Miro-Meccano was the French toy company responsible for releasing Star Wars toys to the French public during the early half of the 1980s. Miro-Meccano placed many of their adverts in French comic-magazines such as Pif Gadget, Le Journal de Mickey, Tintin and others. Looking at these adverts today, you can appreciate how the design teams took great care in arranging inventive and dynamic scenes for an Empire Strikes Back audience hungry for new Star Wars toys.
Without doubt, nothing could be more inventive or dynamic than the special series of 25 adverts Miro-Meccano published in Pif Gadget between June 1981 and May 1982. Referred to by collectors as the “Pif Gadget ESB Small Scenes” or “Saynettes”, each advert featured an “episode” from a serialised story that utilised Star Wars toy figures and vehicles in the imagined space-setting of “Alfa du Centaure” (based on the real Alpha Centauri system).
In this exciting adventure, the Miro-Meccano photo team made clever use of perspective and background. It was a case of having to; the toys chosen for the shoot ranged from the 3 and 3/4 inch line, the large-size action figure line, and even the die cast line! In some of the episodes, it’s possible to see these toy lines cleverly mixed together to create dramatic scenes.
The team wasn’t afraid to mix up a few timelines either… ever wondered what the Cantina Aliens would get up to on the cardboard Death Star play-set? Or what those same aliens would look like when captured by Hoth Rebel Soldiers? Or the charming Lando Calrissian being observed by a watchful Ben Kenobi? Then look no further than these imaginative, delightful and sometimes hilarious Miro-Meccano saynettes.
“Will Luke be able to escape from the Imperial Stormtrooper?” Pif Gadget 638. 1981.
“Luke is saved by Ben Kenobi, but Ben should watch his back!” Pif Gadget 640. 1981.
“Chewbacca arrives in time to help Ben. A TIE Fighter shows up!” Pif Gadget. 642. 1981.
“Han Solo to rescue Chewbacca aboard his Millenium Falcon, will he have the required energy?” Pif Gadget. 644. 1981.
“Luke in his X-Wing Fighter intervenes to help his friend Han Solo, but meanwhile…” Pif Gadget. 646. 1981.
“Princess Leia is at the mercy of Imperial Stormtroopers. Will she be able to rejoin her friend Luke?” Pif Gadget 648. 1981.
“C-3PO and R2-D2 free the beautiful Princess Leia, but Darth Vader the demon is not far.” Pif Gadget. 650. 1981.
“Darth Vader conspires, what bad move is he preparing?” Pif Gadget. 652. 1981.
“Troop transporters are driving to the TIE Fighter base… but what is Luke doing?” Pif Gadget. 654. 1981.
“It’s Luke, on Alpha Centauri, preparing his counter-attack. But who are those nightmarish creatures?” Pif Gadget. 656. 1981.
“Hammerhead, Walrus-Man, Greedo, are about to reduce Luke’s hopes to zero… but nothing is settled yet…” Pif Gadget 658. 1981.
“R2-D2 was faster. He has alerted the Rebel soldiers by code. But on the horizon…” Pif Gadget. 660. 1981.
“The TIE Fighters take position in the sky of Alpha Centauri… in 20 seconds, it’s the attack.” Pif Gadget. 662. 1981.
“Luke has 15 seconds to get back to his spaceship. Suddenly…” Pif Gadget. 664. 1981.
“Luke still has 4 seconds, if the electronics don’t fail him…” Pif Gadget. 666. 1981.
“R2-D2 did it. Luke locks the TIE Fighters in his line of fire… It’s the attack…” Pif Gadget. 668. 1982.
“The sky of Alpha Centauri is like hell. Luke doesn’t imagine that thousands of light-years away…” Pif Gadget. 670. 1982.
“Princess Leia is under Lando’s charm… but nothing can escape Ben Kenobi’s vigilance.” Pif Gadget. 672. 1982.
“Ben Kenobi reveals the betrayal of Lando who is saved by his accomplices… Boba Fett and IG-88.” Pif Gadget. 674. 1982.
“Ben Kenobi is beaten in combat. There is only Luke who can save them…” Pif Gadget. 676. 1982.
“Victory! Luke has finally got rid of his enemy. But, where is that Bi-Pod ship going?” Pif Gadget. 678. 1982.
“Bi-Pod ship and Luke jump to light-speed to free Leia and Ben Kenobi.” Pif Gadget. 680. 1982.
“Will Leia and Ben Kenobi reveal Centauri’s secrets to Darth Vader? Nothing can save them now…” Pif Gadget. 682. 1982.
“Suddenly Luke, Chewbacca, Han Solo, R2-D2. All reunited for the decisive battle…” Pif Gadget. 684. 1982.
“All’s well that ends well… but nothing is ever over.” Pif Gadget. 686. 1982.
Note: the last four episodes contain adverts for the Motta ice cream sweepstakes which was being publicised at the time. This promotion was printed over the final four scenes in Pif Gadget. It’s possible to find the same scenes published elsewhere without the Motta adverts.
I would like to give thanks to my collecting friend Stéphane Faucourt who first introduced me to the joys of Pif Gadget Star Wars comic ads in his excellent book From Meccano To Trilogo.