It's that time to once again look at a retro Star Wars figure. Back in 2020, I looked at an Empire Strikes Back figure. Three years later, it's time to look at a Return of the Jedi figure. Or, in other words, it took the same amount of time between the original Luke Bespin in 1980 and the original Biker Scout in 1983 as it did to get the two Retro figures. Honestly, I had no idea it had been that long. But, there were a couple Mandalorian waves, Obi Wan Kenobi figures and some Amazon exclusive bounty hunters in there. But, finally, we have the Return of the Jedi figures. And, for nostalgic reasons, most of the figures in the 6 figure set are interesting to me. Naturally, the most interesting in the Luke Jedi. But, I talked about why that was back in 2016. So, instead, I'm going to look at this Biker Scout as he was my entry figure into the Return of the Jedi world.
In the spring of 1983, the kid around the block from us invited us over. And, he promptly showed us his new Biker Scout figure. It was from the new Star Wars movie and was simply overwhelming. He looked like an amazingly updated Stormtrooper. He had the black and white trappings of the empire. But, he was way more detailed than standard troopers. And, his pistol was a marvel of design. It was, at the time, the coolest Star Wars gun that I thought Kenner had ever produced. Our friend informed us that he found the figures at the local Toys R Us. So, the following Saturday, I convinced my mom to take us to the store. There we were greeted by the standard wall of Star Wars figures that now had a few Return of the Jedi figures interspersed among the leftover figures from prior movies.
I quickly grabbed a Biker Scout for my purchase. And, my younger brother bought an Emperor's Royal Guard. I have no idea what other figures they had that day. But, the pickings had to be slim since I'd have bought a Luke with a new lightsaber if they had it in stock. I can remember the excitement of find the figure I wanted on the shelf. Even if I don't really recall looking at the cardback to see what other figures could, possibly, be available on the shelves. Regardless, for our two first figures from Jedi, the Biker Scout and Royal Guard were pretty good choices.
I got the figure home and wanted to find a use for him. The Speeder Bike and this figure are now inseparable. But, in early 1983, we had not yet seen the bikes that this figure would ride. I just knew that I had to find him a vehicle. It turns out that I had removed the seats from the original Tie Fighter and Darth Vader's Tie Fighter. I had done it in a vain search for lost weapons hidden underneath them. But, I ended up liking the little pods as vehicles. So, I put the Biker Scout in Darth Vader's seat and found my Tie Fighter Pilot for the Tie Fighter Seat and the two figures combed the grass underneath our swingset in the yard. I imagined guns on the front. And, they, eventually, stunned a Fisher Price motorcycle rider. That figure was orange and was a close enough approximation for an unnamed Rebel. This became a recurring theme and the motorcycle rider eventually found himself encased in mud and baked on the hot metal slide as punishment for joining the rebels.
The impression left on me from that day still hangs around, 40 years later. I can't recall any other Biker Scout adventures. I'm not even sure if he went with me to my grandparents' house that summer. But, as the Speeder Bikes came out, we ended up with multiple speeders and multiple Biker Scouts. But, by the time all of that entered our collection, I had discovered swivel arm battle grip and G.I. Joe was forever relegating Star Wars to forgotten status.
When I first returned to collecting in the mid 1990's, I picked up a complete Biker Scout from somewhere. Back then, no one who wasn't into the toy scene really cared about old Star Wars figures. And, I'd get little boxes with a few figures and weapons from various people. One friend even found another Royal Guard in the engineering lab where some prior student had used the figure for scale on a model machine. The only person I couldn't crack was one of my room mates. His father actually worked for Kenner, though not on the Star Wars division. But, every day, his father would spend his lunch change at the Kenner store. And, my friend had over 100 of each Imperial trooper at least through Empire. And, he understood the potential value in his collection. Knowing what we do now, in 2023, I wonder what treasures he had hidden in there. But, I'll never know.
While looking over this figure, it isn't a great toy for 1983. The sculpting and proportions are light years ahead of Star Wars figures from 1977. But, when you compare this figure to the Joe line of 1983, it is night and day. Joe had added articulation of swivel arm battle grip. And, the accessory complement for Joe was ratcheted up from the original offerings in 1982. Sans the hype of the "final" Star Wars movie, it's doubtful these figures would have been enough to pry me away from Joe as my primary play choice. But, that hype was real. And, it was powerful. And, after tiring of my 1982 Joes, I was full into the Return of the Jedi line. That interest lasted until July of 1983. By then, the movie had been released and the story told by my figures was over. Plus, G.I. Joe figures were blowing the Star Wars offerings away. So, I pivoted back to G.I. Joe and retain the summer of 1983 as my final time playing with Star Wars figures.
The Return of the Jedi wave is somewhat odd as it is being shipped in solid cases. There's an upside to this as online dealers can load up on popular figures without being saddled with poor sellers. At retail, though, it's hit and miss. My local Target store got a full case of Biker Scouts and Luke Jedis. These will sell out. If it was a case of Emperors and Landos, though, a single case of each could block any future cases from coming to your local store. But, let's face it. Star Wars collectors are an online, pre-order creature. The people finding them at retail either already have pre-orders that they may either keep or cancel. Or, they are casual collectors who don't really follow the line, but will buy something neat if they find it at the store.
The Star Wars Retro figures sold pretty well until the Obi Wan series hit. Those are still sitting on shelves all over the country despite having the best 5 POA Darth Vader ever made. Hasbro seems to have gotten their production numbers more accurate since the early waves. Though, they did overproduce the Mandalorian wave and many of its figures can be had for sale or closeout prices at various online retailers. But, there's plenty of these figures available from various pre-orders and retail stores. They run $12. It's possible that we'll see some clearance sales if these as overproduced as the previous waves. But, we'll see. It's doubtful these will take off in value, though. The Empire Boba Fett had a pretty decent after market for a bit. But, after an Amazon re-release, they can now be had for around original retail price. But, really, these figures aren't meant to be valuable collectibles. They are meant to represent valuable memories from childhood. They do succeed in that.