Frankly I think it’s some kind of miracle I can still sustain love for the original Star Wars films given the utter travesty of the three prequels. Maybe that’s why I light up when I see stuff like this —
It’s a toy AT-AT that just sold at Christie’s auction house for $1,250. But not just any AT-AT, it’s a “Graff-At”, by EASE and JK5, the whole thing being covered with graffiti in the Aurebesh language (that’s the made up language created for the Star Wars films). The big honkin’ tag on the side reads “REBEL.”
Nobody knew Star Wars was going to be such a Big Damn Deal when it first came out so there were no toys. None. That’s almost inconceivable now in this era of mass merchandising even for films that aren’t hits (sorry Speed Racer). Once it became clear the film was, in fact, a Certifiable Big Damn Deal many toy companies were jumping to get the Star Wars licensing deal and originally Mego was supposed to do it. (If they had, I wonder if the first line of Star Wars toys would have looked like the old 6″ Mego super heroes with their cloth costumes?)
But apparently when Lucasfilm called, Mego turned them down to go make Micronauts. So Kenner Toys got the contract.
Anybody remember Micronauts? I didn’t think so. That decision put Mego right out of business. (After they realized their gaff they tried to make it up by licensing seemingly every sci-fi-ish movie that came out including Moonraker, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. They went bankrupt in 1982.) Meanwhile Kenner figured out that they needed to make the figures small enough so they could have ships that weren’t the size of an AMC Pacer. But by Christmas of ’77 they still hadn’t rolled out any toys. I made my own paperdolls (including a girl Jedi who kicked major paperdoll ass).
If you’ve stumbled into my studio at some point you probably tripped over a toy. I don’t collect as much as I used to (ran out of space to store/display stuff) but every once in a while I can’t resist something. Toys and vinyl figures have become so huge, sometimes I think it’s kinda sad that nobody ever taps me to rock one (though I totally get how my art doesn’t naturally lend itself as easily as some others. Sigh.).
There are occasional exceptions — Hasbro and Thunderdog Studios teamed up a few years back to do The Pony Project in NYC. They sent all these women artists a blank, white, HUGE vinyl My Little Pony and we all got to do whatever we wanted to it. (Proceeds from the sales of the ponies when to Hole in the Wall Camps, helping kids with life threatening illnesses.) So I made an Amazon Trojan Pony — painted it like a big wooden horse (I dearly love anything with fake woodgrain on it) and then cut the belly open so teensy tiny women warriors could rappel down with their swords and daggers.
Obviously this was a one-off but man it was fun.