This is the Gun Turret and Probot playset, part of Kenner’s enormous line of Star Wars toys. It was a medium-sized* set, mostly notable for the Probot (that’s what we called them then instead of “Androcorps XK-45 Long Range Surveillance Drone” or whatever the hell the West End Gamified name of this thing is) which was a super cool. This set got about the expected amount of play time, but that’s not what it’s here for. I only want to talk about the gun turret. Specifically, the base of the turret.
Once I got into Doctor Who I started up my own sort of Doctor Who fan-fiction. I didn’t write it (though I wrote a little), instead I acted it out with my Star Wars and other toys. I don’t remember a lot of what I did when I played Star Wars, but I remember a lot of the Doctor Who stuff. It wasn’t quite Doctor Who; the lead character wasn’t the Doctor but a human who had gotten hold of a larger-on-the-inside time machine with a peculiar outer shell that traveled through time and space and encountered enemies based on Doctor Who’s. The part of the TARDIS exterior was played by the gun turret base.
(The part of the Doctor stand-in, whose inexplicably oddball name was “R.C. Delomitt” and no, I have no idea what prompted that, was played by Bespin Han Solo, and that one in the photo is the very same Bespin Han Solo from lo those many years ago.)
When I got into computers later on a lot of my Star Wars toys went to my friend’s little brother, in exchange for disks full of pirated Commodore 64 games. The turret and Probot were, I guess, one of these trades, but I later wished I’d kept the turret piece.
In the mid-90s or so I went to Chicago Comic-Con (before it was Wizard World Chicago) and there was a guy selling old Kenner Star Wars toys. He had a box of miscellaneous pieces and in this box was the turret base. I started to cheer but then realized I was at a comic convention, where the dealers can smell desire and cash, so I tried to play it cool. “How much for this?” I asked as though I couldn’t care less about it. Naturally, nothing in the booth had a price tag on it, so he began to scan me to figure out just how high I’d be willing to go. Either I hid my eagerness well or he wasn’t too good at this because he let it go for something like three bucks. That turret is the one you see in the photo above.
When did I get it? It was released in 1981, and I probably got it then. By 1983, when Return of the Jedi came out, I wasn’t really getting Star Wars toys anymore. I got the replacement around 1998 or so.
Do I still have it? The replacement, yes. Not the original.
* — I say that, but I see it retailed for $16.99, which was about $45 in today’s dollars. Yowch. Had to be a birthday or Christmas gift.