The title is a nod to the vintage Kenner commercial where a kid keeps yelling “wampa!” when he’s playing with the toy.
Although the wampa’s appearance in The Empire Strikes Back was rather short, the fearful scenes with the Hoth ice monster are remembered fondly by fans. Due to technical limitations, additional scenes with wampas couldn’t be completed, but George Lucas included new footage of the beast in the 1997 Special Edition.
In addition to its brief film appearance, the wampa also has a cameo in The Clone Wars micro-series and can be seen as a trophy in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode, “Padawan Lost.” Its somewhat familiar design has inspired licensees throughout the years to turn the wampa into a wide range of merchandising. I remember getting the Kenner Wampa in the early ’80s in a store in Brussels and asked my mother “Did he really have these horns in the movie?” He certainly did, and he almost had Luke for dinner (or was it lunch?). Let’s find out what items you can collect to amass your own private army of wampas!
The first wampa toy was released by Kenner in 1982 and packed in a small rectangular box with a flap on one side. It towers over the regular 3.75” action figures (it’s about 6”), features four points of articulation and even has spring-loaded arms to tackle tauntauns and other enemies. A wampa was also included in the rare Tri Logo “Hoth Rescue” set (1985). In 1982, Kenner had high hopes for their diecast Micro Collection line, which featured the “Hoth Wampa Cave.” Beautifully sculpted and featuring five figures, you could even hang Luke upside down!
Hasbro only released two wampas for its 3.75” line of figures. The first one came in 1998 when the wampa was popular due to its renewed appearance in the Special Edition. This wampa looks rather stiff, but it has a spring-loaded midriff, movable arms, and one detachable arm. It also came with a Luke Skywalker Hoth figure variation. A second one was released in 2004 (Saga Collection) with a detailed sculpt, additional articulation, a tauntaun’s leg, a detachable arm, and part of the cave that can be used to hang down the Luke Skywalker figure that came with it. It was also sold in the “Hoth Patrol” set from 2008.
Equally intriguing were Hasbro’s larger-scaled wampa figures. In 1997, a 12” wampa was released with a Luke Skywalker figure as a Target exclusive. The wampa looks pretty apelike and is barely taller than Luke, but it has moving arms and is covered in soft white plush. Earlier this year, Hasbro released a wonderful Wampa/Luke Skywalker set for the Black Series 6”. This is by far the most articulated wampa and it comes with a detachable arm.
The largest wampa to date is the Gentle Giant Jumbo Wampa (2013). This humongous 22” tall wampa is a modern replica of the vintage Kenner wampa and comes in a similar box and shares the same features as its ancestor. Needless to say, this wampa towers over all of his brethren.
Of small wampas …
There also exists a fair amount of smaller wampa toys. In addition to the aforementioned Micro Collection, Galoob Toys added a couple of tiny wampas in the ’90s. There was a wampa micro-head with a Micro Machines wampa figure, and Action Fleet featured two wampas: one in the “Hoth Attack” battle pack and one that came in its own miniature cave with the “Ice Planet Hoth” playset. The new Micro Machines will also release a new wampa, which was shown on display at New York Comic Con.
Hasbro released a number of smaller wampa figures in several of its sub-lines. One of these included a wampa in Battle Packs Unleashed, which featured moveable arms and came with Luke and Leia. Several wampas were also made for the Galactic Heroes line, some of which included ‘The Stompin’ Wampa” set in 2002 and a partial wampa in the “Echo Base Encounter” set — where it’s attached to its cave to ambush Luke. In another sub-line called “Attacktix,” Hasbro released a wampa in a “Battle Masters” set with Luke. Other smaller wampas include the Gentle Giant bust-up (2006), the Hallmark Christmas ornament (Comic Con 2014 exclusive), and the recently-released wampa miniature in the “Return to Hoth” set from Fantasy Flight Games’ Imperial Assault. Wizards of the Coast released their wampa miniature in the “Rebel Storm” sets in 2004, and in 2010, LEGO released their first wampa in the Hoth Wampa Cave set that came with Luke, Zev Senesca, a T-47 snow speeder, and a skeleton.
There are a few more luxury items available from this favorite snow monster. Applause released a beautiful statuette in 1998 called “Wampa Attack,” featuring the wampa ambushing Luke on his tauntaun. Back then, it was a Previews exclusive. Gentle Giant released a large wampa exclusive statue in 2008 (limited to 650), which portrays a wampa that has attacked a Viper Probe Droid, just like the scene found in the novelization of The Empire Strikes Back. Gentle Giant’s wampa does look rather scary, as he should be. During that same year, Sideshow Collectibles released their own wampa statue called “Ambush on Hoth.” This statue measures approximately 18” tall and could be considered an upgrade of the Applause statuette.
And miscellaneous …
It’s still not the end of the line. Funko Pop! released a special 2-pack (2014) that included a wampa with Luke. Mimoco rocked out a wampa Mimibot USB stick. Beanie Buddy came out with the first ever plush wampa in 1997. Recently Underground Toys produced a talking 9” plush wampa with a detachable arm in 2013, and Joy Toy released a nearly 10” plush wampa. An 18” plush wampa with a detachable arm was sold during Celebration V (2010), and another 14” plush wampa was sold in 2014 at the Disney Stores. The Disney Stores also sold a hat shaped like the head of the wampa. The fourth series of the Disney Vinylmation figures included a wampa chase figure in 2014, and Mighty Muggs added a wampa to their Star Wars line 2009. Hallmark recently released a cute Itty Bitty 4-pack, which contains a wampa, Luke, Han, and a tauntaun.
If you truly scour the ice landscapes of Hoth, you’ll find even more wampa-merchandising lurking in their caves. The hunt will probably go on so that wampa collectors will always be able to expand their collection.
Thanks to Laurent Bettens for these additional photos.
Tim Veekhoven (Sompeetalay) from Belgium is president and co founder of TeeKay-421, the Belgian Star Wars fanclub. He has contributed to Star Wars Insider, to the Build the Millennium Falcon magazine, and has created character names and back stories for What’s the Story? and Rogues Gallery.