Wednesday, March 13, 2019

1979 Star Wars toy ads

Pictured above is a page from a 16-page staplebound pamphlet published by Kenner Products in 1979 — 40 years ago! — to advertise the company's Star Wars toys. The front of the pamphlet is shown at right, with Darth Titan looming in the background.

This was about the same year my interest in these toys began to blossom. I suspect I had a similar arc to many American boys that age in that era. I probably had 8-to-10 Star Wars figures in the late 1970s when we were living in Clayton, New Jersey. They got pretty beat up from playing in the dirt, on the curb, on the wooden jungle gym and on the front porch, where they would take tumbles into the bushes. I also remember having a Kenner landspeeder and I think, at one point, the TIE fighter with the wings that popped off. I also remember being excited to send away for the Star Wars Collector's Action Stand, although I thought it was pretty underwhelming when it arrived.

Other than action figures (typically bought at drug stores, of all places), my collection of Star Wars toys never grew much in the early 1980s. I remember being jealous of kids with the huge Millennium Falcon, plastic light sabers and the towering (to me) Death Star Space Station, which my "cousin" Chip had. Chip got everything. Amazingly, the Death Star Space Station only cost $18, though that's about $55 in modern dollars so, yeah, I can see why Chip had it and I didn't.

Anyway, this booklet is filled with the usual Kenner suspects of the era, plus a few surprises. Action figures include the main characters, plus Boba Fett, R5-D4, Hammerhead, and the Power Droid, which was oddly one of my favorites over years of play. Sets include the Creature Cantina and the Droid Factory. There are also jigsaw puzzles and the obligatory plastic pistols and laser rifles.

Here's a closer look at a few toys from the page at the top of the post...

Dip Dots Star Wars Painting Set. "DIP DOTS provide the color and STAR WARS the action. New set features sixteen 8½" x 11" scenes based on STAR WARS movie with all the STAR WARS stars in action. Complete, ready-to-paint, with 8 colors of DIP DOTS instant water colors in non-spill plastic tray; STAR WARS scenes in bound book and brush. Ages 3 to 8."

Movie Viewer. "Now kids can see STAR WARS movies with their very own viewer! Exciting scenes of STARS WARS action. Crank fast or slow. The super-8 film never tangles! No batteries needed."

So, it was basically the Fisher Price Movie Viewer, which was one of my favorite childhood toys, even though I never actually had one. The Toy Box website ( has a nice history of this viewer, which was only produced from 1975 to 1979. Here's an excerpt of the section about Star Wars:
"These days it's relatively unheard of to have access to a film (legally) while it's still running in the theater, so when Kenner released one of its first products based on the film, kids and adults went nuts. Despite being only sixty seconds of footage, fans of the film were eager to see anything and everything they could over and over and over again. What better way then in the palm of your hand? Despite its major popularity, Kenner only produced four individually packaged cassettes, and the fifth, May The Force Be With You, which came packaged with the Viewer. There's no real answer known to the general public as to why there were so few cassettes, but we speculate that when the film took off like it did, Lucasfilm and/or Fox pulled the plug on the cassettes to encourage people to continue to fill theater seats."
I figured these would be super-expensive now on eBay, but it looks like you can get the Kenner viewer, plus one or more Star Wars cartridges, for prices ranging from $30 to $75.

Give-A-Show Projector. "Tells the entire STAR WARS story! Complete with projector, 16 full strips — 112 color slides. Projects giant pictures up to 8' x 8' on wall or any surface. Uses 3 "D" batteries, not included."

I think that girl might be the late Heather O'Rourke, of Poltergeist fame. She was a model for numerous toy advertisements, including Barbie. But I can't find any confirmation for this specific advertisement.

1 comment:

  1. Just goes to show have far the franchise and the world of marketing has advanced through the years. The first releases of Star Wars toys were very interesting because they offered a wide variety of choices in different categories. If you wanna learn more about the history of Star Wars Toys, you can go check out The Toy Report for more information about the releases of Star Wars figures dating back to the first releases and the present releases.