LEGO

Grail Acquisition: Vintage Dagobah Playset

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When I was a kid I always wanted “Yoda’s House” playset; this was one of the mighty grails that I never got. But now I’ve restored one and collected all the figures on the packaging, I’m ready to celebrate and show off. I had been eyeballing purchasing a vintage Dagobah playset for some time, but it was finding a mostly complete set with a box in good condition that made this too hard to pass up. Not only is the box in reasonable condition, but I love the retail stickers on it. Not only was this particular box clearanced, it ended seems it ended up at $3! THREE DOLLARS?! Holy crap.

Click below for a ton more pics, including my attempt at recreating this packaging shot.

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It took a bit of effort but I was able to dutifully recreate the central packaging photo from the original 1980 Dagobah retail box. Why is this so important? To me, specifically, this was as close as I got when I was 5. I held this box in my hands and “lived” in the photo, exploring the nooks and crannies and having minute adventures in my head until my parents told me to put it back and leave the toy store. I had a yellow paper backdrop, and used a softbox over head to light this one. I ended up using some photoshop to get the color and darkness of the graduated background to match exactly as I wanted it.

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When I purchased this set it was mostly complete. Part of the levitating branch was missing, as was the R2D2 levitation drum, and of course the mud-pit sponge had deteriorated. That is typically the case with any vintage Dagobah playset, the foam just wasn’t built to last 40 years. I purchased replica foam from eBay, cut and colored to match the original, and located the missing two pieces from a toy shop.

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Speaking of 40 years ago, I believe that its very significant that the Child from Disney+’s The Mandalorian is mentioned being 50 years old. The Mandalorian story line begins five years after the events of Return of the Jedi, so while we know the Child is not a young Yoda, I believe he’s Yoda’s child or otherwise connected. If he were a newborn, as he seems if he were at this developmental stage in human years, then he may not be of Yoda’s lineage. I dunno, let’s see where the next season takes us.

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After replicating the packaging photo I wanted to try a shot I hadn’t seen very much, which was an interior photo, with some creative lighting. I had one flash lighting up the front with a bounce, and one strobe in the back, aimed right through the door to light up the inside. I just needed to angle it and then crop it so you couldn’t see it. I love the detail and playability of the interior space, but I don’t typically see photos of it.

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I love that the minds at Kenner were able to pack so many scenes from Empire Strikes Back into a compact playset, without compromising the overall look. This tree hut looks fantastic on display, but there are so many doodads to play with. I love the Cave, and the platform mechanism for dueling Luke and Vader. I would have preferred that they stuck a few more pegs around the base for standing the figures, but this part works great.

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I tracked down a Bespin Fatigues Luke with a backpack and a “naked” Yoda. I also tracked down a complete original Yoda, but it’s nice having the naked Yoda so I don’t have to take his belt and robe off back and forth.

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I love this levitation mechanism. At first it looks cheesy, but when you see it in action, you don’t have to be five years old to be mystified.

I loved this, this was totally worth the plunge. It’s brought me lots of joy and I love photographing it, check out my pics below, and check out my Anakin lightsaber photoshoot.

Vintage Dagobah Playset

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