Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Advertisement - early Star Wars Action Figure ad - "Creepy" Magazine, May 1978

Back during the late 1970's we didn't have the Internet, toy companies didn't have websites and the only way to find out about new toys or cool stuff was this mass media object called a "magazine."  It was like a soft book, it had pages inside of it, most of them black and white.  There were sections for the editors to talk to you ("news") and sections for you to respond ("mail" or "feedback") which, I guess, was like an early type of message forum.  Nevertheless, way back in the 1970's the way that we, as kids, found out about new toys was often in the back of magazines like "Starlog", "Fantastic Films" and of course, Warren Publishing's "Creepy" and "Eerie" magazines which were a treasure trove of new toys.  I usually found out about new Star Wars toys first in "Creepy" and "Eerie" because those were two magazines that I read each month.  

I never bought the magazines, I just read them and that's because my mother would go grocery shopping at Jitney Jungle near Cloverleaf Mall and Jitney Jungle had a well stocked magazine section that had everything from romance novels to best sellers and of course, magazines.  While my mother shopped for groceries, I would sit on the lower magazine rack (it was angled slightly upward, like a pew at a church) and I would take each magazine and read it from cover to cover.  I was a quick reader but my mom usually took about 45 minutes to an hour to shop and compare prices, etc.  This gave me plenty of time to "catch up" from what I had read and learned from last month's issues.  

Among the magazines were such (then) contemporary favorites like "Cracked", "Mad", "Starlog", "Fangoria", "Fantastic Films", "Creepy", "Eerie" and later, "The Rook."  While the glossy sci-fi magazines had some sections at the back to advertise products and toys you could buy the Warren Publishing titles were like a set of horror, fantasy and science fiction stories stapled to a toy catalog.  Once the last story was told, page after page of toys, games, puzzles, models, novels, movies, posters, clothing ... just about anything and everything ... was listed for sale and since "Star Wars" merchandise had such a high demand (and a high profit margin), the "Star Wars" section soon grew from a single page to several pages during the late 1970's.  Sometimes full color spreads of "Star Wars" merchandise would grace the back cover or inside covers of these magazines, such was the attention that these items were demanding and getting.


May 1978.  New "Star Wars" products!  See page 73.

"Star Wars" and its merchandise was so hot that magazines advertised the fact that you could purchase this stuff out of this magazine ... with the intent being that even if you didn't like the magazine you might just buy it so you could fill out the order form and purchase some of the "Star Wars" merchandise.  Selling "Star Wars" merchandise from a magazine, with the magazine offering itself as a conduit to this amazing swag and booty, was itself a selling point.  All just part of the magic of the era.

Already assembled!!!!   I don't ever remember any action figures that ever needed any assembly.  Very early ad from the back of Warren Publishing's "Creepy" magazine, Issue 97, May 1978 (a full year after "Star Wars" hit the theaters) advertising nine of the original twelve Kenner action figures.  Not shown is the "Death Squad Commander", "Sand People" and "Jawa" which would be (at least for me) the hardest three figures of the original twelve to find. 

This was the tip of the iceberg, the snowball that started rolling downhill from the top of the mountain and started the avalanche that covered everything below.  Soon every major cult magazine would be advertising "Star Wars" related merchandise in the hopes of getting their share of the giant cash pie that George Lucas had baked and served up hot and fresh. 

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