SWCA Special Feature...

by Stéphane Faucourt author of
From Meccano to Trilogo, the Book

This SWCA Special Feature complements the Trilogo section of the "Meccano to Trilogo" book. In addition, updated tables with card variations can be found on the Rebelscum website.

Trilogo carded figures were considered cheap collectibles until the late 90’s. In addition, they suffered from an incorrect classification in that photo variants were believed to be the rarest...

The Year 2000 was approaching and many collectors began to gain interest in Trilogo carded figures. Collecting them became a way to complement, or become an alternative to, Kenner figures. The added appeal was that one could own a full set of figures on the same card design.

Another appeal for collectors was that completing a set was a real challenge. Characters widely-known to be rare can fetch hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars on the collector's market while some cards which sell for only a few dollars are still quite difficult to get, meaning it's not just a question of money but also luck and patience.

As in any other area of Star Wars toy collecting, collectors started to search for details. They started trying to find variations - the most obvious being the different card types and the hybrid combinations (Palitoy front - Trilogo back, Trilogo front - PBP back).

Trilogo cards still had much to tell about their origins and rarity. Relevant hints can be found in the hanger tab shape, the COO sticker, the cardboard quality and color, a price sticker, and… the bubble shape. These details can be found alone or combined and they are good indicators of rarity and country where the item was sold.

For most collectors, these details don’t make much of a difference in terms of rarity or value between two Trilogo cards of the same character. Some might think, “why would a different bubble, punch hole and/or sticker add rarity or value over the very same card without these attributes?”.

That’s why only a few collectors are willing to pay a premium for these kinds of variations and the rarity really doesn't make any impact on the card's value even though an item showing one or more of these attributes is much rarer than the same card with the regular punch (or unpunched) and standard etched bubble.

In some cases the version of the card with rare attribute(s) is the only way to get that figure on a Trilogo card. In these extreme cases the value is then really affected. i.e. General Madine (double-stem bubble + white macao sticker), regular Boba Fett (Palitoy 45-backs bubble shape), dark-insert Emperor Royal Guard (rounded peg-hole + black macao sticker), etc.

Last, but not least, the bubble itself is already a very good indicator of the card's origin (country of sale) and rarity, which is the aim of this SWCA Special Feature.

The book Meccano to Trilogo – Star Wars Vintage Action Figure Toys contains an in-depth review of Trilogo carded figures, fronts and backs, rarity details, and early Trilogos and variants. A detailed figure / card type / bubble shape matrix is also presented in the appendix section.

The first release of the Trilogo card matrix was built over years of collecting and comparing hundreds of items. Much as a collection always evolves so too will the information known and updates are eventually needed. The updates are hosted by Rebelscum and exclusively available there. If you own a variation which is not yet referenced, you are very welcome to submit your entry (see Rebelscum page for submission rules).

Although the book shows Trilogo cards with different bubble combinations, the matrix can be a bit difficult to grasp at first glance. The SWCA and the author have combined their efforts to bring a more detailed view of the different Trilogo bubble shapes, which gives a better understanding of Trilogo cards packaging and rarity. You won’t look at a Trilogo card with the same eyes from now on…

  This article is illustrated with detailed pictures of each bubble shape variation found on Trilogo cards. (click the pictures for a larger view)

First, let’s compare all the different types and shapes from a side view (the order and denomination matches the "Meccano to Trilogo" book matrix from pages 138-140).

double-stem bubble

Meccano Rotj 65-back small bubble

Meccano Rotj
medium bubble

Palitoy Rotj 45/65-back bubble

Tri small
bubble with etched edges

Tri large
bubble with
round edges

Tri large
bubble with
etched edges

special shape bubble


Some types of shapes are broken down into several variants, as detailed below.

Trilogo cards found with this double-stem bubble shape are extremely rare to come by; these are part of the early Trilogo cards sold on the French market.

The bubble is taken from the ROTJ Palitoy 45  back and Meccano 65  back cards.

Only a short selection of figures can be found with the double-stem bubble: a few ESB re-releases (Lobot, Rebel Soldier...), and some from ROTJ 1st & 2nd waves (Luke Jedi, B-Wing Pilot...).

*General Madine is the most difficult Trilogo card to find as it is only available as an early Trilogo card with double-stem bubble, there is no equivalent with the standard sized Trilogo bubble.

There are two different sizes of double-stem bubble, but the rarity seems equivalent.

This small bubble shape was first used on some Palitoy ROTJ cards and Meccano 65  back cards.

It can be found on most early Trilogo cards with small action figures that were sold on the French market, with the exception of the later carded R2-D2 pop-up that was sold in that market.

Some Trilogo cards with this bubble are easier to come by (i.e. Wicket) than some others (Ugnaught, Yoda, R2 sensorscope...)

This wide bubble shape is also taken from Palitoy ROTJ cards and Meccano 65 back cards.

It can be found on a short selection of early Trilogo cards sold on the French market.

Trilogo cards bearing this bubble shape are quite difficult to locate; for example, Dengar, Rebel Commando, and Teebo. The Emperor seems to be the easiest to find.

*Notice the "Fabrique a Macao" (made in macau) sticker at the bottom right of the card, which is typical and found on most early Trilogo cards.


Early Trilogo cards made for the French market were packaged with bubbles previously used on Palitoy 45/65-back and Meccano  65 back cards.

Unlike the previous shapes (double-stem, small and medium sizes), the bubble shape presented here is the most common for early Trilogo cards.

There are two different widths of bubble as seen on this 2-1B and Han Trenchcoat.

The smaller can be found on many different action figures but is more difficult to find (i.e. Luke XW, Stormtrooper, 2-1B, Rebel Commander, Prune Face, AT-ST Driver...)

The wider one is the usual bubble for early Trilogos, such as Han Trenchcoat, Nien Nunb, 8D8... Note that most figures packaged with the smaller bubble are also found with the wider one.

*These two bubble shapes have also been used on some Trilogo cards made for the German market. The punch hole shape can be used to spot the cards' origin: early Trilogos have a half-circle or rounded punch hole, the "German Trilogo" punch hole is more like a triangle shape (see Meccano to Trilogo book page 61).

*Also note the full-rounded shape of the Han Trenchcoat card peg-hole (see also Emperor card) which can be found on some early Trilogos sold in France as well as some Trilogos sold in Spain.

Long bubbles used on Palitoy 45/65 back and Meccano 65 back cards for taller action figures were also used on early Trilogo cards.

This long bubble should be only found on early Trilogo Darth Vader and Chewbacca (endor photo) cards. These are quite difficult to find.

When it came to mass-production for the whole European distribution, three different bubbles were designed.

Bubbles with etched edges are the standard for Trilogo cards packaging. This small-sized version is used on small action figures like Ugnaught, Yoda, Wicket, Jawa, R2-D2s...

Three different types of large bubble with rounded edges can be found.

The first type is shown shown on the 2-1B card, it's the same size and type of plastic as the standard mass-produced Trilogo bubble except the corners are totally rounded.

This bubble is found much less than the regular large bubble with etched edges.
This second bubble looks like the previous one, but it's not.

This bubble is made of a very, very thin plastic which tends to crack and yellow easily, and the corners at its base are rounded.

This bubble is used on some "made in Macao" Trilogos (black sticker and/or rounded peg-hole like this Lando). It can be found on very few cards, like Lando, Dark blue insert Royal Guard, Biker Scout...

It is also found on some "last-17" cards sold in France (i.e. Barada, Lando General, Warok, Romba...)
Although it can appear like the previous bubble, this third one is made of a standard plastic and a bit wider than the previous one.

In fact, this kind of bubble shape is typical of Trilogo cards made for the Spanish market.

It becomes more obvious when having the item in hands: the punch hole's round shape is more pronounced, the card stock is really thin and lower quality (the back is matte) and sometimes, the back is the PBP 65 backs which leaves no doubts at all.


Trilogo cards sold during the mass-production times were packaged with this large bubble with etched edges.

This bubble is the standard for regular sized action figures and can be found on any card back types including 70A (Palitoy front) and 70C cards. It includes the full range of Trilogo cards, from SW/ESB re-releases, Trilogo releases, and "last-17".

Some action figures which were packaged using special bubbles on Palitoy 45/65 back and Meccano 65 back cards were also packaged that way on early Trilogo cards sold on the French market.

This includes Leia Boushh, Lando Skiff outfit, or Gamorean Guard.

However, some later action figures were also packaged in standard using a special bubble, like EV-9D9 and Amanaman.

Upon first inspection this bubble can look like a Palitoy/Meccano bubble used on early Trilogo cards.In actuality, this bubble is, in fact, a bit smaller and is made of a very thin plastic. It is the bubble found on the famous Trilogo miscarded figures.

As detailed in the "Meccano To Trilogo" book page 83, some figures made it on their correct cardback, for example AT-AT Driver, Darth Vader, Stormtrooper, or Yak Face.

More detailed information about Trilogos can be found in the book "Meccano to Trilogo". Each single Trilogo carded action figure is pictured, with different packaging variants for some characters. The book also features vehicles, instruction sheets, cardbacks, early cards & miscards, catalogs, advertising, etc.

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Stephane Faucourt (stephane (at) faucourt.com)