Early Bird Certificate Package (1977)
Even though I had most of these action figures, I got them later in the toys’ run. I was too young for the original release of the figures. The story goes, Kenner either got the license for the toys too late to produce enough, or were just unprepared for the demand for the Christmas 1977 market. They developed a seriously flawed plan called, “Early Bird Certificate Package”. Instead of buying the actual toys, Kenner sold essentially an empty box. Well, an empty box and a promise. The box contained a mail-in certificate good for four figures, a cardboard diorama to display the figures, a few stickers, and a fan club membership card.
By the time the action figures were produced, eight more had been released, which brought the initial Kenner toy release to twelve figures. The original promised four were: Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, R2-D2 and Chewbacca.
It was a crazy, inauspicious beginning to one of the most lucrative and popular toy lines of all time. My original action figures did not make it very far. I distinctly remember Obi-Wan Kenobi losing his head very quickly, Han Solo’s head didn’t last too much longer. R2-D2 spent one too many nights playing in the bath (the decal was gone before I knew it). Luke and Darth Vader, along with Obi-Wan lost their lightsabers one by one. The vinyl capes also seemed destined to rip at the arm holes. The Stormtrooper, C3P0 and Chewbacca made it through my very young childhood relatively unscathed.