By Gus Lopez
Photography by Gus Lopez and Ron Salvatore

In 1977, Kenner was a small toy company best known for its Play Doh toy line, when the company decided to gamble on a license for an upcoming science fiction movie called Star Wars. This was a huge risk since at the time movie toy lines were traditionally bad bets. In 1988, Kenner didn't have much experience with action figures, although it had some success with its Six Million Dollar Man line. As we know, the gamble paid off and Kenner and Lucasfilm went on to revolutionize the motion picture/product tie-in and define a new scale of action figures that became an industry standard.

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Directions: Not available.

It's hard to believe that even during the heydey of the original Star Wars movies that there was some unreleased product considered by Kenner design and marketing. Many of these prototypes have surfaced in flea markets in the Cincinnati area, from garbage thrown out by Kenner years ago, or from the collections of ex-Kenner employees. Such unusual Star Wars collectibles can be seen on The Star Wars Collector's Archive at www.toysrgus.comand occasionally in action figure magazines. To Star Wars collectors, Cincinnati is Mecca, where the toys began and continue to be made.

Years ago, Kenner was purchased by Hasbro (based in Pawtucket, Rhode Island), although the bulk of the current Star Wars toy line is still managed by the Star Wars team based in Cincinnati. Although Hasbro owns Kenner, the Kenner name still appears on most Star Wars toy packaging.

The Kenner dumpsters--into which many of the company's "trash" prototypes are thrown--are now a sort of tourist attraction themselves, having attained an almost mythic reputation among collectors who value what that pre-production material today represents.

Kenner, of course, discourages this.

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