When Paul Newman recently passed away, I remembered I had a figure of him, at least I thought I did. Kenner produced a line of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid figures, which I had never realized were actually for the prequel (“Butch and Sundance: The Early Days“) with Tom Berenger in the Butch Cassidy role made famous by Newman in the earlier film.
This line was continued, albeit briefly, as Kenner’s “The Real West.” (Check out Toymania.) I can admit that I’ve never seen either film. I doubt most kids of the late seventies had. Couple that with the fact that cowboys didn’t fit in kids Star Wars universe, and it’s easy to see what doomed this line of posable posse members.
My main impetus for writing this isn’t just because of a small action figure line that faded out quickly. It’s what some of the lines ideas spawned. Namely, the vintage Indiana Jones line.
I can’t tell you if this figure is suppose to bridge the gap between the two films or not. Obviously, the character is the same in both, just at different points in his life. To this end I have to say, this figure looks like neither Newman or Berenger. He looks a bit more like a vintage Han Solo figure with a hat than anything else. (The Sundance Kid figure looks like a vintage Luke figure with a hat and a moustache.)
The color scheme aside, he does look to be dressed fairly close to his on screen appearance. I found photos online of an outfit with these colors, in which Butch appears to have a jacket and scarf. I’ve seen other photos suggesting he wore a vest as well, although the color scheme is different. Some of the pictures look like his pants may have been more bell bottomish, but I’m okay with these not being that way.
The sculpting for the most part has been “Kennerized.” It’s a bit cartoonish, but has a decent amount of detail for the time. The vest button holes are there, and the collar piece is raised a bit. There’s even a button sculpted on his pants. Of course, no Western outlaw leaves home with out his gun belt.
I actually think the detail on the back is better than the front. The front has a huge buckle all done in one color brown. The back has small little ammo loops on it, that look pretty good. The holster itself is more of a play feature, and doesn’t really hit the realistic mark. The leg tie down is cleanly painted to match the holster.
The one thing that kind of detracts from this figure, is the copyright notice. It’s plastered over his shoulder blades like a hockey players name on his jersey. That’s a sign of the times when he was made. Obviously, Kenner was concerned with the play aspects and not so worried about collectors nit
I think this is an area where this line really shined compared to it’s Star Wars contemporaries. As a kid, I wondered why Star Wars figures didn’t move to this type of articulation. I’m sure it was a cost thing, now. But back then I wondered.
Kenner must have figured a trap door in the back of a horse wouldn’t work, so they came up with some articulation that would allow these cowboys to sit on their equine rides correctly.
Instead of sitting with legs straight out, the hips splay open a bit and allow the figure to look natural in a sitting position. That’s something not a lot of modern SW figs can say. This same horse riding / sitting ability would be transferred to all of the male vintage Indiana Jones figures. Which worked well since the Indiana Jones horse is a direct copy of the Butch&Sundance horses.
Every gunslinger needs to be able to quick draw. Butch here has button on his back that allows him to do just that. An open holster lets the small rubber revolver come out quickly and smoothly. Well, sort of. If the gun is wedge in well enough, it won’t come out.
While Indy doesn’t have a button the action still feels and acts the
The two lines also share a downside. The arms of Indy and Butch here are made from a harder plastic than most SW figs. This has the unfortunate side effect of broken thumbs from repeated accessory grabbing. It’s not uncommon to find any of these figures thumbless. Which must really suck for text messaging.
Given the time period, Butch comes from, he’s not half bad. While the choice of source material is not the best, the Butch & Sundance line had some figure design choices that really set it apart from its’ Star Wars contemporaries. I’m just grateful that this cowboy paved the way for a really kick butt archeologist figure a few years later.
Engineernerd Score: 85/100