Rocket Firing Boba Fett, Toy Fair Carded Sample
If the loose RocketFett first shot is the holy grail of Star Wars collecting, then what is the carded RocketFett? It's hard to believe that an actual carded version of this legendary prototype was displayed at Toy Fair 1979 by Kenner, and that this sample has managed to survive all these years. This is exciting but, to be more precise, this piece wasn't meant to signify that a missile-firing figure was destined for retail. In this instance, the person that made this up at Kenner used a missile-firing version of the figure presumably because that's what was available at the time. Note that nowhere on the packaging does it describe the missile-firing feature and that's because it had been removed by this point in time.

The card is actually a photostat image that was glued to a cardboard backer. Upon careful inspection, you will notice that the image of Boba Fett and fireball are shown at a slightly different scale than they are on the regular carded version. But perhaps more importantly, the fireball on this early mock-up is a totally different piece of airbrushed artwork than the one shown on the production blister card. Also, note that there is no text on the fireball, and that certain portions of the Boba Fett image, which are not visible on the production card, are here unobscured.

This card was hastily created for the Toy Fair display because only about a month earlier Kenner made the decision to remove the rocket launcher from the backpack due to safety reasons which you can read about here.

You might also be able to tell that this card is the product of a type of mock-up procedure, in which graphic elements were cut out and pasted carefully onto some kind of ground (yes, sometimes the folks at Kenner used the same techniques as custom figure makers when creating these prototypes). Then, the entire thing was photographed to make it appear more unified, and the resulting photostat was applied to a cardboard backer. You can actually see a remnant of this cut-and-paste technique in the "Ages 4 and Up" text at the top of the card, which actually retains the rectangular border marking where it was cut out. This photostat was a modification of the cardback that Kenner was developing while the figure still had a rocket launcher and originally featured a Projectile Warning.. Presumably the fireball area would have contained text about the rocket launcher but that had yet to be added at this early stage so it was a simple change to rearrange the text to otherwise erase all mention of the removed feature.

An interesting, but not immediately obvious difference in the artwork is the painted fireball is completely different than the production figure. There is more red and the details are slightly crisper. Not the differences in the positions and size of the Kenner logo and the bubble area as well.

After years of storage the bubble began loosening a little. When the original owner read about the legendary RocketFett in Steve Sansweet's "From Concept to Screen to Collectible" book he wanted to see if his specimen was rocket-firing. Since the bubble was open at the top, he simply slid it out and saw that the figure was indeed the coveted prototoype. Although the figure has been removed from the card, this piece retains its original clear plastic bubble. The contoured plastic piece visible inside the bubble was made to hold the figure in place. It fits perfectly around the backpack.

Also, here you see the back of the card. No effort whatsoever was made to dress it up. At the top you can see some residue, which was left by double-sided tape used to attach this to the Toy Fair display.

And finally, here's the figure. It's of the later "J-Slot" type, which makes sense, as the J-Slot is known to be the version of RocketFett that made it closest to being released. As everyone and their uncle should by this point know, RocketFett was never commercially available in stores or as a mailaway, carded or loose.

Notice that the small stem on the slot is severely bent. This was most likely once a test specimen since similar figures have turned up before. Kenner testing technicians broke many of the stems as they tested the figure for safety. Since the thin plastic broke so easily it was a safety hazard which led to a redesign to make the stem slightly shorter and fatter to increase its strength.

Notice also in this photo the residue of glue on both the gun and the hand. This assured that the gun stayed in place during that hectic week at Toy Fair. The missile seems to have stayed in place in the backpack since it was constrained by that plastic insert in the bubble.

The original owner actually managed to snag this piece from the Toy Fair display, but when he first brought it to the attention of collectors in 1999 he had no way to verify his story. All that could be verified was that he once worked for a company that had good reason to send him to Toy Fair in the first place. As these things happen, word spread among collectors and the owner of some old Toy Fair slides was able to supply the proof needed to confirm the story. The slide turned up in 1998 from an ex-Kenner model maker who had ties to Toy Fair. Nobody really noticed the Fett in the photo until recently though. Amazingly, this image from the 1979 Toy Fair shows this very same carded RocketFett sitting happily on the display floor.

Another indication that Kenner erased mention of the rocket launching backpack was the stickers created to cover the photo on the cardback. The original SW20C card artwork had to be eliminated and the easiest way to do that was to create a sticker. Because the launcher was removed in a sort of emergency situation due to missile problems and an unfortunate asphyxiation from Battlestar Galactica missiles, Kenner was in scramble mode to react quickly.

It should be stressed here that this isn't a similar packaged Boba Fett visible in the picture, it's the same exact figure as the one we're showcasing here on the Archive. To see that this piece miraculously survived is simply one of the most amazing things to happen in the vintage Star Wars hobby.

Description by: Gus Lopez, Ron Salvatore
Photo: Erik Janniche
From the collection of: Robert Levine
Country:United States
Film:A New Hope
Category:Prototypes / Action Figure Related


Checklist by Duncan Jenkins, Gus Lopez, and the Star Wars collecting community
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