This press kit, likely handed out in the winter of 1979 at Toy Fair in New York, reviews the past as well as the immediate future of Kenner product lines.
Kenner hit a home run with the Star Wars license in 1978. It was so big that there were problems meeting demand and the company had to explain that it wasn’t artificially constricting supply to create the frenzy. As one of the press releases in this kit explains, the popularity of Star Wars was the perfect match of a quality film and a quality toy line. As stated on one of the pages, “the quality and detail of the toys was superior to anything previously produced.”
Kenner’s response to rumors that the shortage was contrived by Kenner itself is included in the same packet:
“Rumors have persisted that the shortage of products was contrived by the manufacturer. This is an often heard rumor when a toy becomes a runaway best seller and supplies become limited. This STAR WARS rumor is totally untrue. In fact, during 1978, Kenner boosted its production of STAR WARS products ten fold over its initial production estimate — something almost impossible to do in the toy industry”
The release goes on to explain that additional production lines were added, giving Star Wars four lines of production while most toys only had one in response to the additional demand.
Another interesting part of the packet gives some insight into Kenner’s strategy for the Star Wars product line. Kenner was committed to developing a comprehensive toy line over time.
“We are not just adding toys in a hit or miss fashion. The new toys will help increase the play life of the previously sold toys. Children will be able to experience and relive new scenes from the movie.” - Tom Clark, Kenner product manager for the Star Wars line
Kenner’s strategy is further explained with examples:
“…one new play environment is the Millenium (sic) Falcon. All of the original action figures can be used with the toy. Another example is the Creature Cantina. This is the location of encounters between Ben ‘Obi-Wan’ Kenobi and several Cantina Creatures, plus the Han Solo and Greedo Meeting.”
Finally, Kenner explains the planned extension of adding nine additional action figures, including Boba Fett, a character from “Star Wars II” which would be available only by mail order until June of 1979. The ill-fated rocket-firing feature is not mentioned.
Other content within the kit centers around upcoming advertising budgets and the challenge of developing products that turn constructive, developmental work for kids into interesting and exciting play. Several photos of 1979 toys are included to complement the press releases. All of this is enclosed in a wonderful looking binder showcasing the Kenner logo.