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TJ Wolf

Nichols Discount City And The Hunt For Boba Fett

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TJ Wolf
TJ Wolf
 2021-05-05

Nichols Discount City And The Hunt For Boba Fett

Note: "Boba Fett", "Star Wars", and "The Empire Strikes Back" are properties of Lucasfilm and Disney.

The Empire Strikes Back

I was 9 years old when "The Empire Strikes Back" came out in theatres. To this day, that movie remains my favorite film of all time. But back in 1980, not only was the film the talk of the kid neighborhood, the school bus, and the last days of class and recess before summer break, but so was Boba Fett.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2lhRzK_0YXfRXCn00
Crawford Jolly/Unsplash

Boba Fett

Ah...the coolest bounty hunter ever.

The Kenner Action Figure we as kids all wanted in our Star Wars collection.

Rumor had it back then that his jet pack could fire a rocket. Well, until the news reports of the Mattel Battlestar Galactica toys came out and rocket firing features were stopped. Many urban legends were born afterward.

Boba Fett was #1 on my want list.

But yet I was learning that you had to be a bounty hunter yourself to track and find him. He was no where to be found in our local stores that sold toys.

Brick And Mortar

Back in 1980 our local "brick and mortar" stores were where you went to buy things. The dawn of online shopping was years away. The closest thing at the time was the catalog centers.

So I set off to find my bounty and checked the toy departments of the stores my parents and grandparents visited.

Two Guys

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John JSF0864/Flickr

They were running a sale if I recall. All Kenner Star Wars Action figures $1.49 and Boba Fett was pictured in the black and white newspaper circular add!

Hope abounded. I would find my quarry and Boba Fett would be on sale no less!

I still remember getting there and briskly walking to the toy department. Nothing but a dusty Walrus Man hanging from the pegs.

But I could get a rain check! Surely Boba Fett was on the way. He was pictured after all.

I recall the lady at the counter seemed quite annoyed by young me requesting a rain check for Boba Fett. But finally I was able to get a rain check after I filled out this giant log book of carbon copies.

If I also recall, subsequent trips yieled the same empty handed results. I ultimately used the rain check to get the dusty Walrus Man.

Kmart

Ah...the glory days of Kmart.

I remember going with my Grandparents. Kenner stock overflowing the action figure pegs. All the latest figures, but no Boba Fett.

I do recall my Grandparents buying me two figures that trip, a Rebel Commander and an Imperial Commander.

I was able to get two because my Grandfather asked me "well...you can get one...which one is better?"

I replied "They both are commanders. So they are the same."

If I recall at that point he rolled his eyes and/or sighed and decided another $2 was worth exiting Kmart faster.

FunTown

It was kid news of the decade for our area. Our very own toy store opening locally. Stores like Toys R Us and Child World were like an hour or more away. FunTown was the name of this new toy store taking over the space of a closed Grand Union.

And better yet the grand opening included Kenner Star Wars for $1.88!

I begged my Mother and Grandmother to take me to the opening.

They agreed. Perhaps to keep me from asking further.

When the big day arrived, I remember the place being amazing. Aisles and aisles filled with toys.

Tons of Star Wars of all types. I recall stock people bringing out case after case as people swarmed the display. They resorted to simply dumping the cases into metal shopping carts for people to sift through.

I searched, sifted, and then asked one of the stock people. He said the Boba Fetts were gone at opening. There might be another shipment tomorrow. So we asked some friends from school who lived close to the store if they could check the next day. They did and still nothing.

JCPenney

At Christmas that year JCPenney had a big toy display. As always, I thought this could be the day I find him.

For whatever reason, Penneys appeared to have only received Yodas.

Lots of Yodas.

Like 100 action figures with the orange snake and boxes and boxes of the Kenner puppets.

That was it.

Service Merchandise

Back to my Grandparents territory and trip to Service Merchandise for a box fan.

As we stood at the "showroom" counter I spied some Kenner Star Wars hanging on a peg. I asked to see the figures. No Boba Fett, but I recall buying a Cloud Car pilot. I didn't have the Cloud Car, but I recall liking the figure because it was the closest release yet to the Rebel Fleet Troopers in Star Wars.

Bradlees

It was a sad day when Two Guys shutdown. However, Bradless opened in its spot in no time.

As my family checked out the new store at its grand opening, once again hope that this would be Boba day. I recall that hope dashed by a picked clean display and a couple useless FX-7s hanging in the aftermath.

Nichols Discount City

You know the saying "when you least expect it"?

My Dad needed some more lumber for the work he was doing to finish the basement. Two Guys was gone and I think Rickel's Lumber was out of the needed stock. So it was off to Nichols Discount City.

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John JSF0864/Flickr

Nichols looked like an amusement park from the outside. Multi-colored sign of individual letters, all sorts of colored flags flying, and a shape reminescent of a castle.

When you entered Nichols you passed through stainless steel gates and the entire ceiling was littered with CCTV cameras. Each camera was numbered and would blink red when it was supposedly filming you. This had a bit of a big brother effect, but as a kid it was neat, and you would try to hide when you saw one blinking.

So the quest continued. My parents were off to the lumber department in the back corner. And I to the toy department nearby.

I remember the action figure aisle looked like a tornado went through it. Stuff off the pegs and on the shelves. So I sifted through what was there.

And as soon I lifted a few figures up and put them back on the pegs, there was Boba Fett, my own Star Wars bounty hunt had finally come to an end. Not much pleading was required that day as my parents new I was looking forever.

I remember driving home a happy kid in the back seat of our 1979 Chevy Malibu Station Wagon with my quest completed. The immense pile of claustrophobic lumber down the middle of the car did not phase me at all. It actually made for a good jet pack landing spot for a freshly opened Boba Fett.

2020s

So that's my 1980s hunt for Boba Fett that required checking store to store over the course of multiple years to find your bounty.

Nowadays such a search would be easy.

For example: "Boba Fett eating a Turkey Leg at Disney World" on Ebay or Amazon might yield a quick find.

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M8HEAD/Unsplash

But yet there was something fun and special about the action figure hunts of the old days.

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