FAKE Kenner ESB Trade Ad
Kenner ESB Trade Ad Despite the excitement many collectors felt when a number of these Toy Fair trade ads turned up in August 2000, a broad range of evidence (documented below) now leads us to believe this item is a recent reproduction of an item produced for the 1980 Toy Fair and other trade shows.

Please see below for more details.

As you can see, it shows a grouping of Kenner toys, some drawn from the proposed ESB line, but the majority coming from the older line of Star Wars figures and vehicles. These pieces were discovered and sold by collector Garry Pedersen.

Here's a close-up of the text. It's pretty self-explanatory. Note, however, the employment of Kenner's oft-used "Star Wars is Forever" slogan.

Of course, one of the cooler aspects of this piece is its display of the four never-released ESB 12" figures: Han Solo in Hoth outfit, Princess Leia in Bespin gown, Lando Calrissian and Luke Skywalker in Bespin fatigues. Shown here are the former three.

And here you see the Luke doll, backed up by the older Sandcrawler toy.

There is some controversy in the community as to the authenticity of these pieces. Some collectors are concerned that two dozen, easily reproducable photographic prints would turn up on the market for an image that would have obvious collector interest (unproduced ESB dolls). The misalignment of the slide/photo and sales of these pieces through third parties have added to the concern, but there are other issues that are even more troubling.

The ESB trade ads are photographic prints on Kodak Professional Paper that did not exist in 1979/1980. We confirmed this independently with two professionals who specialize in photographic dating, identification, and printing.

We walked through authoritative Kodak photo sample books to date the color print paper. These photo sample books itemize and illustrate all the different photographic papers that were made by Kodak for a given year. If the photo paper for these trade ads matches the photo paper in one of these books, then we have a potential match for the paper used for a print.

First, a scan of the photo paper on one of the trade ad prints:

which reads


To prove plausibility of these prints, we need to find a Kodak paper pre-1980 that shows the "Kodak professional" branding instead of the more common "This paper manufactured by Kodak". The 1976, 1979, and 1984 Kodak color sample books show that all 3-color and color print papers read "This paper manufactured by Kodak". No photo paper with "Kodak Professional Paper" was produced during this timeframe only two color print papers known during these years: Kodak EktaColor (negative film) and Kodak Ektachrome (slide film). Both read "This paper manufactured by Kodak".

It's not until the 1998 Kodak sample book that we found two professional papers called Ektacolor Ultra and Professional Supra with an exact match on the "Kodak Professional Paper" printing. There are other professional color papers with slight logo differences from the one on the trade ad and with Kodak Professional branding.

For completeness, we also checked through black and white sample books to see if there's any evidence of black and white paper with the Professional branding pre-1980. There is none. The 1976, 1979, and 1984 black and white sample books show all papers with the "This paper manufactured by Kodak" printing. The 1998 and 2000 sample books show some papers with "Kodak PROFESSIONAL" branding.

The obvious conclusion is that these prints must have been made recently since Kodak Professional paper was not available in the 1979/1980 timeframe.

Independently, we consulted another photographic paper expert who stated that "Kodak Professional" branding first appeared on the RA-4 process type papers (i.e. Ultra and Supra not Ektacolor or Ektachrome), and was not available prior to the introduction of the RA-4 process (this explains why "Kodak Professional Paper" branding does not appear in the earlier sample books). Kodak's RA-4 process was commercially introduced in late 1989, fully replacing the former EP-2 process. See the following links for more information on the introduction of RA-4 in late 1989:

  • Color Negative Photographic Paper and Certain Chemical Components From Japan and the Netherland
  • Jobo Quarterly
  • Since Professional branding arrived with the introduction of RA-4, all the evidence leads to the conclusion that these prints were made in 1989 at the earliest.

    We also corroborated this information on the introduction of Kodak Professional Paper with Kodak themselves. In a customer service email, Kodak wrote:

    Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2001 12:22:56 -0500
    From: Kodak 
    To: Gus Lopez 
    Subject: Re: Color Negative Films  (KMM853564C0KM)
    I am sorry that it took so long for me to get back to you on your
    inquiry.  From the information that you provided, that product would
    have been manufactured in the mid-1990's.  If you need a more specific
    dating, please provide us with information on your specific need (e.i.
    is this for legal purposes?) and a sample print, and we will research
    this for you.  Please send samples to the address below.
    Thank you for visiting our Kodak web site.  If you should have any
    questions on Kodak products or services, please be sure to revisit our
    site as we are continually adding information to enhance our service.
    Peter Vimislik
    Kodak Information Center (USA)
    Kodak Professional
    800 Lee Road Door C
    Rochester, NY  14650-3109
    1-800-242-2424  ext. 19 (Monday-Friday, 9am-7pm EST)

    Another issue of concern is that the seller vouched personally that the color photo paper used for these display pieces is no longer available in the sizes needed for these displays, as a point of authenticity and vintage. Unfortunately, it turns out that Kodak color paper (with the exact Kodak Professional label illustrated above) is currently available in several sizes large enough to make prints of this size.

    Kodak's website has tons of information about the professional papers they sell. The "trade ads" have the dimensions: 20" x 34". Just scanning the production info for Kodak Professional SUPRA III Paper and Kodak Professional Ultra III Paper (there are lots of others but these are the two that exactly match the Kodak professional logos on the trade ads), both SUPRA and ULTRA come in max individual print size of 30"x40" and both are available as 40" x 100 foot rolls, contradicting the claim of lack of current availability of Kodak Professional paper in this size (Ultra also comes in a whopping 72" x 100 foot rolls!)

    See Kodak's pages for more technical details on these papers:

  • Kodak Professional Supra III Paper
  • Kodak Professional Ultra III Paper
  • With a slide of this image, it would not be difficult to generate two dozens prints. The only logical conclusion is that these prints were made at least a decade after the Kenner Empire Strikes Back line if not more recently. We have contacted the seller to try to show contrary evidence that Kodak Professional Paper existed in 1979/1980, but it seems overwhelming clear these prints were made more recently, after the introduction of RA-4 papers and "Kodak Professional" branding.

    In the end, collectors looking to buy these should read carefully through the facts and decide for themselves, but there seems to be an overwhelmingly strong case that these trade ads were printed in recent years and made to sell to collectors. If additional information becomes available, we will surely update this Archive entry.

    Description by: Gus Lopez, Ron Salvatore, Todd Chamberlain
    Photo: Ron Salvatore
    From the collection of: Ron Salvatore
    Country:United States
    Film:Empire Strikes Back


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