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A collectors guide to vintage 1982 Tomy Tron toys and spin-off Disney Tron merchandise

Tron, a science fiction action-adventure film was released on July 9, 1982, in the United States. It was one of the first feature films to use extensive use of computer animation and was produced by Walt Disney Productions

Tomy of Japan were granted license to produce the official toys of the film. In this post I examine in detail these toys, such as the iconic light cycle below.

TRON LIGHT CYCLE BOX FRONT 3

I take a detailed look at the Toy City Laser cycles, a fascinating bootleg version of the light cycles.

The 20th Anniversary Disney Tron toys produced by NECA are also discussed.

Several of the other Tron themed toys and games are highlighted at the end of the post.

Tomy Tron toys are particularly sought after in Japan, since Tomy was a Japanese company, but they were not available for sale there. Tron related merchandise is enthusiastically collected all over the world.

1982 Disney Tron film promo adverts

Below are three original promo trailers for the film. They are all worth watching.

The first one below is quite a full trailer showing some key scenes from the movie with a long sequence of the light cycle grid.

1982 - Tron - Trailer - YouTube

This next one is slightly shorter, with a nice intro involving a keyboard. Some of the scenes overlap those of the longer trailer, but has some nice differences. I am sure there are some scenes in this trailer that didn’t make it into the final cut of the movie!

1982 - Tron - Trailer - YouTube

This third trailer is later and quite short, and is based on early reviews of the movie.

1982 ads TRON - YouTube

Tron media franchise

In 2010, a long awaited sequel was made by Disney, Tron: legacy. Directed by first-time director John Kosinski. Jeff Bridges returned as Kevin Flynn, and also in a digitised de-aged form as the films antagonist.

TRON: LEGACY Official Trailer #2 - YouTube

This teaser trailer from Tron: Legacy below has a very cool light cycle scene that was cut from the movie!

Tron Legacy Teaser Trailer HD - YouTube

A third film, originally entitled Tron: Ascension was being worked on in 2015, with Joseph Kosinski returning as director. In May 2015, the film was abruptly cancelled, despite pre-production being almost completed.

On February 28, 2017, during a Q&A session with Joseph Kosinski, he revealed that Tron 3 isn’t totally dead, instead saying it was in “cryogenic freeze”.

An American animated science fiction television series aired on the Disney XD channel, set between the movies Tron and Tron: Legacy. A total of 19 episodes (a prelude and 18 for the first season) were produced and aired in the United States from May 18th 2012 to January 28th 2013. After the last episode of the first season aired, no more episodes of Tron: Uprising have been produced, but Disney has not confirmed the cancellation of the series.

Tron: Uprising Official - Trailer # 1 - YouTube
TRON Uprising -Official Trailer 2 - YouTube
Brand New This Fall! - TRON: Uprising on DisneyXD - YouTube

Tron: Legacy Soundtrack

On a personal note, the soundtrack for Tron: Legacy, by Daft Punk, I consider to be one of the best soundtracks made for any film. It really is the work of genius. If you listen to it, you will recognise some of the tracks that have been used in adverts and TV programs. Probably the best known is it’s use in a series of BMW 5 adverts.

For the fascinating story of how Daft Punk signed up for the soundtrack read here

Daft Punk worked exclusively on the score for 19 months solid, without taking on any other work during this period.

Tron Legacy Soundtrack - YouTube

Tomy becomes licensee

Disney believed the film would be such a success that it enlisted the Tomy toy company of Japan to create a line of  figures and light cycles in 1981. The toys were released in the USA in 1982 in time for the film.

Disney was in contact with several companies looking for bids to carry the line but TOMY was anxious to test the action figure market to try and capture some of the success of Kenner’s Star Wars line.

Both the film and the toy line wasn’t as successful as Disney & Tomy had hoped for, and only the initial release of four figures and two light cycles (red and yellow) they could ride in were produced. The toys were only ever released in the USA.

Tantalisingly, a c1982 prototype Tank, about 12″ long and space to fit figures, has been seen in 1996 but probably did not get far in production. Other toy prototypes may yet surface. I am sure the original intention of Tomy was to extend the range of toys.

The range of figures as displayed on back of carded figures

Below is a card back of a figure showing the toys in the range (the red light cycle is not displayed)

TRON TOMY TRON MOC BACK

The figures

The figures are on the same basic scale of Kenner’s Star Wars figures but slightly taller, nearer to 4 inches. The figures are cleverly designed using colored transparent/translucent plastic which is highlighted with glow in the dark ‘light piping’ lines to depict the CGI costumes from the movie.

The translucent plastic also allows light to pass through the figure, changing the figures appearance in different lighting and environments. The translucent effect was more than a gimmick, it really is an ingenious way of representing the movie figures in a CGI world.

SARK WARRIOR & FLYNN LOOSE FIGURES

The four action figures are Tron, Sark, a generic (guard) Warrior and Flynn in the computer world. Each of the figures has a glow in the dark disc that can be mounted on their back apart from the Warrior who has a glow in the dark staff.

All four figures are of solid construction, with Tron, Sark and Flynn having 5 points of articulation: neck, shoulders and hips.  The glow in the dark disc included with these three figures has a peg handle on one side which fits in a hole in the figure’s back. The disc can also be held in the hand. The disc is stamped “Japan” on the back.

The Warrior figure has four points of articulation: shoulders and hips. The staff is also glow in the dark and has “Japan” stamped on it.

Each figure is stamped “Tomy Japan” on the right leg and “(c) 1981 Walt Disney Prod.” on the left leg.

Figures as they appear in Tomy 1982 trade catalog

Below is a page from the Tomy Corporation Catalog 1982, which was a trade catalog, advertising the Tron figures. It is interesting to see the figures displayed are actually prototypes with strange painted faces, slightly different coloured plastic bodies and what looks like yellow discs held by Sark and Flynn.

TOMY TRON 1982 TOY CATALOG PAGE

They are stated as standing 3 3/4 inches tall, which was not correct as they stood approximately 4 inches tall or taller. The 3 3/4 inch scale figure had become a standard size since Kenner’s Star Wars figure line success.

It’s interesting to note that the figures displayed on the back of the production cards are also prototypes and have similarities to those in the catalog.

Front and back packaging of carded figures

The figures themselves are packaged on blister cards. All of the cards have the same assortment number ‘2205’ and barcode number ‘079844 02505’. The front of the cards are generic apart from the individual figures name is printed in black just to the left of the figure at the bottom of the card.

TRON TOMY TRON MOC FRONT

The back of the cards are identical for all four figures. The figures available are displayed along with the yellow light cycle. The figures are similar to those displayed in the Tomy 1982 Trade catalog with painted faces, different colours and body sculpt differences.

TRON TOMY TRON MOC BACK

Light cycles as they appear in the Tomy 1982 trade catalog

Below is another page from the Tomy Corporation Trade Catalog 1982 advertising the light cycles.

These are prototype models. The light cycles have white bodies, which in the production models are grey. Most notably, the pull or rip cord is black with a white ‘TOMY’ label or printing on the handle.

In the production model the rip cord is a cream colour and appears to be better quality, with a larger handle and thicker stem. The production rip cord is 7″ long. One side of the handle has the letters ‘TRON’ moulded into the plastic, the other side ‘TOMY’.

TOMY TRON 1982 TOY CATALOG PAGE – Copy

Differences in production and prototype images on light cycle retail packaging

Below you can see the production model differences more easily.

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Vintage Star Wars Return Of The Jedi ROTJ Biker Scout Laser Pistol

This post is a look at the Star Wars Return Of The Jedi Biker Scout Laser Pistol. The pistol was only introduced for the Return of the Jedi.

The other blaster weapons, the Han Solo Laser Pistol and Electronic Laser Rifle were released by Kenner for all three films.

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.

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.

Pistol as displayed in Kenner 1984 Trade Catalog

It was advertised in the Kenner 1984 trade Toy Fair catalog in a double page spread. It’s not that easy to detect, but the large picture of the pistol displayed is a prototype version. The colouring is different from the production model. If you look to the right of the Star Wars sticker, just below you can see a screw which was not there in the production model.

ROTJ Kenner biker scout pisol in 1984 Trade fair catalog

Pistol as displayed in Sears 1984 Wish Book

The Biker Scout Laser Pistol was available from Sears department store in 1984. You can see the pistol in the bottom of the right page in the Sears Wish Book 1984 below.

STAR WARS SEARS WISH BOOK 1984 PAGE

Pistol as displayed in 1985 Kenner Trade Catalog

Adding further collectable interest to the Biker Scout Laser Pistol 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.

All the ‘first’ released 1984 Return Of The Jedi vehicles and Playsets were intended to be re-released in the POTF line of toys, but none actually were.

The Pistol 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

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

Star Wars Kenner 1985 Toy Fair catalog POTF PAGE

Pistol as displayed in Star Wars The Power Of The Force ‘Death Star’ Planetary Map

The Biker Scout Pistol 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

The Biker Scout Pistol 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

Lili Ledy Biker Scout Laser Pistol

Apart from the Kenner USA release, the Biker Scout Pistol was also produced by Lili Ledy in Mexico.

LILI LEDY BIKER SCOUT PISTOL BOXED

The pistol was close in production to the Kenner version, but there was differences. The Star Wars sticker was in Spanish Text. You can also see the use of slotted screws on the body of the pistol, whereas they were always Philips head screws on the Kenner version. In truth, I think the Lili Ledy version had a random use of screw types, whereas the Kenner were all philips type.

LILI LEDY BIKER SCOUT PISTOL CLOSE UP FRONT LILI LEDY BIKER SCOUT PISTOL CLOSE UP BACK

Clipper (Netherlands) mail away Biker Scout Laser Pistol promotion

The only other International version was that of Clipper in the Netherlands.

The Biker Scout Laser Pistol was available as part of a Clipper special mail away in Return Of The Jedi promotion. The promotion involved mailing back to Clipper a certain number of “names” cut out from the carded figures in return for a certain Star Wars ROTJ promoted toy or accessory. The cut out names acted as a proof of purchase.

Below is details from a Clipper 20″ cardboard store display header. You can see the Biker Scout Laser Pistol and other figures and accessories that were available as part of the mailer offer.

CLIPPER STORE HEADER DISPLAY

The Biker Scout Laser Pistol received by Clipper was the Kenner USA version, both the retail box and pistol. It was not especially produced or altered by Clipper. The mailer box the pistol was sent in, however, was unique to Clipper.

Detailed pictures of Kenner USA Biker Scout Laser Pistol

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

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Tron, a science fiction action-adventure film was released on July 9, 1982, in the United States. It was one of the first feature films to use extensive use of computer animation and was produced by Walt Disney Productions

Tomy of Japan were granted license to produce the official toys of the film. In this post I examine in detail these toys.

I take a detailed look at the Toy City Laser cycles, a fascinating bootleg version of the light cycles.

The 20th Anniversary Disney Tron toys produced by NECA are also discussed.

Several of the other Tron themed toys and games are highlighted at the end of the post.

Tomy Tron toys are particularly sought after in Japan, since Tomy was a Japanese company, but they were not available for sale there. Tron related merchandise is enthusiastically collected all over the world.

Tron media franchise

In 2010, a long awaited sequel was made by Disney, Tron: legacy. Directed by first-time director John Kosinski. Jeff Bridges returned as Kevin Flynn, and also in a digitised de0aged form as the films antagonist.

A third film, originally entitled Tron: Ascension was being worked on in 2015, with Joseph Kosinski returning as director. In May 2015, the film was abruptly cancelled, despite pre-production being almost completed.

On February 28, 2017, during a Q&A session with Joseph Kosinski, he revealed that Tron 3 isn’t totally dead, instead saying it was in “cryogenic freeze”.

An American animated science fiction television series aired on the Disney XD channel, set between the movies Tron and Tron: Legacy. A total of 19 episodes (a prelude and 18 for the first season) were produced and aired in the United States from May 18th 2012 to January 28th 2013. After the last episode of the first season aired, no more episodes of Tron: Uprising have been produced, but Disney has not confirmed the cancellation of the series.

Tton: Legacy Soundtrack

On a personal note, the soundtrack for Tron: Legacy, by Daft Punk, I consider to be one of the best soundtracks made for any film. It really is the work of genius. If you listen to it, you will recognise some of the tracks that have been used in adverts and TV programs.

Tron Legacy Soundtrack - YouTube

1982 Disney Tron film promo adverts

Below are three original promo trailers for the film

1982 - Tron - Trailer - YouTube
Tron (1982) - Trailer - YouTube
1982 ads TRON - YouTube

Tomy becomes licensee

Disney believed the film would be such a success that it enlisted the Tomy toy company of Japan to create a line of  figures and light cycles in 1981. The toys were released in the USA in 1982 in time for the film.

Disney was in contact with several companies looking for bids to carry the line but TOMY was anxious to test the action figure market to try and capture some of the success of Kenner’s Star Wars line.

Both the film and the toy line wasn’t as successful as Disney & Tomy had hoped for, and only the initial release of four figures and two light cycles (red and yellow) they could ride in were produced. The toys were only ever released in the USA.

Tantalisingly, a c1982 prototype Tank, about 12″ long and space to fit figures, has been seen in 1996 but probably did not get far in production. Other toy prototypes may yet surface. I am sure the original intention of Tomy was to extend the range of toys.

The range of figures as displayed on back of carded figures

Below is a card back of a figure showing the toys in the range (the red light cycle is not displayed)

Tron Tomy MOC back

The figures

The figures are on the same basic scale of Kenner’s Star Wars figures but slightly taller, nearer to 4 inches. The figures are cleverly designed using colored transparent/translucent plastic which is highlighted with glow in the dark ‘light piping’ lines to depict the CGI costumes from the movie.

The translucent plastic also allows light to pass through the figure, changing the figures appearance in different lighting and environments. The translucent effect was more than a gimmick, it really is an ingenious way of representing the movie figures in a CGI world.

TRON TOMY WARRIOR SARK & FLYNN LOOSE FIGURES

The four action figures are Tron, Sark, a generic (guard) Warrior and Flynn in the computer world. Each of the figures has a glow in the dark disc that can be mounted on their back apart from the Warrior who has a glow in the dark staff.

All four figures are of solid construction, with Tron, Sark and Flynn having 5 points of articulation: neck, shoulders and hips.  The glow in the dark disc included with these three figures has a peg handle on one side which fits in a hole in the figure’s back. The disc can also be held in the hand. The disc is stamped “Japan” on the back.

The Warrior figure has four points of articulation: shoulders and hips. The staff is also glow in the dark and has “Japan” stamped on it.

Each figure is stamped “Tomy Japan” on the right leg and “(c) 1981 Walt Disney Prod.” on the left leg.

Figures as they appear in Tomy 1982 trade catalog

Below is a page from the Tomy Corporation Catalog 1982, which was a trade catalog, advertising the Tron figures. It is interesting to see the figures displayed are actually prototypes with strange painted faces, slightly different coloured plastic bodies and what looks like yellow discs held by Sark and Flynn.

They are stated as standing 3 3/4 inches tall, which was not correct as they stood approximately 4 inches tall or taller. The 3 3/4 inch scale figure had become a standard size since Kenner’s Star Wars figure line success.

It’s interesting to note that the figures displayed on the back of the production cards are also prototypes and have similarities to those in the catalog.

TOMY TRON 1982 TOY FIGURES CATALOG PAGE

Front and back packaging of carded figures

The figures themselves are packaged on blister cards. All of the cards have the same assortment number ‘2205’ and barcode number ‘079844 02505’. The front of the cards are generic apart from the individual figures name is printed in black just to the left of the figure at the bottom of the card.

TOMY TRON FLYNN MOC FRONT

The back of the cards are identical for all four figures. The figures available are displayed along with the yellow light cycle. The figures are similar to those displayed in the Tomy 1982 Trade catalog with painted faces, different colours and body sculpt differences.

TRON TOMY TRON MOC BACK

Light cycles as they appear in the Tomy 1982 trade catalog

Below is another page from the Tomy Corporation Trade Catalog 1982 advertising the light cycles.

These are prototype models. The light cycles have white bodies, which in the production models are grey. Most notably, the pull or rip cord is black with a white ‘TOMY’ label or printing on the handle.

In the production model the rip cord is a cream colour and appears to be better quality, with a larger handle and thicker stem. The production rip cord is 7″ long. One side of the handle has the letters ‘TRON’ moulded into the plastic, the other side ‘TOMY’.

TOMY TRON 1982 TOY CATALOG LIGHT CYCLE PAGE

Differences in production and prototype images on light cycle retail packaging

Below you can see the production model differences more easily.

TRON LIGHT CYCLE BOX FRONT 3

The back of the light cycle boxes display what appears to be the production model, with the correct grey body. The rip cord, however, is clearly the black prototype.

TRON LIGHT CYCLE BOX BACK

The header flap of the light cycle box appears to display the prototype light cycle with a white body!

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STAR WARS KENNER MAGAZINE TOY ADVERT 1978 DIECAST VEHICLES PAGE

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

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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.

ROTJ - Imperial Shuttle commercial - YouTube

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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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 Empire Strikes Back" TV Commercial - YouTube

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!).

star wars commercial esb collection with c 3po chewbacca new figures - YouTube

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 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

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

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

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

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

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!

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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

Kenner Star Wars Early Bird Commercial 1977 - YouTube

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

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

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.

1977 Kenner Star Wars Action Figures Commercial - YouTube

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

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

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

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.

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.

The post History of the vintage first twelve back Star Wars Kenner action figures appeared first on RETRO TOY INFORMATION.

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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

Star Wars Return of the Jedi Toys by Kenner - TV Commercial - YouTube

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 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 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.

Kenner ROTJ Sy Snootles and Rebo Band ROTJ Sy Snootles and the Rebo Band top view 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 Kenner ROTJ Sy Snootles and Rebo Band

The post Star Wars Return of the Jedi ROTJ Sy Snootles and the Rebo Band Action Figure Set appeared first on RETRO TOY INFORMATION.

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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

Indiana Jones 12-Inch Figure commercial (Kenner, 1981) - YouTube

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

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 close up 1 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 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.

The post Kenner Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark 12″ Action Figure appeared first on RETRO TOY INFORMATION.

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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

1950's Gaines Commercial promoting Bullet The Dog Punching Bag - YouTube

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

“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

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

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

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

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

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 front Darth Vader Inflatable Bop Bag front

Check out those flares!

Darth Vader Inflatable Bop Bag Side 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!

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