Box Back (click to enlarge)
Box Sides (click to enlarge)
Star Wars & First-Issue ESB Boxes (click to enlarge)
ROTJ Box (click to enlarge)
(15) Star Wars Millennium Falcon Spaceship. Use with mini-figures (not incl.). Battle alert sound, landing gear folds up. Cockpit canopy opens. Entrance ramp folds down. Radar dish swivels 360 degrees. Rear deck area lifts off to expose laser gun with seat that swivels 360 degrees and "clicks." Game table. Secret floor panel. Remote force ball for Light Saber practice. 17x6x23 in. Plastic. Ages 5 yrs and up.
Source: 1979 Sears Wish Book
If there was a flagship of the Kenner Star Wars fleet, the Millennium Falcon was unquestionably it. It was one of the first toys released in 1979 and it survived as part of the line through Return of the Jedi, released four years later. That longevity meant that the toy experienced the highs and lows of Kenner's association with Star Wars. In late '77, the company couldn't get their Falcon toys to market fast enough. Forced to push their operation into overdrive in order to capitalize on the film's enormous popularity, they had employees working overtime building the massive wooden pattern that was needed to create the Falcon's steel production molds-- the same steel molds that would be used to produce thousands of the toys for Christmas of '79. By 1984, however, the situation had changed-- people within Kenner were being saddled with the disheartening job of dismantling thousands of new Falcons, which had just come in off the production line. With interest in Star Wars on the wane, and the toy aisles under the dominion of Transformers and G.I. Joe, there was no one to sell the toys to. So they were torn up and sold for scrap plastic.
During the time that the Millennium Falcon was on toy store shelves, two elections for U.S. President were held; Star Wars evolved from an obscure sci-fi film into a cinematic institution; and Kenner, the modest company of Sit 'n' Spin and Easy Bake, was vaulted into the upper echelon of U.S. toy makers. No doubt about it, the Millennium Falcon was a significant toy-- maybe the most significant of its era. Much like the film vehicle it was based on, it flies through the memories of most of the kids who grew up in that period and played with its toys. It's iconic.
But, romantic sentiments aside, the Millennium Falcon packed a whallop as a toy. As the above catalog description states, it came with several of the elements associated with the vehicle in the film: a gaming table, gunner's chair, training ball, even the smuggling compartment inside of which our heroes hide from the Imperials on the Death Star. It also featured a battery-operated "battle alert" sound, which wasn't much more than an irritating whine.
Although it's always been evaluated highly in price guides, loose Falcons are anything but difficult to find; tons of them were sold, and tons are still out there. However, finding a complete, working example isn't the easiest of tasks. In particular, the small training ball and the arm which was meant to support it are almost always missing from loose examples. In unused, boxed condition, however, the toy remains a hotly sought item on the collector market. Original Star Wars-logo examples can pull down some pretty hefty prices.
Since it was available for such a long period of time, the Falcon can today be found in a few different styles of packaging. The first package change occurred in 1980. It was that year that saw the debut of The Empire Strikes Back, and Kenner slightly modified their Falcon package, replacing the Star Wars logo with the new ESB version. The 1981 issue of the toy utilized the ESB logo as well; but it also featured an entirely new photograph of the vehicle within a setting inspired by Cloud City. 1983 saw the release of Return of the Jedi, as well as the final revision to the Millennium Falcon package. For their ROTJ release of the toy Kenner chose a photo with a setting reminiscent of the desert planet Tatooine. The Falcon is shown within a sandy environment, surrounded by a host of ROTJ figures.
It should be noted that, throughout these various packaging revisions, the Falcon toy itself remained unchanged. In 1995, however, Hasbro issued a new Millennium Falcon toy, which was virtually identical to the vintage model in terms of molded detail. It's complicated paint job and expanded range of electronic features make it hard to mistake for its forerunner.
First Issued: 1979 (SW packaging)
Re-issues:1980 (ESB packaging, with old SW photo); 1981 (ESB packaging, with Bespin photo); 1983 (ROTJ packaging, with Tatooine photo)
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