A collecting guide to the Vintage Kenner and Palitoy Star Wars Diecast Vehicles

This post looks at the vintage Star Wars diecast vehicles produced by Kenner in the USA in 1978 and 1979.

The vintage diecast series of vehicles produced for the original Star Wars film and then Empire Strikes Back is a somewhat overlooked area for collectors. I think there is also some confusion around what was released when, which I hopefully will make clear.

This post only covers the seven vehicles produced for the first Star Wars film. In a future post I will cover the re-issues and the four exclusive vehicles produced for Empire Strikes Back vehicles released in 1980.

Five of the seven vehicles from the initial Star Wars release were re-issued on Empire Strikes Back retail packaging. None of the vehicles were released for Return Of The Jedi.

The post doesn’t cover the international versions released apart from Palitoy in the UK. Most of the information in the post is still relevant to collecting international versions.

Despite the rather niche area the Star Wars diecast vehicles represent, they seem to have captivated the interest of a wide group of licensees all over the world. Takara, Toltoys, Kenner Canada, Palitoy, Meccano, General Mills, Harbert and Clipper all produced versions of them.

Below I list the seven vehicles produced. In brackets I specify whether the vehicle was produced for Star Wars A New Hope only or both films.

Series I

  • Tie fighter (ANH and ESB)
  • X-Wing fighter (ANH and ESB)
  • Land Speeder (ANH only)
  • Darth Vader Tie Fighter (ANH only)

Series II

  • Millennium Falcon (ANH & ESB)
  • Imperial Cruiser (ANH & ESB)
  • Y-Wing Fighter (ANH & ESB)

The Land Speeder was advertised in the trade only 1980 main Toy Fair catalog with ESB packaging, but no actual examples have been found.

KENNER STAR WARS 1980 TOY FAIR CATALOG DIECAST TIE BOMBER PAGE
KENNER STAR WARS 1980 TOY FAIR CATALOG DIECAST TIE BOMBER PAGE

In an early Kenner 1979 trade products supplement catalog, the series I vehicles were advertised. Only three vehicles were displayed since the Darth Vader Tie Fighter was still in prototype development.

KENNER 1979 STAR WARS SUPPLEMENT DIECAST PAGE
KENNER 1979 STAR WARS SUPPLEMENT DIECAST PAGE

The third in-package catalogue (X-Wing cover) Kenner produced in 1978  was the first to advertise the Series I models.

KENNER STAR WARS X-WING IN-PACKAGE CATALOG 1978 FRONT COVER
KENNER STAR WARS X-WING IN-PACKAGE CATALOG 1978 FRONT COVER

The Darth Vader Tie Fighter was released a short time after the other three models in Series 1. Hence it was not ready for this catalog.

KENNER STAR WARS X-WING IN-PACKAGE CATALOG 1978 DIECAST PAGE
KENNER STAR WARS X-WING IN-PACKAGE CATALOG 1978 DIECAST PAGE

The fourth in-package catalogue (X-Wing cover with pink insert pages) Kenner produced in 1978  was the first to advertise the Series II models.

STAR WARS KENNER X-WING PINK 1978 IN-PACKAGE CATALOG FRONT COVER
STAR WARS KENNER X-WING PINK 1978 IN-PACKAGE CATALOG FRONT COVER

The diecast vehicles displayed in this catalog were prototypes and not the production models.

STAR WARS KENNER X-WING PINK 1978 IN-PACKAGE CATALOG PAGES 10 & 11
STAR WARS KENNER X-WING PINK 1978 IN-PACKAGE CATALOG PAGES 10 & 11

The 1979 ‘Death Star’ in-package catalog was the first to advertise Series I and II together.

STAR WARS KENNER 1979 DEATH STAR IN-PACKAGE CATALOG FRONT COVER
STAR WARS KENNER 1979 DEATH STAR IN-PACKAGE CATALOG FRONT COVER

Now all seven vehicles were advertised on one page, the Darth Vader Tie Fighter now ready for inclusion.

KENNER DEATH STAR IN-PACKAGE CATALOG 1979 DIECAST PAGE
KENNER DEATH STAR IN-PACKAGE CATALOG 1979 DIECAST PAGE

A Kenner magazine advert from 1979 also displayed all seven vehicles.

STAR WARS KENNER MAGAZINE TOY ADVERT 1978 DIECAST VEHICLES PAGE
STAR WARS KENNER MAGAZINE TOY ADVERT 1978 DIECAST VEHICLES PAGE

The Sears Christmas Wish Book for 1979 advertised the diecast vehicles for sale.

1979 SEARS CHRISTMAS WISH BOOK KENNER STAR WARS FRONT COVER
1979 SEARS CHRISTMAS WISH BOOK KENNER STAR WARS FRONT COVER
1979 SEARS CHRISTMAS WISH BOOK KENNER STAR WARS PAGES DIESCAST
1979 SEARS CHRISTMAS WISH BOOK KENNER STAR WARS PAGES DIESCAST

Interestingly, as you can see below, only six of the seven vehicles are adveritsed. The white Tie Fighter is missing. The grey Darth Vader Tie Fighter is pictured as catalog entry No. 14, but described in the text as ‘Tie Fighter’. Perhaps there was some confusion about Sears needing to sell to two Tie Fighters, or the wrong picture was used?

1979 SEARS CHRISTMAS WISH BOOK KENNER STAR WARS PAGES DIESCAST CLOSE UP
1979 SEARS CHRISTMAS WISH BOOK KENNER STAR WARS PAGES DIESCAST CLOSE UP

The Kenner trade 1979 main Toy Fair catalogue advertised all seven diecast vehicles from Series I and II for the first time in a Toy Fair catalog.

KENNER 1979 TOY FAIR CATALOG FRONT COVER
KENNER 1979 TOY FAIR CATALOG FRONT COVER

As you can see below, the way the vehicles are displayed is highly attractive, especially with the stars in the background. Apologies for the small size of the picture!

The diecast bin header full up with cards is displayed in the corner of one page, the Millennium Falcon in packaging displayed in the corner of the other page.

KENNER 1979 TOY FAIR CATALOG PAGE 2 DIECASTS
KENNER 1979 TOY FAIR CATALOG PAGE 2 DIECASTS

Palitoy in the UK also released all seven vehicles of series I and series II. The vehicles themselves and the retail packaging was identical to Kenner’s apart from the large ‘Palitoy’ logo replacing the ‘Kenner’ logo and different assortment numbers in the top left corner of the card fronts.

So the information I provide in this post is also relevant as a guide for collecting the Palitoy versions.

Below is the seven diecast vehicles as advertised in the Palitoy 1979 RETAIL SALES DIVISION catalogue. This is a trade catalog for retailers.

STAR WARS PALITOY 1979 RETAIL SALES CATALOG FRONT COVER
STAR WARS PALITOY 1979 RETAIL SALES CATALOG FRONT COVER
STAR WARS PALITOY 1979 RETAIL SALES CATALOG DIECAST PAGES
STAR WARS PALITOY 1979 RETAIL SALES CATALOG DIECAST PAGES

The vehicles from Series I were released in a completely different type of packaging to those in Series II.

All the series I vehicles were sealed in a blister on a large card. The fronts of the cards had unique artwork and photographs for each vehicle. The features of the toy and the figures included were highlighted.

The blister plastic was quite thick and the seal margins were large to prevent the toy breaking out of the blister. The card material was also quite thick. The vehicles were quite heavy so needed this extra support. Most of the surviving unopened vehicles on these cards have not yellowed, indicating a good quality plastic used.

STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST LANDSPEEDER MOC FRONT
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST LANDSPEEDER MOC FRONT

A prominent yellow starburst with a white outline was printed on the front all the Kenner diecast cards and boxes.

STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST STARBURST
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST STARBURST

The backs of all the Series I cards were generic, although there were two versions produced. First issues were all on a ’12 back card’ known as SW12. This back was not dissimilar from the first issue ’12 back’ action figures.

STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST LANDSPEEDER MOC BACK
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST LAND SPEEDER MOC BACK

The three vehicles advertised are not the diecast versions but the large plastic vehicles. This is because the card was designed before the production diecast vehicles were finalised.

Unlike the 12 back cards for the 3 3/4″ action figures which displayed a drawing of the figures, this back was a later update with the actual action figures displayed. Of particular interest is the inclusion of the rare vinyl cape Jawa!

STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST LAND SPEEDER MOC BACK TOP
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST LAND SPEEDER MOC BACK TOP

The Series I Land Speeder, Tie Fighter and X-Wing Fighter were re-released on a revised 21 back card, known as SW21. The Darth Vader Tie Fighter was first issued on this 21 back, and is the only version of the Vader Tie Fighter produced.

All seven diecast vehicles from Series I and II were displayed on the SW21. The series II vehicles shown were all prototypes. The Millennium Falcon was misspelt  ‘MILLENIUM FALCON’.

STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST DARTH VADER TIE FIGHTER MOC BACK
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST DARTH VADER TIE FIGHTER MOC BACK

The top of the card back showed the 21 action figures available at the time, very similar to the action figure 21 back cards.

STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST IMPERIAL TIE FIGHTER MOC BACK TOP
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST IMPERIAL TIE FIGHTER MOC BACK TOP

The series II diecast vehicles were too large for the blister card packaging, so were released in deep recessed rectangular boxes, sometimes known as ‘shadow boxes’.

The box was well constructed and sturdy. The blister plastic was again thick to hold the vehicle safely sealed. The artwork for the front and sides was unique for each vehicle. A space scene was printed inside each box below the vehicle, again unique for each vehicle.

The backs of the boxes were generic, although three versions of the back exist.

STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST MILLENNIUM FALCON FRONT
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST MILLENNIUM FALCON FRONT

The yellow starburst was again on the box. The starburst was also repeated on the top and bottom sides of the box, making it even more prominent. The design was altered with a light blue outline replacing the white.

DIECAST STARBURST ON BOXES
DIECAST STARBURST ON BOXES

Three variations of the backs were released, known as SW7A, SPECIAL OFFER and SW7B.

For all three box back variations, all seven diecast vehicles were displayed. Despite the fact the series II production vehicles were now available, the card backs still displayed the prototype models!

The first issue back, SW7A, is displayed below.

On this back, for all three series II models text stated “STAR WARS excitement with this finely detailed replica of the Empire’s largest Space Craft.”

This was correct for the Imperial Cruiser vehicle, but not for the Millennium Falcon and Y-Wing Fighter. Presumably Kenner were just keen to use a generic back and didn’t make the effort to change the text.

STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST MILLENNIUM FALCON BACK
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST MILLENNIUM FALCON BACK

The second back variation SPECIAL OFFER had the now famous red and yellow Kenner Special Offer (printed or as a sticker), and included a battle scene poster unique to each vehicle. The incorrect text on the Millennium Falcon and Y-Wing fighter was still present.

The third variation back SW7B was identical to the SW7A except the incorrect text was now corrected. This last variation back was produced only briefly, and is hard to find nowadays.

The Millennium Falcon text now read “STAR WARS excitement with this finely detailed replica of Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon Spaceship.”. The Y-Wing Fighter now read STAR WARS excitement with this finely detailed replica of the Rebel Space Craft used to attack Death Star.”

Strangely, the series II prototype models were displayed on all three ‘back’ variations, never corrected to the actual production models.

Below are displayed detailed pictures of the series I and II diecast models in my collection.

LAND SPEEDER ON 12 BACK CARD

The Land Speeder was probably the least appealing vehicle of the series. It was dropped from the Empire Strikes Back line up of diecasts.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, the Land Speeder in ESB packaging was displayed in the 1980 trade catalog, but no examples have ever been found of it existing as a production model.

STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST LANDSPEEDER MOC FRONT
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST LANDSPEEDER MOC FRONT
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST LANDSPEEDER MOC FRONT TOP
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST LANDSPEEDER MOC FRONT TOP
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST LANDSPEEDER MOC CLOSE UP 3
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST LANDSPEEDER MOC CLOSE UP 3
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST LANDSPEEDER MOC CLOSE UP 2
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST LANDSPEEDER MOC CLOSE UP 2
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST LANDSPEEDER MOC CLOSE UP 1
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST LANDSPEEDER MOC CLOSE UP 1
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST LANDSPEEDER MOC BACK
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST LAND SPEEDER MOC BACK
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST LAND SPEEDER MOC BACK TOP
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST LAND SPEEDER MOC BACK TOP

X-WING FIGHTER ON 12 BACK CARD

The X-Wing was probably the most appealing of the diecasts. The wings open and close. The canopy opens to reveal Luke Skywalker pilot, although it’s a pretty rubbish rendition of him!

It was reissued in Empire Strikes Back packaging.

STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST X-WING MOC FRONT
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST X-WING MOC FRONT
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST X-WING MOC FRONT TOP
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST X-WING MOC FRONT TOP
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST X-WING MOC CLOSE UP 3
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST X-WING MOC CLOSE UP 3
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST X-WING MOC CLOSE UP 2
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST X-WING MOC CLOSE UP 2
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST X-WING MOC CLOSE UP 1
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST X-WING MOC CLOSE UP 1
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST X-WING MOC BACK
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST X-WING MOC BACK
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST X-WING MOC BACK TOP
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST X-WING MOC BACK TOP

IMPERIAL TIE FIGHTER ON 21 BACK CARD

This is also one of the most appealing of the diecasts. The Tie Fighter was so accurate that apparently it was actually used for scenes in the Return Of The Jedi film.

For the first released version with the 12 back card, it was titled ‘Tie Fighter’. For this second 21 back version, it was more correctly renamed ‘Imperial Tie Fighter’. Because ‘Darth Vader Tie Fighter’ was only released on the 21 back card, Kenner probably wanted to distinguish the white Tie Fighter.

The solar panel wings are removable. The pilot is also removable who was Darth Vader!

It was reissued in Empire Strikes Back packaging.

STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST IMPERIAL TIE FIGHTER MOC FRONT
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST IMPERIAL TIE FIGHTER MOC FRONT
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST IMPERIAL TIE FIGHTER MOC FRONT TOP
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST IMPERIAL TIE FIGHTER MOC FRONT TOP
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST IMPERIAL TIE FIGHTER MOC CLOSE UP 3
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST IMPERIAL TIE FIGHTER MOC CLOSE UP 3
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST IMPERIAL TIE FIGHTER MOC CLOSE UP 2
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST IMPERIAL TIE FIGHTER MOC CLOSE UP 2
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST IMPERIAL TIE FIGHTER MOC CLOSE UP 1
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST IMPERIAL TIE FIGHTER MOC CLOSE UP 1
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST IMPERIAL TIE FIGHTER MOC BACK
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST IMPERIAL TIE FIGHTER MOC BACK
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST IMPERIAL TIE FIGHTER MOC BACK TOP
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST IMPERIAL TIE FIGHTER MOC BACK TOP

DARTH VADER TIE FIGHTER ON 21 BACK CARD

This is my favourite diecast vehicle. Only issued once by Kenner on this 21 back card. It was not reissued in Empire Strikes Back packaging.

Like the Imperial Tie fighter, the wings are removable and so is the Darth Vader pilot.

The wings of the Fighter were originally designed by Kenner to be smaller, but changed to larger wings for the production models. There are prototype models of the small wing model that do exist, though it was never sold to the public.

STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST DARTH VADER TIE FIGHTER MOC FRONT
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST DARTH VADER TIE FIGHTER MOC FRONT
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST DARTH VADER TIE FIGHTER MOC FRONT TOP
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST DARTH VADER TIE FIGHTER MOC FRONT TOP
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST DARTH VADER TIE FIGHTER MOC CLOSE UP 2
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST DARTH VADER TIE FIGHTER MOC CLOSE UP 2
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST DARTH VADER TIE FIGHTER MOC CLOSE UP 1
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST DARTH VADER TIE FIGHTER MOC CLOSE UP 1
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST DARTH VADER TIE FIGHTER MOC BACK
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST DARTH VADER TIE FIGHTER MOC BACK

MILLENNIUM FALCON WITH FIRST ISSUE BACK

This vehicle is always popular. The vehicle has a diecast top with a plastic base. Inside clear non-opening cockpits on either side are a Chewbacca and Han Solo figure. The base has retractable front and rear landing gear and the top has turning radar dish and laser cannon.

The Millennium Falcon was only released by Kenner in the USA and Palitoy in the UK.

It was reissued in Empire Strikes Back packaging.

STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST MILLENNIUM FALCON FRONT
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST MILLENNIUM FALCON FRONT
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST MILLENNIUM FALCON CLOSE UP 2
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST MILLENNIUM FALCON CLOSE UP 2
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST MILLENNIUM FALCON CLOSE UP 1
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST MILLENNIUM FALCON CLOSE UP 1
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST MILLENNIUM FALCON CLOSE UP 3
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST MILLENNIUM FALCON CLOSE UP 3
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST MILLENNIUM FALCON SIDE
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST MILLENNIUM FALCON SIDE
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST MILLENNIUM FALCON BACK
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST MILLENNIUM FALCON BACK

Y-WING FIGHTER WITH FIRST ISSUE BACK

This is a great vehicle with some very cool features. The body is diecast and the engine pods are plastic. A separate laser bomb is included which is nearly always missing on loose examples.

The bomb can be attached to the underside of the Y-Wing. When a button is pushed behind the cockpit, the bomb is released. The engine pods are removable, the laser canon rotates and the front has retractable landing gear.

It was reissued in Empire Strikes Back packaging.

STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST Y-WING FIGHTER FRONT
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST Y-WING FIGHTER FRONT
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST Y-WING FIGHTER CLOSE UP 2
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST Y-WING FIGHTER CLOSE UP 2
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST Y-WING FIGHTER CLOSE UP 1
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST Y-WING FIGHTER CLOSE UP 1
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST Y-WING FIGHTER SIDE
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST Y-WING FIGHTER SIDE
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST Y-WING FIGHTER BACK
STAR WARS KENNER DIECAST Y-WING FIGHTER BACK

I will cover the Empire Strikes Back diecast vehicles in a future post!

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage 1984 Star Wars Return of the Jedi ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle

This post takes a detailed look at the vintage Return of the Jedi Imperial Shuttle Vehicle, known as ‘Shuttle Tydirium’ produced by Kenner in 1984. It holds a significant place in the Star Wars toy universe as it was the largest, most expensive and last ever vehicle released for Return of the Jedi.

The inclusion of the shuttle in various catalogues is examined, and   International versions of the toy are discussed as well as a look at the enticing project to repackage the shuttle under “The Power Of The Force” brand.

Various pictures and explanation of the actual Kenner toy and box (from my own collection) are displayed.

Below is the original 1984 Kenner TV advert for the toy.

The toy shuttle itself is huge compared to nearly all the other Star wars toys released. You can see in the advert the toy is like half the size of the child! Only the Empire Strikes Back ESB AT-AT “ALL TERRAIN ARMORED TRANSPORT” came close in size.

I am sure the sheer size of the toy and presence of the large retail box in stores  was an impressive sight to Children in 1984. It’s a shame the shuttle came out so late in the franchise. It was also expensive so prohibited purchase by many at the time. This doesn’t stop it being among the coolest toys ever released in the Vintage Star Wars era.

In the second Return of the Jedi collections in-package catalog from 1983, included with playsets and vehicles, the Imperial Shuttle was advertised to the public for the first time.

Star Wars ROTJ jabba collections Catalog 1983 front cover
Star Wars ROTJ jabba collections Catalog 1983 front cover

The actual toy was still in prototype stage, so Kenner provided a graphic representation of the vehicle with the words “Actual toy not represented. Pictured is a drawing of the vehicle from the STAR WARS movie RETURN OF THE JEDI.”

STAR WARS KENNER ROTJ COLLECTIONS CATALOG IMPERIAL SHUTTLE PAGE
STAR WARS KENNER ROTJ COLLECTIONS CATALOG IMPERIAL SHUTTLE PAGE

Below is the Shuttle for sale in the Sears 1984 Christmas Wish Book.

STAR WARS SEARS WISH BOOK 1984 SHUTTLE
STAR WARS SEARS WISH BOOK 1984 SHUTTLE

The shuttle was first displayed for the retail trade in the Kenner 1984 Toy Fair catalog.

Kenner 1984 Toy Fair catalog front cover
Kenner 1984 Toy Fair catalog front cover

The artwork was as impressive as the toy! The 1984 Toy Fair catalog was printed using an expensive metallic type finish which enhanced the images.

Kenner 1984 Toy Fair catalog imperial shuttle
Kenner 1984 Toy Fair catalog imperial shuttle

Adding further collectable interest to the shuttle is the fact that Kenner had included the toy as one of their new line of POTF “THE POWER OF THE FORCE” in the 1985 Toy Fair Catalog. The shuttle was intended to be identical to the 1984 version (as far as I know!) but with the Star Wars ‘POTF’ logo.

Kenner 1985 Toy Fair catalog front
Kenner 1985 Toy Fair catalog front

As you can see below, a tantalising glimpse of what could have been but never was.

Star Wars Kenner 1985 Toy Fair catalog POTF Imperial Shuttle
Star Wars Kenner 1985 Toy Fair catalog POTF Imperial Shuttle

The shuttle in POTF branding also made it into one of the three Star Wars POTF Planetary Maps. These maps were in-package catalogs which were included with the very last vehicles Kenner produced in the Star Wars line. Toys such as the POTF Ewok Battle Wagon and the Droids series A-Wing Fighter contained this map.

Star Wars POTF Planetary Map front
Star Wars POTF Planetary Map front

The shuttle was only advertised in the ‘Death Star’ Planetary Map. All the toys and figures you see below were intended to be produced under the new POTF line or Droids series line. Some made it, some did not!

star wars potf planetary map open imperial shuttle page
star wars potf planetary map open imperial shuttle page

The Imperial Shuttle did make it on to one more in-package catalog in 1985. An extremely rare “The Power Of The Force” branded catalog which had the Imperial Shuttle on the front cover! This was produced in Italian, Finnish and Danish/Norwegian. The address given for the Fan club is in England, so it is believed the catalog was initially produced by Palitoy.

Below is the the 1985 catalog cover as reprinted by the fan magazine Area 51 some time later. As far as I am aware, the original 1985 POTF catalog was never printed in English text, despite it’s association with Palitoy.

Palitoy Star Wars 1985 POTF Catalog Shuttle cover
Palitoy Star Wars 1985 POTF Catalog Shuttle cover

Coming back to the 1984 release, the Imperial Shuttle had some interesting international versions.

In Mexico, Lili Ledy produced the vehicle. The box was quite similar to the Kenner version, apart from the text was in Spanish and the Lili Ledy logo was apparent.

Lili Ledy Star Wars Imperial shuttle box back
Lili Ledy Star Wars Imperial shuttle box back
Lili Ledy Star Wars Imperial shuttle box front
Lili Ledy Star Wars Imperial shuttle box front

A European version was released. It is worth pointing out that at least two variations of European box exist.

Because the vehicle was produced so late on in 1984 and the box was such a large size, to avoid expensive domestic production all the European versions were imported from the USA.

The colour parts of the box were just large printed sheets overlaid on to the plain side panels of the white cardboard box. For the European versions, the ‘Kenner’ logo was airbrushed out on the printed sheet applied to the front. The colour sheet applied to the side panel had the appropriate European licensee information applied.

The only two European versions I am aware of is the Palitoy which featured a white “made in UK / Fabriqué en Angleterre” coo and a Meccano  with a printed “made in France / Fabriqué en France” coo. A further French variation exists, with a large rectangular sticker added detailing the play features of the toy. This sticker referred to “General Mills Tour Essor” which is the company that had replaced Miro-Meccano.

I have two boxed Kenner Imperial Shuttles in my collection. The first one below still has the tape seals, and I have not opened.

Star Wars Kenner Imperial shuttle front
Star Wars Kenner Imperial shuttle front
Star Wars Kenner Imperial shuttle back
Star Wars Kenner Imperial shuttle back
Star Wars Kenner Imperial shuttle side view 1
Star Wars Kenner Imperial shuttle side view 1
Star Wars Kenner Imperial shuttle side view 2
Star Wars Kenner Imperial shuttle side view 2
Star Wars Kenner Imperial shuttle top view 2
Star Wars Kenner Imperial shuttle top view 2
Star Wars Kenner Imperial shuttle top
Star Wars Kenner Imperial shuttle top

Below are pictures of my boxed Imperial Shuttle which is opened but complete and unused. The accessories are sealed in the bags and stickers unapplied. The arrangement of the cardboard inserts is also displayed.

When the box is first opened, this is what you are confronted with. The top cardboard ‘lid’ contains the large centre wing, the instructions and the sticker sheet.

Kenner Star Wars ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle box open
Kenner Star Wars ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle box open

The cardboard inserts are cleverly arranged to keep the wings supported in the centre of the box. The accessories are tucked down the centre compartment.

Kenner Star Wars ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle box open close up
Kenner Star Wars ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle box open close up

Now you can see the wings!

Kenner Star Wars ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle box open close up 2
Kenner Star Wars ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle box open close up 2

Below you can see the centre wing, unused sticker sheet and instructions.

Kenner Star Wars ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle stickers
Kenner Star Wars ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle stickers

There are two sealed bags of accessories including the cockpit.

The parts included are

  • Canopy with windshield insert
  • Side wall
  • Guns: 2 front, 1 rear, 2 wing. There are two pieces to each wing gun
  • Battery cover
  • Ramp assembly: smaller piece fits into larger
Kenner Star Wars ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle bagged accessories
Kenner Star Wars ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle bagged accessories

And below are the pictures of the retail box.

Kenner Star Wars ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle front
Kenner Star Wars ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle front
Kenner Star Wars ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle front close up
Kenner Star Wars ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle front close up
Kenner Star Wars ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle side view 1
Kenner Star Wars ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle side view 1
Kenner Star Wars ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle side view 2
Kenner Star Wars ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle side view 2
Kenner Star Wars ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle base
Kenner Star Wars ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle base
Kenner Star Wars ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle base close up
Kenner Star Wars ROTJ Imperial Shuttle Vehicle base close up

The Imperial Shuttle toy itself is 22 inches tall with a wingspan of three feet. It could be argued the shuttle is a bit cumbersome as far as it’s ‘playability’. A large handle on the underside aids maneuverability for ‘flying’.

The cleverest part of the toy is in simulating the actual movie ships movement.  The wings are able to be manually put in the ‘up’ or ‘dropped’ position for flying. The underside handle has a built-in trigger which activates the wings. The wings start in the up position. By means of an internal ratchet system, when the trigger is pressed, the two wings drop simultaneously into an open flying position.

The cockpit can fit two action figures. The loading ramp can be lowered. The rear landing gear is retractable. The large side hatch door is removable, allowing access to the interior of the vehicle. The shuttle also has battery operated laser sounds.

To summarise, the features are as follows:

  • Rear landing gear retracts, front is a non-retractable handle
  • Wings fold down when trigger on handle is pressed
  • Opening canopy with room for two figures
  • Removable side wall for access to interior of shuttle
  • Wing guns rotate
  • Ramp lowers and extends
  • Button-operated laser sound

The Imperial Shuttle was used in various ways or guises on other vintage Star wars merchandise, too many to mention here. The shuttle was seen on bed sheets, wallpaper, a 1983 Marks & Spencer Bean Bag and badges for example. A few are shown below.

The Kenner ISP-6  (Imperial Shuttle Pod) mini-rig. Initially released in 1983, it was reissued in 1984.

STAR WARS KENNER ROTJ ISP-6 IMPERIAL SHUTTLE POD VEHICLE
STAR WARS KENNER ROTJ ISP-6 IMPERIAL SHUTTLE POD VEHICLE
STAR WARS KENNER ROTJ ISP-6 IMPERIAL SHUTTLE POD BOX FRONT
STAR WARS KENNER ROTJ ISP-6 IMPERIAL SHUTTLE POD BOX FRONT

The MPC 1983 Shuttle Tydirium model kit.

star wars shuttle tydirium model kit
star wars shuttle tydirium model kit

The 1984 MIRR-A-KITS Shuttle Tydirium.

MPC Star Wars mirr-a-kit imperial shuttle
MPC Star Wars mirr-a-kit imperial shuttle

Starfire light-up Imperial Shuttle badge 1983.

STAR WARS STARFIRE LIGHT UP BADGES DISPLAY CLOSE UP
STAR WARS STARFIRE LIGHT UP BADGES DISPLAY CLOSE UP

In future posts, I will discuss other toys from the Return of the Jedi series.

 

 

Vintage Star Wars Kenner 3-Position Laser Rifle and Empire Strikes Back ESB Electronic Laser Rifle

This post is about the Vintage Kenner Star Wars 3-Position Laser Rifle and it’s progression to the Empire Strikes Back ESB Electronic Laser Rifle.

See here for my post on the Return of the Jedi ROTJ Biker Scout Laser Pistol

Just for nostalgia, I  start with a couple of early ESB TV commercials. The first was to advertise the upcoming film.

The second is one of the early Kenner TV adverts used to hype up the toys and generate Star Wars excitement among children (and pressure on their parents!).

As far as I am aware, there were no Kenner TV commercials specifically made to promote the toy guns, or even any references to the guns in the general non-toy specific commercials. Presumably this had something to do with Kenner wanting to sell toy guns, but not promote the use of children using guns on TV!

In 1978 Kenner produced two Star Wars toy guns, the Laser Pistol and 3-Position Laser Rifle. The Laser Pistol toy was produced for all films.

Both guns were advertised in the Kenner 1978 main trade Toy Fair Catalog

Kenner Star Wars 1978 toy fair catalog cover
Kenner Star Wars 1978 toy fair catalog cover
Star Wars Kenner 3 Position Laser Rifel in 1978 toy fair catalog
Star Wars Kenner 3 Position Laser Rifel in 1978 toy fair catalog

Below is my Return of the Jedi Laser Pistol. In a future post I will discuss the Kenner Star Wars Laser Pistol in greater detail, but keeping this post to focus on the 3-Position and Electronic Laser Rifles

Star Wars Kenner ROTJ Laser Pistol
Star Wars Kenner ROTJ Laser Pistol

A Kenner retail store display was produced which is both super-rare and super  cool!

star wars kenner 3 position laser rifle store display
star wars kenner 3 position laser rifle store display

The 3-Position Laser Rifle was based upon the E-11 Blaster Rifle that was standard-issue for Imperial Stormtroopers in both A New Hope and the Empire Strikes Back. The E-11 prop was itself built from a British-made  Sterling Mark 4 L2A3 sub-machine gun.

The 3 Position Laser Rifle had 2-speed laser sounds and also featured a spinning yellow and black decal inside of the barrel that was activated when the trigger was pressed. These were powered by two ‘D’ sized batteries.

Kenner Star Wars 3 position laser rifle front
Kenner Star Wars 3 position laser rifle front

The Rifle had some interesting international versions released, in Japan by Takara, in the UK by Palitoy and in Canada by Kenner Canada.

Like the actual film prop, the Laser Rifle had the three position folding stock, giving the name 3-Position Laser Rifle.

For Empire Strikes Back, the 3-Position Laser Rifle was re-released in 1980. It is quite a rare toy today. Initially, Kenner simply used the same Star Wars packaging and rifle from the 1978 release, only adding Empire Strikes Back stickers to the rifle to differentiate it.

Kenner 3-position laser rifle esb in star wars retail box
Kenner 3-position laser rifle esb in star wars retail box

In 1981, the rifle was very briefly retailed in the USA in an ESB logo box which is an extremely rare toy now. This was quickly replaced with the revamped ESB Electronic Laser Rifle which I discuss below.

The ESB Rifle was advertised in the Sears and Montgomery Ward ‘Wards’ Christmas 1981 Department Store Catalogs among others. The rifles are shown loose without any packaging which was standard in catalogs.

Below you can see the Page from the Sears 1981 Christmas Catalog with the Laser Rifle as catalog entry No. 16, with the Laser Pistol with ESB logo as the inset catalog entry No. 17.

SEARS CHRISTMAS CATALOG ESB ELECTRONIC LASER RIFLE
SEARS CHRISTMAS CATALOG ESB ELECTRONIC LASER RIFLE

Below as it appears in the another Department Store Christmas catalog

There is some speculation that other variations of the 3-Position Laser Rifle in an ESB box were produced. These could have been prototype or test pieces, with a very slim possibility they were briefly retailed.

Below as the ESB Rifle appeared in the Montgomery Ward Christmas Catalog. Note the Laser Pistol in the insert still has the Star Wars label!

I am not certain from the catalog pictures and descriptions if, when a Rifle was purchased,  you received the ESB stickered Rifle in the Star Wars packaging, or the Rifle in ESB Box.

The stock and clips on the 3-Position rifle were quite flimsy and possibly one of the reasons why the gun was redesigned in 1981. It was renamed “Electronic Laser Rifle”. The stock was removed, the back end updated, although the gun encompassed the majority of the design of the prior rifle.

Below is my Rifle still in the retail box. Today it’s still quite a hard toy to find.

Star Wars ESB electronic laser rifle front
Star Wars ESB electronic laser rifle front

The Electronic Laser Rifle was also released by Kenner in Return of the Jedi packaging which is extremely rare. There were no international versions of the toy released.

The new version featured a red trigger and secret button. The yellow and black spiral sticker inside the barrel was removed.  A 9 volt battery was required to power the features.

The lighter patch on the box you can see is where a litho tear has been ‘touched in’ with black felt pen. This wasn’t uncommon, I have seen carded figures with the same ‘repair’. I think I did it to a few myself back in the day!

The side view, seen below, shows how to use the action features.

The back of the box is very appealing. Being quite a large area, Kenner were able to advertise just about every toy available at the time.

 

History of the vintage first twelve back Star Wars Kenner action figures

This post examines the first Star Wars Kenner 3 3/4″ scale action figures produced.

In 1977, Kenner underestimated the demand for Star Wars merchandise after the films release. This meant no toys related to the film would be available for Christmas 1977.

Kenner President Bernard Loomis, in an ingenious move, decided to devise and sell the Early Bird Certificate Package (Early Bird Kit) to kids and collectors. It was priced at $7.99. This simply offered the PROMISE of receiving the first four figures that would be available in 1978. The last date the certificate package could be purchased was December 31st 1977.

Here is Kenners 1977 TV advert for the set

Below is my original early bird certificate package. Sending a certificate from the kit back to Kenner for redemption guaranteed receiving the first four figures before they were available to buy in retail stores. The certificate sates “RECEIVE… between FEBRUARY 1 – JUNE 1, 1978, before they’re  available in stores..”.

Kenner Star Wars Early Bird Certificate Front
Kenner Star Wars Early Bird Certificate Front

The four figures were sent out not on cards but in individual sealed bags in a single white tray in a plain white mailer box. The four figures were Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Chewbacca and R2-D2. Twelve plastic pegs were also included, four could be used to attach the figures to the figure stand. The other eight pegs could be kept for future use once the other eight figures were available.

All these initial figures were shipped out by the end of March 1978. This was probably because the figures were ready for retail stores before June 1978. In a future post I will discuss the Early Bird Kit more.

At the end of 1977,  a Kenner Star Wars Trade Supplement Catalog “PRODUCTS FOR DELIVERY BEGINNING JANUARY AND FEBRUARY, 1978” was sent out to retailers. This catalog is significant as it is the first time the action figures NOT included in the Early Bird Kit were advertised.

Kenner Star Wars 1978 supplement catalog cover
Kenner Star Wars 1978 supplement catalog cover

The back cover of the catalog displays Kenners TV advert campaign. The action figures were due to be advertised a month earlier than the first vehicles.

Below is an original 1977 TV advert for the first Kenner Star Wars action figures.

Despite Kenner’s hopes, the toys advertised were not ready for January or February. The Early Bird figures were not finished sending out until the end of March, and the other new figures would not be available until at least April. But seeing as the film was an ongoing success at the Cinemas, Kenner had to keep up the hype despite not having any actual toys ready.

Inside the catalog is the first time the ‘full set’ of action figures were advertised. As you can see, only nine figures are displayed. Kenner intended to release an initial set of twelve figures, but only nine were ready for this catalog.

Kenner Star Wars 1978 supplement catalog inside
Kenner Star Wars 1978 supplement catalog inside

Sand People (Tusken Raider), Jawa and Death Squad Commander figures had to wait. The Star Wars Collectors Action Stand is shown with spaces for twelve figures, with only the nine in the catalog on it.

The figures shown are interesting as they include prototype features and the early telescoping lightsabers.

By around mid 1978, the full set of twelve ‘core’ figures were available in retail stores. Kenner still had supply issues to the stores. By the time Kenner’s 1978 Trade Toy fair catalog was sent out to retailers in December, all twelve figures were displayed. The 1978 trade toy fair catalog was significant as it was the first Kenner main toy fair catalog to display Star Wars toys.

Kenner Star Wars 1978 toy fair catalog cover
Kenner Star Wars 1978 toy fair catalog cover

The same artwork and descriptions for the nine figures from the 1977 trade supplement are repeated, with the additional three figures now added, making the full complement of twelve. Interestingly, the Star Wars Collector’s Action Stand still only displayed the initial nine figures.

Kenner Star Wars 1978 toy fair catalog inside
Kenner Star Wars 1978 toy fair catalog inside

Most of the figures came with accessories such as lightsabers, blasters or capes. The figures were all in the 3 3/4″ scale and came in a plastic bubble sealed to a card, hence known as ‘carded’ figures. The back of the cards were ‘identical’ (some minor variations were made over time). The front of the cards had unique artwork for each character.

As only twelve characters were initially released and all twelve were displayed on the back of each card (known as ‘cardbacks’), these cards are known as ’12 backs’. They have obtained an almost legendary status and are the most sought after of all the vintage figures.

Below is an example of a 12 back card from my collection. This back is known as 12c (further down the post I discuss the variations). The top half features the characters and the first three vehicles. The bottom half advertises the Star Wars Action Collector’s Stand. Again, only the initial nine figures are displayed on the stand.

The words ‘All 12 STAR WARS Action figures may not be available in your store at the same time’ belie Kenner’s continuing problems with supply and demand during 1978.

In the close up of the top half of the card back below, to the right of the characters is seen instructions on using the telescoping lightsaber feature  originally planned for Luke, Ben, and Darth Vader. This saber feature was dropped very early on, but the text still made it onto all 12 back packaging.

Vintage Star Wars Kenner 12 back card C-3PO back top
Star Wars Kenner 12 back C-3PO back top

In total, there were four variations of the original 12 back card, known as 12a, 12b, 12c and 12d. The variations a, b and c just involved minor alterations to the text and a picture change to the lightsaber. Variation 12d was the same card back as 12c, but with addition of a large sticker placed over the bottom half advertising an additional 20 figures with the title ‘COLLECT ALL 32 ACTION FIGURES’

In future posts I will discuss the Early Bird Certificate (Early Bird Kit) in more detail, as well as focusing on specific 12 back carded characters.

 

 

Star Wars Return of the Jedi ROTJ Sy Snootles and the Rebo Band Action Figure Set

Released by Kenner in the USA in 1984, the Sy Snootles and the Rebo band Action Figure Set has always been an extremely popular Star Wars set.

During the vintage years this set was the only multi-pack of exclusive Star Wars figures issued by Kenner. The figures in the set were never issued individually on cards.

Below is one of the original TV commercials for the set

Kenner USA released the set in a blister style packaging.  A Kenner Canada version was also released in 1984 with Canadian style bi-lingual text on the packaging.

It was separately available in Europe in a Tri-logo box, both by Palitoy in the UK and GMJ (General Mills Juguetes) in Spain. The European versions were retailed in a box rather than the blister style packaging of the USA and Canada.

The Tri-logo boxed version contained the figures and accessories in sealed bags. Interestingly, the harder to find GMJ Spanish version had cardboard inserts, whereas the Palitoy version contained the bags loose in the box.

Finally a very hard to find Lili Ledy version was released in Mexico in the USA Style blister packaging, but with Spanish text.

A Droids series version of the toy in droids blue packaging was advertised in the 1985 Toy Fair Catalog, but never produced. You can see this below

Kenner 1985 Toy Fair catalog front
Kenner 1985 Toy Fair catalog front
Kenner 1985 Toy Fair catalog pages 9
Kenner 1985 Toy Fair catalog pages 9

Below is my Kenner USA version. It is still sealed in the packaging. The bubble packaging tends to yellow over time, though this one has fared quite well.

Star Wars ROTJ Return of the Jedi Sy Snootles and the Reebo Band
Star WARS Kenner ROTJ Sy Snootles and Rebo Band

The set was always issued either with black flute and silver Mic stand accessories or silver flute with black Mic stands. This applied to both the Kenner and Tri-logo versions. The combination of silver flute with black microphones appears to be rarer.

The set was intended to be part of Jabba’s Palace diorama. The set was made up of organ player Max Rebo, flutist Droopy McCool and singer Sy Snootles.

Star Wars ROTJ Return of the Jedi Sy Snootles and the Reebo Band
Kenner ROTJ Sy Snootles and Rebo Band
Star Wars ROTJ Return of the Jedi Sy Snootles and the Reebo Band
ROTJ Sy Snootles and the Rebo Band top view
Star Wars ROTJ Return of the Jedi Sy Snootles and the Reebo Band
ROTJ Sy Snootles and Rebo Band close up

The back of the box displayed the 77 star wars action figures available as of that time in 1984. This was the same 77 back display seen on the individual carded figures.

Star Wars ROTJ Return of the Jedi Sy Snootles and the Reebo Band
Star Wars Kenner ROTJ Sy Snootles and Rebo Band

Kenner Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark 12″ Action Figure

Whilst Raiders of the Lost Ark hit Cinemas in July 1981, kids had to wait until late 1982 before a toy line was available. No toy licensee had been signed before the film was released. Following the success of the Star Wars license, Kenner were the best placed to take on the job.

Initially only four 3.75″ figures and two playsets were released in late 1982 (Series 1).  In 1983 followed ten more figures and two further playsets (Series 2). All four of the figures in Series 1 were re-issued in series 2, just with different card artwork.

Only one 12″ Action figure, Indiana Jones, was released. The Kenner 1982 trade Toy Fair catalog debuted the new line, although the 12″ figure was not ready for release so was not advertised or available until 1983.

As Indiana Jones was played by Harrison Ford, the same actor as Han Solo, the figure was “recycled” from the same scale Star Wars Han Solo. The face was an excellent representation of Harrison Ford, so could not really be bettered.

Considering the expensive process of creating a new 12″ action figure from scratch, it is highly probable the only reason Kenner released the 12″ Indiana Jones was because it could recycle the Han Solo 12″ figure. The fact that Indiana was the only 12″ figure released in the series adds weight to this argument.

Only the clothes, hair colour and eye colour were changed. The eyes from brown to blue and the hair from a reddish to a browner colour. Kenner didn’t bother re-scuplting the hair, which had a 1970’s hairdo with side burns!

Indiana came with removable hat, jacket, shirt, pants, boots, holster, gun and Bullwhip in a window box with scenes from the movie on the box.

Below is an original Kenner TV advert for the toy

The box shown below is still factory sealed, the extending box flap never having been bent over.

Kenner Indiana 12inch Action figure
Kenner Indiana 12inch front view

The yellow box art theme Kenner used for all the Indiana toys was highly attractive and stood out on the retail shelves. Kenner had gained several years of experience with the Star Wars toy line, and by 1982 really knew the movie franchise market well.

Kenner Indiana 12inch Action figure
Kenner Indiana 12inch close up 1
Kenner Indiana 12inch Action figure
Kenner Indiana 12inch close up 2

This close up gives a good view of the blue eyes, the only alteration Kenner did to the Han Solo action figure. Harrison Ford actually has Hazel eyes, which can appear either blue or brown on screen!

Kenner Indiana 12inch Action figure
Kenner Indiana 12inch back

The back of the box was packed with details, scenes from the movie and close ups of the action features. Every inch of the box was designed to entice kids to buy off the shelves.

Star Wars Kenner Darth Vader and Jawa Inflatable Bop Bag

A Bop Bag is an inflatable punching bag. They were first made popular in the 1950s when a Bozo the clown ‘3-D’ bop bag was a big hit! Remaining popular through the 1960s and 1970s, it was only natural for Kenner to cash in on the Bop Bag craze.

Below is a 1950’s Gaines dog food Commercial advert for Bullet The Dog punching bag

Kenner’s first venture into the Bop Bag market was in 1978 with a Star Wars theme. The Star Wars bop bags were among the earliest toys Kenner produced for the Star Wars toy line.

The Darth Vader and Artoo-Detoo Bop Bags were first displayed in the Kenner Trade Toy Fair 1978 catalog (the first Kenner Toy Fair catalog advertising Star Wars toys). Advertised in the Kenner Spring 1979 Catalog Supplement for the first time were the Jawa and Chewbacca Bop Bags.

Below is the Darth Vader and R2-D2 Bop Bags as in the 1978 catalog.

Inflatable Bop Bags from Kenner 1978 catalog
Inflatable Bop Bags from Kenner 1978 catalog

“Let your kids take their frustrations out on a life size inflatable Star Wars character” was a good tagline for the Villain Vader and Jawas, but seemed a little unfair on R2-D2 and Chewbacca.

All four bop bags were also advertised in the 1979 ‘Death Star’ in-package mini catalog. This catalog would have been included with the early playsets and vehicles by Kenner. The R2-D2 Bop Bag is shown, but the text refers to all four.

Star Wars Kenner 1979 in-package catalog bop bags
Star Wars Kenner 1979 in-package catalog bop bags

The R2-D2 and Darth Vader Bop Bags had some interesting international versions.

Darth Vader and R2-D2 were produced by Clipper in the Netherlands and R2-D2 was released in Australia by TOLTOYS. Below is the Clipper Darth Vader.

STAR WARS CLIPPER DARTH VADER BOP BAG
STAR WARS CLIPPER DARTH VADER BOP BAG

As far as I am aware, the Jawa and Chewbacca Bop Bags were only released by Kenner USA.

In Japan Takara released a Bop Bag known as a ‘Punch-Kick’ with unique artwork. See the exciting artwork below.

TAKARA STAR WARS BOP BAG
TAKARA STAR WARS BOP BAG

Below is a page from the 1978 Montgomery Ward “Wards” Christmas Catalog. You can see in the bottom right corner the Darth Vader Bop Bag is advertised, and the corresponding description No. 8 on the right side. Interestingly, it is only the Vader Bop Bag for sale, not the other three.

1978 Wards catalog page Star wars vader bop bag
1978 Wards catalog page Star wars vader bop bag

Below is the Bop Bags available in the Sears Department Store 1979 Holiday Season Catalog. As you can see, there was no Star Wars Bop Bags advertised. I’m not sure what that says about Kenner’s Bop Bag campaign, but is disappointing not to see them.

bop bags in sears 1979 Holiday Season catalog
bop bags in sears 1979 Holiday Season catalog

Below is my Darth Vader Bop Bag, at 50″ known as a “BIG BOPPER”. The smaller size 36″ Jawa and R2-D2 were known as “LIL BOPPERS”

The box is factory sealed both ends and the retail box is in pretty decent condition. The seals on these broke easily because the box flaps fell in due to the soft material inside, so finding factory sealed examples today is difficult.

Darth Vader Inflatable Bop Bag
Darth Vader Inflatable Bop Bag front
Darth Vader Inflatable Bop Bag
Darth Vader Inflatable Bop Bag front

Check out those flares!

Darth Vader Inflatable Bop Bag
Darth Vader Inflatable Bop Bag Side
Darth Vader Inflatable Bop Bag
Darth Vader Inflatable Bop Bag Back

The back of the box has an identical design to the front, except the omission of the “LP” (Long-playing) logo. Incidentally, the Kenner LP logo was used from 1975-1978, but the introduction of Star Wars toys seemed to kill it, as by 1979 the LP logo had disappeared from all Kenner toys!

Darth Vader Inflatable Bop Bag
Darth Vader Inflatable Bop Bag Side

Below is the Jawa Inflatable Bop Bag from 1979. Supposedly it’s harder to find than the Vader, but I think they are all hard to find! The box is factory sealed both ends and the box condition is very good.

Unlike the Vader Bop Bag where the kids are ready to give him a good hard punch, the kids on the Jawa packaging look rather more tentative. The boy looks like he’s ready to give him a hug or satisfying an itch, while the girl looks rather pleased she’s missed the hit.

Jawa Inflatable Bop Bag frontJawa Inflatable Bop Bag

Jawa Inflatable Bop Bag
Jawa Inflatable Bop Bag Side
Jawa Inflatable Bop Bag
Jawa Inflatable Bop Bag front

$2.99, a bargain!

Jawa Inflatable Bop Bag
Jawa Inflatable Bop Bag front
Jawa Inflatable Bop Bag
Jawa Inflatable Bop Bag Back

The back of the box has an identical design to the front, except the omission of the “LP” (Long-playing) logo.

Star Wars Empire Strikes Back Kenner Yoda The Jedi Master Magic 8 ball fortune teller

 

Kenners Star Wars Empire Strikes Back Yoda The Jedi Master was produced by Kenner in 1981.

It is essentially the Magic 8 Ball gone Jedi, a 5 1/2″ Yoda Quizzmaster! On the base of Yoda is an internal  floating ‘die’ part where kids could ask Yoda a question and would answer with one of twenty phrases. Magic 8-ball was a 1980s hit, so pairing it with Yoda must have seemed like a good idea at the time.

The toy was only advertised in the JCPenney Christmas 1981 Department Store catalog but was not an exclusive.

JCPenney Chritsmas 1981 catalog
JCPenney Chritsmas 1981 catalog

You can see the Yoda 8-Ball on the left hand page next to the Darth Vader storage case. It was priced at $7.99.

jcpenney christmas 1981 catalog star wars
jcpenney christmas 1981 catalog star wars

It was marketed with Kenner’s craft-oriented line, not easily placed among Kenner’s action figure line. The toy reminds me of Kenner’s Yoda Hand Puppet toy, released a year earlier in 1980. Both were more of a Yoda sculpture than a figure. One you looked up Yoda’s butt to get answers, the other you put your hand up his back side! Both were a one year only release, neither particularly successful among children.

The only other version of the Yoda 8-Ball released was by Kenner Canada with bilingual graphics and text on the packaging.

Below is my example, it’s not factory sealed but Yoda is sealed on a blister card. The retail box is in nice condition apart from the litho tears on the top. I think a large circular bargain store sticker was removed, causing the tears.

Kenner The jedi Master
Kenner The jedi Master front view 2
Kenner The jedi Master
Kenner The jedi Master front view 2

The bottom has a hole cut so you can see the 8-ball, even with the box sealed. This enabled kids to ‘play’ (I use the term loosely) with it in store before deciding whether to buy.

Star Wars Kenner The jedi Master
Kenner The jedi Master back view

Over the years, the fluid in most of the surviving examples evaporates to varying degrees. I have opened up the bottom contraption in a loose example. It’s basically a plastic jar with a metal screw lid.  A ridge on the bottom of the jar hooks into a circular groove on the base of Yoda.

Kenner The Jedi Master
Kenner The Jedi Master out of package

The toy was packaged with a ESB catalog, which you can see neatly fits in the back of the box behind Yoda.

Kenner The jedi Master
Kenner The jedi Master side view 1
Kenner The Jedi Master
Kenner The jedi Master side view 2

Star Wars Return of the Jedi Kenner Biker Scout Laser Pistol

This post is a look at the development of the ROTJ Biker Scout Laser Pistol. The pistol was first introduced in Return of the Jedi. The Han Solo Laser Pistol was released by Kenner for all three films, as was the Electronic Laser Rifle. For my post on the Laser Rifle see here

Kenner produced the Return of the Jedi biker scout laser pistol in 1984, a “role play” version of the Biker Scout pistol used in the film. It was  first advertised in the Kenner 1984 trade Toy Fair catalog.

I always thought it was one of the best child-sized accessories produced by Kenner, but apparently it was not too popular at the time. This was probably because it was a “baddies” pistol and kids preferred to be the on the good side during play.

The pistol was a reasonable attempt to faithfully recreate the original prop and has gained a coolness factor over time.

The only other version of this toy produced was by Lili Ledy in Mexico.

Below is my pistol in original retail box. The pistol has never been removed with the cable ties still in place.

kenner Biker scout laser pistol
Close up view of kenner biker scout laser pistol

The corners of the box were always a weak spot, hence they are often torn as you can see in the picture. With a lot of open space, both the top and bottom of the box is highly susceptible to crushing inward or warping.

In fact all the Kenner Star Wars Pistols and Rifle retail boxes suffered this problem, so it is difficult to find mint examples.

kenner Biker scout laser pistol
Close up view of kenner biker scout laser pistol

The box design was attractive and Return of the Jedi labels were applied to each side of the pistol. The scope was a “toyified” version of the original.

kenner Biker scout laser pistol
Front view of kenner biker scout laser pistol

It takes 2 C batteries to give a pulsating laser sound when the trigger is pressed. And the see-through site was red with cross hairs to simulate an infra-red lens. This was a pretty cool feature.

kenner Biker scout laser pistol
Back view of kenner biker scout laser pistol

The side of the box has a cut out section so you can use the see through sight feature.

kenner Biker scout laser pistol
Biker scout laser pistol side view

Below is the other end view of the box. The line you can see through the box just below the Toys”R”Us sticker is a blade cut. This occurred when a trade box of the pistols was rather carelessly opened by the original retailer, slicing through the actual toy box inside.

The tip of the pistol is meant to poke out of this side. Due to warping, the inner cardboard holding the pistol has shifted in relation to the outer retail box causing the tip to get covered by the cardboard. This was quite a common occurrence with these boxes, even when they were on the retail shelves in 1984!

kenner Biker scout laser pistol