12/13/05: The Star Wars Early Bird Kit!
Believe it or not, very few people predicted that Star Wars would be a hit. Due to its exorbitant budget and story material that had to be considered at least a little risky in 1977, some "championed" its upcoming release as what was sure to go down as one of Hollywood's biggest disasters. You know how the story ends, but here's how it ties into today's commercial: Star Wars toys only became a blip on the radar after the film was a proven success, and despite partnering up with Kenner Toys rather quickly, there wasn't enough time to get action figures on shelves by the 1977 Christmas season. We've all heard the stories about how toy companies and stores make the brunt of their profits during the fourth quarter; it would've been very, very foolish to not have Star Wars toys available for sale in December of 1977.
The Star Wars "Early Bird Kit" was the next best thing, and believe it or not, millions of people paid for what was essentially an "I O U" sheet from Kenner. By purchasing a kit, customers received a mail-in slip to receive the first four Star Wars action figures, and even though it would take months, few resisted. The endeavor was a remarkable success for Kenner, thanks in no small part to the swank action figure display stand that was included with the kit. The four figures -- Luke, Leia, R2 and Chewbacca -- ultimately arrived in a simple white plastic case. Though they were later sold separately later along with approximately 45,000 other Star Wars figures, the Early Bird kit itself has become a rare collectible, fetching hundreds of dollars assuming that it somehow survived through the decades in decent shape.
So marked one the only time in history of Christmas presents that kids could get nothing but a promise and not throw a fit over it.
Click here to download this commercial! (.WMV, 5 MB)
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