Friday, December 27, 2019

Playing With Action Figures

I wasn't going to post again until next year but...

Much of my love of the Star Wars universe was conveyed through playing with the old Kenner Action Figures.

My friend Joe and I would spend hours upon hour on complicated stories and involved scenarios, often involving other toys or playsets and occasionally bumping up some minor character to the level where they could join in the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han, Chewie, Lando, and of course the droids, C-3PO and R2-D2.

I remember we even had our own rules of a sort for figuring out if the heroes or villains hit each other with their blasters. It was the pre-cursor to Star Wars RPG gaming and evolved from playing with earlier action figures like G.I. Joes or Mego Superheroes and Star Trek figures. 

Since we didn't have a lot of money back then, other toys would sometimes be added to our Star Wars playtime if we thought they fit.

Marx Toys' Comanche Pass (also known as 'Ambush at Falling Rock) made a great Tatooine. The MB Electronics Star Bird Avenger served as a Rebel or Bounty Hunter spacecraft, while Milton Bradley's programmable Big Trak become the evil Empire's latest secret weapon against Rebellion forces on the ground. 

Sometimes, you'd find a toy, an action figure or vehicle or something, and it just wouldn't fit in with the rest of the game. It might be cool but even as kids we would through the kitchen sink in only so far. No Cowboy figures, Knights, or other such playing pieces were allowed on the field when Jedi, Biker Scouts, and Sand People roamed it. No modern car, boat, or even airplane toy had earned the right to travel across the snow covered hills of Hoth or burning gray ash of my original planet of Gardine. 

There is something about The Mandalorian that really feels like Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni are two kids in a playground having an absolute blast playing with their Star Wars figures. And that, my dear viewers, is the feeling of fun, wonder, and excitement I want in a Star Wars campaign. 

Grab your character, figure out what is going on, then do something about it. Not after you've discussed all the options or after you consider a complicated plan to...NO. Stop. Just play. Just be in that moment in Star Wars. 

Think of what you or your character would do now. Plan only long enough to get you out of a mess or into one. Now make a new plan. Whatever you decide to do, DO IT! You could consider all the possible outcomes that might result from your ideas but in Star Wars, Now is Not The Time! It's always now by the way, so it's never the time. It's Do or Do Not. There is no try.

The Sequel Trilogy lacks this feeling. It feels padded, stretched out, and never 'now'. It always feels way back when, soon, or eventually. Never now. That suddenness is not there. The drive to do a thing and make a difference seems lost in the shuffle of over-the-top special effects and waaay too meta humor. 

Personally, I don't want anyone playing with multi-million dollar sets, vehicles, and action figures if they've never played with real ones or don't feel a passion for what that was like. I want people to make Star Wars to do so for the same reason I love to run the RPG, that is because I simply Love Star Wars.

I want to live, work, and play in that universe because I always have.

And I always will. 

Barking Alien


  1. Back in 1977 I had all the action figures but only really used the luke in his x-wing gear but I spent most of my time with the micromachine versions of the x-wing and tie-fighter. Book cases stood in for the surface of the death-star, shag carpeting was plant-covered landing areas. I'm don't even remember stories, just constant non-sensical dog-fights. Good times.

  2. I always wanted a Big Trak; I had the chance to play with them once or twice. They still seem cool in my memory.

  3. Oh that brings back memories. I still have my Starbird and it works! I let my kids play with it occasionally. I never had the Big Trak, but I have the Intruder. Such a great toy.

  4. I didn't have a Big Trak myself but my best friend Joseph did. I had the Starbird and when we would play together we'd combine our Star Wars collections. Neither of us had everything but together we almost did.

  5. I too always wanted the Big Trak.

    I was not quite so elitist in my action figure universe. I had the Rebellion teaming up with GI Joe, the crew of the Palomino, Flash Gordon, and the odd Fisher Price Adventure People against the unholy alliance of the Empire, Ming the Merciless, Doctor Reindhardt, and Maximillian the Robot. The Lone Ranger guest starred.