‘Star Wars’ 40th: Our Favorite Merch From Across the Galaxy

Shiri’s arm with Boushh accessory. (Image: Shiri Sondheimer)

Princess Leia Organa/Boushh-Disguise
Released: 1983/1996
Manufacturer: Kenner (original)/Hasbro (reissue)

Why Shiri loves Leia/Boushh: I have loved this action figure for as far back as my memory goes. I’m not sure I had coherent thoughts about the kick ass nature of a blaster-wielding princess in a bounty hunter suit when I was 4 (Shiri c. 1978) but I do remember thoroughly adoring her and never making her carry the disassembled C3P-O in the nylon backpack because she was always needed at the head of the charge and wasn’t to be held back by such nonsense. I even remember the extra squishy texture of the original helmet (the reissue is a much harder plastic). I don’t know what happened to my first Boushh – perhaps she’s at the bottom of a box or was lost in one of our numerous moves. I’ve been missing her recently but, as fate would have it, a girlfriend sent Clan Sondheimer a box of vintage toys last month and therein was the 1996 reissue. Welcome home, Leia.

Contributor: S.W. Sondheimer


c. LEGO

LEGO Star Destroyer (10030)
Released: 2002
Manufacturer: LEGO

Why Rob loves the Lego Star Destroyer: Picking my favorite Star Wars merch is like picking my favorite kid. But unlike the kids, none of my Star Wars things will be mad at me for picking, so pick I will.

Growing up, surrounded by Star Wars things, there was one piece always missing: the Star Destroyer. Sure, Kenner had a die-cast metal one back in the day, but that tiny thing wasn’t nearly enough to satisfy my desire to have a Star Destroyer of my own. It’s too bad I had to wait until I was an adult to get one, but LEGO finally came through.

Still one of LEGOs biggest sets, with 3108 pieces and a massive 230-page instruction manual, the Star Destroyer is also one of LEGO’s most impressive kits. The final model is 42 inches long, about 24 inches wide, and 17 inches tall. And it comes with a scale Rebel Blockade Runner.

Today, the Star Destroyer sits in the center of my “LEGO Imperial shelf”, between the Imperial Shuttle and the Death Star II. What makes the Destroyer special isn’t just that it’s such a freaking cool model. It’s that I finally have a Star Destroyer of my very own.

Contributor: Rob Huddleston


c. Kenner

Death Star Playset
Released: 1978-79
Manufacturer: Kenner

Why John loves it:  I was eight or nine when I got mine and the thing stands almost two feet tall, so it seemed huge. Disassembled, it seemed like a couple hundred pieces and worth every painstakingly-applied decal: four full levels, a working elevator, an “exploding” laser cannon, a trapdoor, the tractor beam controls, the perilous access ledge, and a trash compactor with foam rubber garbage chunks that mashed your action figures ever so nicely and then sprung open an exit hatch at the last minute. The playset even added details that were either only briefly glimpsed in the films or entirely unseen, like the bridge across the chasm that Luke and Leia could have used if farmboy hadn’t blasted the controls.

A better non-electronic toy has never been produced – and the original Atari only barely edges it out on my all-time favorite list.

Contributor: John Booth 


c. Kenner

Patrol Dewback
Released: 1979
Manufacturer: Kenner

Why Anthony Loves It: I was all of three years old when the original Star Wars hit the big screen; which meant I got into the franchise before it had a chance to mature and build up the armor-like casing of lore that it enjoys today. Coming to Star Wars at a young age also gave me the license to foist my own expectations upon it. And while the Millennium Falcon was cool and Luke and his blue lightsaber were fun to play with, there was one problem.

Neither of them was a dinosaur.

In my formative years, I loved nothing more than dinosaurs and would loudly proclaim to anyone who would listen (and many who tried not to) that I was going to be a paleontologist when I grew up. Who needed a galaxy far, far away when you had giant monsters and beasts buried in your own backyard? That was why, when my mother wisely picked up the Patrol Dewback for me, it quickly became my favorite Star Wars toy ever. It was, essentially, a dinosaur that the Stormtroopers rode! From his goofy iguana smirk to the trap door that let the figures (with their limited articulation) “ride” the dewback, to the way you could move his head from side to side when you wiggled his tail, the Patrol Dewback was the perfect toy. There was a “Collectors Edition” reissue and several new toys of the woefully inferior “Special Edition” CGI beast; but the original bulbous Star Wars dino will always be my favorite.

Contributor: Anthony Karcz


c. Will James

Star Wars Galactic Heroes
Released: Early 2000’s to Present
Manufacturer: Playskool

Why Will Loves Them: The Playskool Galactic Heroes toys are great toys for all ages and they tend to make every character, popular and obscure. And with such a rich history and line of them, the older ones can often be found in bulk on eBay. After getting my son the Millenium Falcon playset two years ago, he quickly became the biggest Star Wars fan that I know (he surpassed my own fandom in short order), and so we began collecting both old and new Galactic Heroes. Since then we’ve amassed a collection of about 60-75 of these figures (we still don’t have them all). One of the things that is really cool about collecting and playing with them so many from the years is that you can see how they’ve been refined and made more modern.

I have plans to do a more detailed write-up about their evolution in the near future, but check out those side by side shots of the original and more recent figures. The single piece molded plastic has been replaced by some articulation (usually just necks, shoulders, and wrists), but also more realistic proportions, and, most importantly, more female figures that are in-line with the rest of the characters. Looking at an original Padme versus the current Rey and Captain Phasma; the difference is glaring!

And to top it off, I devised a Star Wars RPG for kids that uses them as miniatures! Check out the game guide for more details!

Why Marzia Loves Them: These are great for toddlers and adults alike. They’re molded in one piece, so there are no detachable parts that can get lost, and they’re nearly indestructible. Heavy battles have been sustained between both Forces by my 5 and 2-year-olds: none for the worse. Plus,  small Yoda is so cute!!

Contributors: Will James and Marziah Karch


c. Anika Dane

Queen Amidala Doll Collection
Released: 1999
Manufacturer: Hasbro

Why Anika Loves Them: Merchandising for The Phantom Menace was intense. There were midnight releases before the movie premiered and the first run included three separate Padmé action figures (a sharp contrast to the dearth of Rey figures when The Force Awakens opened). But, even more exciting for me, was when Hasbro released two lines of 12” fashion dolls, a total of seven Queen Amidalas. I love them, especially the higher end “Portrait Collection” line.

My collection won a blue ribbon at the local fair and my daughter and I play out all sorts of adventures with them: the Padmé Clones, as my daughter dubbed them, transferred to Monster High, and one of them dated a Barbie Captain Kirk.

Unfortunately, the prequels didn’t do as well as hoped, toy sales suffered, and we only got one, much more poorly made, doll for Attack of the Clones and none for Revenge of the Sith. Disney now has their own “Elite Series” of 12” dolls and the prequel era is slowly starting to pop up in tie-in merchandise. I have hope!

Contributor: Anika Dane