Every kid in America in 1981 wanted that huge “AT-AT” imperial walker toy that Kenner produced for their “Star Wars” figures. (And, hey, if you still want one — they’re fetching around $300 on eBay.) Well, I didn’t get they AT-AT toy, but I did receive the below model kit from MPC, which was pretty damned cool. Its legs and feet were movable; this made it a little more complicated to assemble, but more fun to play with. It was detailed and looked good. And it came with a pair of rebel cannon turrets and a pair of the snow speeders we saw in 1980’s “The Empire Strikes Back.”
Just about any photos you’ll find of this model online will be misleading — trust me, it was very small. (The snow speeders, for example, were about the width of a quarter.)
Models were a much bigger thing in the 1980’s. Most of them weren’t sci-fi models, like this one — there were far more real-world military tanks, ships, and aircraft, along with a lot of cars. They simplified grade-school-age birthday parties — a model was always a decent gift to give, and there was always a row or two of them for sale at your local mom-and-pop drugstore. (I can’t remember seeing any models for sale at a CVS or Rite-Aid.) Most boys in my neighborhood had at least a couple, although only the older kids who were serious hobbyists would go so far as to paint them. They were the toys you had to pay attention not to break.