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Vintage Star Wars die cast toys


The TIE fighter was one of the most faithfully reproduced die cast ships. It featured a die cast body with removable plastic solar wings and a removable pilot - in an odd decision that pilot was none other than Darth Vader. The back of the TIE was modelled on the larger 3 and 3/4" scale toy with the scaled down battery compartment now functioning as a tool to remove Darth.

Otherwise it was so faithfully reproduced that rather than building bespoke models, several Kenner TIEs were used by the special effects team to create a fleet of TIE fighters in Return of the Jedi. What other toy can claim to have replaced the star it was based on!

When the TIE was first released the wings had protruding pegs that slotted into the TIE body.

These wings were often loose and the first issue TIEs were soon packaged with a 'Special Instructions' leaflet, detailing how to secure the 'solar panels' with pliers.

The instructions appear to have been inserted into the packaging after the TIE Fighters had been factory sealed. A small cut was made to the reverse of the packaging, below the image of the Land Speeder, to allow the instructions to be 'posted' into the bubble. If you have an example without this cut do let us know.

The loose wing problem soon led to a redesign. The wings of the second issue TIE slotted onto a plastic peg protruding from the TIE body, but even the redesign had issues with the new plastic peg being prone to snapping.

The first issue TIE can be found on Kenner and Takara SW12 backs, with the second issue TIE on European and later Kenner releases. Very few carded special instructions survive today, and this written attempt to deal with the loose wing issue appears short lived.

Photo courtesy of Steve York

The TIE Fighter and X-Wing appeared on more cardback variations than any other ship; perhaps its popularity led to its renaming as 'Imperial TIE Fighter' from the SW21 cardback onwards, presumably to avoid confusion with the newly released 'Darth Vader TIE Fighter'. Like the X-Wing the TIE Fighter looks striking on the ESB31 cardback.




Palitoy SW12

Clipper SW12

Harbert SW12

Kenner Canada SW12

Kenner Canada SW20

Takara SW12

Toltoys SW12 TIE courtesy of Jacob Arellano @ The Rebel Hideout

Meccano SW12 TIE courtesy of Stéphane Faucort

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