I wanted my 3000th post on Fantha Tracks to be special and I thought I’d look at these coin purses from Touchline Promotions Ltd which were available from cinemas and stores for a short period back in 1983. We see them with fair regularity in the community and I thought there’d be loads of information about them, but boy was I wrong. Trawling online records going back 25 years brings very little information up about these with a lot of conflicting reports.
For example, some collectors claim that these were intended to be available upon the movie’s premiere on July 1st 1983 in London. There are claims that these are made by companies called Touchline and/or Hi-Toys Ltd. Hi-Toys Ltd, based in Kettering just outside of London, were a large toy manufacturer. It is likely that Touchline Promotions Ltd acquired the license to produce Star Wars products and sourced these through Hi-Toys but more on that later. Equally baffling is the name of these as they are referred to as coin purses, jelly purses, treasure purses, smile money bags….the list goes on.
I’ll start with what is known and it’s clear that there are 8 different characters in the set with some available in more than one colour. These are:
Admiral Ackbar (white / grey)
C-3PO (grey / red)
Chewbacca (orange / red)
Darth Vader (black)
Jabba the Hutt (blue / orange)
R2-D2 (light blue)
Wicket (white / yellow)
It cannot be stated with certainty that the colour list here is exhaustive.
Other than loose examples anything else is very hard to acquire. There are only three display boxes like these two known to myself, although I’m sure that more are out there. As you can see these are referred to as “Smile Money Bag, the money module that keeps your small change safe.” I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t have had many 50p pieces back in 1983 to store in one of these! ‘Smile’ would refer to the split in the centre of the purse in which children would insert their loose change. You can just make out on the image below that 25p each has been written on the header.
“Saves wear and tear on pockets!” and “Keeps money safe for schoolchildren”
As for carded examples, these are the only ones I have ever seen and I have never seen one for sale on the open market.
Perhaps the most interesting thing here is the use of the Return of the Jedi logo in the top left. According to Craig Stevens’ book The Star Wars Phenomenon in Britain, licensees had the choice of the overarching Star Wars branded logo or the Return of the Jedi one and Touchline opted for the latter.
On the reverse of the cards you can see that Darth Vader has been spelled incorrectly, which was more common around 1977 and 1978 than by the Return of the Jedi line.
As stated earlier loose ones are very easy to track down. Speaking to several collectors it appears that thousands of these were found in unused condition and it is believed that Lucasfilm withdrew the license from Touchline Promotions when these went on sale. This caused the company to go bankrupt. It is unknown as to the reason for the fallout. It was suggested to me that it may be due to a leak of the Ewok and Jabba images and names as there was an embargo on these before the movie’s release. Personally, I think that this is very unlikely due to the fact that these were released after the movie’s release and the print wouldn’t have been a difficult job to apply. Is it possible that the spelling mistake caused an issue? Again, I can’t see this as being a problem as these were sold loose in boxes too and the cards could have been destroyed or stickers applied over Darth Vadar.
If anyone has any definitive information I would love to hear more. In the meantime, happy hunting!
Photos (c) Craig Stevens, Richard Hutchinson, Todd Chamberlain, theswca.com