe Johnston, with not only the original white armor from Fett's original concept, but also an alternate helmet sculpt.
Another new line of figures was created in 2007, this time bringing back the best versions in the modern line. Fans were able to vote for their favorite figures from 1995-2006 and the overall top 8 figures were included as "Fans' Choice Figures" in what became known as Saga Legends. This line was actually always going to include a Boba Fett figure: the "Battle of Carkoon" version. But early fan support swayed Hasbro to change their minds and they ended up switching to the VOTC version, which was also released in a Comic Pack repainted in a deco inspired from the pages of the classic Marvel Comics Star Wars
title. The 300th Figure was once again repackaged in a "Betrayal at Bespin" Battle Pack.
In early 2008, another improvement to Boba Fett figures was created. The Evolutions series showcased a trio of figures under a unifying theme: either a progression of a specific character, or a grouping of similar characters from different films. The Fett Legacy included 3 such figures, including a new version of Boba Fett...this time from TESB. As you have seen, most Boba Fett figures have been created using the ROTJ appearance, but there haven't been as many from the character's original film debut. This release also included a removable helmet: while not the first time for a figure (as I noted above), this was the first time this was done on a realistic figure. There were several deco changes made with subsequent releases as the set was repackaged: most notable was the addition of the missing symbols on the armor.
Over the past few years, Boba Fett has been repainted and repackaged many times in various formats. The "Animated Debut" figure was released as part of a Droids
-inspired "Droid Factory" exclusive 2-pack, the Evolutions figure was repainted in a darker color scheme in the basic line in 2009, the 300th Figure was once again released in an exclusive multipack, young Boba was included as part of a Battle Pack, and the "Battle of Carkoon" figure was included in an exclusive Ultimate Battle Pack.
2010 has been a really BIG year for Boba Fett fans...the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back
was noted by Fett helmet images everywhere you looked, whether it was on magazine covers, Halloween costumes, action figures, or the various (if inaccurate) Celebration V promotions/announcements/merchandise. The Clone Wars
(TCW) took it up to 11 with the inclusion of not only the Mandalorians (say what you will about the Mandalorians in the series...and I have...it's very cool to see an army of these guys after all these years! I wish they would get more screen time!) but also the young Boba Fett himself, training as a deadly bounty hunter, learning from some of the nastiest denizens of the underworld in that galaxy far, far away...
Hasbro has celebrated Boba Fett this year in many ways. The first is as a basic carded repaint of the Evolutions figure, which already has seen 2 different (so far) deco changes.
The second is an animated-style figure that perfectly captures the appearance of "Lucky" from season 2 of The Clone Wars
animated series, which is part of an exclusive Ultimate Battle Pack that includes his spaceship, the Slave I
Third, there is a special mailaway Boba Fett figure that actually delivers on a promise that Kenner made to fans over 30 years ago...Boba Fett with a rocket-firing backpack! Although there have been several such figures made over the years, this one goes back and recreates the same vintage sculpt from yesteryear...the one that kids sent away for but never actually got. (I haven't actually sent away for mine yet...consider that the first of my New Year's resolutions!)
Another exclusive set of repacks called "Legacy of the Dark Side" is available that includes both young and old Boba figures. (I haven't picked this up yet, because there's nothing really new here.)
Which at last brings us to today's Photo Archive update...Boba Fett
as the young bounty hunter trainee seeking revenge against Mace Windu for the death of his "father" Jango Fett. This super-articulated action figure faithfully represents the character as seen onscreen, with additional armor and backpack that is a nice nod to the character's appearance in The Empire Strikes Back
There will surely be more Boba Fett adventures in the future, either in animated form, live-action form, comic books, video games, ...and of course action figures!
I hope you enjoyed this flashback trip of the history of Boba Fett action figures. Yes, I know there are a lot more that I didn't cover, like Kenner's large sized action figure, Gentle Giant's 12" Jumbo figure, Medicom's 12" RAH figure, Galactic Heroes, Mighty Muggs, minis, etc...but this was intended to focus on the 3¾" action figure line.
Perhaps other Boba Fett collectibles could be the focus of a future article? Although it will have to be written by someone with a larger Boba Fett-ish than me. Any volunteers? ;)
Happy New Year! See you in 2011!