|Palitoy Speeder Bike Concept Model|
|This is the exact Speeder Bike model used in numerous advertising campaigns for the Return of the Jedi line promotion throughout Europe. The same photo of a Stormtrooper on the bike was used by companies in the UK such as Marvel UK, as well as UK retailers such as Gamleys and John Menzies. The image was also used on a poster distributed in Germany (click here for a close-up).
Because it could come apart, the Palitoy photographer assembled the front forks upside-down which explains the funny look of the front end.
The model can be positively identified by comparing the missing paint in several places on the forks and steering fins. One spot on the forks was since touched-up, but the faint image of the old missing paint spot can still be seen. During the time of the UK photos, the left front fin was reattached with some thick material which is clearly visible. It was repaired sometime after those photos, but the small bulbous tip has since gone missing.
The model is built mostly of styrene and metal parts and completely hand assembled and handpainted. An ex-Kenner model maker pointed out that the tapered forks are very likely made from plastic paintbrush handles because of the size, smoothness, and rounded tips. The flaps work via a metal linkage system and operate much like the final toy, although the legs are not spring-loaded. The gun is turned out of aluminum and the handlebars feature grips that swivel.
The model has the explosion mechanism, but its actuated in a different manner than the toy. The button is compressed upwards from underneath the flap area. The spring still works, but the latch on the main cowl is broken so the bike can't be snapped together to load the spring.
The bike breaks down into 3 basic parts just like the production toy, although the flaps don't have the annoying pop-off feature found on the toy. Unfortunately it has some condition issues, but it's in remarkable shape given the construction and materials. A sharp eye will notice that the bottom pads on the landing struts are missing. The pad for the left strut is lost to the ages, but the pad for the right strut still remains loose with the bike. That pad is not shown in these photos and it is not attached to the bike because it causes the bike to sit rather crooked.
While it has largely been attributed to being a foreign (to the U.S.) item it was, almost without question, made by the Kenner model shop. In fact, some early Kenner photography shows what's probably this exact model when it was brand new and without scratches as seen above as well as here and on this packaging mock-up. Since it was really never seen in any Kenner literature, its wide use in mostly foreign advertising makes it almost more of a foreign piece than a Kenner piece.
Probably the most amazing thing about this piece is that it turned up in a box of random Star Wars toys sold in 1998 to a comic shop in Melbourne Australia. A largely Palitoy used item, made in the U.S., but discovered in Australia? There is a rhyme to this reason as seen below.
It appears that Toltoys (headquartered in Melbourne) requested this bike be sent to them for more promotions/photography because it appeared on boxes of Pauls/Peters Return of the Jedi Ice Cream sticks in a toy promotion. The Toltoys photographer managed to put the forks on right-side up, but perhaps that was influenced by the same forces that cause Aussie toilets to spin backwards. Whatever the reason, they were right this time. OZ 1, UK 0. Here's the box front the box back and the competition details.
Although I probably shouldn't let Toltoys off the hook completely because while they used an updated Speeder Bike for a Kelloggs Cereal promotion. They still managed to put the wrong guy on it. Then again maybe nobody would think to make fun of AT-AT Driver considering that his pal Lando is packing some major heat!
This model is about the most well-traveled prototype around and the mileage helps to explain the condition a little better. It's amazing to consider that photographs weren't just passed from country to country instead of the actual model. Perhaps it has something to do with copyright issues on photographs. Whatever the reason, it traversed basically the entire globe and made stops on 3 continents having now come full-circle. All this work and travel just to promote a $6 toy and in the latter case a little ice cream. Amazing.
Special thanks go out to Australian collectors Will Sowth and Ben Sheehan for helping to bring this piece out of the woodwork so it could be identified and properly cared for.
|Description by:||Chris Georgoulias|
|Photo:||Chris Georgoulias, Will Sowth, Bill Rodgers|
|From the collection of:||Chris Georgoulias|
|Film:||Return of the Jedi|
|Category:||Prototypes / Action Figure Related|