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Vintage Star Wars die cast toys


Like today stores in the 1970s used colourful displays to sell their toys. Kenner used a wide range of toy bins, headers and signs for the vintage Star Wars line. The carded die cast vehicles could be found in simple cardboard bins with a header attached to the back. The 'die cast metal and high impact plastic' toys feature prominently on an oversized starburst.

With 'Collectors' edition' displayed prominently, these headers reinforce the idea that the die cast line was intended as a collectable range of toys. This limited appeal was the likely reason for the short-lived availability of the line.

Two headers were released for the Series 1 vehicles with the first issue featuring movie images of the Land speeder, X-Wing Fighter and TIE Fighter. A second issue header was distributed to stores with the release of the Darth Vader TIE. This change resulted in a Darth Vader TIE joining in the attack on the X-Wing, as well as the removal of Kenner's LP (long play) logo. The font colour of 'Collectors' edition' and 'authentic styling with movable parts' changed from yellow to white on this second issue header.

First issue header

Second issue header featuring the Darth Vader TIE Fighter

The first issue bin formed a box with an inserted tray for the carded ships.

The bin was simplified for the second issue as can be seen in this image from the 1979 trade Kenner catalogue, but as yet there is scant evidence for the bin appearing in stores.

Image courtesy of Justin Lea

The first issue die cast bin can be seen top right in this image from a Kenner catalogue sent to retailers. The page details various Star Wars displays that could be used in-store. Image courtesy of Justin Lea.

Kim Simmons publicity photos show an apparently unreleased Empire Strikes Back bin. One photo shows examples of the Series 1 ships on Empire Strikes Back cardbacks including the Land Speeder and Darth Vader TIE. Is this a clue that the Land Speeder was released on the SW21 and ESB31 cardbacks, or more likely is this an image of unreleased samples?

Image reproduced with permission of Kim Simmons

This image hosted by shows the 2nd issue header with the 1st issue bin - the 2nd issue bin appears to be very rare.

The full range of die cast Star Wars toys were not necessarily available in all stores as this limited display demonstrates - but the action figures still get a display bin!

Of course most carded vintage Star Wars was found on pegs with less defined displays. There is a mix of Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back die cast on shelves below this 'Collect all 41 Action Figures' hanger. Star Wars Land Speeders and Darth Vader TIEs can be seen alongside the Empire Strikes Back X-Wings and TIE Fighters - it seems unlikely that the ESB Land Speeder in Kim's image made it to stores.

The general scarcity of Series 1 and 2 ships on Empire packaging is reflected in the store display below, with die cast Star Wars packaging seen alongside Empire Strikes Back action figures.

No Palitoy display bins were produced for the die cast range but Kenner bins may have been used in the UK. This small Palitoy display is typical of that seen in local toy shops across Britain. Here Star Wars die cast and the first 20 action figures share shelf space with the 30 back Empire Strikes Back releases.

Images of the Series 2 die cast ships in Empire Strikes Back packaging are hard to find - is that a shelf of TIE Bombers at the bottom of this image?

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