With the recent release of The Force Awakens and the accompanying flood of merchandise, people around the world are finding plenty of Star Wars product under their trees. Star Wars has long been a holiday juggernaut, going back to 1977 and the famed (infamous?) Early Bird Kit. But what of those times when Star Wars leans full on in to the holiday season, and fans actually end up with legitimate Star Wars/Christmas collectibles? It happens more often than you might think. I suppose “Moments in Collecting” might be slightly misleading, for as opposed to looking at one particular moment in time I’ll be looking at the merchandise that’s been released over the years to capitalize on the Christmas season. Now, to accomplish that in full would be fairly difficult in and of itself, so I’m going to be putting a particular focus on the works of two companies that I know pretty well, Hasbro and Gentle Giant, with a few other choice pieces thrown in for good measure. Now, there’s obvious Christmas stuff like the myriad Hallmark ornaments out there, but because those, for the most part, don’t actually have a cross-over between Star Wars and Christmas, I’ll be skipping them. Sorry if that explanation isn’t clear, but it should become so momentarily.
What’s that, you ask? That, my friends, is the title track of Christmas in the Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album. Published in 1980 by Meco, also responsible for also preposterous Star Wars Disco album, and featuring cover artwork by the inimitable Ralph McQuarrie, the album features voice work by Anthony Daniels as C-3PO and sound effects by Ben Burtt. It’s a patently ridiculous affair, but is quirkily charming in its ridiculousness. For God’s sake, it features classics such as “What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb)?” and “R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” and if you don’t think that’s delightful then we can’t be friends. The original release was, of course, on vinyl, and there was in the 1990s a little heralded CD release with the original artwork and references to Star Wars removed from the cover. Of course, it’s now all available for your viewing pleasure on YouTube, so you can now listen to your heart’s content (though I’m still partial to “Walkers in a Winter Wonderland” for my Star Wars Christmas music fix).
Holiday C-3PO and R2-D2
Starting back in 2002, Hasbro began to sell action figures specially themed for the holidays. This first one was initially available as a Wal-Mart exclusive, and was actually based off an old Lucasfilm holiday card (Those cards, by the way, are generally quite fun, and are the direct inspiration for a few more of the items on this list. Take a look at the majority of them here). The figures aren’t terribly well articulated, but they come with a stand that makes the whole thing a very nice display piece around the holiday season. The set also came with a reproduction of the original holiday card it’s based on, though I seem to have lost my copy. Alas.
Coming in 2003 was a Holiday Yoda figure, also based off of an old Lucasfilm card. A Fan Club exclusive, the set is pretty similar to the first in terms of contents (figure, base, card, all that). Another nice display piece (one I happen to own), the Santa Yoda is one of the all-time classic Star Wars/Christmas mashups, and will be seen again on this list.
The 2004 Holiday Edition, an Entertainment Earth exclusive, marks the end of Hasbro’s so-far excellent run of holiday figures. While decidedly less overtly Christmas-y, the Jawas, while again poorly articulated, are nice looking figures that tie in well to the holiday. Again featuring a replica of the original greeting card the figures are based on, I suppose I should again mention that the art inspiring each of these sets was done by Ralph McQuarrie, a name I love to mention. Technically speaking, if a collector wanted a complete collection of figures based off of McQuarrie’s work, they’d need to look beyond the 2007 concept figures and pick these sets up as well, which I find rather amusing.
Holiday Darth Vader
2005 represents the final Hasbro Holiday figure, and it’s without a doubt the line’s nadir. A StarWarsShop.com exclusive, no one was particularly won over by a lazy red repaint of an existing Vader figure (though at least it still came with an amusing holiday card). I don’t know if the holiday line ended because of this figure’s poor reception (it’s something of a joke among collectors), but it at least would have been nice to end the line with a high note. Alas.
2004 Holiday Sandtrooper bust
In 2004, Gentle Giant began what would become an annual tradition of sending out a special, limited edition items to associates of the “Gentle Giant Business Family.” For the first few years they had such items, the only way to get them was to be on Gentle Giant’s exclusive list of recipients, so these items wound up becoming quite valuable. This one isn’t as directly Christmas related as most of their later items in this line, but as the start of their holiday program I figured it warranted inclusion. Limited to only 200 pieces, Gentle Giant actually went and declared that they don’t view this piece as part of the mini-bust line, so if you’re a completionist and don’t own one, don’t sweat it. Several, non-shiny Sandtroopers are available as well.
2005 Holiday Salacious B. Crumb Bust
In 2005 Gentle Giant fully embraced the spirit of the holidays and released this fine looking item. Again limited to 200, and only available to those whom Gentle Giant sent one, a separate edition of Salacious without the holiday accouterments was eventually made available, with an edition size there of 2500.
2006 Holiday Max Rebo Statue
Again only available to those selected by Gentle Giant, and again limited to 200, this is perhaps the most unique/rare of Gentle Giant’s Holiday Gifts. No other version of this item was directly produced, though a Max Rebo Band statue was eventually made available, along with different busts for the lot of them. This is a fun standalone piece, and it actually happens to play music and feature flashing lights (take a look here). I’d love to have one, but I’m in no way interested in paying the going rate for one.
2007 Holiday Scout Trooper Kustomz
The Kustomz line was a short lived dalliance by Gentle Giant in to more stylized pieces, and it was not terribly successful. Based on the Rat Fink art associated with Hot Rod culture, the line didn’t catch on and several announced pieces never actually made it in to production. Of the 5 Kustomz actually produced, 3 were speeder bike variants and the two others were TIE Fighters. The Kustomz weren’t warmly received by collectors, and I personally don’t mind not having them in my collection. I didn’t see an edition size for this piece, but like the last few holiday items it wasn’t made publicly available.
2008 Holiday Commander Cody Bust
In 2008, Gentle Giant made some changes to their M.O. for holiday items. They still sent out holiday editions to their associates, but they also made versions of the items available to members of their Premier Guild, and have do since. This edition of Cody features a removable scarf and light-up snowman hologram, is limited to 1500, and is based on the SDCC exclusive from the year before. It’s the only GG holiday bust I own, and I’m fairly happy with him. One of its weaknesses is that, unlike some later holiday busts with various display options, this version can’t be displayed in a normal collection due to the snowman hologram. As a result, this winds up only coming out on display once a year or so. I’m not seeing too many sold listings of Cody on eBay, but last I remember he wasn’t going for too too much above original retail.
2009 Holiday Yakface
2009’s Yakface bust came in two different editions: the Holiday Gift, which was limited to 200 and sent out like in previous years, and an edition for the Premier Guild limited to 800. The Premier Guild version featured swap out accessories so he could be reasonably displayed year round. Jabba’s Palace Aliens are popular among many collectors, and this bust wound up being very well received. I can’t argue that it’s not well done, but I’m content not having one in my collection. The Premier Guild version sells for about $150 or so on the secondary market.
2010 Padme Holiday Bust
2010’s holiday bust had the same edition breakdown as Yakface: 200 send-outs, 800 PG busts. The differences between the two editions, however, are fairly slight: in the PG version her blaster is painted, it’s not in the send-out gift. This is a bust that I really do like, but it’s got some fairly serious flaws in my mind. It’s based on her appearance in Gennedy Tartokovsky’s Clone Wars microseries, but in her appearances there her hair was tucked into a cap, as opposed to the long locks here. The more damning failure, I think, is the fact that it doesn’t have a swapout display option. Personally, I think that if this came with a hand holding a blaster that could replace the mistletoe, the bust would immediately improve greatly. This, unless I’m forgetting something, is the only bust based on the original Clone Wars series (though several realistic and animated full statues exist as well), and the fact that it can only be displayed as a holiday item is a shame. I’m such a sucker for the microseries that I probably would have gone and picked one up when they were originally released. Now, if I ever do decide to pick one up, I’ll be taking a hit to the tune of $120-$200. It’s not an item that goes up for sale with any great degree of regularity.
2011 Darth Vader Holiday Bust
Think that bust looks dumb? You’re not really alone. It’s proof that not all busts based off of Lucasfilm Holiday cards are winners. The sendout version (again, with an edition size of 200) only has the one pose, but the Premier Guild version, limited to 1000, fairs much better with two additional looks. One is actually based on a Tales comic I profiled a few months ago, Thank the Maker, where Vader finds C-3PO in pieces on Bespin. That poses replaces the dove with Threepio’s head, the other pose is simply his outstretched hand. It’s that simple third pose that earned the bust its salt with a lot of collectors, but at $75 original retail I decided to pass on it. Somewhat amusingly, I don’t actually own a Darth Vader bust, despite having an Imperial focus. Instead, I have their excellent Kneeling Vader as a centerpiece, and I’m quite content with that. Of their various Vader busts, this might be my favorite, and going by recent eBay sales looks like one will set you back $125-$260. Collecting is silly, sometimes.
2012 Jar Jar Binks and Wald Two Pack
Speaking of silliness, it’s hard to top this set. The immediate question is why Wald, utterly devoid of any great connection to Jar Jar, was included in this set. If GG decided that collectors really thought some of Anakin’s childhood friends in bust form would just be wizard, I feel like a Wald/Kitster pack would make more sense, but what can you do? In terms of silliness, it’s hard to top Jar Jar Binks, and GG at least does a good job of capturing that aspect of him. All the Christmas accessories are removable, which is good news for those who’d actually want to display a Jar Jar bust year round (the lights actually light up, too, which is snazzy). Original retail was $129.99, I wouldn’t expect any need to pay much more than that now.
2013 Holiday Jumbo Yoda
Gentle Giant recently started producing 12 inch replications of the original Kenner vintage figures, and in 2013 decided to feature one of them as the holiday item. The outfit and cardback are new, of course, but there is a regular Yoda figure out there for anyone just interested in that. I personally think a lot of the appeal for this figures is nostalgia based for those who were alive back in the 1970s and 1980s and collecting the originals then; as for me, I don’t have any desire to own them. To give credit where it’s due, however, Gentle Giant actually included several miniaturized boxes of their own products to put in Yoda’s bag of goodies, so that’s pretty cool. From recent sales, looks like Yoda would put you back around $200.
2014 Holiday Stormtrooper
For the 10th anniversary of the original holiday bust, Gentle Giant went and paid homage to it with this piece, made available to the Premier Guild. The Mouse Droid you see there is actually included, which is fun enough, but the piece itself I don’t recall turning many heads. The original Stormtrooper is a good bust, so this at least has that going for it, but the finish is a little garish for my personal taste. Looks like this one is going for around $150, which isn’t too far above its original retail if memory serves.
2015 Jumbo Salacious B. Crumb
This year’s holiday item hasn’t shipped yet, but I can still tell you a bit about it. Salacious is being packed with the Jumbo Jabba the Hutt as well, so it looks like this may be his only carded release. In that regard, it’s smart that he can be essentially displayed as normal within the packaging, but it’d be nice if he was more directly connected to the holidays, if you ask me.
-As is often the case, I took most of the images here from Rebelscum’s Photo Archives, with a few others from Sandtrooper’s and Jedi Temple Archives’.
-Lucasfilm has set up a site to make your own Star Wars Holiday Card, if you want to check it out.