Legacy

With the phenomenal success of the Star Wars action figure, Kenner created a legacy in which it determined the future of the boys' toy industry. While studio after studio tried to capitalize on the Star Wars fever, producing films and shows such as Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers in the Twenty-Fifth Century, toy company after toy company tried to tap into and copy the success achieved by the Star Wars toy line. The line of Buck Rogers toys, produced by Mego, consisted primarily of nine 3-3/4" figures and several vehicles for the figures. Battlestar Galactica likewise followed this format and included a host of characters paralleling Star Wars' diversity. Toy hobbyist T.N. Tumbusch notes that "action figures became a standard form of character merchandise for space adventure [films and shows]" (Tumbusch 131).

Even Hasbro's venerable GI Joe property evolved in response to Star Wars. In creating the new GI Joe's in the action figure style, Hasbro also followed the narrative play pattern created with Star Wars toys. Instead of adhering to the former notions of individualism and the male hero, Hasbro instilled a different type of identity into each of its new figures. For example, Scarlett, a female, serves as the Intelligence specialist, while Snowjob serves as the specialist in snow combat. Countless other examples exist, but the important thing is that Hasbro shifted the role of GI Joe. No longer could the GI Joe soldier assume various attributes and handle every situation. Now, GI Joe included many characters, all dependent on each other's skills to form a cohesive unit. When a child played with GI Joe figures, he now played with various identities that could work alone but needed one another to complete the larger picture (Fleming 162-163).

As the 1980's progressed, other toy lines emerged, usually rooted in a comic book or cartoon show, that also exemplified the legacy of Star Wars. The Transformers, a unique toy line involving intelligent robots who could change into different machines and vehicles, featured characters with specific strengths and specialties. While children could emulate the cartoon show, the nature of the Transformers, combining various unique mechanical features, lent itself to the open narrative mentality employed in Star Wars toys. As the Transformers provided for numerous play possibilities, children could re-enact plots from Transformer cartoons and comics, but they also could build on these features to create their own narratives. In a similar fashion, both the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the X-Men incorporated the concept of special identities and diversity working hand in hand. Clearly, Kenner's Star Wars toys tremendously impacted the toy industry, both in physical and psychological design of toys, and created a legacy that continues today.

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