The Empire Strikes Back Vintage Star Wars Action Figures

The second major release of vintage Star Wars action figures occurred in 1980 with the release of the Empire Strikes Back.

There were either 27 or 29 Star Wars figures in TESB line depending on whether you consider C-3PO with removable limbs and R2-D2 with an extendable periscope feature to be new and distinct figures rather than variants of their 1977 originals. 

The original Empire Strikes Back line had 29 carded figures.

The first wave of 20 of these were displayed with the original 21 on the 41-back card.

All of the original Star Wars line got their own new Empire cards, whether they were in the movie or not. 

The remaining nine in the second wave pitched up on the later 48-back cards.

It should really have been 50 but Kenner omitted the more basic versions of Artoo and Threepio from the back to avoid confusion, even though they did get released on Empire cards in that first wave before being effectively replaced on shelves for the remainder of Empire and then Jedi  by their periscope and removable limb-sporting successors. 

Notably Zuckuss the insectoid bounty hunter ended up with the wrong name of his similarly insectoid droid bounty hunting partner 4-LOM and vice versa. 

Three creatures for collectors to add to these are the Wampa ice creature, the Imperial Probe Droid and of course the faithful and comfortable Tauntaun. 

All the original Star Wars figures were re-released with Empire Strikes Back cards, nineteen were reissued with Return of the Jedi cards and six made it to the fourth line which was called The Power of the Force. 

As for the Empire figures twenty seven of them were reissued on Jedi cards and two (3PO and Yoda) were in the Power of the Force.

This level of re-carding figures and keeping every one available on shelves as long as possible maintained kids ever-growing collections and helped give even the most obscure characters a level of early geek cache. 


ESB Star Wars Action Figures: Wave 1

1.       Luke Skywalker (Bespin Fatigues) [Blonde/Sandy Hair]

2.       Leia Organa (Bespin Gown) [Flesh Collar/Turtle-neck]

3.       Han Solo (Hoth Outfit)

4.       Bossk

5.       IG-88 [Grey/Metallic]

6.       Rebel Soldier

7.       FX-7

8.       Imperial Stormtrooper (Hoth Battle Gear)

9.       Lando Calrissian [Standard Face/White eyes and teeth]

10.   Bespin Security Guard (White) [Medium/Long Moustache]

11.   Yoda [Orange/Brown Snake]

12.   Leia (Hoth Outfit) [Dark Brown/Reddish Brown Hair]

13.   Rebel Commander

14.   AT-AT Driver [Scarlet/True Red Logo]

15.   2-1B

16.   Imperial Commander

17.   Ugnaut [Lavender/Green/Blue Apron]

18.   Lobot

19.   Dengar

20.   Han Solo (Bespin Outfit)

BosskBossk
IG-88IG-88
Rebel SoldierRebel Soldier
FX-7FX-7
Imperial StormtrooperImperial Stormtrooper
Lando CalrissianLando Calrissian
Bespin Security Guard (white)Bespin Security Guard (white)
YodaYoda
Leia Hoth OutfitLeia Hoth Outfit
Rebel CommanderRebel Commander
At-At DriverAt-At Driver
2-1B2-1B
Imperial CommanderImperial Commander
UgnaughtUgnaught
LobotLobot
DengarDengar
Han Solo Bespin OutfitHan Solo Bespin Outfit

ESB Vintage Star Wars Figures: Wave 2

R2-D2R2-D2
Luke Skywalker Hoth GearLuke Skywalker Hoth Gear
AT-AT CommanderAT-AT Commander
Cloud Car PilotCloud Car Pilot
Bespin Security Guard (black)Bespin Security Guard (black)
4-Lom (see note below)4-Lom (see note below)
Zuckass (see note below)Zuckuss (see note below)
Imperial TIE Fighter PilotImperial TIE Fighter Pilot
4-Lom labelled Zuckass4-Lom labelled Zuckass
Zuckuss labelled 4-LomZuckuss labelled 4-Lom

Variants from now on are less well-known than those earlier gaffs and most involve slightly different colour details.  

  • Luke again has his blonde or sandy hair.
  • Leia has either a flesh-coloured collar or a turtleneck to her Bespin dress.
  • Leia in her Hoth outfit also had either brown or reddish brown hair.
  • The Hoth Rebel Commander, Cloud Car Pilot, AT-AT Commander and Lobot all have slight variations in skin tone, ranging from fleshy to very pale. Lobot with the fleshy face has round dots on his belt rather than circles.
  • Spanish Dengar has slightly darker armour.
  • Bounty  hunting droid IG-88 was presented in either grey or metallic plastic.
  • A variation on Lando Calrissian has white eyes and teeth details added.
  • The white Bespin security guard has a regular or a long moustache.
  • Bossk has slight variations in his skin tone.
  • The AT-AT Driver had two different shades of Imperial logo, either true red or scarlet.
  • The Imperial Commander sports either a slightly more skinny or round head.
  • The Ugnaught has either a lavender, a green or a blue apron with variations in the thickness of the cords used to tie them.
  • There was a version of the Snowtrooper given away with issue 150 of a German comic called YPS (or PBP in Spanish). It can be identified by its circular skirt slots, occasionally better detailing and also occasionally a gun from Action Force which was the European G.I. Joe.
  • One of the more well-known is Yoda with either a brown or orange snake. He also had various skin tones and stick colours throughout his release.
  •  

Entertainment Earth

Star Wars Pages

Share the Love!

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.