TIMELINE: 1978, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1985. TOYS: DC Superhero cars, Golden Girl action figures, Karl May action figures, MOTU merchandise, Die Cast cars, Playmobil figures. MANUFACTURERS: Corgi, Mattel, Siso-Trend, Bburago, Inventive Concepts. COUNTRIES: US, Germany, Netherlands.
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.
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.
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.
Panini (origianlly ‘Figurine Panini’) is famous for producing collectable stickers and trading cards, most notably football stickers from tournaments and leagues around the world. Panini also produce books, comics and magazines. The company was founded in 1961 in Modena, Italy, by brothers Benito and Giuseppe Panini. In 1963 two other Panini brothers, Franco and Umberto, joined the company. As well as football and sports themes, Panini have produced albums, stickers, cards and books for Star Wars, Smurfs, The Black Hole, Disney, Pink Panther, Thunder Cats, Barbie, Masters of the Universe, and many, many others. The company continues to produce to date.
Official website: Panini
Non-football Panini advertising
Thanks for looking 🙂
Stretch Armstrong was a toy figure made of plastic, rubber and gel and was designed to expand from its ‘prone’ pose of around fifteen inches up to a full-stretch of around four or five feet. This popular toy and its derivatives was first released by Kenner in 1976 and licensed around the world by many companies such as Tsukuda (Japan), Lili Ledy (Mexico), Harbert (Italy) and Meccano (France) to name a few. The advert below shows the French Meccano version from 1978 (Elastic Man) and also features Stretch Monster (Elastic Monstre) – one of the many Stretch Armstrong alternative figures.
The next advert is from 1979 and features Elastic Hulk and Spider-Man – two of the ‘Mego Elastic 8’ which also comprised Batman, Superman, Plasticman, Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Casper.
For further reading check out this awesome site: Stretch Armstrong World
Pocketeers mechanical games were produced by the Palitoy company in the UK from 1975. Based on the original Japanese Tomy Pocket Games, each Pocketeer was a themed puzzle or challenge contained within a sturdy plastic shell. Looking back, these pocket-size fun games were rather like mechanical precursors to electronic handheld games like the Gameboy. At our school, Pocketeers were popular because of the “3 Ts” – portability, collectability and swappability.
In France the games were known collectively as Mini-jeux and were distributed by the famous Meccano company.
This 1982 German ad shows the Tomy license. The ad below also shows Tomy’s ‘Funny Bowling’ game.
M.A.S.K. is a Japanese animated TV series featuring transforming vehicles, super-powered helmets and masks. M.A.S.K. stands for “Mobile Armored Strike Command” a special task force pitted against the criminal organisation V.E.N.O.M.
The original series focused on the characters and vehicles from the popular Kenner toyline. M.A.S.K. also had many derivative products such as video games and comics.
Dinky are miniature die-cast vehicles produced by Frank Hornby’s famous Meccano company. Dinky made several TV and movie-related vehicles including many for Gerry Anderson TV productions such as Thunderbirds, Joe 90, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, and Space 1999. More info here: Dinky Wikipedia
Dinky Kits… all you need is a screwdriver!
I’m pretty stoked to finally submit a Dinky toy ad to the pages of TVTA! And what a great example, too… this 1974 UK ad from the pages of The Mighty World Of Marvel features three of Dinky’s new models for their Dinky Kits range. The artwork is appealing, particularly the rendition of the Ford Capri Rally Special.
The origins of Monopoly can be traced back to 1903 when American Elizabeth J. Magie Phillips designed a game called The Landlord’s Game. By 1935 her game was developed by Parker Brothers and became known by its present day name of Monopoly.