Star Wednesday: Cardbacks

I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but there’s a new Star Wars movie coming out two days from now. For this week’s Star Wednesday article, I decided to write about something that really takes me back to my childhood: these vintage cardbacks.

Cardbacks were, of course, the pieces of cardboard that Star Wars action figures came attached to. All of these cardbacks are ones I acquired as a kid. Santa always opened the presents he left in our stockings or under the tree, so chances are most of these were birthday gifts from friends or ones I begged my parents to buy me at the store. I have nine cardbacks in all: three from The Empire Strikes Back (AT-AT Commander, AT-AT Driver, and Twin-Pod Cloud Car Pilot), five from Return of the Jedi (Biker Scout, Chief Chirpa, Emperor’s Royal Guard, Logray, Princess Leia Organa as Boushh), and one Power of the Force card (AT-ST Driver).

Most of the cards still have their price tags intact. The cheapest price tags are for Boushh, Chief Chirpa, and Logray. Each of those Return of the Jedi figures cost me (or someone) $2.59 each at Target. The most expensive figures, the Biker Scout and Emperor’s Royal Guard (also both from Return of the Jedi) cost $3.49 each at Hyde Drug. AT-AT Commander, AT-AT Driver, and the Twin-Pod Cloud Car Pilot all came from TG&Y. The first two were $2.77 and the pilot was $3.29. My lone Power of the Force card has the price tag completely scraped off.

Kenner changed their mail in offers frequently. These two cards contain offers for a Star Wars Display Arena and 4-LOM, a bounty hunter from The Empire Strikes Back. 4-LOM would have set you back 5 proofs of purchase (available on the back of all action figure and playsets), while the Display Arena required 10 (plus $2 for shipping). Don’t bother sending them in now. The display offer expired in May of 1982, while the 4-LOM offer expired three months after that.

Each cardback contained a list of every available figure at that time so kids would know which ones they were missing. The earliest cards released contained 12 action figures and are known as “12 Backs.” Those are super expensive and I don’t have any of them. The oldest cardback I have shows 45 figures, while the most recent one has 92.

I know that a lot (and perhaps the majority?) of Star Wars toys purchased today are by adult collectors (like me). My kids don’t have any interest in Star Wars toys (or most toys at all, for that matter). Maybe things will change next week. These cards remind me of a time when Star Wars was for kids, when there was nothing more exciting than talking your mother out of a new action figure while visiting Hyde Drug.

May the Force be with you all. See you Thursday night!

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