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The Kenner toy company produced a line of Star Wars action figures based on characters in the original Star Wars movie trilogy. Over unique action figures were produced and sold from to , during which time more than million Star Wars action figures were sold. The for Star Wars action figures was offered in to the Mego Corporation , which was the leading company in action figures in the s. Mego refused the offer and the was subsequently picked up by Kenner , a division of General Mills Fun Group. Star Wars was the first film to successfully market toys based on the movie. In fact, they were so successful that George Lucas independently used the funds to finance the next two movie chapters, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi Unable to build sufficient stock in time for the lucrative Christmas market, they instead sold an "Early Bird Certificate Package" which included a certificate which could be mailed to Kenner and redeemed for four Star Wars action figures.
By the time the action figures were offered for direct sale in shops, the range had been augmented with a further eight figures— C-3PO , Darth Vader , Stormtrooper , Obi-Wan Kenobi , Han Solo , Jawa , Sand People , and Death Squad Commander —bringing the total of figures in the initial release to twelve.
These were supplemented later in with a of vehicle and playset accessories, as well as the J. Penney exclusive Sonic controlled landspeeder and the Sears exclusive Cantina adventure playset which introduced four new figures. The four figures that were first brought out in the Sears Cantina set were released for individual sale with a further four figures later in , bringing the total of figures to Demand for the action figures and accessories was such that Kenner continued to have difficulty fulfilling demand.
Shortages of the toys in the lead up to Christmas led some to claim that Kenner was deliberately manipulating the market. In the anticipation of the release of the sequel movie The Empire Strikes Back , Kenner offered its first mail-in promotion, in which four proof of purchases could be redeemed for a new action figure, Boba Fett.
This figure was originally intended to feature a backpack with a firing missile, but this was abandoned due to safety concerns. In , the figure range was renamed Power of the Force in which a further 15 figures were released. The Droids range comprised 12 figures two of which were identical to figures from the main Star Wars line and the Ewoks line comprised six figures. By mid, the demand for Star Wars merchandise had slowed and Kenner discontinued production of its action figures. However, Kenner would produce the new line of Star Wars toys which began in The Star Wars action figures are plastic, usually smaller than four inches 10 cm , and are typically poseable at five points on their bodies, but there are many differences and unique qualities in the individual figures that depart from these norms.
Kenner's Star Wars action figures were produced along with vehicles and playsets based on the Star Wars movies. The majority of figures were packaged individually attached to "cardbacks" in a plastic blister. Variations exist for most of the different figures. These can range from major resculpts and differences in accessories supplied with the figures, to differences in paint detailing, for instance in hair color, or differences in sculpting materials. Some variations command higher prices in the collector market due to relative scarcity.
During the Empire Strikes Back run, the R2-D2 figure was altered to include an extendable "sensorscope. In , R2-D2 was again altered to feature a pop-up lightsaber. Both the removable limb C-3PO and pop-up lightsaber R2-D2 were offered with alternate paint detailing in the Droids range. The lightsaber-wielding characters originally featured a double-telescoping saber mechanism. This was changed to a single-telescoping mechanism early in As the Luke Skywalker figure was part of the Early Bird promotion, proportionately more of these were released with the double-telescoping mechanism, while double telescoping Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader figures are comparatively more rare and sought-after.
The Sears exclusive Cantina adventure playset contains four action figures. The Snaggletooth figure initially included wears a blue outfit with silver disco style boots, and is about the same size as the Luke and Han figures. Upon George Lucas's request, this "Blue Snaggletooth" was subsequently corrected to represent the character as actually featured in the movie; and a resculpted shorter, barefoot, red-outfitted figure was released.
Only the corrected "Red Snaggletooth" was released on blistered cardbacks, which made the "Blue Snaggletooth" more scarce and sought after by collectors. Early Han Solo figures have a somewhat diminutive head sculpt. This was later replaced by a larger sculpt. Early Jawa figures were released with a vinyl cape similar to that of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
This was later changed to a fabric cloak. From the period through to mid, figures sold individually in stores were issued on cardbacks that corresponded to the most current movie, with figures being sold on cardbacks with Star Wars des through to , then on Empire Strikes Back cards through to , followed by Return of the Jedi cards and Power of the Force cards in As the of figures in the range increased, the cardback de would be altered accordingly.
Thus the earliest figures released for direct sale in shops were issued on a cardback, the rear of which illustrated the then full range of 12 figures, known as a back. The back was supplanted by the back, and subsequently by the back, the back, the back, the back, the back, the back, the back, the back, the back, the back and the back. Variations exist for each of the cardback fronts. These range from differences in promotional offer stickers applied to the card to differences in the photograph illustrating the character.
Similarly variations exist for all of the cardback rear des with the exceptions of the back and back des that were only available in a single version. As of [update] , there are 57 different cardback front-rear combinations recognized. Star Wars figures were offered for sale in a of countries outside of the US. These were usually sold through other companies, many of which were also subsidiaries of General Mills. In Japan , the line was first controlled by the company Takara , then by Popy and finally by Tsukuda. In certain cases, figures produced by the non-US d companies are substantially different from those sold by Kenner.
Lili Ledy used different paint detailing and different fabric accessories. Glasslite figures were molded using slightly different, glossier plastic and used different paint detailing. The Glasslite Droids range was also notable in that it included a character "Vlix" that had not been issued in other countries. The Vlix figure was prototyped for the Kenner line but never made it past the stage of being mocked up on a card. Towards the end of the Star Wars figure run, figures for the European market were issued on trilogo cardbacks, so-called as the cardback front had three logos in English, French, and Spanish.
The cardback rear was a unique de showing 70 characters. Trilogos are in somewhat greater demand amongst collectors due to overstock having been bought by the US company Kay Bee. The character "Yak Face" that had only ly been issued in Canada and Australia was also available on the Trilogo card. As the figures were intended as and generally used as toys, accessories such as weapons and cloaks were often lost or stickers were damaged.
Once a collectors' market had been established, some collectors started replacing accessories with reproduction items. Such items are considered undesirable amongst collectors in some countries, particularly where figure variations centering on differences in accessories has led to a price premium, such as with the double telescoping lightsabers or the vinyl-caped Jawa.
Some hard to obtain figures have also been reproduced, often with the aim of passing them off as original, authentic figures. Notable examples include the rocket firing Boba Fett prototype and unpainted prototypes of regular figures. While officially d figures were produced in many countries, others had no official means of distribution. Taking advantage of consumer demand for the toys, manufacturers in some countries released und, bootleg figures. These vary in materials, casting method and in quality.
For example, some of the figures produced by the manufacturer Uzay in Turkey, are of a high standard and were often cast in unconventional colors with little regard to authenticity. A renewed interest in Star Wars was apparent by the mids, due to a rerelease of the trilogy on laserdisc and VHS and in anticipation of the upcoming Star Wars Special Edition.
These figures were easily distinguishable from the vintage range due to the new figures being sculpted in more "heroic" style, with larger muscles, and are known to collectors as Power of the Force 2. The Power of the Force 2 figures continued to be branded as Kenner until , when they were rebranded as Hasbro. Hasbro continues to market Star Wars action figures to the present day.
Kenner's success with the Star Wars line motivated creators of other action-adventure movies to market their own action figure lines. In the horror film Poltergeist , two children are shown playing with Star Wars action figures. Later that year, the film E. In the Star Wars parody film Spaceballs , Rick Moranis ' character Dark Helmet is seen playing with action figures which represent characters within the Spaceballs film including himself , a reference to the popularity of Star Wars action figures.
In the episode of The Simpsons , " Lisa's Rival ," Ralph Wiggum wins a diorama contest with a diorama made up of re-packaged Star Wars action figures. Ralph says "I bent my Wookiee" when he falls on his figure of Chewbacca. A collection of Star Wars figures is seen during the end credits of the film Argo.
A episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars features a group of three aliens wearing outfits matching original Kenner toys. US Star Wars-themed action figures. Main article: List of Kenner Star Wars action figures. Retrieved October 7, The Telegraph. Nashua, New Hampshire. December 17, Retrieved January 9, Lakeland Ledger. December 18, Den of Geek! Retrieved April 8, Topless Robot. Retrieved March 3, The Star Wars Collectors Archive.
Retrieved July 15, Retrieved January 12, Jawa's Armoury. Retrieved August 15, The Dispatch. February 10, Andrews McMeel Publishing. ISBN Retrieved March 26, Star Wars. The Clone Wars Rogue One Solo Category Film portal. : s toys s toys Action figures Hasbro products Star Wars merchandise. Hidden : Articles with short description Short description matches Wikidata Use mdy dates from March Articles containing potentially dated statements from All articles containing potentially dated statements.
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