Countdown to 'Star Wars'

Nothing compares to early action figure hunt

These are the first action figures released for “Star Wars.”
These are the first action figures released for “Star Wars.” Rick Bentley/The Fresno Bee

One of the biggest complaints about “Force Friday” was the limited number of action figures that were available for “Star Wars” shoppers. The few action figures that reached stores were grabbed up quickly.

That’s nothing compared to the first set of action figures released in connection with “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.”

When “A New Hope” hit theaters, there was very little merchandising to be purchased. Kenner had gotten the rights to create the toys but the company was was unprepared for the massive response to the film and the high demand for toys.

As Christmas got closer, company executives realized there would be no product to put on shelves. The solution was an “Early Bird Certificate Package” that included a certificate which could be mailed to Kenner and redeemed for action figures. The box also contained a display stand, stickers, and a fan club membership card.

After Kenner got up to speed more than 100 different action figures were produced between 1978 and 1985. An estimated 300 million “Star Wars” action figures were sold.