Star Wars Vintage Project

See how to apply a retro-feel to some vintage Kenner Star Wars figures, paying homage to the original '92' card backs from the toy line


As a Star Wars loving kid in the 80's, I was lucky enough to receive a lot of the original Kenner Star Wars line of Action Figures between 1979-ish and 83.

Treated with all the care you can expect a 7 year old to manage at the time, they're mostly in a pretty "played with" condition.

I remember selling the Kenner Millenium Falcon at a car boot sale for about 5 UK pounds some years after Jedi (maybe 86 ish?); when my childish mind was forgetting the forceful attraction of Star Wars and being distracted by crap like MASK and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The shame.

I emigrated to Australia in 2001 and subsequently sold about half of my vintage collection at pretty reasonable prices - more than they'd fetch now, given every man and his dog is selling loose vintage figures on the web in 2016.

These figures occupy a special place in the memories of most collectors, especially the great packaging and photos they originally came in (long gone in my case).

I remember looking at the card back of the new Return of the Jedi figures, seeing a whole host of as yet unknown characters in toy form, along with some mysterious black smudges that covered characters they didn't want to reveal before the film's release*

In the spirit of the marketing and age of these classic toys, I came up with the idea for a "vintage" themed photo shoot the capture the remainder of my collection.

The idea is to show the weathered, aged condition of these toys in the original "yellow card back" design of the 80's figure cards, but showcase them with the techniques modern photography and software afford us now.

The shoot

The setup is very simple, two softboxes either side of the figures and a back light to create a rim light.

The figures are standing on two overlapping sheets of yellow paper, I've relied on a wide aperture to blur out the background and make the paper seem invisible in the shots.

I did one test shoot for this that didn't work out so well - the yellow paper creates some interesting problems, the main one being it kind of "robs" most of these figures of their contrast being such a bright color.

I corrected this for the second shoot, which was then simply a case of place a figure, take a shot and swap it for the next one.


Most of the work in this series was done in Photoshop.

I tweaked settings for all the photos in Lightroom first, then exported them and loaded all of them into one photoshop file, each photo on it's own layer.

This enabled me to come up with common effects / treatments for the entire series I could export each shot with, though I still worked on each photo individually as well.

There's a lot of color correction on each photo to give the photos a 70's like, sepia tone but at the same time retain saturation and contrast in certain colors.

Each shot was separately (and extensively) dodged/burned to give much more depth, an effect that I think works well given the simplistic nature of these older toys.

* Take note JJ Abrams, the mystery box was in full effect in 1983.


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See how to apply a retro-feel to some vintage Kenner Star Wars figures, paying homage to the original '92' card backs from the toy line