Like most of you reading this, I was a Star Wars fanatic from a young age. One of my most cherished childhood memories is creating an elaborate replica of Cloud City out of old cardboard tubes for my action figures to recreate The Empire Strikes Back with. As the years went on, my love for George Lucas’ space adventure only seemed to strengthen… and with it my love for Star Wars merchandise.
As someone who would rather buy the latest Vintage figure from Hasbro then, say, pay his rent, Steve Sansweet’s new book Star Wars: The Ultimate Action Figure Collection seems tailor made for me. If the collecting bug never quite left you, you’ll probably feel the same way too. Over the course of 351 pages, Sansweet examines nearly every Star Wars figure that has been released since the toys were originally offered in late 1977 (through an ingenious mail-away offer that sent kids stickers and a cardboard stand in lieu of the actual playthings, which were still in production at the time).
This book presents a fascinating glimpse at the best and worst Star Wars figures ever made. Each toy is given either a brief history or witty commentary by Sansweet, which is no small task given the sheer amount of variations on Darth Vader that have been available over the past 36 years.
Although you and I may think we know all about Star Wars, our combined knowledge is merely a grain of sand on a beach as compared to Sansweet’s. As the owner of the world’s largest Star Wars memorabilia collection who used to work as Lucasfilm‘s Head of Fan Relations, he possesses a Yoda-like ability to spew information about the products featured within these pages. This insider’s perspective provides readers with a complete picture about Star Wars figures shaped the toy industry as we now know it along with our childhoods.
It’s worth mentioning that this book has its roots in Philadelphia. Sansweet grew up in the area, and a large assortment of the tome’s gorgeous photos were supplied by local guy/former Geek of the Week Paul Harrison. These guys are true Geekadelphians, and this book is certain to transport you to a galaxy far, far away. Or at the very least, have you digging your Chewbacca out of your old toy chest.
Either way is pretty terrific as far as I’m concerned.
Star Wars: The Ultimate Action Figure Collection
By Stephen J. Sansweet
$40, Chronicle Books