STAR WARS toys and merchandising adverts from around the world: 1977 to 1985

Motta sweepstakes

My favourite toy line is Star Wars, particularly the vintage era from the late 70s to the early 80s. Back then there was a real buzz for the toys and almost anything else Star Wars-related. This was evident in shops everywhere with their abundantly-packed shelves and wonderful displays. Added to this were exciting TV commercials and a huge range of paper advertisements found in comics, magazines and catalogues. I was lucky enough to have a small collection of toys that included a Landspeeder and most of the first twelve figures. I always thought the Sand Person was the most scary-looking figure – no doubt aided by my childhood memories of that howling Tusken Raider attacking Luke in the first Star Wars film.

My collection grew steadily throughout The Empire Strikes Back series and ended at the beginning of the Return Of The Jed line when by this time I’d outgrown ‘toys’ and had more pressing things on my radar like buying records and going to watch bands – a familiar story to many who grew up with the first wave of Star Wars toys and who became teenagers around 1983.

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It wasn’t just the toys was it… a whole range of Star Wars-related products were available to tempt us, as illustrated in this US advert.

Looking back, it wasn’t just the toys that made such a big impression on me but all the other merchandise that accompanied them: Star Wars bed-clothes, bubble bath, toothbrushes, tee-shirts, posters, comics, badges, annuals and countless food and drink promotions – enough to keep any kid happy and their parents’ pockets empty.

Adverts

Some of my favourite adverts can be found in publications like Pif Gadget and Journal de Mickey. Meccano / Miro-Meccano produced some of the most innovative, stylish and irreverant ads, although I’ll always have a special love for Palitoy as this is the license I grew up with. I’m also a fan of the Heroes World adverts that can be found in many US comics.

The following examples are just a small selection from my large collection of international Star Wars ads. Featuring toys, clothing, masks, watches, video games, and a number of food and drink promotions, these ads show us exactly how the Star Wars brand was sold around the world.

UK. Star Wars Weekly. 1978. Offer to win the first twelve action figures from Palitoy. R2-D2 must have been feeling a little camera-shy... he has his back to the camera.

UK. Star Wars Weekly. 1978. Offer to win the first twelve action figures from Palitoy. R2-D2 must have been feeling a little camera-shy that day… he has his back to the camera.

US. Weird War Tales. 1979.

US. Weird War Tales. 1979. North American promotion for Texas Instruments watches. Texas Instruments was the first company licensed to sell Star Wars-themed watches. Another licensed company, Bradley Time, went on to sell Star Wars watches throughout all of the original trilogy.

France. Pif Gadget N° 737. 1983.

France. Pif Gadget N° 737. 1983. Double page sweepstake to win prizes and a ROTJ cinema preview.

France. Pif Gadget N° 737. 1983.

France. Pif Gadget N° 737. 1983. Double page sweepstake to win prizes and a ROTJ cinema preview.

France. Pif Gadget N° 758. 1983.

France. Pif Gadget N° 758. 1983. Pif Gadget promotion for Panini album and stickers.

France. PIf Gadget. 1983. Another French ad for Panini album and stickers Pif Gadget promotion.

France. PIf Gadget. 1983. Another French ad for Panini album and stickers Pif Gadget promotion.

Denmark. Anders. 1985. Loose figures and MOC packaging on this toy page ad from BR.

Denmark. Anders. 1985. Loose figures and MOC packaging on this toy page ad from Faetter BR.

Germany. KDS. 1985. Advert for German Star Wars comics.

Germany. KDS. 1985. Advert for German Star Wars comics.

France. Pif Gagdet N° 792. 1984.

France. Pif Gagdet N° 792. 1984. The ‘Floating Yoda Head’ icon was used for several ad campaigns by Meccano. To my knowledge the icon has also appeared on similar or the same advertising as Clipper, Parker, Palitoy and Harbert.

France. Pif Gagdet N° 794. 1984.

France. Pif Gagdet N° 794. 1984.

France. Pif Gagdet N° 795. 1984.

France. Pif Gagdet N° 795. 1984.

France. Pif Gagdet N° 769. 1983.

France. Pif Gagdet N° 769. 1983.

Germany. Fix Und Foxi N° 37. 1984.

Germany. Fix Und Foxi. 1984. Parker ‘Yoda Floating Head’ advert. No slave Leia figure in 1984, so poor Han was chained up by Jabba instead!

Italy. 1984. This floating Yoda head example is from Harbert. UK's Palitoy is also credited on this advert - most likely because Palitoy photography is used from the original offer.

Italy. 1984. This ‘floating Yoda head’ example is from Italy’s Harbert. UK’s Palitoy is also credited on this advert – most likely because Palitoy photography is used from the original offer.

France. Pif Gagdet N° 818. 1984.

France. Pif Gagdet N° 818. 1984. Catalogue and poster promotion.

France. Pif Gadget 708. 1982.

France. Pif Gadget 708. 1982. Quarter page Stormtrooper ad as featured in the Meccano ‘Blue Ads’ series.

France. Pif Gadget 703. 1982.

France. Pif Gadget 703. 1982. Quarter page R2-D2 toy ad as featured in the Meccano ‘Blue Ads’ series.

USA. The Defenders 119. 1983.

USA. The Defenders 119. 1983. Parker Brothers ad for Atari’s Jedi Arena.

USA. Power Man and Iron Fist 86. 1982.

USA. Power Man and Iron Fist 86. 1982. Parker Brothers ad for Atari’s The Empire Strike Back.

USA. Marvel Power Pack 02. 1984.

USA. Marvel Power Pack 02. 1984. Parker Brothers ad for Atari’s Star Wars: The Arcade Game.

France. Pif Gadget. 1978.

France. Pif Gadget. 1978. Pif Gadget’s first Star Wars toy advert.

France. Pif Gadget. 1980.

France. Pif Gadget. 1980. More Star Wars toys from Meccano.

France. Pif Gadget 558. 1979.

France. Pif Gadget 558. 1979. Meccano Radio-Controlled R2-D2.

France. Pif Gadget 613. 1980.

France. Pif Gadget 613. 1980. Miro-Meccano gets trippy with this 1980 ad: floating heads and a radioactive Falcon!

Italy. 1982.

Italy. 1982. The Festacolor projector as advertised by Italian licensee Harbert.

USA. Marvel Star Wars. 1980.

USA. Marvel Star Wars. 1980. Heroes World mail order ad for Star Wars toys.

USA. Marvel Star Wars. 1978.

USA. Marvel Star Wars. 1978. Heroes World mail order ad for Star Wars toys. The ad shows the earliest figures available for the ‘first 12’ as well as the first three vehicles released.

TVTA Hi C fruit drinks advert ROTJ 1983 Sunday Comics Promotions

USA. Sunday Comics Promotions. 1983. Hi-C fruit drink promotion.

UK. Star Wars Weekly 89. 1979.

UK. Star Wars Weekly 89. 1979. Cantina, Droid Factory and Land of the Jawa play-sets as advertised by Palitoy.

Germany. Star Wars N° 2. 1985. Sound effects courtesy of Parker!

Germany. Star Wars N° 2. 1985. Sound effects courtesy of Parker! Look closely and you’ll see that’s not Luke X-Wing in the cockpit!

Germany. Star Wars N° 1. 1985. Is the 'Ssssccch' sound being made by the Speeder Bike or cleverly hidden Ewoks about to spring a surprise?

Germany. Star Wars N° 1. 1985. Is the ‘Ssssccch’ sound being made by the Speeder Bike or cleverly hidden Ewoks about to spring a surprise?

Germany. Star Wars N° 2. 1985. No slave Leia figure in 1985, so Luke was chained up by Jabba instead!

Germany. Star Wars N° 2. 1985. No slave Leia figure in 1985, so Luke was chained up by Jabba instead!

France. Le Journal De Mickey 83003. 1983.

France. Le Journal De Mickey 83003. 1983. Amora mustard sweepstakes promotion.

France. Pif Gadget 595. 1980.

France. Pif Gadget 595. 1980. Prize contest.

CBS network premiere TV ad.

CBS network premiere TV ad.

UK Palitoy Emperor figure offer advert, 1984.

UK Palitoy Emperor figure offer advert, 1984.

USA. Starlog N° 76. 1983. Masks by Don Post.

USA. Starlog N° 76. 1983. Masks by Don Post.

Spain. 1980. Star Wars El Imperio Contraataca 12 inch Boba Fett and IG-88 figures.

Spain. 1980. Star Wars El Imperio Contraataca 12 inch Boba Fett and IG-88 figures.

US. Starlog. 1983. ROTJ Merchandise.

US. Starlog. 1983. ROTJ Merchandise.

UK. TESB Weekly. 1980. ESB Soundtracks.

UK. TESB Weekly. 1980. ESB Soundtracks.

Please check out my other Star Wars adverts and let me know your favoutes.

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