As with the previous articles I have leaned heavily on fellow ‘Beyond the Toys’ vintage collector Craig Spivey who has provided much of this information and most of the images in this article.
Although there was a lot of product available for Return of the Jedi, this is not true of Letraset which went into further changes and quality decline. The Thomas Salter company was founded in London but moved to Scotland, producing chemistry sets for children and was purchased by Letraset for £1 million in 1978, quickly breaking away to become independent again and taking the action transfers brand with it.
The focus of these new sets was clearly to be on the Endor and Ewok scenes which suggests they were aiming at a younger audience, perhaps in response to the changing habits of older children with the video game market beginning to take off.
Thomas Salter released 8 different sets ranging from small packs to large boxed products. There were two large packs released, the Ewok Village set and the Sarlacc set. The packs were available in the store displays below which feature far better artwork than was found inside the packs sadly.
The Ewok Village set was released slightly differently in the UK and Europe. The European version, as seen on the left, has a flap on the outside which hides some of the key scene but displays the European language clearly.
The backdrop inside the large pack here is a cropped version of the one found inside the large boxed ewok village. Looking at the transfers below, I’m not sure which is sadder; the poor quality cartoonish Ewoks, or the missing Baga the Bordok.
Sadly, although there are some cool transfers on the Sarlacc scene, it isn’t much better.
I think this may be the worst depiction of Chewbacca that I have seen. What exactly could you do with him especially seeing he has no arms? In all my battles he never just stood there being useless.
Thomas Salter also released two small packs: Jabba the Hutt throne room and The Ewoks (yay!)
I’m also fairly disappointed with the Jabba scene. There is so much going on in this scene in the movie and yet so little to use here. I’m not sure we needed as much fruit(!) and I would have preferred to see a Rancor and a Gamorrean Guard tossed in there for good measure – thankfully those come later.
The Ewoks pack got it right this time, no cartoonish artwork and a much more interesting scene. It’s always a treat to see Endor Leia with her long hair and gown.
Salter released only one large boxed set, the uncropped Ewok Village scene. Lots more cartoonish Ewoks to apply…but still no Baga.
Although I’ve been fairly critical of the packs so far, Salter redeemed themselves slightly with the last three smaller boxed sets. A lot of ships for an Endor scene perhaps, but for some reason I think these are better quality.
The boxed version of the Jabba Throne room is a lot better but also has some bizarre transfer options such as Darth Vader and spaceships. The rancor pit is awesome, so we’ll forgive them for that.
Just to make everyone drool, Craig has an Italian version of this set!
The final box was only recently re-discovered. This was released after Thomas Salter went bust and would have been released via Rainbow Toys who bought some of the available assets. Great, more cartoonish Ewoks. Wait, is that Baga down there?
And finally for my many American friends who keep pointing out that these are called Presto Magix kits… we have the kits now. I am not aware of any differences between the US and Salter kits other than the box graphics and text dimensions.
And one final mystery. To date this hasn’t been found as a Thomas Salter release in the UK or Europe, but is clearly in the same art style. Here is an awesome Death Star scene to hunt down.
For those who haven’t had enough Ewoks, issues 97 – 99 of Marvel UK’s Return of the Jedi weekly had cropped and flipped versions of the Ewok Village set to hunt down together with packs of free transfers.
Hope you enjoyed this article, and once huge thanks to Craig Spivey.
Photos (c) Craig Spivey, Action Transfers.com