A History of Star Wars Toys

 In a galaxy far, far away, a cinematic phenomenon was born in 1977, capturing the hearts and imaginations of millions around the world. Star Wars not only revolutionized the film industry but also laid the foundation for one of the most extensive and enduring franchises in the history of pop culture. Beyond the silver screen, Star Wars ventured into the realm of merchandise, with toys becoming an integral part of the saga's legacy. This article delves into the fascinating history of Star Wars toys, exploring iconic lines such as the Black Series, the rise of collector's toys, and the enduring appeal of action figures.


The Early Years


When Star Wars burst onto the scene, no one could have predicted the impact it would have on popular culture. George Lucas, the mastermind behind the saga, recognized the potential of merchandising early on. In 1977, the first wave of Star Wars action figures was released by Kenner, becoming an immediate sensation. These figures, standing at 3.75 inches tall, featured characters like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Darth Vader.


The success of the initial line paved the way for expanded toy offerings, including playsets, vehicles, and additional figures. Kenner's strategic move to sell an "Early Bird Certificate Package" during the holiday season of 1977, promising action figures when they were ready, exemplified the unprecedented demand for Star Wars toys.


A Pop Culture Craze


The late 1970s and early 1980s marked the golden age of Star Wars toys. Kenner continued to produce an extensive array of figures and accessories, capturing the essence of the evolving Star Wars universe. The line included beloved characters from the original trilogy, contributing to the franchise's cultural ubiquity.


As the Star Wars narrative expanded with The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), so did the toy line. Iconic vehicles like the Millennium Falcon and the AT-AT Walker became must-have items for young fans. Kenner's commitment to innovation extended to the creation of action figures with unique features, such as the popular "Power of the Force" line that boasted enhanced articulation and accessories.


The Renaissance


The late 1990s witnessed the reinvigoration of Star Wars with the release of the Special Editions and the highly anticipated prequel trilogy. Hasbro had taken over the toy license, introducing a new line of action figures and playsets. The Phantom Menace (1999) brought a fresh wave of characters and vehicles, creating a renewed interest in Star Wars toys.


The Collector's Era


As the franchise continued to evolve, so did the nature of Star Wars toy collecting. The term "collector's toys" gained prominence, emphasizing the increasing sophistication and detail of the figures. Hasbro's 6-inch Black Series, introduced in 2013, epitomized this shift.


Black Series


The Black Series redefined Star Wars collecting by offering highly detailed, articulated figures aimed at adult collectors. These 6-inch scale figures featured characters from across the Star Wars saga, capturing the essence of the films with remarkable accuracy. The Black Series also included iconic helmets, lightsabers, and other accessories.


The introduction of the Black Series addressed the growing demand for premium, display-worthy collectibles. Limited edition releases, convention exclusives, and the inclusion of characters from various media, including the animated series and novels, solidified the Black Series as the pinnacle of Star Wars toy collecting.


Modern Day


In the 21st century, Star Wars toys have become a diverse and expansive market. High-end collectibles, such as Sideshow Collectibles' detailed statues and Hot Toys' lifelike figures, cater to serious collectors willing to invest in museum-quality pieces. LEGO has also played a significant role in the Star Wars toy landscape, offering intricate sets that appeal to both children and adults.


The Mandalorian, a flagship series on the Disney+ streaming platform, introduced a new wave of characters, and their corresponding action figures, reigniting the excitement among fans and collectors. The success of The Mandalorian also led to the creation of the Vintage Collection, a line that pays homage to the original Kenner figures, with modern enhancements.



The history of Star Wars toys is a testament to the enduring appeal of a galaxy far, far away. From the early days of Kenner's 3.75-inch figures to the modern sophistication of the Black Series, Star Wars toys have evolved alongside the expanding universe created by George Lucas. Today, the collector's market thrives, with fans of all ages cherishing these tangible pieces of the Star Wars legacy. As the saga continues to unfold on both the big and small screens, one thing remains certain – the Force will always be strong with Star Wars toys.