Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Framework Playset, The Death Star Escape Playset Is An Early, (Mostly) Worthwhile Star Wars Toy.

The Good: Good detailing, Fun, Generally good playability.
The Bad: Terrible collectible value, Decal and cardboard base issues.
The Basics: The Power Of The Force Collection Death Star Escape playset is a decent Star Wars toy that holds up for the most part today!

As I go through my Star Wars toys, there are several that I have taken an irrationally long time to get around to considering. One of them is the Power Of The Force Death Star Escape playset, from Kenner’s 1996 toy line that revitalized the current interest in Star Wars toys. When I consider the Death Star Escape playset, I tend to rate it a little higher than other people I know. It earns a slightly higher rating from me because I can acknowledge that it would be virtually impossible to create a true, impressively-scaled Death Star toy. So, creating playsets that are chunks of the overall space station makes sense and the Death Star Escape playset is a fairly good one.

The Death Star Escape is a key scene in A New Hope (reviewed here!) that features Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia swinging across a chasm aboard the Death Star. Seen both with and without an extending bridge, the scene finds Luke and Leia desperate as they flee toward the Millennium Falcon.

While the Death Star chasm may have only been seen briefly in A New Hope, it is an iconic sequence in cinema history and a reasonable one for Kenner to create merchandise around. The 1996 Kenner Death Star Escape toy represents one of the first attempts to make a Star Wars playset for the 3.75” scale toy line!


The Death Star Escape playset is essentially a series of two doorways connected on the bottom by a cardboard representation of the Death Star chasm. The two doorways may be connected by the removable bridge and it features enough pegs to comfortably accommodate the feet of seven Star Wars action figures! The playset is augmented by a gunner station and a belt accessory that allows one to swing across the chasm when the bridge is removed. There is also a blast door that one can raise and lower, though there is only one with this playset so your figures can never be completely trapped within the confines of the bridge area.

Measuring 13” long by 7 1/2" wide by 13” tall, the Death Star Escape playset is molded with a very basic framework with enough support on the top and bottom to keep the playset very stable. Improperly stored or assembled, this will warp and not stand in a way that is flush with the surface you are keeping it on. The base of the playset is a fairly thin cardboard base that has an image of the death star chasm. This is an unfortunately fragile representation of the Death Star chasm, but it fits easily into the slots at the base of the two plastic bridge supports. This is easily the most abused playset base of the Star Wars toys.

The Power Of The Force Death Star Escape playset has several decals that one needs to apply. Unfortunately, the ones on the base of both supports is flush with the base plastic support that connects the two bridge pieces. As a result, one basically has to shred the sticker on the supports in order to connect the pieces.


The Death Star Escape comes with two accessories, the missile-launching gun and the swinging belt accessories. The swinging belt is a decent idea that is poorly executed. The hard plastic belt hangs 5 1/2" from the center support and is essentially a black nylon cord that allows the Luke figure to swing across the chasm when the bridge is removed.

The missile launcher is one of the more powerful spring-loaded missile launchers. Even after all these years, the launcher fires the 2” white plastic missile about three feet. Because the playset is so small, this accessory instead fires with such a significant force as to knock over virtually any Star Wars action figure.


The Death Star Escape is remarkably fun, despite its age and some of the basic construction problems. In addition to fitting several figures, the removable bridge is a good stabilizing component that makes the playset much more versatile. The dropping door is fun and it almost makes up for the short, somewhat problematic belt accessory that barely provides a reasonable swinging range. The gunner turret is pretty cool as well.

Unfortunately, the Death Star Escape playset is raised on both sides and thus does not organically connect to any other playset or Star Wars toy.


The Death Star Escape was introduced as part of the Kenner Power Of The Force Star Wars toy line in the 1996 as one of two playsets. These were drastically overproduced and were largely sold at clearance prices. Despite people replacing their damaged playsets with new ones, these have never appreciated again in value. These are a pretty terrible investment.


The Death Star Escape is a good toy, but not one that is essential for Star Wars fans. While it is a good idea, the execution of this playset is not quite enough to recommend it.

For other Star Wars playset and vehicle reviews, please check out my takes on:
Saga Collection AT-AT Imperial Walker
2010 Saga Collection Bespin Cloud Car
Attack Of The Clones Geonosian Starfighter


For other Star Wars toy reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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