In the mid-1970s, Lucasfilm was working on a little-known sci-fi space opera and in search of a manufacturer to make toys based on its characters. Mattel passed, as did Mego. Every other major toy company in the country followed suit. Finally, Kenner, a small enterprise from Cincinnati whose biggest toy to date was the Easy Bake Oven, rolled the dice and introduced the world to Star Wars toys.
The result was, to put it mildly, revolutionary. Not only did Kenner’s new collection create a paradigm shift in how toys were collected, but it changed the way toys were created and sold to kids. Before Star Wars, 12-inch dolls like GI Joe reigned supreme. Kenner was the first to sell 3.75-inch action figures and the first to create vehicles and expansive play sets to go with them. Recognizing they screwed up by passing on the franchise, it didn’t take long for other toy companies to follow Kenner’s lead: GI Joe shrunk to 3.75 scale. Mattel launched Masters of the Universe — a medieval sci-fi franchise — to compete. Everyone was trying to catch up to Star Wars, and they still are.
For 40 years, Star Wars toys have served as the gateway to fans’ obsession with the franchise. Whether it was an original Han Solo action figure, a replica lightsaber, an interactive Hoth playset, or a 12-inch Obi-Wan doll, if you were born during or after the 1970s, you played with Star Wars toys. It’s possible you still do. You may even collect them.
And while Hasbro bought (and closed) Kenner in 1991, the Star Wars toy empire continues to dominate. Other manufacturers ⏤ from Sphero to Sideshow Collectibles to Master Replicas ⏤ have jumped into the market and expanded the breadth of toys ⏤ creating drones, droids, and role play gear that kids in the 1980s could never have dreamed would exist.
But which of those thousands of Star Wars toys sold over the past four decades are the best or coolest, the most collectible, valuable, rare, or innovative? Sure, everybody’s got their personal childhood favorites, but we wanted to take into consideration all of those factors to figure out the 50 best Star Wars toys of all time.
Luckily, we had some help. Mark Bellomo is a Star Wars toy expert. In addition to his personal collection of 65,000 toys, which includes every Kenner Star Wars creation, Bellomo is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Vintage ‘Star Wars’ Action Figures. The man knows his stuff.
Also along for the ride is Jordan Hembrough, a dedicated toy collector who had his own show on the Travel Channel, The Toy Hunter. Today, Hembrough runs Hollywood Heroes, a store where you can buy and sell vintage toys, and he is a frequent contributor on Good Morning America. Together with Rebel Scum, an archival website dedicated to every single Star Wars toy ever released, we came up with the 50 greatest Star Wars toys of all time.
50. Early Bird Certificate
Year Released: 1977Movie: A New Hope The very first Star Wars toy made by Kenner wasn’t even a toy. The manufacturer had no toys ready by Christmas 1977, so they devised the Early Bird Certificate. It was a cardboard poster of the first 12 toys they intended to make, and a certificate that when mailed in would guarantee kids the first four figures by February. “That goes to show you what a phenomenon this was,” says Bellomo. “Think about it: It’s a cardboard backdrop with the characters printed on it. Kenner was scrambling to make a product and kids were happy with it!” If it’s in mint condition, the Early Bird package can sell for thousands today.
49. Commander Jorg Sacul (George Lucas)
Year Released: 2002Movie: Expanded Universe Of course, there’s a George Lucas figure. And, of course, his character (which is just his last name spelled backward) comes with an Expanded Universe backstory, which sees him as an amazing storyteller and pilot. Considering how George went on to sell his franchise to Disney, he probably would have made a better Imperial character.
48. Carbonite Han Solo
Year Released: 1996Movie: The Empire Strikes Back Only Han Solo could be frozen as a living statue and then still come back to save the day. This Hasbro recreation of the Kenner original offered a step-up in detail, and let kids snap in the Han action figure to the back of his Carbonite casing.
47. Poe Dameron Role Play Helmet
Year Released: 2017Movie: The Force Awakens Not only does this helmet play flight sounds to make it feel like you’re flying in Poe’s X-wing, but it also features a built-in microphone so you can talk to BB-8 (sold separately). Even cooler? The droid will answer you.
46. Chewbacca Electronic Mask
Year Released: 2016Movie: The Force Awakens It’s hard to believe that a middle-aged mom could turn an already awesome Star Wars toy into a sensation, but it happened. Hembrough says that it if wasn’t for Chewbacca Mom, this toy would have gone unnoticed. “This is a fun piece but it really would have flown under the radar had it not been for the famous video,” he says. “While these role-playing toys have been around for some time, it really took a social media phenomenon help drive sales to record-breaking heights.”
45. Land Speeder
Year Released: 2016Movie: A New Hope Why did it take so log to create a life-sized, ridable Star Wars vehicle? Who knows. But Fisher Price’s first attempt at recreating a rideable Star Wars vehicle is a home run. A faithful recreation of Luke’s Tatooine ride in toddler-form is made strictly for kids under age 7-years-old. Before you get any ideas, it has a 130-pound weight capacity.
44. Droid Factory
Year Released: 1979Movie: N/A How exactly do Jawas spend their days? Other than selling robots off to Luke and his Uncle at the beginning of A New Hope. This interactive playset offers a clue. Not featured in any film, it lets kids play Jawa and build droids piece by piece on an assembly line.
43. Jumbo 12-inch Kenner Toys
Manufacturer: Gentle Giant
Year Released: 2010Movie: Various “In 2010, California-based Gentle Giant capitalized on the vintage toy craze by scanning old 3-D toys and turning them into modern, high-end collectibles,” says Hembrough. “Essentially, the company took the vintage Kenner Star Wars figures from the 1970s and 1980’s and reproduced them in 12-inch scale. They were an instant hit with collectors, who gobbled them up at a rapid pace. Adding to the overall allure of the vintage look and feel of the figure, Gentle Giant also faithfully reproduced the classic Kenner packaging.”
42. Obi-Wan Kenobi
Year Released: 1978Movie: A New Hope Instead of adding an easy-to-lose light saber with each action figure, Kenner decided to equip the original Kenobi and Vader with a telescoping saber that slid out of the right arm. Those figures today, if in working condition or sealed in package, is a top-dollar collectible.
41. Death Squad Commander
Year Released: 1978Movie: The Empire Strikes Back This nameless Commander is not all that amazing, honestly. It’s a fairly accurate representation of the countless umbrella-helmeted men you see in the background on Empire ships. More importantly, though, it’s a symbol of the fervor that fuels Star Wars fans to want every single on-screen person in the films in action-figure form. That completist mindset is what makes the Star Wars obsession what it is today, and this nameless worker defines that beautiful fixation.
40. Kylo Ren Deluxe Electronic Lightsaber
Year Released: 2015Movie: The Force Awakens A staple toy of the Star Wars franchise, these collapsible lightsabers simulate every sight and sound from the films. Better still, they’re perfectly playable so kids can bash them together in an epic dual.
39. Presto Magix Transfers: Return of the Jedi
Manufacturer: Presto Magix
Year Released: Circa 1983Movie: The Empire Strikes Back & Return of the Jedi These rub-on transfer sets let kids create their own Star Wars scenes. By simply rubbing a pencil on the translucent paper, the stickers would transfer onto a larger picture of a movie scene, like the Sarlac Pit or Jabba’s Palace. These Magix Transfers were actually a big deal in the 80s, and it served as an inexpensive alternative to shelling out for a toy playset. Seriously, watch this old Presto Magix Return of the Jedi commercial and you’ll see what we mean ⏤ it’s sublime.
38. General Grievous
Year Released: 2010Movie: Revenge of the Sith The less said about the Star Wars prequels, the better. But visually speaking, the films gave us two incredible-looking villains in Darth Maul from The Phantom Menace, and the first robot-wielding lightsaber master, Grievous. His figure even comes with a cape to hold his lightsabers ⏤ a high-level detail that most cosplayers overlook.
37. Darth Vader Voice Changing Mask
Year Released: 2004Movie: Revenge of the Sith Voice-changing masks are a regular fixture in the toy aisles, but it started with Darth Vader. Back in 2004, before the release of Revenge of the Sith, Hasbro created a massive helmet that played Vader’s heavy breathing and film quotes. It also spoke almost any word you said in the voice of James Earl Jones ⏤ including curse words. It was dream come true for many adults.
36. Yak Face
Year Released: 1985Movie: Return of the Jedi Don’t remember this character? He only appeared in Return of the Jedi for a brief moment. Released by Kenner in 1985, Yak Face was never distributed in the United States. And because of the overall rarity of the figure, not only is it highly sought-after by collectors but mint figures sell for thousands of dollars on the secondary market. Best part, his real name isn’t even Yak Face — it’s just a nickname adopted by fans.
35. Han Solo’s Laser Pistol
Year Released: Circa 1980sMovie: A New Hope It’s one thing to pretend to be Han Solo with an action figure, but this Kenner blaster, or “Laser Pistol” as they called it, let you become Han. An all black blaster with sounds, a “secret button” (which just made more sounds), and a view-finder lens, it was a lightsaber replica before lightsaber replicas were a collector’s obsession. In 2016, Nerf remade the blaster in orange and blue, proving yet again that some hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side.
34. The Emperor’s Royal Guard
Year Released: 2012Movie: Return of the Jedi Another anomaly in terms of popularity, the Royal Guards are a cult favorite despite having little more than a brief scene walking with the Emperor in Return of the Jedi. In fact, the original Kenner figure still fetches big bucks, but the details added by Hasbro in 2012 took it up a notch. Plus, it’s just a cool contrast to the all-white stormtroopers.
33. Stormtrooper Luke
Year Released: 1985Movie: A New Hope Kenner didn’t invent the formula for reusing toy parts to create new toys, but they definitely used it to their advantage. Stormtrooper Luke is simply a Luke head on a trooper body. It’s an insanely easy recipe to capitalize on a memorable moment of the film. When Hasbro recreated the figure for their Black Series 6-inch tall line in 2015, they finally made Luke just a tad bit shorter than the average Stormtrooper.
32. Speeder Bike
Year Released: 2012Movie: Return of the JediStar Wars has a knack for showcasing incredible spaceships, but land-based vehicles were virtually nonexistent outside of Luke’s Speeder from A New Hope. That is, until the incredible Speeder Bikes from Return of the Jedi. These thin, hyper-fast bikes not only gave us a new type of Stormtrooper, but they also came with fresh sounds and thrills. Not to mention, a display stand that allows you to put the vehicle and the Scout Trooper into dramatic incline poses.
31. Tauntaun Playset
Year Released: 2003Movie: The Empire Strikes Back This playset comes with Hoth Han, Luke, Leia, and your standard Chewie. But the best play feature is how the Tauntaun has a pocket in his belly inside which you can stuff Luke to keep him warm. That sort of movie accuracy is what kids and toy collectors live for.
30. Death Star Space Station Playset
Year Released: 1978Movie: A New Hope “This toy was the alpha and omega for me as a kid,” says Bellomo. “It had all these levels, a turret station, the swinging ropes for Luke and Leia, an elevator, the trash compactor — playability was the name of the game.” Remarkably, however, the playset was still lacking details. “Kenner wanted to accurately translate the fun with the technology they had,” continues Bellomo. “Even though that trash compactor looks nothing like the one in the film.” It’s bright orange and it closed with a twist screw. But hey, it worked for kids!
Year Released: 1978Movie: A New Hope Say hello to Star War’s biggest loser. R5-D4 is the ultimate underdog, the droid who malfunctioned early in A New Hope leading Uncle Owen and Luke to choose R2-D2 instead. If this briefly seen droid had a decent working motivator, he could have changed the entire Star Wars landscape.
28. Anakin to Darth Vader
Year Released: 2013Movie: Revenge of the Sith Can you think of another figure that has a metamorphosis as the primary action feature? While toy companies typically sell Bruce Wayne and Batman as two different toys, this Hasbro figure lets you easily transform whiny Anakin right into the menacing Sith Overlord.
27. Star Wars Micro Collection
Year Released: 1982Movie: The Original Trilogy Because 3.75-inch toys weren’t small enough, Kenner expanded their Star Wars license to a mini-verse of toys. Standing around 1-inch tall, these die-cast figurines and interactive vehicles ultimately failed, but they are remembered fondly by fans. The Micro collection was Kenner’s jump into a toy collector market, one where enthusiasts looked at their toys instead of smashing them around in the yard.
26. 40th Anniversary Darth Vader
Year Released: 2016Movie: A New Hope Quite possibly Hasbro’s best Darth Vader figure ever, this 6-inch collectible was made last year specifically for the franchise’s 40th anniversary. The figure has no action features — no removable helmet or hands — just a detailed, brand new sculpt of the Sith Lord from A New Hope. It even includes an overlooked touch of silver on the helmet’s cheeks and browned eyes, which is how he appeared in the original film. In addition to a lightsaber, Vader also comes with a replica of the original Kenner Early Birth Gift Certificate.
25. Rey Forces of Destiny
Year Released: 2016Movie: Expanded UniverseForces of Destiny is a 2017 YouTube animated Disney series that focuses on the women of Star Wars. These highly detailed (and posable) figures are based on the distinct animated style represented in the show. Rey’s deluxe set comes with BB-8, her companion on the animated series.
24. Biggs Darklighter
Year Released: 2007Movie: A New Hope In 1992, Hasbro released Biggs based on his brief appearance in Rogue Orange gear towards the end of A New Hope, where he’s a casualty of war. But Hasbro likes to go deep and please the hardcore fans which is why, in 2007, they released a figure based on character’s deleted scenes from the same film. Turns out, Lando wasn’t the only guy with a mustache who liked to wear capes in a far away galaxy.
23. Master Replica Lightsabers
Manufacturer: Master Replicas
Year Released: 2003Movie: Star Wars From 2003 to 2008, Master Replicas made high-end lightsabers that were exact-scale reproductions as those used in the films, and they’re still sought after today by collectors. “The company also produced true reproductions of blasters from the Star Wars films as well,” Hembrough says. “In fact, when the company shut down in 2008, it had some interesting projects still on the table including a Tuskin Raider Gaffe Stick and Chewbacca’s Crossbow.”
22. Han Solo Hoth Outfit
Year Released: 1978Movie: The Empire Strikes Back The whole debate over what color is Han’s jacket starts here. Apparently, it has always been brown (whatever), but Kenner didn’t get the memo when they released the figure in a blue coat. Thankfully, Hasbro released the figure years later in both brown and blue variants, and world peace has been restored.
21. Lando Calrissian
Year Released: 2017Movie: The Empire Strikes Back Hands down, the most accurate portrayal of Lando Calrissian in any action figure ever made. Equipped with a cape, a communicator, blaster, this is the Lando that you know and love. And it truly belongs among the clouds.
20. Imperial Troop Transport Vehicle
Year Released: 1979Movie: N/AStar Wars toys are based on the characters and vehicles from the franchise’s films and cartoons, but could a toy cross over and become a canon character? “This troop transport vehicle wasn’t in the movies,” Bellomo says. But it was such a memorable toy that it was eventually canonized in Star Wars Rebels.” Not only that, but Hasbro eventually made a bigger and more detailed version.
19. Grand Admiral Thrawn
Year Released: 1996Movie: Expanded Universe Hasbro has always made figures based on characters outside of the Star Wars films, including novels, video games, and comic books. Thrawn, a character from a 1991 novel, was popular enough to get an action figure in 1996. By 2014, however, he ceased to exist. “Thrawn’s an interesting character,” says Bellomo, “because when Disney acquired Star Wars, they said the Expanded Universe stuff was no longer canon. That meant characters like Han and Leia’s other kids [Jaina, Jacen, and Anakin Solo — not Kylo Ren], which there were also action figures of, no longer existed either.” Thrawn was reintroduced in 2016 within Star Wars Rebels and remains an action figure favorite, showing how a beloved character can overcome, well, being erased from history.
Year Released: 2017Movie: A New Hope With a retractable leg and all the lights and sounds from his nine film appearances, Sphero’s version of R2-D2 is the most accurate ever made. Not only that, it’s controlled by a smartphone and can interact with the company’s other droid companion, BB-8.
17. Obi-Wan Kenobi
Manufacturer: Sideshow Collectibles
Year Released: 2018Movie: Expanded Universe This Obi-Wan figure was dreamed up by the folks at Sideshow Collectibles, the high-end toy company. They imagined what the Jedi master was like during his years between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. Best yet, he’s armed with a slew of new weapons including a modified Tusken rifle.
16. Boba Fett’s Slave One
Year Released: 2013Movie: The Empire Strikes Back A remake of the original Kenner model from the 1980s, this Hasbro version is bigger and comes with more goodies. There were firing cannons, a detention cell, and, of course, Han Solo frozen in Carbonite.
15. Dagobah Playset
Year Released: 1981Movie: The Empire Strikes Back It’s unfair to turn an entire planet into a small playset, but in the case of Kenner’s Dagobah, it worked! It featured Yoda’s final home, a tree stump in a swamp, and allowed kids to recreate Luke’s Jedi training (complete with backpack). Not only that, but the swamp, which was a pit of foam cubes, actually “swallowed” figures or a tiny X-wing fighter. “While writing my book, I learned that the playset had a hidden feature that I had overlooked as a kid,” recalls Mark Bellomo. “It was noted in the instruction manual. You can separate the tree trunk to make it a more expansive play set.”
14. Han Solo
Year Released: 1978Movie: A New Hope What this Han figure lacks in scruffy details, it made up in imagination. Its face sculpt was so vague that every child could just imagine themselves as the sly smuggler.
13. Jabba the Hutt
Year Released: 1983Movie: Return of the Jedi An abomination of a grotesque super snail, Jabba the Hutt is the gangster, crime lord, slave monger everybody loves to hate. This action figure comes with Salacious Crumb (his laughing muppet lackey), throne, and yes, a smoking bowl.
Year Released: 1981Movie: The Empire Strikes Back Yoda’s first figure was as mysterious as his original appearance in Empire: cryptic, weird, and a little crazy. The Jedi master’s first accessories were a cane and an orange reptile. Questions you have?
Year Released: 2016Movie: Original Trilogy These beautifully-crafted R/C drones are detailed mini-vehicles based on three iconic Star Wars flyers: Speederbike, X-Wing, and Vader’s TIE Fighter. Also, the Millenium Falcon. Best part, they have laser-tag like capabilities so up to 16 ships can engage in an epic galactic dogfight.
10. Princess Leia Oragana: The Black Series
Year Released: 2017Movie: A New Hope After decades of making 3.75-inch tall figures (with a few attempts here and there at larger toys), Hasbro finally dedicated an entire line to standard 6-inch tall toys. Figures from The Black Series are highly regarded as the best in Star Wars history. And the best of the best? Princess Leia Organa, of course. In stunning detail, she’s wearing a simple white dress (that nails her first appearance) and comes with two blasters.
Year Released: 2015Movie: The Force Awakens This hot seller for the holidays from 2015 not only introduced a new generation to BB-8, but it also served as one of the most innovative toys in recent memory. The toy, which is controlled via a smartphone app, moves exactly like the droid in the movies. “What many people don’t know is that the company that manufactured the technology for the robot was actually funded in part by Disney,” says Hembrough. “The media giant invested $120,000 in Sphero Corp to help further development. Which is why the toy faithfully captures all the fun and nuances of its movie counterpart.”
8. Darth Vader TIE Fighter Vehicle
Year Released: 1978Movie: A New Hope It’s the only vehicle officially owned and operated by Darth Vader, and that alone makes it worthy of being one of the best. Outside of Imperial ships, TIE fighters define the bad guys in Star Wars, and the fact that Vader has his own ship and gets out on the front line makes him not only a good leader, but a team player too.
Year Released: 2016Movie: Various These nearly indestructible high-end lightsabers from Kyberlight are designed for real fighting and they come with a lifetime guarantee to prove it. They also feature a fully customizable hilt, light up in 20 different colors, and boast “flash on clash” sound effects thanks to an internal circuit board and stereo speaker. Short of walking on the set of the movie, it doesn’t get any more real than these.
6. Jabba’s Rancor Pit Playset
Year Released: 2015Movie: Return of the Jedi The 2015 Black Series toy recreates the iconic Rancor scene from Jedi. It includes Luke, Slave Leia, Jabba, a guard, and the Rancor itself, and the figure-scale ratio between them is dramatic. As an added treat, the set comes with C-3PO ⏤ and his limbs, head, and chest are all detachable.
5. Ewok Village Playset
Year Released: 1983Movie: Return of the Jedi Say whatever you want about the Ewoks, Kenner created one sick playset for those walking teddy bears. From Threepio’s deity chair, to the trees having action features (one’s a hut, the other is an escape passageway), to the additional 20 accessories, there’s nothing lame about the home of the cute little furries.
4. “Farm Boy” Luke Skywalker
Year Released: 1977Movie: A New Hope While the first figures released by Kenner in the late 1970s ⏤ also known as “the 12 back” because they were the first 12 on the back of the original packaging ⏤ might have sparked a boom in action figure collecting, but they weren’t the best toys ever made. Which is probably what made them so great. “Those toys were not accurate representations of the heroes at all,” Bellomo says. “Luke Skywalker looked absolutely nothing like Mark Hamill. The same for Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. That lack of accuracy allowed kids to project themselves on the figure. [Kenner] captured the romantic essence of the character and nothing else. So the kids can play with the toy and say, that’s me.”
Year Released: 2008Movie: The Empire Strikes Back In 2008, Hasbro created the Legacy Collection, which recreated nearly the entire classic Kenner line from the 1970s but with never before seen accuracy. And this AT-AT was by far the best of the line. It’s so big it comes with a carrying handle! It opens up at the top ⏤ where Stormtroopers control the vehicle ⏤ and at the bottom where you could Luke dangle from a string. “It was beautiful,” says Bellomo. “It had a sound system and a removable speeder bike. I have two of them.”
2. Millennium Falcon
Year Released: 2010Movie: A New Hope Also known as the BMF, or Big Millennium Falcon, this playset is highly regarded as the best Star Wars vehicle in plastic. It comes with Han and Chewie, canon stations (the same ones Luke and Finn operated), landing gear, and a light-up chessboard with removable chess pieces ⏤ yes, the same chessboard where Threepio and R2 learn how to let the Wookie win. It’s all accessed thanks to a removable top that reveals the inside of the ship as seen in the movies. Even better, “it was twice the size of the original, with much more detail and space,” says Bellomo. “It’s just beautiful. It’s one of the crowning achievements in Star Wars toys.”
1. Boba Fett
Year Released: 1979Movie: The Empire Strikes Back The cult of Boba Fett starts right here. Originally a mail-away figure (where kids had to send proof of purchases of other figures in order to get this one sent to them), Boba Fett is the most controversial figure in Star Wars Kenner history. This is due to a common misconception. “He was never ever, ever, released to the general public in any capacity with the rocket firing backpack,” says Bellomo. “If you have a friend who said, ‘Yeah, I had the Boba Fett with the rocket’ — no, that’s impossible. That did not happen.”
As it turns out, Kenner was originally going to release the bounty hunter with a rocket-firing backpack, says Bellomo. Safety concerns, however, led to the company’s decision to glue the backpack and rocket in place on the figure. Still, the mystery of the silent but deadly bounty hunter ⏤ and the elusiveness of his toy ⏤ created a cult following. “He was that iconic man with no name type character in the film,” says Bellomo. “The mystique of the character was exacerbated because of the mail-away nature. He felt exclusive.”
This article was originally published on