Friends, when Star Wars: Return of the Jedi was released to theaters on May 25th of 1983, there were already a couple of things rabid fans could buy. Off the top of my head I can remember that Kenner had released action figures for the then third and final film in the Star Wars trilogy. I am sure that many of you had similar experiences of standing in the toy aisle looking at the likes of figures such as Klaatu, Emperor’s Royal Guard, Gamorrean Guard, Admiral Ackbar, and Bib Fortuna… and just wondering who the heck these characters were. I naturally was ecstatic to see this new wave of Kenner action figures and after stretching my Father’s patience by studying each and every new character, I finally decided that my first purchase from the Return of the Jedi line would be Bib Fortuna. As this was long before the internet of course, I had no idea what role the Twi’lek (or even that was what his species was called at that point) would play in the film, although the photograph provided on the blister card led me to believe the character was definitely a villain.
Another collectible that I recall included the Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Official Collector’s Edition magazine, which included a breakdown of the story as well as an incredible amount of behind the scenes information. I obviously did not read the story portion of the magazine until after I had seen the film for myself, right after I begged my Father to take me back to the toy store so I could buy Admiral Ackbar.
After the film had been released you couldn’t swing a Kowakian monkey-lizard without hitting some type of merchandise for Return of the Jedi. Books, records, pencil toppers, activity books, stickers, and of course Presto Magix sets. The last one is something that I recall seeing in great quantities at the local K-Mart stores in my neck of the woods. They were incredibly affordable ways to spend a rainy afternoon, plus they managed to license everything from Dynomutt, Laff-a-Lympics, Masters of the Universe, The Dukes of Hazzard, Batman, Thor, and Star Wars of course.
Generally for a couple of bucks you could create your own stories with some of your favorite TV, Film, and comic book characters. Although you had to be absolutely sure where you wanted to apply the rub-on transfer decal, because once they were on the background card you couldn’t remove them. There were box sets available too, these not only provided more decals to choose from but offered a much larger background card to apply them to.
For a breakdown on more Presto Magix sets and fun, why not take a couple of minutes and watch the esteemed Weird Paul‘s review?