Sunday 1 September 2013

Star Wars - unlicensed Archive Miniatures release from the 70s

In 1977 George Lucas unleashed what was to become one of the biggest marketing explosions ever.....the Star Wars Universe was born and children (of all ages) everywhere were hooked.....a very short while later miniatures companies jumped onto the SF bandwagon, some more blatantly than others. Archive Miniatures, a company owned by designer Nevile Stocken were at the forefront of US sculpting and, although the range was pulled following a quick 'Cease & Desist' from Lucasfilm, the figures can occasionally be picked up today. They were released at the US 'Origins' show later that year......most of the figures were re-designed to escape the legal issues and, as you will see below, we were suddenly confronted by 'Duck Wader and the Rabbit Troopers'......pure genius. I will update this thread as time allows but a glass of wine is calling for now.......

2231 Thvar Dread version 1

2322 Chewgumma / 2077 Woolie

2059 Thvar Dread, Star Knight of the Nova

2223 Imperial Marine, NCO

2224 Imperial Marine Trooper

2076 Desert Rat Folk

2233 Obi-Two

2235 Princess Luia

2234 Leke Skyhibbot (original version with open hands for a light sabre and later one for general release)

2237 T42T

2325 Sand Devil with Laser Rifle

2324 Sandevil with Axe

2034 Pirate Captain and Kroll Bounty Hunter

 2094 War Buffalope and Riders (a later version was more of an armadillo and then later the riders were changed to lizard like figures)

2095 Wild Buffalope (may be from the recast bunch as detail is rather soft.....)

Duck Wader and The Rabbit Troopers are currently available  from Team Frog Studios here.

2055 Dragonspawn Star Knight of the Nebula

2098 Star Fellowship

I have left these on here but am unsure of the provenance - a few hobbyists and myself have been thinking they were hobbit like variants of the characters called 'Hibbots' but I have just come across a larger mini with the above code inscribed on the base......shown below. I believe there are seven in the set (Hibbot or not!) and live in hope, once again, of someone passing the details on!

Part of 2044 Alien Family Group, Ganeshans or 2308 Alien Spy

2236 RSLA Androidess

Possibly my favorite of the whole lot was the cantina band...........Below is a reply Nevile made to my Yahoo Group. The Star Rovers game was later released by Archive in 1981 with a host of supporting minis...more of those in another post to come....

'In the Star Rovers game released there was a full page illustration montage of vignettes, which I commissioned the talented Greg Espinoza to draw specially for the game that showed various minis that were currently in the Archive line and a lot more that we had planned to make.  It showed various activities in the cantina, including our phraint sharing a drink at the bar with The Man With No Name, our amber bulk working as the bouncer kicking r2d2 out of the establishment,  our 4-armed martian thark lookalike as the bartender, a brawl with various of the minis, including leke and Luia Skyhibbot hiding under the table with Obe Tu Canoli, a raid on the cantina conducted by our Lizard stormtroopers led by the Lizard Starknight Etaoin Shrdlu himself, and the  centerpiece starring the Orc belly dancer on stage, whom I had pegged to take on the role of Moondog Maude. 

I got the inspiration for the name from a bar adjacent to an apartment building we once lived in on Cole street in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco.  Our living room window on the third floor overlooked the goings on in the patio of that establishment virtually every night of the week.   It was called Maude's, and it was a lesbian biker bar,  the hangout of a very mean-looking bunch of women -  a wild wild, raucous scene - and a very dangerous place for a man to enter.  This was in 1973 or thereabouts, when I started Archive Miniatures.  I don't know whether it is still in business today'.

2029 Moondog Maude's Cantina Band

I moderate the Yahoo Group for Archive Miniatures here of which Nevile Stocken is a member. He answered a query about this line as below;

I wanted to do the line myself and present the cast of characters as a single opus, under my own signature. The vanity of the artist. The second manifested itself almost immediately after their release: the brickbats began flying, and history would prove that the stunt was a grave error of judgment on my part. It would not have been fair to have subjected Steve to the notoriety I endured as a result of my actions.

But do I regret making them? Never! Sculpting them was one of my greatest joys, and they were some of my best work. Indeed, watching multitudes of people spontaneously and almost compulsively break out in whistling and humming the cantina music as soon as they laid eyes on the painted examples of the Cantina Band displayed on the table made the grief I subsequently endured almost worthwhile. If I had to do it all over again, I would have made them again in a heartbeat, but I would have handled their presentation to the world in a much wiser fashion than I did.

So cuff me and stuff me, I am guilty. But I will go to my grave remembering with relish every stroke of the sculpting knives I made upon the clay in their making.

For the record.

Nevile Stocken'

Most of these unofficial minis were themselves pirated over the years...I have picked up a few and keep looking for the rest. Low quality 'drop cast' figures but they are part of the history I seek to archive. Every pun intended.

Not 100% sure on this being an archive recast.....


Lizard said...

I remember seeing these painted at GenCon East, which I believe there was only ever one of, and which was the first gaming con I attended. They looked quite good -- better than the extreme close-ups that show every pit and scratch make them appear. (Though these may be very worn physical specimens, not the original casts.)

Enstock said...

You also show some of the figs that others "pirated" from the original figures released, which accounts for a lot of the pitting. The Obi Wan with the club is an especially egregious example of one of the pirate pirate figs. The ones at Origins, where they were first displayed, were pristine.

The fig you show for T42T (Tea for Two Tea) is one of the series nicknamed by fans as Star Warps, although you show it as partially converted. It was always sold with the head you see on the fig on display attached upside down by means of a narrow cylindrical neck, with two round flat discs with circular bumps to represent radar sensors. The image I was trying to convey was that of Mickey Mouse as R2D2, or vice versa, if you will. The little Hibbot fig is in fact Leke Skyhibbot, and the robot fig Ursula Androidess, later dubbed CE3Kia (Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind - another of the hidden puns I was addicted to in naming the little miniature characters) so your guesses are 100 percent dead-on.


David Wood said...

Thanks Nevile, I hopefully have the Leke Skyhibbot on the way. I've seen a pic of the original T42T but never found one intact.

The Hessian said...

I am looking to get some history on the Archive Miniatures Starship line, such as the 2401 Capital Command Ship.

David Wood said...

Hi Hessen,

No history that I know of myself although others may post. A set of pictures are on Stuff of LEgend;


CLG said...

I suspect these are some of the minis they had to stop making. I can't make out what's stamped on the bottom but it may be of interest.

David Wood said...

Thanks for the pics. Those are the originals!

Unknown said...

I just found your page! I appear to have a full first-generation set of these miniatures.

David Wood said...

Excellent post Derek.