Empire Strikes Back Action Figures

The Empire Strikes Back figures released in Canada closely mirrored their American counterparts in layout, save for the bilingual text. Canada had several different cardback versions which are shown below.


Action Figures & Cardbacks: 21-Backs   -   31-Backs   -   32-Backs   -    41-Backs   -   45-Backs   -   47-Backs   -   Action Figure Release List

        Featured Action Figures:  Sears Shrinkwrapped Figures   -   Standard Kenner 3-Pack Design Article   -   Canadian ESB Toy Fair Action Figures

        Sears Special Action Figure Sets: 1980 Sears 7-Pack Sets   -   1981 Sears 4-Pack Sets   -    1982 Sears 3-Pack Sets

        Simpsons Special Action Figure Sets: 1981 Simpsons 3-Pack Sets



R5-D4 CESB21A

Empire Strikes Back 21-Backs:


Canadian 21A Cardback (CESB21A):

The Canadian 21-back showed the first 21 action figures in photographed form along with the Secret Action Figure mail-in offer. The "secret" action figure was Bossk, the bounty hunter.










Princess Leia (Bespin Gown) CESB31A

Empire Strikes Back 31-Backs:


Canadian 31A Cardback (CESB31A):

The first Canadian 31-back showed the first 31 action figures in photographed form along with the Snowspeeder, Millennium Falcon and the Imperial Troop Transport.











FX-7 CESB31B

Empire Strikes Back 31-Backs:


Canadian 31B Cardback (CESB31B):

The second Canadian 31-back showed the first 31 action figures in photographed form along with the Hoth Ice Planet Action Playset, Darth Vader's Star Destroyer Action Playset and the Darth Vader Collector's Case.










Yoda CESB32A

Empire Strikes Back 32-Backs:


Canadian 32A Cardback (CESB32A):

The first Canadian 32-back showed the 32 action figures in photographed form along with the Hoth 1st Yoda ImageIce Planet Action Playset, Darth Vader's Star Destroyer Action Playset and the Darth Vader Collector's Case. The UPC code box was dropped in order to make room for the Yoda action figure.


The image of the Yoda action figure on the card's reverse has a rounded top left corner. This image was taken from the American layout of the 32-back, but on the American version, the image of Yoda is pictured in the top left of the card. The Yoda image could not be placed in the top left corner of the Canadian cardback since the title announcing the new line of toys needed to be in that location. Kenner Canada managed to fit the Yoda image in beside the Hammerhead image, but the image was a little too large to fit in its new location. The Yoda image was changed slightly for the next release of the Canadian 32-backs (shown below).



Ben Kenobi CESB32B

Empire Strikes Back 32-Backs:


Canadian 32B Cardback (CESB32B):

The second Canadian 32-back showed the 32 action figures in photographed form along with the 2nd Yoda ImageHoth Ice Planet Action Playset, Darth Vader's Star Destroyer Action Playset and the Darth Vader Collector's Case.


The only change for this release of the 32-back card was for the Yoda image.


Since the image of the Yoda action figure was placed in a different location than that of the American version of the 32-back card, the image was changed to having a rounded bottom right corner. The image's height and width was also changed in order to allow it to fit in better with the grouping of action figures it was placed with, giving the newly contoured image a better flow in the overall image.



Leia (Hoth Outfit) CESB41A

Empire Strikes Back 41-Backs:


Canadian 41A Cardback (CESB41A):

The first Canadian 41-back showed the 41 action figures in photographed form along with the Action Figure Survival Kit mail-in offer.











Han Solo CESB41B

Empire Strikes Back 41-Backs:


Canadian 41B Cardback (CESB41B):

The second Canadian 41-back showed the 41 action figures in photographed form along with the Darth Vader's Collector Case, Dagobah playset, X-Wing Fighter, TIE Fighter, Millennium Falcon, Twin Pod Cloud Car and Slave I.










Imperial Commander CESB41C

Empire Strikes Back 41-Backs:


Canadian 41C Cardback (CESB41C):

The third Canadian 41-back showed the 41 action figures in photographed form along with the Rebel Armored Snowspeeder, Mini-Rigs, Tauntaun, Turret and Probot playset (named "Gun" Turret and Probot on the actual playset box), AT-AT Walker and the Imperial Attack Base playset.









Luke Skywalker (Hoth Battle Gear) CESB45A

Empire Strikes Back 45-Backs:


Canadian 45A Cardback (CESB45A):

The Canadian 45-back showed the 45 action figures in photographed form along with the Display Arena mail-in offer.











Han Solo (Bespin Outfit) CESB47A

Empire Strikes Back 47-Backs:


Canadian 47A Cardback (CESB47A):

The Canadian 47-back showed the 47 action figures in photographed form along with the 4-LOM mail-in offer.












Sears Canada Exclusive Shrinkwrapped Figures:

Sears Canada Ugnaught (1980)   Sears Canada Han Solo (Cloud City Outfit) (1980 + 1981)   Sears Canada Dengar (1980)   Sears Canada Lobot (Lando's Aid) (1980)

Sears Canada General Veers (1981)   Sears Canada Luke Skywalker (Hoth Outfit) (1981)   Sears Canada R2D2 (with Periscope) (1981)   Sears Canada Action Figure Cardback (Back) (1980 + 1981)

Exclusive to Canada were the set of 7 shrinkwrapped figures that, for the most part, were exclusive to Sears. In 1980, Sears Canada released a set of five 7-packs, and in 1981, a set of four 4-packs. Each set contained one action figure that was "exclusive to Sears" at the time of release. These "exclusive" figures were vacuum-sealed on blank, black cards with no photo. The card reverse was plain cardboard with no photos as well. These generic cards were used because the photo cards that were to be used for their future, general release were not yet available, and since these figures were to be packaged on cardbacks, overlayed side by side in a window box along with 6 and 3 other regular carded figures respectively, they needed to be affixed to something in order to hold them in place. Thus, the generic cardback was created.


The seven "exclusive" figures were the exact same figures that appeared in the Sears (USA) Cloud City and Rebel Command Center playsets. The Canadian version of the Cloud City playset was not available for catalogue inclusion in 1980, and in fact, Kenner Canada chose not to produce the Rebel Command Center for the Canadian market at all. Sears Canada did make use of the playsets' figures in their special multipacks however.


The cards that the figures were affixed to could arguably be called quasi-proofs for lack of a better term. As can be seen below, the Sears Canada ESB cardbacks are essentially cardbacks that were halted early in the production process. Presented for comparison, the proof card shown below is a Revenge of the Jedi proof card (courtesy of Chris Georgoulias of  The Star Wars Collectors Archive) that was halted early in the creation process. The Sears Canada ESB cards are essentially in the same stage of production as this proof card. On the Sears Canada action figure cardbacks, the black holdout area where the figure's photo would eventually appear on the generally available retail versions still remains, as well as the white holdout area where the figure's nameplate and colour figure background would appear. The only cardback elements that have been added in the card creation process on the Sears ESB card are the Empire Strikes Back logo, the General Mills Proof of Purchase seal, the Kenner logo & accompanying company information, the assortment number, the age warning and the silver border that surrounds the card. A product number that is unique to each figure has also been added to the white figure background area.

Sears Canada General VeersRevenge of the Jedi Proof Card (Courtesy of Chris Georgoulias (SWCA))

The action figures were vacuum-sealed with plastic onto the cardbacks. The cardbacks themselves sport small "holes" covering the whole surface of the card in order for the air to escape during the vacuum-sealing process. The actual machinery used for the 1980 and 1981 figures seems to have been different as the hole patterns on the cards differ between the two years. There is also a strip or two (depending on the figure) of adhesive on the cards in order to hold the figure in place during the vacuum-sealing process.


The correct terminology used in the industry for this type of sealing process is "skin wrapping" as opposed to shrinkwrapping. The difference between the two sealing processes is that skin wrapping covers the figure and the front portion of the cardback only, while the back is still left bare. Shrinkwrapping, by contrast, covers the entire product with plastic; both front and back. However, the common terminology used in Star Wars collecting circles in regard to these Sears Canada figures is "shrinkwrapped", "vacuum-sealed", and at times "vacuformed".


Another facet of the Sears Canada figures that sets them apart from other action figures was the difference in some of the character names from their later, general release incarnations. A comparison of the name changes is shown below:


Sears Canada Figure Names:

Ugnaught

Han Solo (Cloud City Outfit)

Dengar

Lobot (Lando's Aid)

General Veers

Luke Skywalker (Hoth Outfit)

R2D2 with Periscope

      

General Release Figure Names:

Ugnaught

Han Solo (Bespin Outfit)

Dengar

Lobot

AT-AT Commander

Luke Skywalker (Hoth Battle Gear)

R2-D2 with Sensorscope


The individual set compositions are as follows:


1980 Sears Canada 7-Pack Sets:

Sears Canada 1980 7-Pack Set #1 Sears Canada 1980 7-Pack Set #2
Sears Canada 1980 7-Pack Set #3 Sears Canada 1980 7-Pack Set #4
Sears Canada 1980 7-Pack Set #5 Sears Canada 1980 7-Pack (Back)

(Underlined names denote the shrinkwrapped figure in each set - The names are as they appeared in the cardback nameplate)


  • Set 1:
  • Sand People, Greedo, Snaggletooth, Walrus Man, Jawa, Hammerhead, *Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi*

  • Set 2:      
  • Luke Skywalker (X-Wing Pilot), Star Destroyer Commander, Han Solo (Hoth Outfit), Princess Leia Organa (original), Darth Vader, Stormtrooper, Ugnaught (entitled "Tusk from Ugnaught" in the Sears catalogue)

  • Set 3:      
  • Luke Skywalker (Bespin Fatigues), Imperial Stormtrooper (Hoth Battle Gear), Chewbacca, Leia Organa (Bespin Gown), Rebel Soldier (Hoth Battle Gear), Bossk, Han Solo (Cloud City Outfit)

  • Set 4:
  • Death Star Droid, Power Droid, C-3PO (original), R2-D2 (original), FX-7, R5-D4, Dengar

  • Set 5:    
  • Bespin Security Guard (white), Han Solo (original), Lando Calrissian, Luke Skywalker (original), IG-88, Boba Fett, Lobot (Lando's Aid)

    The regular carded figures for the 1980 sets have been found on cardbacks as early as ESB 21 backs, but the majority were available on 31 backs (for the new ESB figures) or 32 backs (for the majority of the older 21 figures). It is not uncommon to find figures on varying cardbacks because the older figures contained in these sets were essentially overstock that Kenner Canada had on hand. The figures were held together by staples or a strip of adhesive placed on each card inside the box. You will notice that the Ben Kenobi in Set 1 is not underlined. In the Sears catalogue, Ben Kenobi was designated as the figure that was exclusive to Sears. However, Ben was never available on a Sears shrinkwrapped card. Ben was the only "exclusive" set figure that had already been available at retail on a regular issue card (from the Star Wars era). Kenner Canada issued Ben on a regular card in this particular set rather than miss the chance to sell an additional set of 7 figures. If you take a quick count, you will notice that every generally released action figure that was available in 1980 (ie: all 31) was collectively available for sale through these 7 packs. The 32nd figure that was just released in the Fall of 1980 was Yoda, and he was made available through the Sears Wishbook in the Creature Cantina special offer.


    The 1980 sets came packaged in an open-window box. As a result, the boxed sets that were sold in the Sears department stores were often found ripped open. Many of the resulting liberated "special" figures were sold individually instead of Sears having to return the whole set to Kenner Canada. The Dengar Sears carded figure shown above can be seen with a Sears price tag still affixed to it - in the amount of $3.99. The reverse side of the 7-pack box shows all 5 action figure sets as well as the "Gun" Turret and Probot playset, and the Tauntaun which were Sears exclusives in Canada during the 1980 holiday season. As well, the Sears exclusive figures are spelled with their "Sears names" (shown above).

    Of special note: the Imperial Stormtrooper (Hoth Battle Gear) is named "Imperial Snow Stormtrooper", the Rebel Soldier (Hoth Battle Gear) is named "Rebel Snow Soldier", and the Bespin Security Guard is named "Cloud City Security Guard" on the action figure boxes. However, the actual carded figure nameplates were correctly named.


    1981 Sears Canada 4-Pack Sets:


    (Underlined names denote the shrinkwrapped figure in each set - The names are as they appeared in the cardback nameplate)


  • Set 1:     Lobot (regular ESB packaging), Chewbacca, C-3PO (original), Han Solo (Cloud City Outfit)
  • Set 2:     Bossk, Luke Skywalker (original), Princess Leia (original), General Veers
  • Set 3:     Stormtrooper, IG-88, Princess Leia (Hoth Outfit), Luke Skywalker (Hoth Outfit)
  • Set 4:     AT-AT Driver, Dengar (regular ESB packaging), Han Solo (Hoth Outfit), R2D2 with Periscope

  • The regular carded figures for the 1981 sets have been found on cardbacks as early as 31 backs, but the majority were available on 41 backs. It is not uncommon to find figures on varying cardbacks because the older figures contained in these sets were essentially overstock that Kenner Canada had on hand. The figures were held together by staples or a strip of adhesive placed on each card inside the box. It is interesting to note that the shrinkwrapped action figures available in 1981 also saw redistribution at other retailers. Several examples of these 1981 figures have been found with the Return of the Jedi sticker (also a Canadian exclusive format) along with the round Special Offer sticker on the front, as well as the larger sticker on the reverse to promote the Admiral Ackbar mail-in offer. To date, there have been no examples of the 1980 figures with these stickers added, although conceiveably, it would have been more than likely that the Han Solo (Cloud City Outfit) would have appeared with these stickers as it was the only 1980 shrinkwrapped figure to have appeared in both 1980 and 1981 sets.


  • Set 5:     Darth Vader, Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi, Luke Skywalker (Bespin Fatigues), Yoda

    There was also a "fifth" 4-Pack set in 1981 that included Darth Vader, Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi, Luke Skywalker (Bespin Fatigues) and Yoda. There was not one figure in this particular set that was shrinkwrapped like the above four sets were. All of the figures in this set came on regular cards. If this particular set was purchased with the Dagobah playset through the Sears catalogue, the buyer could save $5.00. This set of four figures came in the same box that the above four sets came in.


    1982 Sears Canada 3-Pack Sets:

    Sears Canada 1982 3-Pack Set #1Sears Canada 1982 3-Pack Set #2Sears Canada 1982 3-Pack (Back)

    Sears issued two special multipacks in 1982 in ESB packaging. As seen below, the sets each contained at least 1 new action figure for 1982, as well as one or two older figure(s), depending on the set. Unlike the 1980 & 1981 multipacks, all of the figures contained in the 1982 sets were regular, carded figures (ie: not shrinkwrapped). The set compositions are as follows:


  • Set 1:     Rebel Soldier (Hoth Battle Gear), Imperial TIE Fighter Pilot, Zuckuss
  • Set 2:     Imperial Stormtrooper (Hoth Battle Gear), Twin Pod Cloud Car Pilot, AT-AT Driver

  • Unlike previous multipacks, the boxes that contained the figures did not specify each set's contents.




    1981 Simpsons 3-Pack Sets:

    Simpsons 1981 3-Pack Set #1

    One year before the 1982 Sears Canada 3-Pack sets (above) were released, Kenner Canada created an exclusive set of 3-Packs for another Canadian department store - Simpsons. Simpsons was a Canadian department store that was responsible for bringing Sears to Canada to handle their catalogue orders. Simpsons and Sears later became two separate companies, and they each received different sets of 3-Pack sets during the ESB era exclusive to their stores. Similar to the Sears sets, all of the figures contained in the 1981 Simpsons sets were regular, carded figures (ie: not shrinkwrapped). The Simpsons ESB 3-Pack set compositions are as follows:


  • Set 1:     Luke Skywalker (X-Wing Pilot), R2-D2 (original), Yoda
  • Set 2:     Ugnaught, Too-Onebee, Han Solo (Bespin Outfit)
  • Set 3:     AT-AT Driver, Imperial Commander, Rebel Commander

  • The boxes that contained the figures did not specify each set's individual contents, rather, they showed the set of 9 new figures for 1981 in addition to Yoda who was a late release the previous year in the Fall of 1980. The boxes for the 1981 Simpsons and 1982 Sears sets are essentially the same except for two key differences. The Simpsons store name appears in the starburst on the front of the Simpsons boxed sets (seen above), whereas the Sears name appears on the Sears boxed sets. On the reverse, the word 'NEW' appears over the group picture of the 9 new figures for 1981 (in addition to Yoda) on the Simpsons boxes whereas the word 'NEW' has been removed from the corresponding photo on the 1982 Sears sets for the simple fact that the figures shown in the group photo were no longer new when the Sears sets were released.