Ever since I received my first Star Wars figures in 1981 I have always been an avid fan of Kenner’s vintage line. It brought me a lot of childhood memories and it has taken a prominent place in my collection. One of the charms of the Kenner line are the “naive” names given to a lot of the figures. I’ve always embraced and loved more realistic names like Ponda Baba and Momaw Nadon, but I keep calling the Kenner figures Walrus Man and Hammerhead. Lucasfilm rarely named background characters during the production of the classics so Kenner didn’t have much of a choice but to use the production names or a few monikers given in the novelizations or the comics.
What if Lucasfilm had already given all those characters their names when the figures were released? Let’s have a look at the contemporary and alternate names of the Kenner action figures.
In the first wave we notice the Star Destroyer Commander (Death Squad Commander). This classic toy bad guy does not only have a strange name, the colors of his uniform don’t match his appearance in the movie either. On his card we see a picture of Sergeant Torent aboard Death Star I, but since the figure sports a rank insignia and wears a gray uniform instead of a black uniform, we can only assume that he could be Torent. Being a specific individual could also jeopardize his career as a troop builder.
Although no Jawa or Tusken Raider has been released as an action figure by his or her own name, the vintage Jawa could be called Dathcha and the Tusken Raider RR’uruurrr according to the photos shown on their cards.
The second wave has a lot more figures that would be released with updated names. Two Droids, Death Star Droid and Power Droid, would be named 3B6-RA-7 and EG-6 Power Droid respectively as both Droids can be seen aboard Nebit’s Sandcrawler.
Cantina patrons Walrus Man, Hammerhead, and Snaggletooth would be renamed, as well. Walrus Man would be Ponda Baba, Hammerhead would be Momaw Nadon, and Snaggletooth would be Zutmore (recently named in Star Wars Insider #144) since the photo on Snaggletooth’s card features the Snivvian from The Star Wars Holiday Special and not Takeel or Zutton from A New Hope. And what about the exclusive Blue Snaggletooth, only released in the Sears Cantina Adventure set? He could be named Zutton, though this bounty hunter wears a brownish/greenish tunic in the movie and not a blue jumpsuit.
The Empire Strikes Back
The Imperial Commander action figure faces the same issue as the Star Destroyer Commander; the figure does not match the colors of the character depicted on the card. Kenner used a photo of General Maximilian Veers for the Imperial Commander, but the figure itself is wearing a black uniform instead of a gray uniform. The AT-AT Commander was a figure that actually knew a very limited release as General Veers (by Sears Canada in 1980). Since no other AT-AT Commander is seen in the movie it’s safe to assume that this figure was indeed based on Veers.
The Bespin Security Guard (second release) would be released as Sergeant Edian, since the photo on his card clearly shows the character on Cloud City. It must be noted that when this figure was re-released in 2009, Hasbro simply named him Cloud City Wing Guard.
Then we have our bounty hunter duo 4-LOM and Zuckuss. It is well known today that Kenner managed to mix up their names, a mistake that was rectified by West End Games in 1989.
Though the Ugnaught seen on the card of the figure has similar facial features as Yoxgit, it’s impossible to be certain that this is the same Ugnaught, since the identity of the character on the photo hasn’t been confirmed. The same goes for the following figures: Bespin Guard (first edition), (Twin Pod) Cloud Car Pilot and Rebel Soldier (Hoth Battle Gear). None of the characters seen on their cards or the figures themselves have received a proper name.
The character seen on the card of the Rebel Commander is called Jeroen Webb, but it’s obvious that he wasn’t used as a model for the figure. The figure is quite a puzzle and seems based on several mustached officers on Hoth. The first one is an unnamed officer in Echo Base accompanying Jeroen Webb. The second one is Major Bren Derlin, but he wears a different type of uniform. The third one is Colonel Ledick Firest, the recently retconned trench officer with a mustache and the last one is another unnamed mustached officer (cameo by Harrison Ellenshaw) on Echo Base.
Return of the Jedi
Many members of Jabba’s gang didn’t receive a proper name until West End Games and Decipher named them. Even today, some of them are still missing their name. Weequay and Nikto were recently named in Star Wars Insider #143. These figures could now be released as Pagetti Rook and Lathe.
The vintage Klaatu figure has been named Wooof, one of the original production names that managed to endure. The character named Klaatu is the vintage Klaatu Skiff Guard figure. Easier to rename are Squid Head and Rancor Keeper who would be released as Tessek and Malakili. The elusive Yak Face, who was never released in the US, eventually got named Saelt-Marae. Maybe even Lando Calrissian (Skiff Guard Disguise) could be renamed as Tamtel Skreej, the alias Lando used to infiltrate Jabba’s organization as a member of the Hutt Guardman’s Guild. Barada is a tricky customer. The Klatooinian shown on his card is indeed Barada, but the figure itself (with the yellow shirt) is actually called Kithaba. To complicate things more, you can notice that Kithaba doesn’t wear a backpack in the movie while the figure does (so does Barada). Kenner probably chose to give this figure a yellow shirt since that Klatooinian was better noticeable in the movie, but they should have omitted his backpack.
A lot of kids probably thought that Prune Face was also one of Jabba’s henchmen, while he was in fact a skilled Dressellian Rebel Commando, named Orrimaarko by Pablo Hidalgo in Galaxy Guide 12: Aliens — Enemies and Allies. The last action figure from Return of the Jedi is the Imperial Dignitary who was given the name Sim Aloo in Decipher’s CCG.
We have two vintage figures left to conclude our renaming venture. Uncle Gundy from Droids has recently been named Putch Gundarian and Dulok Shaman from Ewoks is known as Umwak.
The backside of the vintage Kenner cards provided young fans with a lot of characters’ names from the classics. In this bygone era Squid Head brawled with Snaggletooth and Rebel Commando could ambush AT-AT Commander. The innocent flair of such names will be forever linked to the vintage Kenner series and even though most of these characters have now been officially renamed in books or other sources, their Kenner names will always have their own particular place in Star Wars fan culture and in the memories of many fans.
Tim Veekhoven (Sompeetalay) is president, editor-in-chief, and co-founder of TeeKay-421, the Belgian Star Wars Fanclub. He’s an administrator for Yodapedia and has written four (former) Databank entries on the official Star Wars website, thanks to “What’s the Story.”