Imperial TIE Fighter


Second-Issue Star Wars Box Front

box side (click to enlarge) box side (click to enlarge)
Box Sides (click to enlarge)

box side (click to enlarge) box side (click to enlarge)
Box Sides (click to enlarge)

first-issue Star Wars box (click to enlarge) ESB box (click to enlarge)
First-Issue Star Wars & ESB Boxes (click to enlarge)

Catalog Entry
Catalog Description:



Authentically detailed TIE FIGHTER has a large "Solar Panel" on either side of a spherical cockpit. Special buttons release panels to simulate "Battle Damage" action. Hand-operated lever raises seat and escape hatch to allow child to seat most of the STAR WARS action figures. For added play excitement, a dramatic red laser cannon lights up and emits a "whining" laser sound when rear deck button is pushed. Two "AA" batteries and action figure not included. Ages 5 and up.

Source: 1980 Kenner Pre-Toy Fair Catalog

One of the first three Star Wars vehicles Kenner developed and released, the TIE Fighter is one of those super-familiar toys. I mean, seriously, how many of your friends had this thing? As a collector, how many battered, yellowed examples have you seen, sitting around at toy shows or garage sales? If you're like me, you've seen tons-- enough to make you never want to see another loose example.

Oddly, the toy was made of bright white plastic. A dull gray would have been truer to the TIE Fighters seen in the first film, but Kenner chose white. Consequently, loose TIEs are often yellowed. It also featured a semi-interesting "battle damage" feature, which caused the side panels to pop off at the touch of two buttons. And then there was the standard "whining" laser sound. The above catalog description says the little red light on the front is "dramatic," but it's not-- it's just a little red light. But that's ok; it was the '70s, and a little red light was better than no light at all.

Like most toys from the original Star Wars line, the TIE Fighter is not easy to find in pristine, unused condition. Loose, however, they're common. Several different versions of the toy's package can be found. The earliest version bears the "LP" logo (short for "long play"), as well as a textual error: it lists the contents of the box as being an X-Wing rather than a TIE Fighter. 1978 also saw the release to major retailers of a "Special Offer" version of the toy, which featured a yellow sticker on the exterior of its box and two figures--Darth Vader and a Stormtrooper--packed inside. In the following year, the toy's package was modified in a fairly noticeable way. Specifically, the "LP" logo was removed and the title was expanded from simply TIE Fighter to Imperial TIE Fighter. In 1980, the item was issued in an entirely new box; it featured the same photo, but boasted the then new Empire Strikes Back logo. Then, in 1983, Kenner freshened the toy by molding it in blue rather than white plastic and packaging it with several "battle damage" stickers. The "Battle Damaged" TIE Fighter was released only in a Return of the Jedi box.

In 1995, Hasbro released a TIE Fighter toy using the same tooling used to produce the original Kenner product. However, the new toy was modified in several significant ways, including the addition of molded texture to each of its side panels.

First Issued: 1978 (SW packaging, "TIE Fighter," with "LP" logo and incorrect content text)
Re-issues:1978 (SW packaging, with Darth Vader, Stormtrooper and Special Offer sticker); 1979 (SW packaging, "Imperial TIE Fighter," without "LP" logo, with corrected content text); 1980 (ESB packaging)

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