At one point or another, most everyone either owned or came in contact with Kenner's Star Wars figures when they were little. I was in that first group of owners. For most kids who owned the figures, the big deal was the Millenium Falcon, the biggest and most expensive of all Star Wars playsets. That's still pretty much the case today among collectors.
But me? I had to be different. No, not just because my parents never bought me the Millenium Falcon. I found a different ship, a better one with a pilot who was even more of a bad-ass than Han Solo, at least in my mind: Boba Fett's Slave I. Hit the jump to hop back in time with me and take a look at Kenner's version of Fett's bounty-hunting vessel, in all its plastic glory.
There were three versions of Slave I released: the original ship in 1981, an updated and re-colored Shadows of the Empire version in the 1990s (this was the one I had) and the Jango Fett version for Star Wars Episode II. They were all relatively similar in design, but the Jango Fett version did add a "blaster" cannon hidden in the front panel. Still, Kenner was able to get a number of neat features into Slave I that set it apart from every other Star Wars ship they ever made.
To start with, there's the cockpit. It can only be accessed by first opening up Slave I by removing a panel on the ship, and then by lowering the actual cockpit down using a small lever on the left side of the ship. The actual seat itself was more like a bed with a clip on it to hold a figure, but featured enough space to fit almost any of the Star Wars figures in there without problem. When the ship was closed up and the cockpit raised, you got the cool effect of the pilot, be it Boba Fett or someone else, actually appearing to be piloting the ship.
Slave I was supposed to have laser cannons, concealed projectile launchers, ion cannons and a tractor beam among many, many other features, but since almost all of these weren't possible back in the day, we got a fold-out ramp, movable wings and two little laser cannon pods you could move around on the ship. The laser cannons didn't do a thing — no sound, no lights, nothing. You had to use your imagination, folks.
The wings were simple slide-on plastic pieces, but it was what they could do that made them so cool. They would automatically adjust depending on what position you had the ship in and a trigger on the back of the ship could be used to hold the wings in whatever position they were in at the time. Most of the other Star Wars ships had some moving pieces, too, but for my little mind, this was infinitely more cool than the X-Wing's retractable wings that made sounds as they opened and closed.
But here's the cool part: unlike the stupid Millenium Falcon, which you had to use both hands to pretend was flying through space, Kenner deviated a bit from the Slave I design and threw a handle on the back of that bad boy. Since the thrusters protruded from the bottom at the same height as the handle, it didn't affect Slave I when it was in it its landed position, but it let you move the ship with one hand as nimbly as it would in real life. Well, if it were real to begin with. Still, when you're a kid, being able to create some awesome spins, dips and ducks like you were fighting in space over the frozen carbonite body of Han Solo was pretty damn awesome.
Speaking of which, Kenner did include good ol' Han in carbonite with the Slave I set, and he fit snugly into Slave I's cargo hold. Part of the hull slid down to form the loading ramp, but because of the ship's overhead space, it was nearly impossible to recreate the scene from The Empire Strikes Back where the Stomtroopers load carbonite Han into Fett's vessel.The ample space of the cargo bay, though, allowed my version of Fett to capture all different kinds of prey: Ewoks, Stormtroopers, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, C-3P0, dinosaurs, small Transformers like Bumblebee, G.I. Joes and even the occasional Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle or two. Truly, in my little mind, Boba Fett was a one-man hunting machine that could not be stopped by anyone.
I actually still have my Slave I somewhere at my parents' place, buried in a box with all my other old Star Wars figures. All this reminiscing has made me miss Slave I, and I might just have to go take it out of storage when I go back home...
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