In 1998, Kenner added new product to their POWER OF THE FORCE line, and for this year, figures included a slide.
The slides could be stored in a mail-order booklet.
There was also a mail-away slide viewer.
Many of the previous figures from 1995-97 were repackaged with these slides.
The slides were the same image as the picture on the backer cards.
Now, let’s check out the 1998 figures.
I will be using images from STAR WARS: THE ACTION FIGURE ARCHIVE by Stephen Sansweet, or from a Kenner ad, for any ’98 figure I don’t have in my collection.
1998 WAVE 1
We get the first ever figure of Leia in her Ewok village dress.
And this was the first Luke figure to feature a removable hand!
The second batch had four figures as well, with Biggs and the Cantina “Wolf Man” receiving action figure status for the first time.
Wicket and Logray were packaged together – two for the price of one. Ewoks had been conspicuously absent from the ’90s line until now.
Wave three included the first Vader with a removable helmet and hand, as well as the first figure ever made of Captain Piette.
Next came an all-star wave that was an apology for the oft criticized ’95 versions of Luke and Leia. Notice the “all new likeness” stickers, Kenner letting us know they heard the complaints, and here we finally get more reasonable sculpts of the original outfits of the space twins. It’s also the first time a Luke came with the blast shield helmet. R2D2 has more features than the ’95 version with the scope, datalink, and arm. C3PO has a removable head and limbs this time around.
The Ugnaughts were packaged together, two for the price of one, and were their own wave, as was 8D8. But they came out so close to Ree-Yees and Death Star Trooper that I consider these five to be grouped together as a batch. (And I have that Death Star Trooper – just can’t find it at the moment.)
The first ever figure of Mon Mothma included in this batch!
The final ’98 wave was a subset called EXPANDED UNIVERSE that featured characters from SW comics, novels, and games. This was reminiscent of the SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE figures from ’96.
Now, let’s dive into the non-basic figures of 1998.
PRINCESS LEIA COLLECTION 2-PACKS
The four sets include Leia with another character and feature soft-goods clothing.
*The Wicket and R2D2 in these sets are identical to the basic release, so I don’t consider them to be new figures here.
*We get the first ever Yavin Celebration Leia.
MOVIE SCENE 3-PACKS
The two movie-scene 3-packs that came out in ’97 must have been successful because we get four more here in ’98.
The first ever Uncle Owen figure!
FIGURES THAT COME WITH A CREATURE
FIGURES THAT COME WITH A VEHICLE
There were three figures and mini-vehicles that were based on early preproduction drawings for what would become the Speeder Bike, Twin Pod Cloud Car, and Snowspeeder. They were included with the EXPANDED UNIVERSE subset.
FIGURES THAT COME WITH MINI “GUNNER STATION” SETS
In this Kenner ad, it’s shown how two of these stations can fit together.
FIGURES WITH THE “COMPLETE GALAXY” GLOBES
There were four “Complete Galaxy” globes that were released – Tatooine, the Death Star, Dagobah, and Endor. Each one opens into a scene that includes an exclusive figure.
MAX REBO BAND 2-PACKS (WALMART EXCLUSIVES)
FIGURES SLIGHTLY MODIFIED AND PACKAGED WITH COIN AND STAND (TOYS R US EXCLUSIVE)
STAR WARS INSIDER MAGAZINE EXCLUSIVE
STAR WARS FAN CLUB EXCLUSIVES
That’s a total of 87 new figures for 1998. True, some of them are slightly modified from previous releases – especially the ones that came with the coin – but still, this is big step from previous years.
1995: 13 new figures
As ’98 came to a close, STAR WARS fans eagerly awaited “Episode 1” (and the inevitable action figures to come with it) that would hit theaters next May.
Thanks for reading!