I feel guilty as a vintage Star Wars collector that I do not fully appreciate or understand the role that Irwin Toys and Kenner Canada played back in 1977-1985 but I am learning. I made the rookie mistake of thinking for a long time that Kenner Canada were just US Kenner items with dual language to cater for the French speaking population. And as for Irwin Toys I didn’t have a clue. In the past, whenever I’ve needed to do some research on Canadian items I would always visit Scott Bradley’s Gallery which is an amazing resource for Canadian collectors. Despite this I never fully grasped the scale, magnitude or pure joy of the whole range until I picked up a copy of Irwin Toys: The Canadian Star Wars Connection.
I don’t recall where I spotted the Kickstarter campaign for a second printing of this book but I am very pleased I did. I ordered a copy and was delighted when it arrived. Bill Kennedy, fellow vintage Star Wars collector, was the driving force behind the campaign and once he secured permission the left was down to the community and they didn’t disappoint.
When my copy arrived I initially intended to flick through it looking for R5-D4 items and to then put it to one side for later. I couldn’t do this once I glanced at the contents. This book is far more than a comprehensive list of Canadian Star Wars items or even descriptions on how they differ from their US counterparts (where they exist!)
This book is a compelling insight into Irwin Toys and the role they played in getting Star Wars toys and accessories to Canadian children; definitive lists of Action Figures, Vehicles and Playsets; high quality photographs and textual information on Canadian store exclusives and promotions and much more.
You do not need to be an expert to get into this book. It is laid out very well without any jargon and is exactly to the point. It clearly tells you what items you have no chance of finding!
Above is the famous Shrink-Wrap carded figures available as Sears Exclusives. Together with photographs of all 7 there are some interesting facts about them such as the referencing of Ugnaught as “Tusk” in the catalogue!
The book takes you through many of the carded sets available in Canada. I have never seen a 3 pack and especially one with the true hero of Star Wars included. 😉
3 packs, 7 packs, 9 packs, it’s all in here in a very easy to use reference.
Images of boxes and cardbacks clearly show the bi-lingual text and rarity guides are included. There is a price guide too however those prices obviously refer to the first printing of the book back in 2000.
Moving away from the toys other products such as plush items from Regal Toys and the rarely seen Utility Belts are also discussed.
Together with catalogues, leaflets and other ephemera.
I don’t want to spoil the book too much so anyone interested should contact Bill Kennedy on Facebook to see if he has any spare. There are some available on the secondary market but they’re not cheap.
We have so much information on US Kenner thanks to Gus Lopez and Duncan Jenkins, Meccano, thanks to Stephane Faucort and Yann Leroux, and now we have an awesome Canadian resource thanks initially to James McCallum and now to Bill Kennedy for making it all happen again. I’d love for books in a similar fashion to be made available for other licensees such as Palitoy, Clipper and Harbert.