Japanese Takara C-3PO 12-Back: In Japan, Takara issued the first Star Wars figures on blister cards very similar to those released in the States. The only real difference was in the small cream-colored sticker that you see here applied to the lower right corner. However, if one looks closely at the bubble, just where its glued to the card surface, he'll notice that the glue lacks the waffle pattern so evident on the U.S. figures. Collectors should keep this in mind, because, frequently, these Takara figures turn up with their stickers missing, and its easy to mistake them for their American counterparts.

Also worth noting here is that several of the early issue Takara figures bear significant sculpting differences. Here, you might be able to see that Threepio's head is a little different than that of the American version. Specifically, the cheeks are puffier, almost as if he's got his mouth stuffed with something. The Takara versions of Darth Vader and the Stormtrooper also have slightly different head sculpts.

By the time The Empire Strikes Back rolled around in 1980, the Japanese Star Wars license had passed into the hands of the Popy company, who issued a nice series of figures in little cardboard boxes.

Description: Ron Salvatore
Photo: Todd Chamberlain
From the collection of Todd Chamberlain