Saturday, July 18, 2015

Flashback: Kenner's plans for the Star Wars 'Early Bird' Package

Hard-core Star Wars vintage toy collectors likely remember, but back in 1977, the unexpected success of Star Wars caught toymaker Kenner flatfooted. They held the license to make toys for the movie, but didn't expect it to be a success, so they didn't have any toys ready for the 1977 Christmas season. In order to cash in on the Christmas demand for Star Wars toys, they came up with the "Early Bird Package," essentially a cardboard stand and mail-in certificate that kids could redeem for the first four Star Wars figures (Luke, Leia, R2-D2, and Chewbacca), which they would get by mail in early 1978. Parents had something Star Wars-themed to put under the Christmas tree, and kids learned a bit of patience.

As we all now know, the "Early Bird Kit" was a big success, as were the toys that followed. The image above, posted by Justin Berger in the Vintage Star Wars Action Figures Facebook group, comes from a 1977 Kenner pre-Christmas sales catalog, which was used to sell the "Early Bird" to retailers. A pretty cool throwback to a time before Kenner ruled the toy world. 

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