These two pewter Star Wars figures probably had the manufacturer’s name engraved on the bottom of their bases when I bought them roughly 40 years ago. However I remember my enthusiastic pre-teen self filing off those identifying marks, along with a fair amount of metal flash, in an effort to make the miniatures stand flat. We didn’t have plastic bases back them.
I bought the figures at the Alaskaland Park Civic Center in Fairbanks, Alaska, somewhere around the summer of 1978 or 1979. George Takei, Star Trek’s Mr. Sulu, had come to town and was headlining a modest SciFi event at the center’s 384-seat theater. In addition to Mr. Takei’s appearance on stage, ticket holders were also treated to a screening of The Trouble with Tribbles, followed by a Star Trek blooper reel and the 13-minute Star Wars parody Hardware Wars.
I know that doesn’t sound like much, but at the time it was the closest thing to a SciFi convention that my younger brother and I had ever seen. And we thought it was fantastic!
Anyway, while George Takei was in the middle of his talk, and everyone else in the audience was listening in rapt attention, I quietly climbed the auditorium stairs to peruse the small merchandise display out in the hallway. This was basically just a couple of flimsy card tables showcasing a mixed assortment of Star Trek and Star Wars trinkets.
I remember there was quite a collection of pewter Star Wars miniatures. With limited funds at my disposal I purchased the Chewbacca figure and a rather questionable looking Stormtrooper, along with a Han Solo “Wanted” poster. The poster has long since returned to the earth, but the pewter minis are still with me, though I always wondered were they came from.
Well it took a few creative Google searches, but eventually I stumbled on a page from the Star Wars Collectors Archive, identifying the figures as unlicensed productions from Heritage Pewter, which were apparently sold either individually or as a set of 15 miniatures. That is, until Lucasfilm put a stop to things.
But that’s not the end of the story. I also found several references for another early and unlicensed line of Star Wars figures made by a company called Archive Miniatures. I actually have a few Archive D&D minis stashed away that I bought back in the late 1970s.
What I’ve read about the Archive Miniatures Star Wars line is kind of humorous, so it’s worth Googling if you’re interested in such things. What intrigues me however is the similarity between some of the Archive and Heritage figures. I’m not sure who was copying who, or if there was some collaboration or recasting going on, but there’s definitely a family resemblance between the two lines.
So that’s the tale of my unauthorized pewter Chewbacca and Stormtrooper. At one time I also had a “desert halfling” figure from Archive Miniatures that was essentially a Jawa with a shield and scimitar. (Now I understand what that was all about.) He may have been tossed in the great post-college gaming purge, but if he ever turns up I’ll post a pic of him too.