It’s Christmas 1977 and it appears the highly anticipated Star Wars toys by Kenner are not ready. What happened?
According to the article “Star Wars: How an Empty Box Became a Must-Have Item in 1977”, “In 1976, Kenner had managed to land the exclusive rights to produce Star Wars merchandise when a much larger company, the Mego Corporation, had passed on Lucasfilm’s attempt to make a deal.”
Sounds promising except the line of figures that were to be produced and ready for Christmas the following year were not ready yet. Star Wars had become a huge hit and toys such as the Escape from Death Star board game were not going to cut it.
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So instead of toys, that Christmas children received an apology that the figures were not ready but were coming soon. This Star Wars Early Bird package, “contained a Space Club membership card, a cardboard display stand depicting 12 characters, and a rather apologetic set of stickers.” Not to mention a certificate and promise that the four figures were coming.
The key thing to remember is anyone purchasing the Early Bird Package knew they were not going to be receiving the toys. The commercial, that can be watched on YouTube here, explains in 30 seconds that they are not available but can be received by sending in the certificate. The toys would then be sent by mail between February 1st and June 1st.
The four, 3.75-inch figures of Luke Skywalker, R2-D2, Chewbacca and Princess Leia came with small pegs used to display them. If fans wanted to expand their new collection all they had to do was fill out and send a form with $2 to receive a “Collector’s Action Stand.” This stand could then hold eight more figures.
What was a disaster wound up working out in the end for all the parties involved. Kids loved the toys and the movie remained very popular. It’s hard to believe looking back on the way toys looked and cost compared to now. This was an interesting read considering the franchise’s small beginning and how it became such a popular cultural phenomenon.
Do you have a favorite Star Wars action figure or set? What are your thoughts about the Early Bird Certificate Package? Leave your answers in the comment section below! I’d love to read them!