Sunday, December 13, 2015

Nostalgia Theater: Star Wars in the '90s

We're just days away from Star Wars: The Force Awakens (review coming soon!), and I don't know if you've walked into a Target story or whatever lately, but Star Wars is everywhere. You can't escape it! But in the midst of the all-out merchandising assault that's accompanying the new film, it's easy to forget that there was actually a time when the George Lucas juggernaut wasn't the omnipresent Force that Disney is currently making massive bank off of.

For roughly ten years after Return of the Jedi closed out the original batch of movies in 1983, the brand was in hibernation. Without any new movie or TV product in the pipeline (well, except for this and this), it just kind of went away. That all changed in the early '90s, though. First, Dark Horse comics and Bantam books both began their very successful and long-lived Star Wars publishing programs, and then after a few years...the toys came back.

It was 1995, two years before the "Special Edition" theatrical re-releases, when Kenner (which had held the Star Wars master license going all the way back to the franchise's 1977 inception) saw the fervor for the franchise growing and decided to re-launch the brand with a whole array of newly sculpted figures based on those original three films. In addition to Kenner's assortment, Galoob also picked up the license for an extensive array of "Micro Machine" vehicles and playsets.

Kenner's success with their new "Power of the Force" toys and vehicles, selling to both kiddies and collectors, was probably the ultimate proving ground that demonstrated to George Lucas that Star Wars could play with the new generation just as effectively as it had with the previous one. That in turn led to the re-releases, the prequels, and, well, everything since. Click below to watch the commercials for the various Star Wars merch that rolled out during this "middle" era that sure feels like it happened long ago and far, far away:

(If you pay special attention, you'll note that many of the Kenner commercials are narrated by Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill!)

One Year Ago in Nostalgia Theater: Sonny Spoon Edition
Two Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: The Disney Afternoon Dominates Weekdays
Three Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: He-Man and She-Ra Get Awkward
Four Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: Mission: Impossible Edition

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