In any self respecting vintage fan’s house, the holiday season does not begin with Thanksgiving but instead with Life Day. That’s right, tomorrow, November 17 is the 35th anniversary of the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special. And like many old school aficionados, we’ll be dusting off our bootleg DVDs (purchased from some shady booth at a comic-con long past) in order sit down and enjoy close to two hours of mostly forgotten Star Wars lore.
Shown only once in 1978, virtually denied by George Lucas himself and never released since; the Holiday Special is a “special” type of Star Wars media. It holds the honor of being one of the first Star Wars spin-offs to ever be produced. A fact that is widely forgotten in today’s Star Wars saturated landscape. The coming of age fan today of the Star Wars Saga will need to choose between over half a dozen motion pictures, television movies, eight seasons of cartoons, numerous video games, multiple television crossover specials, radio dramas, audio-books soundtracks, amusement park rides and so much more.
But for fans who watch the Holiday Special, its a way to travel back to a more simplistic time when only a movie, a television special and a mere 20 action figures existed.
To commemorate this Life Day anniversary, From 4-LOM to Zuckuss is taking a look at and celebrating the Star Wars action figures which appeared in the Holiday Special both then and today.
As most fans know Kenner produced 21 unique action figures in their Star Wars toyline. Although these figures were nowhere to be seen at the time of A New Hope’s 1977 release, 20 of the 21 figures would find their way to retail throughout 1978 and early 1979.
Now of the first 20 Kenner figures, only 14 of them appeared in the Holiday Special with original scenes and dialogue. The figures who made their small screen debut were:
1. Artoo-Detoo (R2-D2)
3. Darth Vader
4. Death Squad Commander
7. Han Solo
8. Luke Skywalker
9. Luke Skywalker: X-Wing Pilot
10. Princess Leia Organa
11. See-Threepio (C-3PO)
14. Walrus Man
Since the Holiday Special focused mainly on the Chewbacca’s home planet of Kashyyyk, this made it difficult to include all of the first 20 figures in the program since a majority of them were from parts of Tatooine. These 14 figures were featured prominently throughout the program which made for additional play value for kids who were for any new Star Wars material in 1978.
Now it should be noted that not all of the figures featured in the Holiday Special also appeared in Episode IV. That’s right, “red” Snaggletooth is the only figure in the entire vintage figure line to appear exclusively in the
Holiday Special. He originally appeared as a running change to the “blue” Snaggletooth, which was found in Sear’s exclusive Cantina Adventure Set and was later carded individually as well.
At a time before Leland Chee, Star Wars sourcebooks, Pablo Hidalgo, Star Wars encyclopedias, Tim Veekhoven and the internet, most children assumed Snaggletooth appeared in the packed Mos Eisley Cantina scenes from the film, but action figure collectors of today know his fame comes from his appearance in this Star Wars “variety show.”
Snaggletooth, who’s real name is Zutmore despite being called “Zutton” in the cantina, was close to being joined by three more characters exclusively from this special. Chewbacca’s family Malla, Lumpy and Itchy were developed into prototypes but failed to see retail. The set below are believed to be the only samples known to exist.
The next two figures did indeed appear in the special but ever so briefly and had no lines or original scenes in the special. These two who appeared only in archival scenes were:
15. Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi
The Jawa appeared, of course on Tatooine, in cut scenes from Star Wars used primarily for establishing shots of Mos Eisley. Old Ben was featured only in the movie montage seen during the Life Day celebration scenes and not in the show proper as he was already “one with the force.”
The next four figures from the original Star Wars action figure line did not appear at all in the November special. These unlucky few were:
17. Death Star Droid
18. Power Droid
19. Sand People
These four found no screen time as no scenes involved the Jundland Wastes where Tuskens and Jawa-owned droids like to hangout and since the Death Star, which the Death Star Droid called home, was successfully destroyed and the atoms of all on-board were blown across the Yavin system, the Death Star Droid’s absence was accepted.
That leaves luck number 21. Boba Fett.
As the final figure produced for the Star Wars line, Boba Fett was originally a mail-away offer which did not make it to children’s hands until about a year after the Holiday Special. This only made sense as the Holiday Special was his very first appearance. His debut occurred in the animation sequence during the Holiday Special that was produced by animation company Nelvana, who would go on to create the Ewoks and Droids cartoon series.
Most of Boba Fett’s scenes take place on the moon of Panna Prime. And its during these scenes that a hardcore vintage action figure fan may start to believe their Cantina Adventure Set could very well be a scene from Panna Prime instead. Notice in the Holiday Special the Stormtroopers marching with the rifles slung over their shoulder and the Long-Snoot looking bum lurking near by? Now compare this to the Sandtrooper and Long-Snoot printed on the Cantina Adventure Set!
We jest, of course, but one might actually start to debate as to whether or not their Cantina Adventure Set is the same cantina from the film ran this time by our favorite Golden Girl; Ackemna. One would note that other than the four figures included with Sear’s exclusive set and the Sandtrooper printed on it, none of the other denizens depicted are familiar nor appear in the Mos Eisley of A New Hope. Nevertheless, they both appear to be popular pubs with whoever their locals are.
For fans of a newer generation, there are plenty of figures that have been released since 1995 that one could use to create dioramas based of this tale of one tumultuous Life Day. When one looks at all of the modern figures that have been released so far, only one figure shares the same status as Snaggletooth. During Hasbro’s The 30th Anniversary Collection series they produced a Boba Fett entitled “Animation Debut”. This version of our favorite bounty hunter came painted in the colors as seen in the Nelvana sequence. This brings the total number of figures based on appearances from the Holiday Special to two.
The following is a list of modern action figures, broken down by scene, that appeared in the Star Wars Holiday Special:
- Darth Vader
- Chief Bast
- MSE Droids
- Animated Debut: Boba Fett
- Darth Vader
- Han Solo
- IM4 Droid
- Luke Skywalker in Ceremonial Outfit
- Princess Leia
- Cantina Band Members
- Bom Vimdin
- Ellorrs Madak
- Hem Dazon
- Momaw Nadon
- Ponda Boba
- Pons Limbic
- Trinto Duaba
- Zutmore (Snaggletooth)
- Ben “Obi-Wan” Kenobi
- Death Squad Commander
- Han Solo
- Luke Skywalker
- Luke Skywalker: X-Wing Pilot
- Princess Leia
For those wanting to spend this Life Day creating scenes and dioramas from the Holiday Special, From 4-LOM to Zuckuss has a few suggestions to enhance your action figure displays.
- Display a Y-Wing piloted by Luke in Ceremonial Outfit
- Use the Cantina Adventure Set as Panna Prime
- Purchase a Micro Machine’s Action Fleet Bantha to represent Lumpy’s decapitated stuffed animal
- Take the holotable from the Millennium Falcon for Chewie’s treehome
- Paint a Micro Machine X-Wing brown to represent Ithcy’s wooden gift to Lumpy (That just sounds bad)
- And finally sacrifice a vintage Royal Guard to create Chewie’s Life Day robes
Whether you choose to embrace or reject the Star Wars Holiday Special, one cannot argue that it has a unique place in the history of Star Wars. On Sunday, remember to make the most of this Life Day’s anniversary; put on a red robe, listen to some Jefferson Starship and have “just one more round friend.”