Star Wars action figures are credited with being one of the most successful examples of movie merchandising ever. These action figures completely changed the market and created an appetite for smaller sized representations. It also created a desire to collect whole sets of action figures based on the series; these figures were not only smaller but they were also a lot cheaper than what had gone previously.
Kenner were not actually able to get the figures into shops until early 1978; but they cleverly used an “early-bird” certificate scheme to allow people to put an order in advance. It came as little surprise that when the action figures finally reached the shops they were snapped up. Kenner only got the merchandising for Star Wars because it had been turned down by Mego in 1976; a decision they learnt to regret as they went into bankruptcy a few years later. The Kenner toy company managed to make a lot of money from Star Wars action figures between 1978 and 1985.In 1978 Kenner were only able to release four figures from the film; R2-D2, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and Luke Skywalker. Seven years later there were 107 different action figures available to collect.
Hasbro acquired Kenner and later released a new line of Star Wars figures in 1995. There was an increase in demand for these figures in 1998 with the re-release of the original Star Wars followed by the first prequel in 1999; two more prequels followed up until 2005. This again ignited the interest in Star Wars toys and new figures were created to match the demand.
The Star Wars movies are the third most successful film series when it comes to money generated. There is a huge cult following surrounding the film, and the action figures are cherished by adults as well as children. The Star Wars universe is continuously being added to with computer games, books, and comics. There is good reason to believe that the action figure will also remain popular for many years to come. The original decision to produce cheaper items that could be collected turned out to be a brilliant strategy that has influenced the whole industry.
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The Storyline of Star Wars starts with those most famous words, “a long time ago, in a galaxy far away”. The movies cover a time period of 36 years but the books in the series cover a far longer time period covering over 25,000 years from the first Jedi war. The Star Wars action figures are focused on the same time period as the movies.
The story that most people are familiar with begins when Amidala becomes the Queen of Naboo. She has barely sat down on her thrown when her planet is invaded by Darth Sidious and the Trade Federation. Two Jedi knights under instruction of the Republic come and free Queen Amidala; these knights are Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn. After freeing the Queen the two Jedi travel to a planet called Tatooine where they meet the young Anakin Skywalker; he is a slave boy but they manage to win his freedom through a bet on a podrace. Queen Amidala returns to her planet and manages to unite previous hostile enemies who now join forces. Meanwhile it turns out that an important member of the Republic is actually working for the Trade Federation – Count Dooku.
Ten years pass and now Count Dooku has managed to convince many planets to leave the Republic and join him; there is a real risk that that civil war will break out. Amidala the former queen of Naboo is now a senator in the Republic and there is an assassination attempt on her life. Anakin Skywalker is now a Jedi and he is sent to protect Padme Amidala. It becomes known that Count Dooku is developing an army of droids that will soon signal the beginning of the clone wars. Worse news follows when it becomes known to the Jedi that the Republic is actually under the control of Darth Sidious. Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala are captured and they admit deep feelings for each other while awaiting their execution; the two are then saved when they are joined by more Jedi. Anakin has a showdown with Count Dooku and loses his arm in the process; the Count escapes. Anakin gets a new artificial arm and marries Padme Amidala.
Three years later and the Jedi are fighting wars throughout the galaxy with the help of a clone army; the Republic is at real risk of collapse. Supreme Chancellor of the Republic Palpatine is almost kidnapped but is rescued by Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi. They bump into Count Dooku and Anakin slays him in cold blood after being encouraged to do so by Palpatine. Anakin is told to keep an eye on Palpatine because many in the council believe he is corrupt. Instead of spying Anakin actually starts to fall under the sway of Palpatine; it is then revealed that Palpatine is actually Darth Sidious. Anakin reports Darth Sidious but when his pregnant wife is kidnapped he goes to the dark side in an attempt to get her back – Anakin soon becomes Darth Vader. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader have a light saber battle after which Darth Vadar is left for dead; he is found by Darth Sidious and taken to safety. Darth Vadar’s now estranged wife gives birth to twins, Luke and Leia who are separated for their own safety.
Nineteen years later and all that is now left of the Republic is the Rebel Alliance and their goal is to destroy a Death Star controlled by Darth Vadar. Luke Skywalker has grown up not knowing his heritage but when he finds two droids he also finds the Death Star construction plans that have been stolen by Princess Leia. Luke is taken under the wing of Obi-Wan Kenobi who teaches him how to be a Jedi. The set of on a mission to release the kidnapped Princess Leia – Luke has no idea that this is his sister and that Darth Vadar is his father. They are joined by Han Solo and Chewbacca and they manage to free the Princess, but Obi-Wan is killed. Darth Vadar immediately sets off to find Luke and his friends. Meanwhile Luke meets Master Yoda who teaches him more about the force.
In the final episode of the Star Wars movies Luke joins the Rebel Alliance and they launch an attack against a Death Star that is in the process of being built. Luke has a showdown with Darth Vadar and discovers the truth about his parentage. Darth Vadar proves himself to be not all bad because he saves his son from Darth Sidious. The Death Star is destroyed by the rebel alliance.
The Good Guys
Star Wars has brought the world some great good guys. A few of them later turned out to be baddies, so it can be a bit confusing. Here are the characters that managed to stay good throughout.
Padme Amidala was originally the queen of Naboo, but she later takes up the position of a senator to the Republic. She is a very important character in the Star Wars story because she is the mother of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. She is also husband to the man who is later to become Darth Vader.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is a Jedi knight who is often sent on important missions to help save the federation. He was a mentor to Anakin Skywalker who he helped train to be a Jedi; this brought disastrous consequences for them both later. He later teaches Luke Skywalker about the force. Obi-Wan Kenobi is eventually killed by Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader.
Luke Skywalker is the son of Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala. He grows up not knowing about his parents. He meets Obi-Wan Kenobi and after a period of tutoring they set out to defeat Darth Vader and his plans to build a Death Star.
Princess Leia is Luke’s sister although when they meet neither is aware of this relationship. Princess Leia helps steal the plans of the Death Star which are later used to destroy it.
Hans Solo is a bit of a rascal. He has his own spaceship and is willing to take on missions if the price is right. Despite his bad boy image he actually has a good heart.
Yoda is a master Jedi who is responsible for training apprentice Jedi.
R2D2 and C-3PO are robots that often play a crucial role in the action. These two machines can be clumsy, but they often end up being useful without really meaning to.
The Bad Guys
Star Wars has brought the world some unforgettable bad guys; the series has always been about the fight between good and evil. Like the real world the distinction between good and bad wasn’t always so clear; good guys went bad and bad guys could end up doing good.
The most famous baddie in Star wars is of course Darth Vader. He was originally called Anakin Skywalker and was discovered by Jedi Knights who trained him to use the force. For many years Anakin fought on the side of good, but he eventually allowed his anger to draw him to the dark side. Anakin was always impetuous and headstrong and Darth Sedious was able to use this to manipulate him. It turns out that Darth Vadar is not all bad though, because his last action before dying is to save his son.
Darth Sidious is the most evil individual in Star Wars. He was once known as Palpatine and was able to use political maneuvering to become emperor of the galaxy. He is also responsible for creating the clone wars that led to most of the events in the movies. Darth Sidious is an extremely clever psychopath who will stop at nothing to get power. He has been voted the third most evil character ever to come out of fiction.
Count Dooku is another Jedi Knight who was won over to the dark side after he became disillusioned with being a good guy. He became a loyal servant of Darth Sedious.