Early Prototype for Talking Yoda Doll
The talking Yoda doll is right up there with the rocket firing Boba Fett, the 12" Lando Calrissian doll and the so-called "63rd coin" as one of the most important and interesting of Kenner's unproduced Star Wars toys. About 12" tall, the doll was designed to utter several different phrases when a cord imbedded in its back was pulled and released. It reached a stage of development comparable to that of mass-production, but for whatever reason, it was cancelled before release.

The history of this toy is a little murky. Several different prototypes have been photographed, and some pieces of conceptual art have turned up, which suggest that, at one point during development, the doll was planned to operate via a tape-playing mechanism, similar to that of the infamous "2XL" robot or the later Teddy Ruxpin. Are these two related-but-dissimilar lines of development parts of the same evolving concept? It seems likely. Its possible that Kenner decided to make the move from a tape-based to a pull-string toy in order to cut costs, while retaining the same basic "talking" concept.

Anyway, the piece you see here is one of the several prototypes to have turned up which predate the production-quality pull-string doll mentioned above. Its quite crude, being composed of a roto-cast rubber head placed atop a kind of mocked-up body consisting of little more than a draped block. The head is of a fairly high level of production, although it looks nothing like the head later made for the pull-string toy--it is both a good deal larger and detailed much differently. Is this the missing link between the tape and pull-string concepts? Hard to say, but it could be.

This particular example was photographed back in the early '80s; judging by the background and surroundings (check out the ping pong table), it looks to have been taken within the old Kenner building. I do not know if it still exists. It definitely looks different than those photographed by Tomart Publications, however--the head is white rather than green, and the details of the outfit are different.

Description by: Ron Salvatore
Photo: Anonymous
From the collection of: Anonymous
Country:United States
Film:Empire Strikes Back
Category:Prototypes / Miscellaneous Toys


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

All information © 2014 Star Wars Collectors Archive