Iron-Cow Prod. is pleased to showcase its new additions to the Vintage Kenner Star Wars action figure line! These figures are meant to fill in some gaps, expand the line a bit, and generally have some fun revisiting childhood nostalgia. When possible, I left any paint scrapes on the original figures intact for any intentional visual aging effect.
4-Arms (Nabrun Leids)
4-Arms (or Nabrun Leids for the modern Star Wars crowd) was one of the fun background aliens spotted in the Mos Eisley cantina. I had seen a version of this custom on one of the Rebelscum forum threads, and decided to give it a shot myself.
4-Arms was made using a Nabrun Leids figure from the Star Wars POTF2 “Cantina Aliens” Cinema Scene set. Using a Dremel, I sliced that figure across the torso, and spliced in the lower half of a Vintage Greedo figure. Kneadatite Epoxy was used to bond the two halves together. The figure was then primed using Kyrlon Spray Primer Grey, given a coat of Flat White, and then hit with a dusting of silver paint to finish off the metallic flight suit.
All in all, I’m really happy with how he turned out, and he’s a fun addition to my vintage Star Wars collection.
I’m not quite sure why, but as a kid I was always drawn to Admiral Piett. I didn’t ever really want a figure of any of the other Imperial Officers, but I knew I wanted a Piett on my shelf. Perhaps it was that he appeared in two of the films, of that he almost never seemed to lose his cool.
Anyway, this project was pretty straightforward. I began by taking a vintage Star Wars Imperial Commander figure. I placed the figure in a cup filled with near-boiling water. This softened up the plastic enough for me to pop off the original head and replace it with one from a modern-era Captian Piett figure. The figure was then repainted to match the appropriate colors.
The headsculpt might be a tad too detailed for a truly convincing for a vintage piece, but I like how it looks regardless.
Biggs Darklighter (X-Wing Pilot)
Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted action figures of Luke’s fellow X-Wing Pilots Biggs Darklighter and Wedge Antilles. Biggs had the amazing deco on his flight helmet, and Wedge always seemed so calm and cool under pressure.
This custom figure is an extension of my Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot piece that I had begun earlier. While looking up reference material, I realized that after all this time I simply never noticed that the original Kenner X-Wing Luke action figure never had gloves included on his final sculpt. To help make Biggs and Wedge stand apart (and to be a bit more accurate), I swapped in the gloved arms from an AT-ST Driver. Using a Dremel, I then hollowed out the helmet so that the figure could hold onto it. The head comes from a G.I. Joe Wildcard figure, which was then repainted. The head is slightly too detailed to blend in with the vintage Kenner style, but at the same time it adds some nice variety and doesn’t feel like a repaint of a Han or Luke headsculpt.
“It’ll be like old times, Luke. They’ll never stop us.”
Cantina Band Members
I am surprised Kenner never produced figures of the Cantina Band members for the vintage Star Wars figure line. The characters are such a natural fit: cool-looking aliens from a beloved scene that would make for a fun toy. Ah well… three decades later I decided to give it a go myself.
I tracked down a mail-away Cantina Band member from the modern Power of the Force 2 line. I heated up some near-boiling water and soaked the figure for a few minutes to soften up the plastic. It was then easy to pop off the head and hands. I transfered these onto a vintage Luke Skywalker (Jedi Outfit) figure. All that remained was a simple repaint of the pants and he was good to go. In fact, the recipe was so easy, I ended up making two. (I would have made all five, but I had a hard time picturing Kenner actually making 5 versions back in the day, and I simply didn’t have the shelf space for more than two.)
The Cantina Band Members custom project was so fun that it really got my mind wondering what other “quick and easy” figures could be made as well.
Chewbacca (Return of the Jedi)
Chewbacca, everyone’s favorite Wookie, was one of the few main characters to only receive a single figure throughout the entire run of the Vintage Star Wars line. While I loved my Chewbacca figure as a kid, I always preferred the look of the character in the later films, particularly Return of the Jedi. The floppy, shaggier hair seemed so much more appropriate to the character, and the hair on the original figure was too slicked-back for my tastes.
I finally decided to make my own, just for kicks. This ROTJ-era Chewie simply has new hair sculpted around his face, created with Kneadatite epoxy. I thought about adding a bit more fur here and there on the arms and legs, but decided to keep the detailing simple and not overdo it.
It may not be the most challenging piece I’ve ever worked on, but it was definitely a fun project and helped satisfy a 35-year old obsession not having a Jedi-era Chewie.
Yes, I know… Darth Maul’s status in the prequel films doesn’t really qualify him as a possible Kenner-era release, but I thought the character was so visually striking that I had to make a custom of him for my own vintage collection.
Darth Maul is a really simple project to create. I began by taking an Episode I Darth Maul figure, and well as a vintage Star Wars Luke Skywalker (Jedi Outfit) figure. I heated up some near-boiling water and soaked the figure for a few minutes to soften up the plastic. It was then easy to pop off the heads from both figures. I had to drill out the neck post from the Luke figure, but it was then easy to insert in the new Maul head. I sliced off Luke’s forearms (how ironic) and glued the Maul gloves into place. The cape was cut from black vinyl, and the double lightsaber was crafted by gluing two vintage lightsaber reproductions together at the hilt and repainting them red.
The eyes might be painted a bit too precise for a truly vintage release, but I felt it too nice to repaint. I wanted a relatively quick and easy project, and Darth Maul fit the bill perfectly.
Devil Man (Labria)
Similar to my 4-Arms (Nabrun Leids) custom, Devil Man (or Labria, to you modern Star Wars collectors) was made using a Labria figure from the Star Wars POTF2 “Cantina Aliens” Cinema Scene set. I began by heating up some near-boiling water and soaked the figure for a few minutes to soften up the plastic. I then was able to pop off the figure’s arms and replace the arms with those from a Vintage B-Wing Pilot. Using a Dremel, I then sawed off the lower half of the base figure, and replaced the legs and hips with those from a Vintage Star Destroyer Commander figure. Luckily, Labria’s chest sculpt worked well enough with the new parts that it blended in with the vintage style.
I then primed the figure using Krylon’s Spray Primer Grey and then repainted the body to better match the vintage style. The custom vinyl cape was the last addition the figure needed to complete the effect.
Grand Moff Tarkin
“If you’re right, he must not be allowed to escape.”
Given Tarkin’s importance in the original film, I’m still confused why Kenner never released a figure of him. I remember my older brother mentioning that to me back in the early 1980’s, and it was a concept that stuck with me to today.
Similar to my Admiral Piett piece, this project was pretty straightforward. I began by taking a vintage Star Wars Imperial Commander figure. I placed the figure in a cup filled with near-boiling water. This softened up the plastic enough for me to pop off the original head and replace it with one from a modern-era Tarkin figure. The figure was then repainted to match the appropriate colors.
I think I may have left off a detail or two off the uniform, but I wasn’t wanting to get TOO specific with the sculpt. On the shelf, he blends in great with the rest of his vintage action figure buddies.
Han Solo (Echo Base)
I have to thank Joshua Izzo for this one. I had seen a handful of Han Solo customs featuring his Hoth outfit without the hood, but it wasn’t until I saw Josh’s that I truly wanted my own.
This recipe is as simple as could be: soak the parts using near-boiling water to loosen up the plastic. I then popped off the original head, and I had to use a Dremel to remove the original neck pike that was on the base figure. That took only a moment of work, and I then inserted a new head from a Bespin Han Solo.
I usually don’t get drawn into “unmasked” variants on a figure, but since I had a hooded Han on display with riding a Tauntaun, I could easily justify having an unhooded Han figure hanging around with the rest of his buddies in the the Rebel hanger.
Han Solo (Stormtrooper Disguise)
I take no claim for this recipe. I had seen a handful of Han-in-Stormtrooper-Disguise custom figures online, but I could never justify the expense to make my own. That is, until I found a vintage Luke Skywalker (Stormtrooper disguise) for dirt cheap on eBay. The original Luke head was badly mangled, but that drove the price down to my advantage so that I could actually afford the parts for this project. I then tracked down a “small head” vintage Han Solo and was able to swap in the new head after soaking the parts in a bath of near-boiling water. This softened up the plastic enough for me to safely remove and interchange the parts. Finally, the Stormtrooper helmet accessory was an excellent reproduction piece I picked up off eBay.
Though there was no painting involved, and this project involved nothing more than swapping around a few parts, I’m still happy to have it on my shelf. My OCD brain can now rest easy knowing that both Luke and Han now have vintage figures of their Stormtrooper disguises.
Horn-Head (Bom Vimdin)
Technically, he was called “Don Rickles” on the set of the first Star Wars film, but that didn’t sound like a proper old-school Kenner name, nor did his modern “Bom Vimdin” calling. I asked some friends for some suggestions (I was personally thinking of “Bi-Clops”), and Swass! came up with the name “Horn-Head.” It sounded silly, it sounded Kenner-esque, and it was absolutely perfect for the project.
This custom was definitely and experiment. I had been having an amazing amount of fun customizing various Cantina aliens and I wanted to see if I could adapt a modern-era headsculpt onto a vintage body and have it fit in style-wise. I began by taking a Vintage Star Wars Han Solo (In Trench Coat) figure and sanding off as much of the chest area as I could. I then took a modern-era Bom Vimdin and hollowed out the torso as much as possible. This left a thin layer of plastic that I transplanted onto the Han body, along with one of Bom’s leg pouches. I used Magic Sculpt to blend the seams and fill in any missing details. Minor detailing was added to the boots to help separate them a bit from Han’s.
Overall, I’m not sure it’s convincing as a vintage figure. It may possibly just squeeze in among the later Jedi-era figure releases (which was the original intention), but even still it seems a bit too modern. Either way, Horn-Head was a blast to work on, and I like how he turned out.
The Imperial Technicians are a fun custom project made entirely out of leftover parts! I needed the arms of an AT-ST Driver figure for a separate project, so I swapped in arms from an X-Wing Pilot onto the leftover AT-ST Driver body. The headsculpt comes from a vintage Imperial Commander, which was leftover from my Admiral Piett project. The only paint that was required was getting the arms to match the light grey of the uniform.
While the Imperial Technicians might not be the most exciting of characters, they appeared in all three films and make for a fun (and easy) army builder project.
Lando Calrissean (Smuggler Outfit)
Ah, Lando… Even as a kid, I thought it was kind of silly for Lando to dress up in Han Solo’s clothes in the closing scene of Empire Strikes Back. I’ve mellowed a bit with age, though, and what seems silly onscreen could still make for a fun toy on the shelf.
Though I’ve seen a handful of Smuggler Lando customs online, I wanted to try my own take on the outfit. I began by taking a Bespin Han Solo figure and soaking it in a cup filled with near-boiling water. This softened up the plastic enough for me to easily pop off the arms and legs. I used this method to remove the limbs off a vintage Lando Calrissean figure as well. Lando’s limbs took some minor reworking to get them to attach to the Han torso.
Once attached, I then sanded down the shirt collar and resculpted it using Magic Sculpt. I then took an X-Acto blade and very carefully sliced the belt and holster off the discarded Han legs, and transferred them to the custom figure using SuperGlue to adhere the parts. Adding in a new Lando head and repainting the figure was all that was needed to complete the custom.
Even though Lando only appeared very briefly in this outfit, there are enough subtle differences between this figure and the original Han figure to justify having both on the toy shelf.
Leia Organa (Rebel Briefing)
I credit Joshua Izzo for this recipe. He had shown me his version of “General Leia”, and I was instantly sold.
This custom is a repaint of the vintage Star Wars Princess Leia Organa (In Combat Poncho) figure, with the helmet and poncho removed and the belt and holster secured in place. This is the outfit I envisioned Leia wearing during most of her post-Jedi adventures. It’s a really quick and easy custom that took no time at all to create.
Thanks again to Joshua for inspiring this one!
It was this custom of Long Snoot (aka “Garindan”) that got the ball rolling on my recent Vintage Star Wars customizing obsession.
After my recent move to New York, I realized I had quite a few surplus vintage Star Wars figures lying around. I hadn’t quite set up my new art studio, so I was looking into some quick and easy custom toy projects to get the creativity going again. I think I had seen a custom Long Snoot project somewhere on line, and wanted to give it a shot myself.
This version began using an old, slightly beat-up Vintage Star Wars Star Destroyer Commander figure. I soaked the figure in a cup filled with near-boiling water. This softened up the plastic enough for me to pop off the original head and replace it with one from the Power of the Force 2 Garindan. The cape was made using a vinyl reproduction of a vintage Darth Vader cape, trimmed to fit.
All in all, this took perhaps only 15 minutes to make. I thought about touching up the belt buckles, but the paint scraps helped add to the illusion that it was a vintage piece.
Luke Skywalker (Ceremonial Outfit)
Growing up, I always wanted an action figure of Luke wearing his yellow jacket from the closing scene of the original Star Wars. Even though the look came to be known as “Ceremonial Luke,” it was for me the outfit Luke continued to wear in all of his adventures after the original Star Wars. I’ve always had a soft spot for that outfit, so I knew I wanted a vintage version of it on my toy shelf some day.
I began by taking a Vintage Star Wars Bespin Han Solo and soaking the figure in a cup filled with near-boiling water. This softened up the plastic enough for me to pop off the original head and replace it with one from a Bespin Luke Skywalker. I then carefully sanded down the details on Han’s jacket, and used Magic Sculpt to resculpt all the remaining detailing. The medal came from a Power of the Force 2 Ceremonial Luke while the blue lightsaber was a reproduction part I purchased off eBay.
Unfortunately, the white primer got a little spritzy when I sprayed, so Luke has a fine texturing all over his jacket. That was a bit hard to touch up, and he looks a bit rough in these photographs, but he still looks pretty good on the display shelf.
Luke Skywalker (Dagobah Training)
I owe a huge amount of thanks to Joshua Izzo for helping me with this recipe. Josh and I have both been working on vintage-era custom projects, and have been bouncing ideas back and forth like crazy brainstorming. It was Josh who came up with the recipe for this Vintage Luke Skywalker (Dagobah Training) custom project.
I began by taking a Vintage Star Wars AT-ST Driver figure and soaking the figure in a cup filled with near-boiling water. This softened up the plastic enough for me to pop off the original arms and replace them with those from a Clash of the Titans Perseus figure. I then sliced off the boots from the AT-ST Driver and added in the head and boots from a vintage Bespin Luke. Finally, I sanded down the shirt to remove the detailing from the Driver, giving the appearance of an undershirt. The gauntlets on the Perseus arms had to be sanded as well.
Did I really need to tackle another Luke Skywalker costume variation for my shelf? Probably not… but considering Luke spent such a huge portion of the Empire Strikes Back training to become a Jedi, I felt it was a worthwhile variation, and certainly a fun project to work on.
Luke Skywalker (Final Jedi Duel)
I had seen a few “Final Jedi Duel” customs here and there on eBay, but at first I honestly didn’t know what all the fuss was about. I then really began to look into the outfits Luke wore during “Return of the Jedi” and didn’t realize all the subtle differences that existed between the first half of the film and the second.
I was able to find a vintage Star Wars “Luke Skywalker (In Battle Poncho)” figure relatively cheap on eBay. The figure was cheap since it didn’t include the battle poncho, but I would have discarded that anyway. I soaked the figure in a cup filled with near-boiling water. This softened up the plastic enough for me to pop off the original head and replace it with one from a Jedi Luke Skywalker. The green lightsaber was a reproduction part I purchased off eBay.
All that remained was painting the belt buckle to complete the custom. Placing the “Jabba’s Palace” Luke next to the “Final Duel” Luke, really highlights the differences in the sculpts, even more so if you display Luke in his Jedi robes.
Luke Skywalker (X-Wing Pilot)
After my recent move, I realized I had quite a few surplus vintage Star Wars figures lying around. I hadn’t quite set up my studio yet, and I was looking into some quick and easy custom toy projects to get the creativity going again. Luke, in his X-Wing Gear, with a removable helmet, was a project I had seen all over the internet. It felt like the perfect project to dive into.
I soaked a vintage Luke (X-Wing Pilot) figure in a cup filled with near-boiling water. This softened up the plastic enough for me to pop off the original head and replace it with one from a Bespin Luke Skywalker (my preferred headsculpt of the character). With the leftover pilot head, I took my Dremel and hollowed out the inside of the helmet. It’s a bit rough on the inside, and doesn’t actually fit over Luke’s head anymore, but it certainly looks great on the shelf.
Nothing like a quick and easy project to kickstart the creativity again.
Mon Calamari Officer
As I began expanding the scope of my vintage customizing, I knew I wanted to include a Mon Calamari officer. Admiral Ackbar was one of my favorite alien designs from the original trilogy, and he needed a backup officer for my display shelf.
The recipe is pretty straightforward: I took a vintage Admiral Ackbar figure and sanded down a lot of the costuming details. I then added in a new belt and chest insignia created from plastic styrene. The helmet is taken from a modern-era Mon Calamari officer that needed a bit of trimming to get it to fit properly. I then repainted the outfit to match those of Ackbar’s officers.
I had such a fun time working on this project that I wish I had made an extra at the same time. Having the Mon Cal army builder certainly adds some fun variety to the display shelf.
One of the founders of the Rebel Alliance, Mon Mothma led the briefing of the Rebel forces before the Battle of Endor, knowing that it was the Alliance’s best chance to defeat the Empire. As one of the Rebel’s most important leaders, I wanted to include the character in my custom collection. Plus, it was an opportunity to add another strong female character to the shelf, since Princess Leia was the only female figure in the original Kenner release.
Mon Mothma is adapted from a Vintage Star Wars Princess Leia action figure. I took a Dremel and sliced apart the Leia figure, and did the same to a Vintage Tusken Raider. I then took the Leia upper half and bonded it to the Tusken Raider legs using Kneadatite epoxy to hold the two halves together. I reworked Mon Mothma skirt by slicing it and gluing it to the Tusken Raider legs. The seams were smoothed over with Magic Sculpt. A similar approach was taken to adhere the necklace from the modern Mon Mothma figure onto her custom version.
It all seemed like a good idea at the time. Everything looked great before the figure was spray primed. Unfortunately, the vinyl material reacted horribly with the primer and it left the surface distorted and messy. In hindsight, I should have simply sculpted on the skirt directly.
You win some, you lose some. The recipe still feels valid, but this particular execution came out a bit rougher than I hoped. Perhaps I’ll revisit this one some day.
Rebel Alliance General
This project literally came together in under ten minutes. I was looking through my spare parts bin before I was prepping for a photoshoot. I noticed I had a spare General Madine figure onhand. I did some quick research and noticed that there were a few other background characters wearing the same outfit during the Return of the Jedi Rebel briefing scene. Rather than try to adapt a specific character into a last-minute custom, I went with a more “Kenner” approach and opted to do a generic character instead. Hence the Rebel Alliance General.
To make this custom, I began by taking a Vintage Star Wars General Madine and soaking the figure in a cup filled with near-boiling water. This softened up the plastic enough for me to pop off the original head. I took my Dremel and hollowed out the neck from a random GI Joe head to fit on the leftover pike.
It’s certainly a ridiculously easy project, with minimal work involved, but the Rebel Alliance General is a fun army builder made entirely from leftover parts.
Rebel Fleet Trooper
I had actually avoided the Rebel Fleet Trooper project for awhile. I had seen a few versions online that essentially looked like repaints of the Death Star Trooper, and I could never get around the very-recognizable base parts. Still, I decided to give it a shot myself and see if I could take a modern-era helmet and work it into a more vintage feel.
I began by reworking a vintage Star Wars Han Solo (In Trench Coat) figure. The original head was removed, and the neck area sanded down. I actually hollowed out the upper torso of a modern Rebel Fleet Trooper to transplant its collar onto the custom figure. Laborious? Very! I simply didn’t feel like sculpting it… Anyway, the head is a reworked Hoth Rebel Trooper with the Fleet Trooper helmet attached on top. I used Magic Sculpt epoxy to fill in most of the inner helmet to help fit in more closely with the vintage style. The rest is just a minor reworking of the belt and painting up the figure.
Not bad! I may eventually adapt this recipe into a Captain Antilles figure, but I ran short on time. Perhaps down the road…
Spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi
As a kid, I always felt the original Obi-Wan Kenobi figure was a bit skinny as far as the sculpt was concerned. By the time the Anakin Skywalker figure rolled around a few years later, I realized that Kenner had missed an opportunity to make a “Spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi” to match. Obi-Wan, as with Chewbacca, were one of the few characters to receive only a single figure treatment throughout the vintage line, and I finally wanted to correct that.
This project was amazingly simple. I acquired a vintage Anakin Skywalker figure for cheap off eBay. I then soaked figure in a cup filled with near-boiling water. This softened up the plastic enough for me to pop off the original head and replace it with one from the original Obi-Wan Kenobi. The vintage Obi-Wan figure was produced with two different paint schemes, and the grey-haired version worked perfectly to match the ghostly grey tones of the Anakin base figure. The best part was, Anakin was already painted as a ghost, so the Spirit of Obi-Wan required no additional painting.
Now, if I wanted to go back and make a Star Wars-era Obi-Wan, I could certainly use this same recipe and go a step further by repainting the robes brown, but that’s a project for another time…
“Let me see your identifications.”
With as visually striking as the Sandtroopers are, I’m surprised that Kenner never produced any for their vintage line. As a kid, I rubbed sand all over my Stormtrooper figures to help dirty them up enough to simulate the desert environment. Though it added a nice stain to the plastic, it still wasn’t quite the same effect without the extra gear. Flash forward to adulthood, and I felt it finally time to make my own.
The custom vintage Sandtrooper project was even easier than I expected. I simply removed the shoulder pauldron from a Power of the Force 2 Sandtrooper and trimmed it to fit onto a vintage Star Wars Stormtrooper figure. I used SuperGlue to secure it in place, along with a reworked backpack (trimmed for a better fit).
Unfortunately, the backpack inhibits the figure’s ability to fit snuggly inside the Patrol Dewback, but it certainly looks great standing along side it.
Ten Numb certainly wasn’t high on my list of projects to make, but I had a few leftover parts lying about, and I figured he would be an interesting addition to my toy shelf.
I began by taking a vintage Nien Nunb and B-Wing Pilot figure. I placed the figures in a cup filled with near-boiling water. This softened up the plastic enough for me to pop off the original head and limbs. I then added the Nien Nunb arms and head onto the B-Wing Pilot. It still felt a bit too much like Nien Nunb in a different outfit, so I hollowed out the B-Wing Pilot helmet and transferred that onto the figure. Once repainted, the two characters had enough differences to truly stand out on the shelf.
Wedge Antilles (X-Wing Pilot)
Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted action figures of Luke’s fellow X-Wing Pilots Biggs Darklighter and Wedge Antilles. Biggs had the amazing deco on his flight helmet, and Wedge always seemed so calm and cool under pressure.
This custom figure was actually an extension of my Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot piece that I had begun earlier. While looking up reference material, I realized that after all this time I simply never noticed that the X-Wing Luke never had gloves included on his final sculpt. To help make Biggs and Wedge stand apart (and to be a bit more accurate), I swapped in arms from an AT-ST Driver. Using a Dremel, I then hollowed out the helmet so that the figure could hold onto it. The head comes from a G.I. Joe figure (I’m drawing a blank as to which one), which was then repainted.
The Y-Wing was my favorite of the Original Trilogy Rebel fighters vehicles… and the Y-Wing Pilot was the only Rebel Appliance pilot never to be made into a vintage figure. I wanted to finally remedy that.
I began by reworking a vintage Star Wars B-Wing pilot figure. This figure seemed to have some uniform consistencies with that of the Y-Wing outfit. I placed the figure in a cup filled with near-boiling water. This softened up the plastic enough for me to pop off the original arms and replace them with those from a vintage AT-ST Driver. I significantly trimmed back the B-Wing Pilot helmet, making room for the helmet from a modern-era Y-Wing pilot. I reworked the chest unit and leg band from the modern pilot as well, simplifying it for the vintage style.
There seems to be a lot of discrepancies regarding the paint scheme of the uniform, so I took a best guess based on a few other customs I had seen online. Is this 100% accurate? I’m honestly not sure… but I gave it a decent shot, and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.
To be continued…
Entry by: Matt ‘Iron-Cow’ Cauley
To see more of Matt ‘Iron-Cow’ Cauley’s creations, please visit Iron-Cow Prod: http://www.ironcowprod.com/.