These action figures were brilliant because they could talk, an innovation which was made possible by a battery operated device called a ‘Commtalk Reader’ which resembled a mobile phone. This gadget cost caround £20 and came with a demonstration chip plus a chain to hold extra chips as they were acquired. Each four inch tall action figure was packaged with a transparent oblong chip containing several phrases from the film. The chip had a small peg onto which the figure fitted, and when the chip was placed over the reader it was activated, making it sound as though the figure was speaking. Several chip messages could be stored, so that characters could interact and each chip had a hologram of the character it featured. Two buttons on the reader made lightsaber and blaster sounds. Continue reading “The Phantom Menace”
There was great excitement among Star War fans when the Phantom Menace was released in 1999, more than 20 years after the first Star Wars film. Now there was a new hero, a young lad destined to become Darth Vader. This was a prequel and Luke, Leia and Han were not yet thought of. Instead there were characters like the fearsome Darth Maul with a scarlet and black face and devil type-horns. Qui-Gon Jinn, the Jedi Master and a beautiful handmaiden called Padme Naberrie and Queen Amidala were the stars of this movie.
The toys from Phantom Menace soon ousted the memorabilia from the previous trilogy. The shops were filled with mugs, books, rucksacks, pencil cases, sweet tins and mousemats bearing pictures of Darth Maul, Anakin Skywalker, Queen Amidala, Qui-Gon Jin and, most of all, Jar Jar Binks. Jar Jar was everywhere; for a while he seemed to be the ‘in’ figure from the film, the crazy character kids would go for. That’s what the manufacturers had hoped and they were completely wrong. Darth Maul turned out to be the hit and when the first wave of action figures arrived, it soon transpired that there were not enough to meet the demand.