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 1978 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, Eagle, Look-In, Star Wars Weekly, The Mighty World of Marvel, Return of the Jedi, Empire Strikes Back, Starburst and various other UK titles. The adverts can be found on glossy print endpapers and back pages, as well as on 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. I have also included some of the many competition and prize offer pages that feature Palitoy items.
1978. KP Outer Spacers
Many Star Wars adverts feature promotions for food and drink items. This 1978 advert for a Fighter Kite offer from special packs of KP Outer Spacers crisps is one of the earliest food promos known in the UK.
1978. Star Wars Weekly advert
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.
1978. Palitoy – The Toys Of The Film
1978. Star Wars Weekly comic Palitoy First 12 offer!
UK comic Star Wars Weekly offered the chance to win 25 complete sets of Palitoy’s figures – 12 in a set! R2-D2, in the photo, was perhaps a little shy back in 1978 with his back turned to the camera!
1978. Star Wars Weekly Letraset offer
Another 1978 Star Wars Weekly offer, this time a chance to win one of 50 Star Wars letrasets.
1978. Star Wars Helix School Products
The school products range from UK company Helix often commands high prices for collectors. Helix produced good-quality and durable stationery items – including some innovative designs like the Death Star pencil sharpener.
This half-page black and white ad shows some of the products available at the time.
This 1978 competition page below offers the chance to win Helix prizes. Funny to think that the Death Star Pencil Sharpener was offered as a consolation prize, when today it ranks as one of the most sought-after statonery products available to collectors!
1978. Star Wars Force Beam
This colourful 1978 advert from Loydale Limited shows the Force Beam toy light saber that was available to buy in red and green colours.
1978. UK Official Star Wars Fan Club advert
This ad is for the UK branch of the Official Star Wars Fan Club. Aside from the 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.
1978. Star Wars Projectors
1978. Shreddies Cereals Star Wars Transfers
1978. C-3PO gives a FREE plug for the new Close Encounters film!
This unusual 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 John Williams, and that many LP and cassette recordings of the time featured music from both films that were made available on the same release.
Here is 3PO again, this time telling us to place our order for Star Wars Weekly at newsagents before going on holiday! What a helpful droid he was in 1978.
1978. Star Wars Special Mail Order
As you can see, Threepio did a lot of advertising…
1978. Texas Instruments.
Here he is again… this partially-completed Star Wars Weekly prize competition page invites you to take the opportunity to win one of 15 Texas Instruments Star Wars digital watches.
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!
1978. Star Wars Bath Bubbles
1978. Star Wars Key-Rings
1978. Marvel Special Editions
1978. Official Collectors Edition
1978. Official Collectors Edition
1978. Star Wars Weekly N° 2
1978. Star Wars Weekly
1978. Star Wars Special / Star Wars Weekly
1978. Star Wars Weekly New Planets
1978. Denys Fisher Model Kit Competition
PALITOY LINE DRAWING ADVERTS
Palitoy were very creative in their use of line drawings to advertise toys. A number of these adverts exist across various publications, some being quite quirky in nature and often ‘narrated’ by C-3PO with help from R2-D2. The adverts cleverly introduced us to the new characters and toys by placing them directly into the stories and scenes of the adverts. Many of the adverts were created by renowned comic artist Brian Bolland, notable for titles such as Judge Dredd, Batman: The Killing Joke, Green Lantern, and many others.
1979. Palitoy: “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.
1979. Palitoy: “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 R2-D2 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 check this out too… here we see R2-D2 totally not being afraid to call 3PO a “namby-pamby” despite his golden friend brandishing a blaster in a previous panel!!
1980. Palitoy: “Can the Empire ever be destroyed?”
Another line drawing advert from Palitoy, this time in the form of a short comic strip that cleverly highlighted new characters and vehicles available to buy from the toyline.
1980. TESB Soundtracks. May the sound be with you.
1980. ESB. Competition Page. 100 Records Must Be Won
1980. ESB Cinema Ad
1980. ESB. The Star Wars Saga Continues
1980. 2000 AD and Tornado competition for Electronic Battle Command Games
1980. Dairylea Cheese TESB Action Transfers Offer
This advert for the Kraft Dairylea Action Transfers promotion also appeared in certain comics as a black and white version.
1980. Forbidden Planet – Dave Prowse and Anthony Daniels pay a visit!
1980. The Empire Strikes Back Weekly, The New-Look
1980. Starburst Magazine advert featuring ESB
1981. Bradley Quartz watches for boys and girls!
This is a UK Zeon company mail order advert for Bradley Quartz watches. Bradley Quartz was one of only a handful of companies to produce Star Wars watches and clocks.
1982. Palitoy Action Displays
Four different Action Displays to collect when you sent off to Palitoy four character names cut from their cardbacks.
1982. Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back merchandise at Forbidden Planet 2
1983. ROTJ London Now Showing Cinema advert
1983. ROTJ Soundtrack
1983. 2000 AD Competition for ROTJ goodies
1983. ROTJ Vehicles
1983. ROTJ Full Colour Posters
Classic ROTJ-era images available as full colour posters to order from UK Cauldron Promotions. Advert copyrighted 1983 and published in 1984.
1983. ROTJ Airfix model kits
1983. ROTJ European-wide toy prizes competition
The two following adverts are the UK version of the 1983 european-wide competition to win Star Wars toys.
1983. Return of the Jedi Free Stickers, Eagle Comics
1983. Return of the Jedi Free Album and Stickers, Eagle Comics
1983. Return of the Jedi Free Album and Stickers, 2000 AD Comics
Palitoy Return of the Jedi colour art 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.
1983. Palitoy Chewbacca Bandolier Special Offer
This ad for the Chewbacca Bandolier is copyrighted 1983 and was published in 1984.
1984. ROTJ Painting Competition
1984. Emperor Offer
1984. Rancor Keeper Offer
1984. Got the munchies? 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. Waddington jigsaw competition
Design a spaceship and win a Waddington jigsaw – complete with poster!
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!
Originally published by TVTA 2013. Scans made by TVTA from own collection. Updated July 2016 / April 2017 with new scans. Updated Aug 2017. Updated Nov 2017. Updated Mar 2018.