The first vehicles to make the scene in Canada, like other countries around the world in 1978, were the X-Wing Fighter, the TIE Fighter and the Landspeeder. The Landspeeder would see at least four different versions released in Canada between 1978 and 1979/1980. In 1979, the much anticipated Millennium Falcon and Darth Vader's TIE Fighter were introduced. The boxes that the original trio of vehicles came in were unique in that there was a small tab that fastened the end flaps shut on both ends of the boxes themselves. In addition, the Millennium Falcon box that the vehicle was released in was completely covered by the graphic of the toy itself. This continued through the ROTJ release of the vehicle. The vehicles' boxes had English printing on one side, and French printing on the other; a tell-tale sign that the item is Canadian.
1978:  X-Wing Fighter   -   TIE Fighter   -   Landspeeder
1979:  Millennium Falcon   -   Darth Vader TIE Fighter
The X-Wing Fighter shown here was among the first set of vehicles to be released in 1978. Notice the attractive pyramid-style logo that was used on early versions of Canadian Star Wars-era items.
The TIE Fighter shown here was among the first set of vehicles to be released in 1978. Notice the attractive pyramid-style logo that was used on early versions of Canadian Star Wars-era items.
The Landspeeder shown here was among the first set of vehicles to be released in 1978. Notice the attractive pyramid-style logo that was used on early versions of Canadian Star Wars-era items. Upon first glance, the Canadian landspeeder does not stand out from other landspeeders from other countries. However, Canada actually had four different versions of the landspeeder released from 1978 to 1979.
The first version, released in 1978, was the landspeeder with chrome vents and painted red stripes. This version has the Kenner markings on the underside of the vehicle.
Then, in 1979, Kenner Canada imported landspeeders from Toltoys Australia; Kenner's Australian affiliate. This release of the landspeeder has the Toltoys markings on the underside of the vehicle and came in three different versions. One version had painted brown and grey vents, and red stripes that were stickers.
The second version had chrome vents and red stripes that were stickers.
The third version had molded flat grey vents and red stripes that were stickers. The boxes themselves never changed to reflect the different landspeeder versions.
There is something to keep in mind when searching for a Toltoys landspeeder. The Toltoys boxed landspeeder is a very difficult item to come by, and commands a higher than average price on the collector's market. It is very important to keep in mind that the Toltoys landspeeder itself was released both in Canada and Australia; therefore, loose examples of the Toltoys landspeeder should not sell for much more than a regular landspeeder.
There was also a special offer version of the Landspeeder.
The Toltoys/Kenner Hybrid Landspeeder:
During the Christmas rush of 1978 when production of Star Wars toys was at its peak in Canada and most parts of the rest of the world, Kenner Canada found itself behind the eight ball. Demand was so high for Star Wars toys in that first year of production that Kenner Canada found themselves behind in production and they were in danger of not being able to meet the demand for the Christmas buying season.
As can be seen in the newspaper article on the left, Kenner Canada (Irwin Toy) was working around the clock assembling and packaging toys in late 1978 and they found that the materials onhand in their inventory were becoming depleted very quickly.
They turned to Kenner USA to see if they could borrow their molds in order to create more Landspeeders, but they were told that the molds in the USA were 'oversaturated' at that particular time in order to try to keep up with local demand in the USA as well. Kenner Canada needed parts and they needed them fast, so they turned to their fellow Commonwealth brethren in Australia. Toltoys came through in flying colours. In order to keep pace with demand in Canada, Kenner Canada imported parts from Toltoys Australia, as can be seen in the newspaper article as well. This resulted in the Toltoys/Kenner hybrid Landspeeders shown below.
As the name suggests, Kenner Canada assembled a number of Landspeeders in late 1978 with a combination of Kenner Canada and Toltoys produced parts. The two Landspeeders pictured above show this combination in two different types. The first Landspeeder shows the Kenner top half with painted stripes, but the bottom half shows the grey grill and Toltoys address on the underside of the vehicle, indicating that the bottom half was one of the parts imported from Australia. The second Landspeeder shows the Toltoys top half with no red stripes at all. As mentioned previously, the Toltoys Landspeeder came with red stripes that were stickers that needed to be placed on the Landspeeder by the consumer. The Kenner Landspeeder came with red stripes that were painted onto the vehicle from the factory. The bottom half shows the Kenner address on the underside of the vehicle.
Production of the Landspeeders using both Kenner and Toltoys parts continued into the early part of 1979. It is unknown how many Landspeeders were assembled and issued with these different parts as they were only done so for a very short time.
Arguably one of the hottest toys of 1979, the Millennium Falcon was difficult to find in the first year of its introduction at Christmas time. The Millennium Falcon came in a box that sported "all-over" graphics. The box's ends were made with flaps that folded together inside the box in order to maintain a strong seal on either end. This box style continued until the ROTJ issue of the vehicle, where plain "fold-over" flaps were used and were glued together.
The same graphic was also used throughout the release of the Millennium Falcon, whereas other countries would use updated images to re-enact scenes from the movie that was in theatres at the time. This was a cost-saving move on Kenner Canada's part.
With the lower production levels in Canada, Kenner Canada could not realize the same economies of scale that other countries could, so cost saving measures were taken whenever feasible. There was also a special offer version of the ESB version of the Millennium Falcon.
Darth Vader TIE Fighter:
The last vehicle to be released in Canada in 1979 under the Star Wars logo was the Darth Vader TIE Fighter. Once again, notice the attractive pyramid-style logo that was used on early versions of Canadian Star Wars-era items.