POTF2 Death Star Aquarium Display
In January 1997, the Star Wars Special Edition was released in theaters sparking a renewed interest in Star Wars merchandise and memorabilia, including Kenner Star Wars Action Figures and Accessories. Kenner toys were popular as ever, with numerous retail outlets stocking whatever they could get their hands on. Numerous Big Box stores had full aisles filled with Star Wars items with a large focus on the Kenner toys. Toys R Us was a major retailer during the 1990’s, and Kenner afforded them large, and relatively permanent, point of sale merchandising displays rarely seen in other stores. Large banners, a huge plastic Millennium Falcon, and the rarely seen Death Star Display Aquarium (referred to as Aquarium for the remainder of the article).

The Aquarium should not be confused with a fish tank, rather a term to describe a display with static scene or environment. Little is known about the origins of the display and where it was manufactured as no known documentation on its development has surfaced that the author is aware of. The Aquarium does appear to be influenced by Kenner’s Wonder World Aquariums popular with kids in the mid 1990’s. http://www.kennercollector.com/2013/12/collector-focus-wonder-world-collector-joseph-chiera/

A graphics design company in Ohio is thought to be the origins of the backdrop and inner contents. The manufacturer of the display casing is completely unknown but is thought to be a separate company from the graphical design firm.

The Aquarium is thought to only have been distributed to Toys R US Concept 2000 stores. Concept 2000 was the code word Toys R US gave to its larger stores that they had either built in the mid or late 1990’s or renovated existing stores to freshen up the rather stale brick front stores of the 1980’s. They were typically larger stores, and always featured large yellow windows at the store front, so kids could peer into the store and see all the toys. According to articles, only 20 Concept 2000 stores were slated to be developed in 1996. As a result of the low number of Concept 2000 stores, it is estimated that very few of these displays were made and distributed. The author is personally aware of two stores across the United States that had the displays (Meadows Mall in Las Vegas, NV, and Olathe, KS). The contents for the Aquarium in the photos was originally destined for Layton, UT. We are not sure if an Aquarium ever made it to that location. The casing for the Aquarium in the article photos, was on display at the Olathe, KS store. Many Toys R US stores used the Aquarium for many years for point of sale. Often changing the scenes from the original content to something different. Many of the displays were used up until, or slightly past, the point of Star Wars Episode I release in 1999. By that time, about 2-3 years later and on constant display, most of the Aquariums had been thoroughly handled by kids and adults alike as it was often on display at eye level and moved quite a bit. It is approximated that, with so few made, and with the number of years on display, most of the Aquariums were discarded. Few have ever surfaced.

The display is amazing! It is a representation of the original Death Star docking bay. It features foam core boards with glossy black decals to simulate the deck plating of the Death Star and raised foam core panels along the backdrop with decals give the backdrop a more three-dimensional quality. The Aquarium is internally fluorescent lighted, and a four-inch speaker plays the John William’s Star Wars Theme nearly in its entirety. The front of the display is protected by a large molded clear piece of plexiglass that is removable to arrange the interior contents of the display. There is also a side area which depicts the adjacent hallway where Darth Vader and Ben Kenobi had their final lightsaber duel.

There were three boxes which included all contents. Vehicles and figures were all production, however two vehicles were modified for the Aquarium. The Millennium Falcon had a hole drilled into the rear cover to allow a metal hook to slip into the cover and support it from the display hooks. The X-wing was modified with glued on tie down prop stands. The only vehicle which remains factory sealed in its original production form is the Tie Fighter.

Contents that were included with the display as packed (all POTF2): Box 1: 1: Tie Fighter (1) 2: X wing Fighter with tie down prop straps (1) 3. Millennium Falcon (1) 4. Tie Fighter Support Stands (2) 5. Metal hook to support Millennium Falcon rear cover 6. Action Figures in Kenner Bags: a. Luke Skywalker (1) b. Princess Leia (1) c. Han Solo (1) d. Chewbacca (1) e. R2-D2 (1) f. C-3PO (1) g. Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi (1) h. Darth Vader (1) i. Tie Fighter Pilot (1) j. Luke Skywalker X-wing Pilot (1) k. Stormtrooper (4) 7. 14 plastic display stands Box 2: 1. Backdrop (1) 2. Main Deck Plate (1) 3. Elevated Deck Plate (2) 4. Display Hooks (4) 5. Death Star “Door” Side Panel (1) 6. Death Star “Door” Roof (1) 7. Nails (2) 8. Plastic Clips with Adhesive (2) 9. Instructions inside Manilla Envelope 10. Star Wars Plastic Banner 11. Kenner Plastic Banner Box 3: 1. Display Casing

This display is extremely well built, and the weight is about 100 pounds. The Aquarium casing consists of sheet metal, rubber top and bottom bumpers, Plexiglass, and laminated particle board. The dimensions are 47” Wide x 36” High x 22” Deep (120 cm x 91.5 cm x 56 cm). It is powered by a 120V 15A plug.

These are extremely rare to find much less find complete considering the number of accessories. If you find one, you are very fortunate. If you find one complete and in working order, maybe consider playing the lottery.

**NOTE! VOTC and Vintage Collection figures used as stand-ins for POTF2 figures that originally came with the Aquarium. Obtaining the original POTF2 figures sealed in Kenner Bags is quite difficult, so to preserve history, they were graded and encased in acrylic.

Description by: Shawn Byrne
Photo: Shawn Byrne
From the collection of: Shawn Byrne
Country:United States
Film:Star Wars Saga (1986-2007)
Category:Store Displays / Toy


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