A quick ebay search for vintage Star Wars will show you a lot of Palitoy cardbacks for sale like this one
You can see that the R5-D4 nameplate just above the droid’s head has been cut out. But why? Well, as a child I often received inexpensive gifts at Christmas which my parents had sent off for by collecting tokens in newspapers for items such as football annuals and sticker books. Star Wars was no different and I recall receiving toy related goodies such as my Darth Vader carry case using this method.
In the US, Kenner ran a programme whereby kids could cut out the proof of purchase symbols as shown here in order to receive mailaway promotions such as the first 12 Action Display Stand.
But in the UK, Palitoy did not include these symbols and instead used nameplates starting with a The Empire Strikes Back promotion. By cutting out nameplates and sending in a cheque or postal order you could expand your collection in an affordable way.
This article from fellow Fantha Tracker Dave Tree covers everything you would want to know about Palitoy advertising during this era so be sure to check it out.
As Dave states above, Palitoy first started with the fabulous Boba Fett offer advertised in comics and stores. For 3 nameplates and 20p you could receive Fett through the post in just 4 weeks (an amazingly long time for a child). Throughout this article you will notice that the number of nameplates and monetary contributions changed throughout the different promotions depending on the price of the item and postage.
This was clearly a popular offer and it wasn’t long before more promotions were available.
Next we had a triple offer and the instructions for acquiring these were available in a leaflet called “The Bounty Hunter Capture Log” which had a prominent Boba Fett helmet on the front.
These leaflets were available in many of the larger vehicles and playsets released by Palitoy or were available from many toy retailers.
In Palitoy’s first promotion here, for 3 nameplates and 30p you could receive Dengar! This action figure offer also featured on Palitoy cardbacks too.
4 nameplates and 40p for a Hoth Survival Kit
Or the mightiest of all 6 nameplates and £7 for the impressive Darth Vader carry case
All of the conditions were contained in the leaflet with instructions on how to affix the nameplates in the appropriate place. I’m pretty sure my parents completed this for me as I do recall receiving all three of the above items but can’t envisage them cutting out comic pages or collecting leaflets from toy shops.
The promotion was an incredible success and Palitoy followed with other promotions for the mailaway display stand and for 4-LOM. However, do you notice anything different with this cardback?
This cardback does not originate from Palitoy as it clearly bears the Kenner logo on the front. Palitoy were struggling to keep up with the phenomenal demand of Star Wars and so imported many cardbacks from Kenner. They covered up Kenner promotional details with Palitoy stickers and for just 4 nameplates and £2.50 you could have the display arena….
….or for 5 nameplates and 14p (really?!) then 4-LOM from the Bounty Hunter line could be yours.
Finally, as far as imported cardbacks go we have from Revenge (Return) of the Jedi Admiral Ackbar for 6 nameplates and 14p. I wonder why Admiral Ackbar warranted the extra nameplate?
Palitoy continued their successful promotions with Return of the Jedi advertising Nien Nunb for 3 nameplates and the price of a first class stamp! I guess that the price of first class stamps was beginning to increase and that Palitoy didn’t want to be out of pocket with the shipping costs. Note – Palitoy did return to Kenner cardbacks and stickers for this promotion which changed to 5 nameplates
This was then followed up with the Chewbacca bandolier strap for 5 nameplates and £3.50. I have no memories of this promotion and it’s likely that I was losing interest in Star Wars at this time. Certainly adverts like this one would not have tempted me at all as I was more used to the exciting bitmap graphics my ZX Spectrum had to offer.
Palitoy kept up their promotions but not on cardbacks. There were no further cardback offers after the bandolier strap but comics still advertised the Rancor Keeper for 6 nameplates and 33p and finally the Emperor for 6 nameplates but no postage contribution. Dave Tree will showcase all of those advertisements and more when he finishes his Palitoy and Return of the Jedi guide.
I’ve talked with a lot of collectors over the years who’ve mentioned the seemingly endless wait for the mailer box to arrive through the post. I have no memories of these and it is likely that my parents opened the boxes and put the figures in with other toys or made bundles of loose figures. I’ve owned a few sealed boxes over the years but have sold them all. I just don’t find a plain white box all that interesting, but I guess when you were 5 years old it was a different story.
Many thanks to Jason Smith, Dave Tree, Walkie/TIG and my forum friends from starwarsforum.co.uk for some of the images used.