The best vintage Kenner Star Wars action figures from a nostalgic POV


Vintage Kenner Star Wars figures are more than 40 years old and some are now a lot of money. But which figures are truly the best? Here’s a list based on nostalgia and not worth.

For those fans who grew up on Star Wars since the late 1970s, Kenner action figures have been part of our childhood. We didn’t collect them, but played with them, threw them around and did exactly what kinds are supposed to do with toys.

But 40 years later, things have changed. The Kenner action figures have become collector items with those in pristine condition fetching a high price.

Photo credit: Seth Szilagyi

Here’s a look at the best Kenner Star Wars figures, but not based on secondary market figures, but nostalgia.

1.       Lando Calrissian in Skiff Guard, Disguise

This figure was a must have for me as a kid. The fact that you could remove Lando’s helmet and put it back on was so cool back in 1983. Plus, the detail on this figure was pretty great for that era. He came with a helmet and a vibro staff thatfought off the evil scum in Jabba’s Palace. As much as I loved Han Solo, there was just something so cool about Lando and the way he went undercover to save his friend.

2.       Han Solo in Hoth Battle Gear

Maybe it was growing up in Syracuse (where it snows constantly) or just liking a warm jacket, but this figure was my jam at 7 years old. This Han figure looked the part in his blue (yes, blue not brown, what’s up?) jacket, but he was also a huge hero. He saved the savior. Luke Skywalker. And was sarcastic, a heck of a pilot and also got the attention of Princess Leia.

Luke is the obvious hero and center of the trilogy, but it doesn’t get more heroic than Han responding to Rebellion leaders telling him not to go out in the freezing cold with, “then I’ll see you in Hell.”

3.       C-3PO with Detachable Limbs

So, this was a re-issue of the original C-3PO from 1977 with two arms and two legs that would come apart. Similar to how C-3PO is shot apart in The Empire Strikes Back.

Well, I can remember playing with this figure ad nauseum as a child. The fact that he could look like my original threepio and then be dismantled whenever I wanted him to, well that was the best! Re-imagining the Cloud City scene, he gets blasted by stormtroopers and then attends the carbonation of Han Solo.

Ahhhh, the chills.

Photo credit: Seth Szilagyi

4.       Han Solo with Carbonite Block

For anyone who stuck around for The Power of the Force, and I did, Star Wars was their life. Though I was swayed by G.I. Joe, my heart was forever Star Wars. And this was the reason why.

Han Solo, finally shown frozen in carbonite! Granted his hands weren’t where they were supposed to be, but that hardly mattered. I got a ton of play value out of this figure or at the very least the carbonite block. I feel like 7-year-old me kind of knew not to continuously put him in the carbonite for fear of rubbing paint off his face. Either way, Jabba and his henchmen were putting the hammer down on Han a lot in 1985.

Photo credit: Seth Szilagyi

5.       Luke Skywalker in Stormtrooper Disguise

This is the first figure on this list that I did not have. But, boy did I want it! This, much like the Han Solo with Carbonite Block, had neck issues. Like “no neck” issues! Nevertheless it was as alluring as could be. It brought back a long lost scene in the trilogy and again utilized the removable helmet feature. I was an The Empire Strike Back and The Return of the Jedi kid who was willing to go back to the beginning for Luke Stormtrooper playtime.

Photo credit: Seth Szilagyi

6.       Gamorrean Guard

Jabba’s green, pig henchmen were ubiquitous in the early 1980s, Holding court with their battle axes on playgrounds or just warming store shelf pegs begging to be purchased at half-price. Still, these guys had a heft to them. Like a literal heft. They were heavy. And the likeness to their on-camera counterparts was very close. Great sculpts here. Plus, I had the rancor and they served Jabba and me well by being eaten at least once a week.

7.      The Max Rebo Band

Yes, this is three figures and not just one. However, this is a set and you could not get these guys individually. Thus, I am treating this trio as a singular purchase. And frankly, I can’t quite put my finger on what was so cool about these figures. I mean they were quite literally toys of an alien band. I can’t see that selling well today. But, whether it was Max Rebo’s circular piano or the only other female character made into a toy outside of Leia (yes, Sy Snootles I’m talking to you) this was a must have! I think in the end, I really just wanted every creature from Jabba’s palace to recreate scene after scene.

Photo credit: Seth Szilagyi

8.       Leia in Boussh Disguise

And speaking of the only woman in the galaxy, Leia in Boussh disguise was a must have. Are you sensing a theme here? Removable helmets and Return of the Jedi were my wheelhouse. Let me pose this question to you, if you put Boba Fett and Boussh next to each other, which one is the cooler outfit?

I’m inclined to go with Boussh. It’s at least very close. This fake bounty hunter had a cool, garbled-sounding voice and appeared to have captured Chewbacca at first. Boussh was not to be messed with. But, the best reveal, it was actually Princess Leia putting her life on the line to save the man she loved.

9.       Darth Vader

Ah, you weren’t expecting me to put any of the first 12 in here were you? Darth Vader was and likely is the the best villain of the all-time. And this figure did not disappoint. He came with his signature red lightsaber and vinyl cape. Yes, that cape tore off. (My mom made me a new one from felt) Yes, his left hand was flat and couldn’t hold anything. (Karate chop force choke anyone?) And yes, the lightsaber that protruded from his right arm was outdated by 1981. (I like what I what like)

Yet, that figure still held true to the character. Kenner could have updated it. That would have been nice. But, the good news. They offered it (like every character) until the end of the line. Meaning, if you ever had your Vader’s head fall off. (Nods head) Then, you could get a new one, with a trip to Sears and the sad face of a 6-year-old.

10.      Admiral Ackbar

Go ahead. Make fun. Sure, he had the head of a fish and a his weapon was a scepter. But, this guy was unique. And… and…he was a mailaway figure. I’m not sure you can quantify how awesome it felt to receive something as special as a Star Wars figure in the mail when you’re just a kid. Heck, I still get excited when something I ordered on eBay shows up. So, when I sent away 6 proof-of-purchases from previous figures and this guy came into town 6 to 8 weeks later. That was one happy day on Williams Street, I can tell you that.

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So, these are just the figures I enjoyed or desired as a kid. Which ones did you play with until the paint wore off? Or which figures did you want and never got? Which ones are super expensive now and want as a collector? Chime in, in the comments below.