|Factors Standees Used as Kenner Store Displays|
|One of the fun things about collecting store displays: new things are always surfacing. This is true even in the realm of Kenner sales material, where knowledge of what is out there is pretty widespread.
What you see here is some of the earliest Star Wars display material issued by the Kenner toy company. Yes, they are the standees produced by Factors in 1977. But if you look closely at them you'll notice the blue Kenner stickers close to the base of each.
What I believe happened here: Kenner, needing to get product to market quickly, and without adequate time to develop appropriately eye-popping signage, struck a deal with Factors to purchase some of their character standees, co-brand them, and send them to stores along with the earliest Kenner Star Wars products. I and some others were told as much many years ago while speaking to former Kenner employees in Cincinnati.
That story was confirmed in three different ways. First, Kenner-branded Factors standees were discovered, both with former employees who knew what they were and with random sources who weren't even aware of the Kenner connection. Second, a cache of vintage store photos that surfaced a few years ago proved the Factors standees were fixtures of toy aisles in the '70s. Finally, a marketing image exists which shows an in-store promotional kit containing the Kenner "May the Force be with you" button, some early signage, and standees just like these. Was something like this kit sent to stores around the country? I think it's likely.
Aside from the Kenner stickers, nothing about the standees is unusual.
This raises concerns about fakes. Provenance is key when buying something like this. You need to know what you're getting is vintage Kenner-branded and not someone's weekend scam project.
Only a few of these have turned up. It's hard to say how many more are out there.
Here's a frame from a vintage toy-store commercial which shows a kid standing in a toy aisle beside some Factors standees. Were they Kenner-branded standees? I wouldn't bet against it.
Update: March 2018
It's been over two years since I wrote the above, and since that time some more information has come light regarding these displays.
What you see above is a set of two of these Kenner-branded Factors standees unused in their original plastic wrapping.
They are branded with Kenner logos, just like the ones featured above.
It may not be apparent in these photos, but the plastic wrap is torn a bit where the Kenner logos have been affixed, suggesting that someone at Kenner punctured the wrap in order to apply the stickers.
Mint, unused displays are nice, of course, but what makes this find special is the supporting cast, particularly this vintage-era shipping box. The label and the printing on the box make it absolutely clear that Kenner used these as official pieces of signage. They even have a stock number: 69192.
This particular kit was sent to Marshall Field's department store in Chicago.
Fortunately, this marketing flyer was also present. Produced by Factors, it reveals additional information related to these standees. It appears that two different display "kits" were available: this one and a larger one containing representations of Chewbacca and Darth Vader. It appears that each kit contained six standees, suggesting that two additional R2-D2s and C-3POs shipped inside the box you see above. Or maybe the Kenner kits contained only one of each character? It's hard to know for sure, though the 12-pound weight listed on the shipping label causes me to favor the higher estimate.
The other possibility is that this is the mythical in-store promotional kit, which an early Kenner marketing image shows as containing R2 and 3PO standees in addition to several other pieces of signage and Kenner's "May the Force Be With You" buttons. Maybe the Factors flyer was left in the box and the other material removed at Marshall Field's?
Based on the flyer's verbiage and the references to bulk reorders, I think it's likely that Factors offered these to licensees and retailers as point-of-purchase signage. Kenner likely purchased them from Factors in bulk, rebranded them, and sent them to buyers using their own stock number and shipper.
Finally, here's a glossy marketing photo whose imagery is very similar to the photos featured on the flyer. It originated with a former Kenner employee.
|Description by:||Ron Salvatore|
|From the collection of:||Ron Salvatore|
|Film:||A New Hope|
|Category:||Store Displays / Toy|