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Return Of The ‘Star Wars’ Plastic Toys

There’s a ton of questions leading up to the release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” From the actual movie itself (where’s Luke?) to wondering how far in advance should you head to the theater (45 minutes?). But here’s another one: how many plastic Star Wars toys will be sold?

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There’s a ton of questions leading up to the release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” From the actual movie itself (where’s Luke?) to wondering how far in advance should you head to the theater (45 minutes?). But here’s another one: how many plastic "Star Wars" toys will be sold? Overall merchandise sales are estimated to be in the billions, with a potential to reach $5 billion, according to Macquarie Research. Much of that will feature plastic merchandise.

 

Toys and "Star Wars" have been tied together since the release of the first film in 1977. In fact, George Lucas once told an interviewer, “If I wasn’t a filmmaker, I’d probably be a toymaker.”

 

According to an article in Cincinnati.com, after George Lucas made “Star Wars” in 1977, he approached several toy companies to license the toys, but they all turned him down until Cincinnati-based Kenner Products signed the contract. The article writes:

 

Kenner designer Jim Swearingen, a University of Cincinnati graduate, recalled reading the “Star Wars” script and telling his bosses they had to do these toys.

The designers knew they wanted to make toys of the spaceships, but the usual 8- or 12-inch dolls would make that impossible, so they instead created 3 ¾-inch plastic action figures that would become the new industry standard.

 

The Kenner action figures, vehicles and playsets brought in a reported $200 million in sales. The success helped Kenner recieve other licenses, including Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, Ghostbusters and Batman, the article states. Eventually Kenner was bought by Tonka and then by Hasbro in 1991. In 2000, Hasbro closed Kenner and the Cincinnati office. Hasbro is still the one to make “Star Wars" toys. And (not surprising), it looks like the work left the U.S. and was shipped over to China.

 

Anyway, if you want to dive into nostalgia when this work was done in the U.S., check out the documentary, "Plastic Galaxy" that explores the world of "Star Wars" toys. Through interviews with former Kenner employees, experts, authors and collectors, it looks at the toys’ history and their influence.

 

Here’s a trailer for the documentary:

 

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