Palitoy was the UK license holder for Star Wars toys throughout the late 1970s and early 80s. Based in Coalville, Leicestershire, the factory was responsible for some truly iconic Star Wars toys and packaging, as well as numerous promotions and advertisements.
TVTA is proud to present a non-exhaustive collection of UK Star Wars advertising from 1977 to 1984 – including many Palitoy adverts as well as some of the other UK companies that sold Star Wars merchandise ranging from kites to snacks to stationery to comics.
Many of these adverts can be found in UK publications such as Battle, Tiger, Victor, Look-In, Star Wars Weekly, The Mighty World of Marvel, Return of the Jedi, Empire Strikes Back and various other weekly titles. The adverts can be found on glossy print endpapers and back pages as well as on the cheaper newsprint found inside the publications. It was common for many UK publications in the late 70s/early 80s to use the cheaper newsprint for the covers as well as the inside content. All adverts featured in this article are taken from my own collection.
KP Outer Spacers
Some of the earliest Star Wars advertising was based upon food and drink promotions.
This 1977 advert is for a Fighter Kite offer from special packs of KP Outer Spacers crisps.
Star Wars Weekly advert 1978
Advert for the upcoming UK publication of Star Wars Weekly featuring a FREE cut-out model X-Wing Fighter. Issue 2 would feature a cut-out Tie Fighter.
Star Wars Weekly comic Palitoy 1st 12 offer!
In 1978 the UK comic Star Wars Weekly offered the chance to win 25 complete sets of Palitoy’s figures – 12 in a set! R2D2, in the photo, was perhaps a little shy back in 1978 with his back turned to the camera!
Star Wars Weekly Letraset offer!
Another 1978 Star Wars Weekly offer, this time a chance to win one of 50 Star Wars letrasets.
Star Wars Helix School Products
The school products range from UK company Helix can command high prices from today’s collectors. Helix produced high-quality and durable stationery items – including some innovative designs like the Death Star pencil sharpener.
This half page 1978 black and white ad shows some of the products available at the time.
Star Wars Force Beam 1978
This colourful 1978 advert from Loydale Limited shows the Force Beam toy light saber that was available to buy in red and green colours.
UK Official Star Wars Fan Club advert
This 1978 ad is for the UK branch of the Official Star Wars Fan Club. Aside from its black and white rendering, FC logo and UK-specific details such as currency and address, the advert is exactly the same as the US colour-printed version that appeared in numerous issues of Marvel and DC comics in the late 70s.
C-3PO gives a FREE plug for the new Close Encounters film!
This unusual 1978 advert shows C-3PO in full-on ‘salesdroid’ mode trying to flog us a 48 page ’Close Encounters Super Special’ comic, based on the (then) upcoming film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Not so unusual really when you consider that the theme music for Close Encounters and Star Wars is composed by the same great John Williams, and that many LP and cassette recordings of the time featured music from both films available on the same release.
Wonder what happened to R2D2 though… seeing as R2 and 3P0 were pretty much the go-to-double-act for anything worth selling that was Star Wars related. Maybe he wasn’t very happy with the fee arrangements? Or just camera shy again? (see previous entries).
1978 Valance the Droid Hunter!
Valance the Hunter was created by Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson. He featured in only a handful of early Star Wars stories but was a formidable character with a hatred of droids and a dark secret!
PALITOY LINE DRAWING ADVERTS
Palitoy were very creative in their use of line drawings to advertise toys. A number of these adverts exist acoss various publications, some being quite quirky in nature and often ‘narrated’ by C-3PO with help from R2D2. The adverts cleverly introduced us to the new characters and toys by placing them directly into the stories and scenes of the particular advert. Many of the adverts were created by renowned comic artist Brian Bolland who is responsible for Judge Dredd, Batman: The Killing Joke, Green Lantern, and many others.
Palitoy 1979. "New from the Star Wars collection."
Here we see our two favourite droids ’walking us’ through various scenes that illustrated some of the new playsets made available back in the UK in 1979.
Palitoy 1979 advert: win a day at the filming of ESB!
What an amazing prize this must have been for the Lucky winner who sent in the best drawing for ‘design a droid’. Even the runners-up prizes were not to be sniffed at for the sake of an hour or two sat at the table with paper and pens!
This 1979 advert – among many other Palitoy adverts – was designed by Brian Bolland.
C-3PO totes a blaster!
One of the things I really love about the Win-a-day-at-the-filming-of-ESB advert (aside from seeing R2D2 busily making his own painting of a droid!) is that we get to see C-3PO brandishing a huge f***off blaster!
Now, you don’t see that too often!
And let’s not forget this either… Here we see R2D2 totally not being afraid to call 3PO a “namby-pamby” despite his golden friend brandishing a blaster in a previous panel!!
Palitoy "Can the Empire ever be destroyed?" 1980
Another line drawing advert from Palitoy, this time in the form of a short comic strip that cleverly highlighted new characters and vehicles that were fresh to buy from the toyline.
Bradley Quartz watches for boys and girls!
This is a 1981 UK Zeon company mail order advert for Bradley Quartz watches. Bradley Quartz was one of a handful of companies to be granted a licence to produce Star Wars watches and/or clocks.
ESB Palitoy Action Displays
1982 Empire Strikes Back advert offering free Action Displays when you sent off to Palitoy four character names cut from their cardbacks.
1983 ROTJ Full Colour Posters
Classic ROTJ era images available as full colour posters to order from UK Cauldron Promotions in 1983.
Return of the Jedi colour adverts
The Return of the Jedi era saw some excellent colour Palitoy adverts that were used to inform the customer of special offers such as free figures and accessories and even a painting competition. These are some of my favourite Palitoy adverts!
1984 Chewbacca Bandolier Special Offer
1984 ROTJ Painting Competition
1984 Emperor Offer
1984 Rancor Keeper Offer
1984 Dairy Time Yoghurts
In 1984 UK company Dairy Time presented an offer to collect and send away the tops from their yoghurt cartons to redeem against a number of Star Wars items such as stationery and watches.
1984 ROTJ newsagent advert
And finally, here is a 1984 advert instructing us to “tear off” to our nearest newsagent for our copy of Return of the Jedi Winter Special!
For more great Star Wars adverts at TVTA go to S is for: Star Wars