Canadian Toy Fair is an annual toy trade show where toy manufacturers and distributors meet to showcase their wares and place orders for the year's upcoming toy offerings. Kenner Canada participated in this annual fair to showcase their various product lines including their Star Wars toy line. In the early 1980s, Kenner Canada was purported to have decorated their Toy Fair booth (and showcase room at their Toronto head office) with a variety of carded action figures glued together to display the new line of Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back toys. Over the years, some of these so called "Toy Fair" figures have found their way into collectors' hands, however, they can be easily mistaken for action figures that were originally released as part of various Canadian action figure multipacks sold through Sears Canada over the same period. They are difficult, and at times, impossible to differentiate, but we will attempt to illustrate the features of a true Kenner Canada Toy Fair Empire Strikes Back carded action figure below.
Kenner Canada ESB Multipack Action Figure vs. a Canada Toy Fair ESB Display Action Figure:
Sears Canada Multipack Action Figure:
Kenner Canada released a number of multipacks through Sears Canada in the 1980s (seen here). The carded action figures in these multipacks were either stapled together or sealed together with a strip of adhesive. When consumers would purchase these sets and separate the carded figures within that were attached together with the adhesive, they would often leave remnants of the attached figure card's litho on either the front or back of the adjoining figure's card; often times on both sides. Take the example of the Canadian ESB carded Bossk below:
The reader will notice the card damage on the reverse of the card. This damage is an example of the litho being ripped from an adjoining carded action figure from within the multipack. When the remaining litho is peeled back, we can see the remnants of the carded action figure that this Bossk was originally attached to. In this case, it was the (original) Princess Leia Organa (seen below left). This Bossk figure was originally removed from a 1981 Sears Canada ESB 4-Pack multipack pictured below right. Given that the litho was from a different character, it signifies that this Bossk was not from the Toy Fair display but from a multipack set.
At times, there is very little litho left on the card, or the litho has been completely removed from the card making it difficult to determine whether the carded action figure originated from a multipack or Toy Fair. Given the number of figures that were issued over the years in Sears Canada multipacks, it should be assumed that a figure with damage of this sort would more than likely have come from a multipack than from a Canadian Toy Fair display.
Canada Toy Fair Action Figure:
The Canadian Empire Strikes Back Toy Fair figures when separated from previously attached carded figures also exhibit the same type of damage on the front and back of the action figure's card that the separated multipack action figures (like the Bossk example above) show.
The Canadian Toy Fair figures have one unique identifier to them. Unlike the multipack figures, where different carded action figures were glued together to make up the set, the Canadian Toy Fair display was made up of the same carded action figures glued together in a lengthy series as seen below right (Photo is courtesy of the Star Wars Collector's Archive: Canadian Toy Fair Princess Leia Display (Partial)). True Canadian Toy Fair action figures that have traces of litho affixed to them from adjoining figures will be of the exact same character. The reverse of the Yoda figure (shown above) can be seen below left. When the damaged litho is peeled back, the reader will see the remaining litho from a previously adjoined Yoda action figure attached to the back of this Yoda.
As mentioned previously, there will be times where the remains of litho still attached to the card (front or back) will be too small to determine what character the carded action figure was originally affixed to, or there will be no litho at all (normally some adhesive will still be present). In this case where there is no evidence of the previously attached figure, a potential buyer should assume that the figure is from a multipack. Given that the multipacks were originally made to be sold nationally at retail, they were produced in the thousands over several years, whereas the Toy Fair figures were only produced for one event lasting several days. The number of figures glued together to make up the Toy Fair display in comparison to the multipack figures would have been exponentially lower.