Hungarian Carded Figure Checklist
By Ron Salvatore
Without question, the most sought-after line of Star Wars action figure bootlegs is the Uzay line out of Turkey. But Hungary had a pretty significant line of bootleg figures as well. While the Hungarian figures are neither as flashy as the Uzays nor as imaginative, they are comparatively cheesy and they're definitely fun to collect. Perhaps most importantly, they're much less expensive than the Uzays, meaning that a collector has a reasonable chance of assembling a complete set.
The entire line consists of ten figures, all of which can be seen below. Of these ten, Leia and Wicket are the most common by far, and can still be readily found on the collectibles market. Many of the others, however, are quite tough finds. In particular, the Darth Vader figure is almost never seen; I know of only two or three examples. Most of the Hungarian figures currently residing in American collections were imported by a small handful of dealers, who bought them in Hungarian stores in the late 1980s. Additionally, I know of a complete "store display" set, which consists of all the carded figures attached to one another. It was used in the window of a small store to advertise the toys.
In contrast to popular belief, I have been told that licensed, Kenner-style Star Wars figures were sold in Hungary. Apparently, the bootlegs were the low-cost alternative to these licensed toys, and were sold primarily through smaller novelty and convenience stores. One Hungarian trading partner of mine claims that most Hungarian children disliked the low-quality bootlegs. Many kids, he says, would use them only as "dead bodies" in their staged action-figure wars. That's not so hard to understand--these Hungarian figures are of a very low quality. Not only are they made of fairly shoddy injection-molded plastic, their paint jobs are atrocious, and their limbs are rather loosely attached to their bodies, making them very hard to stand.
All of these figures differ noticeably from their Kenner counterparts in their slightly smaller size, their lack of copyright information on the backs of their legs, and the absence of holes in the bottoms of their feet. The greatest points of difference, however, occur with respect to the Luke and Vader figures, both of which possess two free hands rather than one free hand and one with a lightsaber hilt molded into it. Consequently, the lightsabers included with the figures are of the snap-in variety, like those packaged with Kenner's Luke Jedi figure.
The packaging, too, is of a fairly low grade. The blister cards are nothing more than colored cardboard onto which an image, derived from the 'Style C' movie poster, has been photocopied. Although red and blue seem to be the most prevalent blister card colors among the figures currently circulating in the States, I have seen many other blister-card hues, including green, brown, orange and yellow. As for the bubbles used to affix the figures to the cards, they are all of a uniform shape and size, and they are always stapled, not glued, to the cardbacks.
The below chart shows all the carded figures in the line and notes the weapons they were packaged with. All of the weapons are rubbery copies of those released with licensed Kenner figures. "Bespin gun" refers to the accessory that came with Kenner's Bespin Security Guard figure; the other weapon designations should be fairly self-explanatory. The most significant variations in the line occur with respect to the Leia figure's accessories: she can be found with black, green and red guns.
In addition to this well-defined line of ten figures, many other bootlegs were released in Hungary during the vintage years, including equally-wacky renditions of Yoda and Darth Vader.
|Character||Accessories||Thumbnail (click to enlarge)|
|Luke Skywalker||Bespin gun, green lightsaber|
|Han Solo||Leia gun or Bespin gun|
|Darth Vader||red lightsaber, cape|
|Princess Leia||black Leia gun, cape|
|Princess Leia||red Leia gun, cape|
|Princess Leia||green Leia gun, cape|
|Boba Fett||Chewbacca gun|
|Hoth Stormtrooper||Hoth Stormtrooper rifle, cape|
|Biker Scout||Bespin gun|
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Ron Salvatore (firstname.lastname@example.org)