The year was 1999 and every licensee wanted in on what they believed would be the biggest marketing wave since Return of the Jedi
back in 1983. Of course, I am speaking about 1999’s The Phantom Menace
Cadbury in the UK were no exception and I was recently able to pick up some prototypes from their Episode 1 chocolate tie-ins. Star Wars collectors often collect pre-production and prototype samples and food collecting is no exception, but finding such items is exceptionally rare.
First we have a large tub, 37 cm tall tip to base, that contained treat size samples of several Cadbury chocolate bars, including “and introducing” their new Star Wars
bar. The containers had one of 4 different collectible plastic toppers: Anakin, Jar-Jar, Darth Maul and Queen Amidala. Shown is what is known has a hardcopy of the Queen Amidala topper. It would have been made from a silicone mold that itself was made of a wax sculpt of the design. This hard copy would serve as a quality control sample/and or be used to make the mass production manufacturing molds. It is solid resin and the details sharper that the production topper as would be expected.
Second is a complete mock up of a new Cadbury’s Star Wars Episode 1
chocolate bar. It is completely sealed and has presumably just a cardboard insert inside to maintain shape. Not the different character graphics on the prototype versus the final production bar, where the latter actually uses still images rather than stock art images. The production bar is on glossy paper and they enhanced the background with a Tatooine landscape as well. If you like this kind of collecting, you love this stuff.
One thing that always had my interest was actual sales numbers for promotions such as these. How many Star Wars bars did they sell? How many in comparison to other Cadbury bars at the time, and did overall Cadbury sales go up? Was it worth the marketing investment? When you compare the number of tie-ins for Episode 1 compared to Episodes 2 and 3, I think it’s clear to see that not all expectations were met with Episode 1, despite the film itself doing phenomenally well at the box office.
Keep on collecting and enjoy!