Star Wars may very likely be the most popular media franchise ever made, and its merchandise history is a long and intricate one. Today we’ll take a short look at the salable materials of everyone’s favorite science-fantasy series.
In the years during and following the original trilogy’s release, Kenner, a division of Hasbro, released some of the first Star Wars merchandise: action figures. Over 100 unique action figures were released, and between the years of 1978 and 1985 over 300 million were sold. These toys were usually smaller than four inches, and typically had five moveable points on their bodies. One story you may be familiar with is someone choking on the rocket from the Boba Fett toy, but this was actually caused by a Battlestar Galactica item.
It was also at about this time that the Expanded Universe began to form, beginning with the novel “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye,” a sequel to “Star Wars” (which would later become Episode IV) in which Luke and Leia land on the swamp planet of Mimban and hunt for a crystal. The Expanded Universe (EU) would continue to expand with comic books, television shows, TV specials, and an ever-growing mountain of books.
Beginning in 1983, over 120 video games have been published bearing the Star Wars name; the first was “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” for the Atari 2600, developed by Parker Brothers. After the video game crash of 1983, development halted until 1991. Since then, flight simulators, platformers, mmorpgs, real-time strategy games, first/third-person shooters, and many more have since come and gone, and some gained critical and commercial acclaim.
From its very first release, Star Wars has also been a Halloween mainstay. Darth Vader is consistently the most popular, though recent years have seen surges in many other characters. While the classic styles may be falling out of favor, newer characters like those from the prequels and the Clone Wars animated series continue to show up at our doors.
Star Wars merchandise has stretched from one end of the spectrum to the other. From the cool and creative to the . . . downright terrifying, it seems possible to make your entire house a repository of Star Wars items. What’s your favorite piece of Star Wars merchandise?