On Black Friday – a day of commercial discounting and special offers that originated with Amazon, it’s perhaps worth remembering that once, a long time ago in decades far, far away there were times when toys were expensive and often only bought for special occasions, like birthdays and Christmas.
Cast your mind back then, to 1978, when Star Wars was the latest thing to hit the cinemas. Woman’s Day, a US-published magazine ran regular articles to help family budgets run further, with DIY projects to make playthings from scratch.
Star Wars 3 3/4″ figures were affordable at little more than £1 each and there are some excellent play situations using these diminutive characters within the 1982 edition Woman’s Day Book of Best-loved Toys and Dolls, which reprinted the original 1978 article from the magazine.
The sets were especially created for the publication and were far better than anything available officially licensed back then, and designs for them all were included. A copy of the book goes under the hammer at a very reasonable starting price next week, through UK auction house VECTIS (along with many other Star Wars items, full list of lots starts here). Neither the original magazine article or follow-up book were endorsed by Lucasfilm, but the photos that appeared were crammed with the original Kenner Star Wars figures, presumably so that readers would gain a feeling for how the toy could be used within play scenarios.
The photographs include eleven of the twelve original debut figures; the only one missing is the Sandperson or Tusken Raider. The rare vinyl cape Jawa features extensively, with nine of the little chaps together in one scene upon a conveyor-belt bridge made from wood, screws and glue.
“As most collectors know, the vinyl- or plastic-cape Jawa was available only briefly at retail before being replaced by the much more common cloth-cape type,” notes collector Ron Salvatore in an article about the book. “Since genuine examples of the earlier figure can sell for up to $300 on today’s collectibles market, it can rightly be said that upwards of $2500 worth of Jawa figures were photographed by Woman’s Day for this feature!”
Also featured within the book are Kenner X-Wing and TIE Fighters, as well as Mego’s Micronauts and super hero figures. The photos that Woman’s Day used within this book presented their home constructed playsets as a fun, colourful environment, which could be used as a play area for a wide variety of action figure toys. You can bid on it here
Also under the in the auction are some rare Star Wars printer proofs. Some collectors don’t just search for forgotten toys, they’re also interested in such things, along with memorabilia associated with the production of packaging. The process shows changes made along the way, from mock-ups to cromalin proofs, printers proofs (sometimes with notation and instructions of changes to be made). VECTIS even have a set of French Meccano square card back transparancies for the four printing process.
This is exceedingly rare as many of the items “back in the day” ended up in the trash bins. These are mostly “one-off” and unique historical pieces relating to the production of the packaging. Some of these have the title Revenge of the Jedi before creator George Lucas changed the title of the film at the last moment to Return of the Jedi.
There’s also some Boba Fett-related Ken Simmons themanwhoshotlukeskywalker samples of design artwork, and orginals for the iconic twelve back card artwork, and three mini-rigs he actually used to photograph the shots for the Return of the Jedi box photography.
• The full VECTIS sale next Tuesday 29th November 2016 is here and includes Star Wars figures, early proofs, Star Wars Meccano, Palitoy trade catalogues and more
• Read Ron Salvatore’s article on the Woman’s Day Book of Best-Loved Toys & Dolls on the Star Wars – Power of Collecting web site
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.