Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Star Wars 30th Anniversary Special - part 9

Here is the envelope which began it all in terms of the action figures that would become a "Star Wars" staple even 30-years later.

The phenomenal success of "Star Wars" took everyone by surprise including Kenner, who held the the toy license. Since it takes an average of a year to create an action figure from conception through release, there was no product until Spring 1978. How to get around that? Kenner sold these "Early Bird" kits just in time for the holiday season.

The Early Bird kit was essentially a long envelope containing a cardboard stage with really great painted graphics, which would hold the "Star Wars" figures you couldn't buy yet, a photo of a stormtrooper in the detention block of the Death Star, a photo of Han and Chewbacca, some stickers, a fan club type membership card, and a little explanation about the new "looks-alike" style action figures which would allow you to pretent for real, as opposed to that other kind of pretending you'd been doing previously. There was also a mail in certificate that you could redeem for the first four "Star Wars" action figures produced which would arrive sometime in the Spring.

Eventually a white cardboard box would show up in the mail (mine came really quickly--late January early February) which contained these four action figures plus some white plastic stands which plugged into the carbdoard display stand.

I still have my original figures, plus all of the stuff, as well as the envelope it came in, from the Early Bird kit. Alas, in the photo here, this is not my original Luke Skywalker. My original Luke lost his head when I accidentally dropped him on a boulder by the side of our driveway (I still have him packed away somewhere). This one I bought at Toys R Us as a replacement. The original had lighter pants and boots as well as a telescoping lightsaber blade. Leia also has a gun, which is packed away seperately from the figure. It's not lost. Note the wear and tear that her vinyl cape took. the discoloration marks are from where I had scotch taped it back together.

As a bonus, here is the first booklet that Kenner issued showing retailers and customers what was in store for them in forthcoming "Star Wars" merchandise. As you can see, nothing was really in the works at the time this was put together. You can see what the original twelve action figures were going to be though. The photo of the Jawa caught my interest right away, because you can make out a somewhat skull like face within its cloak. The appearance of what they looked like beneath their cloaks casused quite a bit of speculation on the parts of myself and my friends.


Christopher Moonlight said...

Oh my God. Your blog is great. Do you mind of I link you from my students blog, at ?

Robert Pope said...

I WISH to God I still had all that packaging, but I can truly say I have NEVER before or since been so excited by a toy of any kind. Like "Bart Simpson asking the mail carrier every day if his spy camera had arrived" excited. Goes down like a fine bordeaux, my friend.

Todd Franklin said...

I'm afraid to say I wasn't an early bird and didn't get my first figures until my birthday in June of '78. I do have the kit and the figures in my collection.