Star Wars Imperial Troop Transporter (1979)
One of the earliest vehicles to blur the line between “stuff that showed up in the movies” and “stuff that Kenner just made up because it looks neat,” the Imperial Troop Transporter may also be a bone fide toy blooper: it more closely resembles a vehicle seen in the Rebels’ Yavin IV base than anything the Empire was using.
Using the same “put the tiniest wheels possible on the thing and hope it looks like a hovercraft” principle as the replica of Luke’s landspeeder, the Imperial Troop Transport has room for two pilots and six passengers; the passengers have to stand in their side-saddle compartments. At the rear of the vehicle is a door for transporting captured droids – when they say they don’t like their kind here, they mean it!
Atop the vehicle were two rotating turrets, one sporting a pair of laser guns and one with a “radar dish.” At the base of the gun turret, six red buttons would play pre-recorded sound clips from the movie, including Artoo’s beeps and boops, Threepio exclaiming “Artoo-Detoo, where are you?”, the sound effects of a blaster, and so on – at least if you had two AA batteries in the compartment above the “droid prison” at the back.
The two pilot seats swung open from the rear to accomodate one action figure each. The doors and one small rectangular surface on each of the “prisoner pods” along the sides of the vehicle were graced with racing-stripe-like decals (red stripes for the doors, yellow rectangles for the pods), while small red decals were placed near each of the sound playback buttons, denoting which sound would be heard when you pressed the corresponding button.
Along with the Transporter itself came two “immobilization units” – basically black plastic blinders that fit over the head of most action figures, with a decal simulating some kind of electronic gadgetry built into each unit. (Those decals have fallen off of the accessories pictured here.) There’s no on-screen precedent for these units, but what the heck, why not?
All kidding aside, the barely-canon vehicles introduced by Kenner were actually a great thing – vehicles that barely featured in the movies were a springboard for kids to imagine adventures that weren’t in the movies either. And that was the best possible use for this stuff.