WOLF retro REVIEW. 16th January 2024
Interesting and factual information may be provided, but our review aims to deliver insight from the perspective of a designer’s mind and eyes.
The original Kenner Star Wars Die-Cast series were produced from 1978 to 1980 with a total of 11 ships produced. They range from 10cm to 15cm with each scaled differently to be sized within this range.
The Star Destroyer, Millennium Falcon, Y-Wing Fighter and Tie Bomber came in boxes when new. The rest were in a blister on card in a packaging style that was similar to the 3.75-inch action figures. In fact, they were often sold alongside the action figures and priced competitively. They were also relatively unique in that they had original artworks rather than photos of the actual toy or scenes from the feature film.
The ships in boxes are generally rarer than the ones that came on cards. The Tie-Bomber in particular is hard to find and considered a Holy-Grail item amongst collectors.
Can you guess which one is missing from the set?
A toy line aimed at kids or grownups?
We remember these from back in the day because most kids had at least one or two. They were the most affordable way to own a ship from the movie and at that time the only way to have a Star Destroyer. However, they were a little odd to play with because although each one has a special feature of some sort, that trick was relatively basic and the toys didn’t fit in with any of the action figure lines (including the Micro Collection Series). Even within its own line the scales are all a little different. How can a Star Destroyer, Falcon and Snow Speeder all be roughly the same size?
As display pieces however, they look great, even after four decades. Many were purchased by mature adults purely for display purposes and those that survive today still tend to look as fresh as from day one.
How can a Star Destroyer, Falcon and Snow Speeder all be roughly the same size?
Both the Darth Vader’s Tie Fighter and the regular white Tie Fighters had cockpits that were removable via the rear. Both depicted Darth Vader himself as Pilot. The wings were also removable.
Darth Vader’s Tie Fighter was the only toy in the die-cast line up to have a variation. Early examples are said to have shorter wing lengths and are very hard to find.
The Star Destroyer had the least realism when it came to scaled detailing, but at least it come with a Blockade Runner in a compartment on the underside, so you could say you got two for one.
The Land Speeder had a similar hovering trick to the larger toy made for the action figure line.
The X-wing was very popular. Its canopy and wings opened. Its black laser guns were made of rubber (presumable for safety), and with age many bend or go stiff.
The Falcon was the most popular of the boxed toys. It had retractable landing gear with rotating laser cannons and radar dish.
A strange looking Han Solo & Chewbacca
Kenner’s Die-cast range were made from quality materials and finished in relatively thick paint. Over time that paint on many toys will age and become brittle if not stored properly. Out of package it can be hard to find really mint specimens as even the most well cared for examples will have minor paint ships and ware, especially along the edges.
The Tie-Bomber is commonly found with yellowed plastic components. The paint also appears to be thinner compared to the other ships and tends to be more vulnerable. Being the last Die-cast ship to be produced it was possibly made with cheaper materials as a cost saving measure in a discontinued toy line.
Like the other Tie Fighters, the wings were removable. The plastic appears to be thinner and more brittle.
The rare Tie-Bomber which curiously had a Snow Trooper as Pilot. Unlike the other two Tie Fighters there was no way to access the pilot.
Wing comparison between regular tie fighters and tie-Bombers indicate that the Bomber had inferior plastic which tended to yellow and turn brittle.
Luke and C-3PO were well sculpted with nice paint but with all hands on their laps, who’s driving that Land Speeder?
This cockpit canopy is still nice and clear. Most go missing or turn yellow and misty with age.
The Slave one was a ship that seemed very prone to discoloration with many having very yellowed plastics around the cockpit. It’s cool that Boba Fett is in there and he is the only figure in this line that is painted in more than one colour. That made up for the fact that the ship’s colour did not accurately represent the one in the film.
With less than a dozen different types, the vintage Die-Cast ships are relatively easy to complete as a set. Being small in scale they won’t take up a lot of space and you could potentially fit them all on a single shelf. As a loose set they also won’t break the bank for most, but if you’re ambitious to have them mint sealed in package, you will definitely need deeper pockets.
The Tie Bomber is the one you’ll need to be patient with since they are rare and don’t age well. Mint examples are hard to come by and even harder are boxed specimens.
A popular combo
At just over a centimeter this was the only Rebel Blockade runner in the entire vintage line
The Y-Wing is hard to find in mint condition. Make sure it has its plastic red bomb and check that the gun tips are not broken or missing.
Word of the Wolf.
As a toy-line they were not considered that successful and as such there are no ships from the final movie in the trilogy (such a shame). Therefore, the full set of 11 still somehow feels incomplete. In terms of value, they have always been seen as a lesser toy but in recent years prices have strengthened with collectors realising their timeless appeal. Even by today’s standards the detail and scale of these toys are acceptable which make for nice retro displays and talking pieces.
A great vintage toy line to display for the fan with limited space and not wanting to look like a big kid.
The information in this review is intended for informational or educational purposes to provide readers an understanding of how something may be seen from a certain design perspective. In this case it is from the view point of WOLF DESIGNS. As design is subjective this review should only be considered as an independent opinion. Information further to being of an opinion is provided to the best of our knowledge based on our own research at the time of doing the review. We cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies or inconsistencies and reserve the right to change or update any content as appropriate.
The final responsibility of the design resides with the original manufacturer.