Our friends over at RetroBlasting have released their latest vintage Kenner Star Wars vehicle restoration video which focuses on one of the toy line’s very first Expanded Universe creations, the Imperial Troop Transport. Originally released in 1979, the ITT included an electric internal mini-record which played six “original Star Wars sounds” upon pressing the six orange button surrounding the cannon. This feature tends to break down over time and for those wanting to hear R2-D2 Beeps, Stormtrooper stun blasts and the ITT’s engine will want to pay close attention to this restoration.
Now what makes this restoration project even of greater significance is that the specific vehicle undergoing the knife held by Michael’s very capable hands belongs to our good friend and founder of IGrewUpStarWars.com, Tom Berges.
In its rarest appearance to date, the ITT was later released very briefly in The Empire Strikes Back packaging in 1980 before being pulled and revamped for its 1981 release.
Sears received exclusive rights to release a non-electric version of the vehicle in 1981, this time simply named the “Imperial Cruiser”. Despite being the vehicle which attacked the Jawa’s Sandcrawler on Tatooine in Episode IV (according to the mini-comic within the instructions book), this version was portrayed as a troop transporter deployed during the Battle of Hoth. The Imperial Cruiser varies from its predecessor in multiple ways as it no longer includes sounds or phrases from the movie, features different stickers and includes different deco on some plastic components.
It would be 34 years before another version of the ITT/Imperial Cruiser would appear. Thanks to Dave Filoni and the heavy amount of Star Wars nostalgia that he and the production crew bring to Star Wars Rebels, the Imperial Troop Transport found its way back to both the franchise and the toy line. Although is should be known that this version does vary quite a bit from the vintage version and the vehicle itself lacks many of the features which made the first version a really great toy.
— ITT Appearances Outside of the Figure Line —
Now even though the ITT appeared for just a few years on toys shelves before disappearing for three decades doesn’t mean it was completely absent from other facets of the Star Wars collecting world. This Kenner creation’s life outside of the action figure toy line began immediately in 1979 as it appeared in Marvel’s Star Wars comic book series. In issue 31, the Imperial transport made its first appearance.
Dark Horse Comics has featured briefly the ITT in a number of comics including Boba Fett: Overkill a one-shot released in 2006.
In 2009, Topps released a trading card featuring the ITT in the fourth series of their Star Wars Galaxy trading card line.
The animated series Star Wars Rebels has been no stranger to using older and vintage designs on their show and the use the ITT was no exception. Early on in Season One, the transport made its screen debut in the episode Fighter Flight.
Of course finding inspiration from the Rebels series, Lego produced an Imperial Troop Transport although it was grossly undersized when compared to both the original toy and the animated version.
Hasbro’s resurrected Micro Machines series did as well feature a micro version which captured the 2015 version of the ITT perfectly despite its size.
The new era of Star Wars Marvel Comics has come full circle as they have continued what they started in 1979 by placing the ITT in a few of their issues ever so briefly. Here you can see they are part of the battalion that is set to take on Han and Leia in a captured AT-AT in Star Wars #3.
Where the Imperial Troop Transport/Imperial Cruiser will show up next is anyone’s guess but if and when it does we’ll happily report it!
Until the next Kenner Cameo,
May the Figures be with you!