Kit-Bashed Figure Prototypes from French Advertising
Often, early on in a developmental process of a toy or toy line, when advanced-quality samples of product are not yet available for such things as promotional photographs, hand-made prototypes are created as stand-ins of sorts for the unfinished final products. This process, known as "kit-bashing," was behind the creation of some of the vintage Star Wars line's most intriguing pre-production items--the "Bionic Bigfoot" 12" Chewbacca, for instance, or the first publicized version of Boba Fett.

While, in most cases, Kenner was able to avoid using kit-bashed toys in their publicly-released literature, there were several occassions on which they resigned themselves to featuring such prototypes in ads or in product catalogs. For some reason, French company Meccano, showed kit-bashed products relatively frequently in the early days of their Star Wars license, featuring some of the wackiest prototypes ever seen within the line. Most notorious of these inclusions is the infamous "Parker Stevenson Lando" doll, a truly odd incarnation of the unproduced 12" Lando Calrissian figure that was comprised of a Hardy Boys doll with a blackened face and mustache.

Lesser known is an early Meccano toy ad featuring all of the first 12 33/4" in gloriously wacky kit-bashed form. As you can see from the above image, these figures, while mimicking the basic formats of the characters' costumes, are wholly different from what was eventually released. As is typical of kit-based items, they appear to have been created around previously-existing figures (Fisher Price figures, perhaps?) with additions of putty, fabric and paint. In looking at these, it is important to realize that the creators were not working blindly--they knew what they were trying to make and likely based their creations on the same designs that were eventually used for the final sculptings of the figures. With that in mind, its fascinating to view these prototypes as legitimate, if rather quirky, pre-cursors of the toys that eventually became pop-culture icons to children the world over.

One cannot be certain here of where these figures were created, in the United States, where Kenner's design team was located, or in France, strictly for purposes of Meccano promotional photography. I believe they were probably created in the U.S., however, for two reasons: 1. domestic spec. sheets showing a "Parker Stevenson" Han have been uncovered in Cincinnati, and 2. the "Special Feature" section, in "Stephane Faucourt's Gallery of Meccano Advertisements," as well as at Stephane's excellent web site.

Description by: Ron Salvatore
Photo: Stephane Faucourt
From the collection of: Stephane Faucourt
Country:United States
Film:A New Hope
Category:Prototypes / Product Concepts


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