The Failure and Success of the Original POTF Line

It’s hard to imagine a Star Wars toy line failing but that is indeed the case for the original POTF line. POTF came out after Return of the Jedi and it was assumed it would help pull the brand from the brink of collapse. With no movies on the horizon and interest falling to the wayside thanks to GI. Joe, Kenner was left with few options for the brand (Droids and Ewoks come to mind).By rebranding the line and combining everything under one umbrella, one can see that Kenner put effort into the property. The failure of Kenner can also been seen as a success but many years had to pass before fans realized that. 

001304The POTF figures, as a whole, are some of the most sought after collectibles from the original line. The cost factor alone can be intimidating if you plan to build a MOC collection. Even loose collectors such as I had to deal with prices well into the $300 rang for complete mint specimens. Besides the last 17, MOC collectors also seek out other re-releases under the POTF umbrella. Gamorrean Guard, for example, will cost a buyer 1k or more. It’s hard to imagine that some of these figures sat in clearance bins for years.

Yak-Face alone would cost upwards of $250-300 loose depending on condition. Of all the original POTF figures, he  was the toughest to locate. This was mainly due to his release overseas and Canada. The States did not get him, nor did we get a carded version of Anakin Skywalker. 7-560x747 star-wars-1985-potf-yak-faceHere is a great story concerning Yak-Face. One of my friends who owns a comic shop told me he had customers from Spain visit him whenever they were in the town. These individuals would bring bags of Yak-Face figures with them and trade them off for other Star Wars figures. In Spain, the figures were worth about as much as a Tie Pilot here in the US. The Spaniards were getting $100 in trade per figure. If you ask me, that is one heck of a conversion. Anakin was available as a mail-away in the States so he was not tough to get loose.

Now lets dive back into the line. In 1985 Kenner was trying to cope with the onslaught of GI Joe. As you know Hasbro was nurturing the soon to be toy line that would redefine play for children all over the world. Hasbro took the basic size, improved articulation and armed the figures to the teeth. Each figure had a backstory that gave children insight into the character. Hasbro also concentrated on the vehicles and in the end, the vehicles turned into the stars on the brand and the figures were essentially classified as accessories. Kenner had no hope in competing with this phenomenon and the only thing they could do was rely on the passion for Star Wars. One thing Kenner did to make the figures more appealing was to include a collectible coin with the figures. POTF essentially ended the mainline figure run for the films but thanks to the Droids cartoon and the made for TV movies (Ewoks), Kenner pushed through to the end.

I did mention that the line failed but turned into a success but how is that possible? With limited releases of older figures under the POTF banner, the line would become one of the most sought after toy lines of modern collecting. Besides the reissues, the new figures introduced command high prices as mentioned above. In essence, the POTF figures are the crowning jewels of the original toy run.  The toy line might have failed but for collectors today, the figures top most Star Wars fans lists. Consider this, from 1977 until 1985, Kenner sold well over 250 million action figures. That is very impressive in itself and as we all know, once interest bottomed out, Kenner was absorbed into Hasbro by 1991. Kenner along with Hasbro rejuvenated the line with POTF2 and the rest is history. If you ask me, that is a bonafide success. It just took years for people to catch on to that fact.

If you were lucky enough, collectors were still finding carded samples years after the line ended. KB Toys was a major dumping ground for Star Wars goods. I remember seeing dump bins full of POTF figures as late as 1990. Some stores still had a few floating around (mostly forgotten pieces in the backroom or under deck plates) as late as 1998. I should know as I purchased a carded POTF AT-ST Driver for .50 cents. The card was trashed but why not, Star Wars was hot again.

127_1024x1024 663-1 71951a_lg 93800-potf92-front d571433b-9fec-4c71-9b52-ed149441afa8 darth_vader_38230_v4_f star-wars-vintage-kenner-potf-luke-skywalker-battle-poncho-moc-36213fff1f2e7c6fd5b197a75f081d7c star-wars-vintage-kenner-potf-yoda-moc-49eb19aa1519f3ee7cae996666f4b813

New Figures Released in the US:

  • Amanaman
  • A-Wing Pilot
  • Barada
  • EV-9D9
  • Han Solo
    in Carbonite Chamber
  • Imperial Dignitary
  • Imperial Gunner
  • Lando Calrissian
    (General Pilot)
  • Luke Skywalker
    (in Battle Poncho)
  • Luke Skywalker
    (Imp. Stormtrooper Outfit)
  • Artoo-Detoo (R2-D2)
    with pop-up lightsaber
  • Romba
  • Warok

Figures Released Overseas and Canada:

  • Anakin Skywalker
  • Yak Face

Reissues from Previous lines:

  • AT-ST Driver
  • Biker Scout
  • B-Wing Pilot
  • Chewbacca
  • C-3PO
    (with Removable Limbs)
  • Darth Vader
  • The Emperor
  • Han Solo
    in Trench Coat
  • Jawa
  • Luke Skywalker
    (X-Wing Pilot)
  • Luke Skywalker
    (Jedi Knight)
  • Lumat
  • Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi
  • Paploo
  • Princess Leia Organa
    (in Combat Poncho)
  • Stormtrooper
  • Teebo
  • Wicket W. Warrick
  • Yoda
    the Jedi Master

Reissues from Overseas

  • AT-AT Driver
  • Gamorrean Guard
  • Nikto