Archive for January, 2007

Toltoys Death Star Playset

Star Wars Month

The Death Star playset

Play-value. Great toy-makers have always known it’s the secret of a successful toy.

In my opinion the best example of play value in the vintage Star Wars line is the Death Star playset created by UK company Palitoy, and adapted around the world by Kenner Canada, Meccano France, Toltoys New Zealand and Toltoys Australia.

A brilliant playset of semi-spherical design, this cardboard toy fits together like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle, creating a multi-room and multi-level environment.

Wonderful graphics and sections such as a gun turret and canopy, a trash compactor (with shute) and bridge saw kids the world over recreate some of the most memorable scenes from the original film.

All the playsets have subtle differences; the original Palitoy version is a true cardboard item, whereas the Aussie version is made of a tougher chip-board like material.

One thing they all have in common though is the ability to deconstruct and stow away in a box about the size of a regular board game. Simple storage means there are probably many sets still out there stored in cupboards and attics worldwide, unlike the Kenner USA Death Star Playset, which is a behemoth to store.

Somehow I think today’s kids would think this playset is beyond quaint, but I bet if they put down their Wii and PS3 controllers for a moment and staged a shoot–out between Han, Chewy and the Stormtroopers they would get lost in this toy in a flash! Or maybe not. 🙂

One interesting aspect of the Toltoys Australia box is the text on the side that talks of the 19 figures that are currently available. I had thought that the “second eight” figures were released as one, with Fett bringing up the total to 21, so I would be interested in people’s thoughts on this.

Finally here are the instructions for this toy, note the nod to the original Palitoy release.




01 2007

Australian Star Wars POTF Coin Offer

Star Wars Month

The Australian POTF Coin Offer

The transition from Return of Jedi carded figures to the Power of The Force (POTF) line in 1985 produced an interesting variation here in Australia. The POTF figures included a collector coin blister packed above the figure, a new idea to help revive sales of the long running Star Wars line. This however left retailers with large numbers of unsold Return of the Jedi carded figures that did not have the coins, not an easy sell to premium savvy kids.

At least one Australian retailer had a simple solution, add a yellow sticker to the existing stock of Jedi cards offering a free coin with the purchase of any figure.

According to an old article on the SWCA the coins and stickers were sent from the US to Australia in Trivial Pursuit question card boxes, and were applied at retail. That piece of info about the boxes is so bizarre and precise that it must be true, I mean, how could you make that up?

The keenly observant among you may have noticed that the card-back in the SWCA article has a Wonderland price sticker on it, which is probably why the theory that this offer was a Wonderland store exclusive exists. The only problem for me was that I’d never heard of Wonderland toys.

I talked about this with fellow Aussie collector (and contributor) Dax, and he revealed that Wonderland of Toys had been a toy store chain in Perth, Western Australia. He also had a feeling they may have been connected in some way to the large Toyworld chain of toy stores in the eastern states, still in existence today.

Toyworld was Australia’s version of Toys’R’Us through the 70’s and 80’s, until the arrival of the local Toys’R’Us around 1990. It makes sense that if anyone had the leverage to ask for and receive a concession to help move old Jedi stock it would be Toyworld.

It was only when the picture below came through for this article that this theory was confirmed, as stuck on the Lumat cardback sat the instantly recognizable colour and logo of a Toyworld price sticker. So it seems the coin offer sticker was available Australia-wide, in Wonderland of Toys stores in the west, and the Toyworld chain in the east. That is a lot of stores, giving collectors hope that a number of cards are still out there waiting to be found.

The stickers seem to mostly turn up on 79 back cards, which makes sense since they were the last of the Jedi release. However they have shown up on other card backs, including 77 and 65 backs, and most strangely of all a POTF Anakin.

This card was sold on Ebay a couple of years ago, if you are the current owner I’d love to update and upgrade the photo, contact me at the email address in the top right of this page. I suppose if the promotion was successful and the store sold all it’s old Jedi cards it makes sense that they would want to use up the rest of the stickers and coins they had, so why not an Anakin? An uber-cool variation. Actually it does appear that the blister area on the Anakin is lifting, so potentially the store just clerk used the sticker to keep the blister in place! One mystery that we will never know.

Special thanks to today’s contributors Dax & Dave Trimboli for their photos and information.




01 2007

Star Wars Toltoys Card Backs

Star Wars Week*

Cardbacks Update

*Might actually be a couple of weeks.

I love talking with people who are more knowledgeable than me, and when it comes to Toltoys Star Wars collecting there are a whole bunch!

One such collector is my mate Dax, who happens to have the finest collection of Star Wars cardbacks I have ever seen, probably the best in the known universe. In his extensive collection Dax has an example of 15 of the 16 known characters released on Toltoys logo cards, with only the Death Squad Commander eluding him.

After speaking with him about his cardbacks, I now feel confident in saying that the Toltoys cards were printed from scratch by Toltoys, and are not overprinted Kenner cards.

The first argument for this is the figure height information on the rear of the 12 backs. Australia has a metric measurement system, and so by law all measurements on printed material in this country should be in millimetres, centimetres, metres, kilometres and so on.

The good part of this is that we get to drive at 100 or 110 on our highways with no worries. The bad part is that when you ask someone what their height is they might say 183.5 centimetres. And no we have no idea how tall that is either, go Google it if you must. Anyway the backs of some 12 backs have the printed figure height info in millimetres instead of inches as in the US or UK. The cardbacks in the photo above have the following characteristics:

  1. Luke Skywalker 12 bk, round logo, made in Taiwan, measurements in inches
  2. Princess Leia Organa 12 bk, round logo, made in Taiwan, measurements in inches
  3. Artoo Detoo 12 bk, round logo, made in Taiwan, measurements in millimetres
  4. Chewbacca 12 bk, round logo, made in Taiwan, measurements in inches
  5. C-3PO 12 bk, bar logo, made in Hong Kong, measurements in millimetres
  6. Darth Vader 12 bk, round logo, made in Taiwan, measurements in inches
  7. Imperial Stormtrooper 12 bk, bar logo, made in Hong Kong, measurements in inches
  8. Ben (Obi Wan) Kenobi 12 bk, bar logo, made in Hong Kong, measurements in inches
  9. Han Solo 12 bk, bar logo, made in Hong Kong, measurements in inches
  10. Jawa 20 bk, bar logo, made in Hong Kong
  11. Tusken Raider 20 bk, bar logo, made in Hong Kong
  12. Greedo 20 bk, bar logo, made in Hong Kong
  13. Hammerhead 20 bk, bar logo, made in Hong Kong
  14. Snaggletooth 20 bk, bar logo, made in Hong Kong
  15. Walrusman 20 bk, bar logo, made in Hong Kong

Dax argues further (and I agree) that the Sandpeople cardback is another smoking gun.

“It is actually titled Tusken Raider on both the back of all the 12 back cards (unlike Kenner 12 back cards) and the front of the actual 20 back figure card (again, a change that did not occur till much later with Kenner).”

“On the back of all the Toltoys 20 back cards it is still referred to as Sand People. Now if Toltoys are obviously printing their own cardbacks and fronts it doesn’t seem to make sense to over-print an already produced cardback.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m declaring case closed on this one and packing it away in a big wooden crate Indiana Jones style. I would add that there are top men working on it right now. Just don’t ask me who.


Special thanks to Dax for tonight’s info and picture.


01 2007

Toltoys Board Games and Puzzles

Star Wars Week

Part Three: Board Games & Puzzles

Due to their relatively short production turnaround time, board games have always been a great movie tie-in option. Print a new board, design some pieces and a play format and stick it all in a standard size box, voila! I believe that Kenner managed to get it’s Escape from the Death Star game out well before the figures were ready, and in Australia we had the Toltoys version just in time for Christmas 1977, also before the figures were released locally.

As a result they sold in huge numbers, and are probably the most common Toltoys branded Star Wars item, turning up on Ebay Australia about once a week.

The second game released by Toltoys is a little harder to find, but still not rare by any means. It is the R2-D2 Adventure game. Both games are virtually identical to the Kenner releases, with only the logos changed and the printing of the paper based parts done here in Melbourne.

Toltoys also produced local versions of the Kenner Star Wars jigsaw puzzles, again only changing the logos. You can find a comprehensive list of puzzles released around the world at the SWCA, you’ll be surprised what you can find there 🙂



01 2007

Toltoys 12″ Figures

Toltoys Week Part Two: 12 Inch Figures

One of the shortest lived lines of the original Kenner Star Wars release was the series of 12 inch figures. Great sculpts and tailored cloth outfits weren’t enough to create the sales that Kenner wanted, and so after barely limping across the line into Empire Strikes Back marketing they were cancelled. You can read about the rise and fall of the 12 inch figures in this great feature article on the Star Wars Collectors Archive.

In Australia only three figures were released in Toltoys livery boxes (Luke, Leia and Boba Fett) before changing over to regular Kenner US boxes for the rest of line. The evidence points to those three being re released down here in Kenner boxes as well, because they are certainly much more plentiful in Australia than the Toltoys variety.

An interesting side note of the 12 inch figure release in Australia is that a number of examples of both Darth Vader and Stormtrooper in Empire Strikes Back boxes have surfaced. There is anecdotal evidence that they were more than salesman samples, actually making it to retail in limited areas, most likely in the state of Queensland. Photos and evidence to back this up will be gladly accepted at this blog, send it if ya’ got it!



01 2007

Toltoys 12 and 20 Back Star Wars

Star Wars Week on!

One of the “must do’s” when I started this blog was to eventually showcase a pic of every Toltoys logo Star Wars carded figure. So far I have been spectacularly unsuccessful with that, chalking up a grand total of none at all.

Well hold on to your potatoes kids, ’cause here comes some old school Toltoys logo vintage goodness! This week I will posting lots of shots of the much loved and highly sought after Toltoys variations in Kenner’s vintage Star Wars line. Figures, playsets, creatures and more from 1978 to 1985 will make an appearance so check back often.

Today with thanks to a special Toltoys Star Wars collector who clearly has:

A. Better contacts than me
B. Deeper pockets
C. A deal with the devil
D. All of the above

I can bring to you the first batch of photos, lovely Toltoys 12 and 20 back carded figures.

The first 16 Star Wars figures were available on Toltoys logo cards. The original 12 were available on both 12 and 20 back cards, the four cantina aliens were available on 20 backs. The Death Squad Commander / Star Destroyer Commander was definitely released, I hope to be able to bring you a first ever pic soon! 🙂

You can usually tell if a card is a 12 back from the type of black background behind the Toltoys logo. Cards with a black panel behind the logo covering the entire lower front section of the card could be either a 12 or 20 Back. Cards with a small oblong black background have so far only been found on 12 back cards. See the Leia’s above and below? That right there is what I’m going on about, definitely a 12 Back above, either a 12 or 20 Back below. Check out the Myer sticker on the Leia below too! A Melbourne (now national) shopping institution, and the source of many great childhood toy memories…. ahhhhh…

….Anyway, back to the script. There is disagreement on the question of whether the Toltoys logos are overprinted on Kenner cards or whether the cards were printed entirely by Toltoys. Hopefully I’ll be able to answer that in a future post!

All these cards were sold at retail in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and probably other countries in the Asia-Pacific in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

More coming over the next week, stay tuned!


Special thanks to Brody Walker for today’s photos and Dax for the cardback variation info.


01 2007