Finding die cast ships in vintage magazines and catalogues is a difficult task. The line's lack of popularity is reflected on the pages of vintage catalogues with toy retailers generally preferring to feature the 3 and 3/4" line of toys. Argos was one of the UK's largest catalogue retailers, and in the seven years it sold vintage Star Wars toys the die cast ships were always absent from its pages.
The series 1 ships do feature on the pages of vintage comics, but appear as hand drawn ships due to the high cost of printing photographs in the 1970s. The 1979 advert below featured the iconic first 12 Star Wars figures as well as 11 new characters including Boba Fett and Greedo.
The 'Draw a Droid' competition shown below first featured in issue 60 of Star Wars Weekly released on April 18 1979 in the UK. The competition's fantastic first prize was a trip to Elstree Studios for six children to see the filming of the Empire Strikes Back! The winners also received the first 20 Palitoy action figures and the iconic cardboard Death Star play set.
For fans of die cast third prize was just the thing - '24 sets of three die cast vehicles (X-wing fighter, tie-fighter, land speeder)'. In the bottom right of the feature the TIE fighter and X-Wing can just be seen behind two of the newly released Palitoy figures - 'Green' Greedo and Hammerhead. UK comics were printed in cheaper black and white due to a much smaller readership than their US counterparts.
The 1978 holiday season wish book was the Sears debut for the die cast ships, and which featured only two of the first series ships. The Land Speeder was not pictured or advertised in the catalogue, and lends to speculation that the design of the Land Speeder may not have been as advanced in 1978 as the other series 1 ships. It is also possible that the Sears sales team didn’t expect the Land Speeder to sell well and left it out of the catalogue.
Images and text courtesy of Justin Lea
The Series 1 and 2 ships can also be seen in the 1979 Sears catalogue page below but strangely now the TIE is absent. The Series 2 die cast ships were available slightly earlier in the States than in the UK, as was the now iconic bounty hunter Boba Fett. Boba Fett was only sold in the UK once the Empire Strikes back was released in 1980.
The Sears 1979 catalogue editorial team were clearly a little confused - the die cast 'cockpit seats' would be a little on the snug side for 'most Star Wars action figures.' The Darth Vader TIE is also incorrectly listed as the TIE, but at only $3.33 there could have been few complaints.
The 1981 Sears Christmas Book and 1982 Sears Specialog for toys showcased the same image of the series 3 ships and the financial inflation that had taken hold on toy prices. Sears series 1 ships cost $3.55 in 1978 and $3.33 in 1979. Only two years later the toys had more than doubled to $6.99!
The 1982 Specialog is the last Sears appearance of the die cast ships. The last date to order from this catalogue was August 31 1982.
Sears Specialog text and images courtesy of Justin Lea
The die cast range also featured in Canadian catalogues, with the Series 1 ships featuring in the 1979 Simpson Sears Christmas Catalogue below.
The 1980 Sears Christmas catalogue features the Series 2 ships at $6.99 each. More than a dollar more than in the previous year's catalogue!
The Series 3 ships can also be seen in this 1980 Sears wishbook, which also features the iconic cardboard Death Star retailing at $26.99.
In Canada the Series 2 ships were only released in Star Wars packaging as seen in this K Mart advert from December 1982 courtesy of geektarded.blogspot.co.uk
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