Top Toys Guide

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

The Argentinian licensee Top Toys was responsible for releasing a limited run of seven Star Wars action figures during 1983 under the title of “EL REGRESO DEL JEDI” the Spanish for “RETURN OF THE JEDI”. Evidence from surviving pre-production materials show that Top Toys had originally planned to extend their range to include two addition figures, Lando Calrissian in Skiff Guard Disguise & Boba Fett. The most famous piece of pre-production material comes in the form of this presentation board below.

Image Source: (http://theswca.com/images-packa/toptoys-presentation-board.html)

Luckily for collectors Top Toys unknowingly released one of the most interesting “licensed” vintage Star Wars figure lines because unlike other foreign licensees Top Toys opted to make there own molds. The exact reason for this is unknown but it’s speculated that due to cost implications Top Toys decided to manufacture their own moulds. However, unlike any of the other factories producing Star Wars toys, they did not use the original wax sculpts or hardcopies. They choose instead to use Kenner production figures which resulted in the Top Toys figures being slightly smaller due to shrinkage during the manufacturing process. Another known difference due to this method of manufacture is a loss of detail in the sculpt.

Regarding the accessories, several of the figures in the Top Toys range came with 3 to 4 items resulting in alot incomplete figures surfacing on the second hand market leaving collectors with little or no hope of tracking their missing parts. Besides the expected reason of “it was a childs toy and they lost or broke the accessories whilst playing with them”, the quality of the packaging often meant that the bubbles would become unattached from the backing card by itself allowing the smaller accesories to fall out. There are many examples on the second had market of bubbles stapled to card backs and card backs with the bubbles removed with hardly any noticable damage to the surrounding artwork. Some people have claimed that store owners or even Top Toys themselves added the staples as extra security to stop the bubbles falling off, again this is unproven. Another reason for the rarity of some of the accessories is the qulaity of the plastics used, Yoda’s belt is the best example of this with only a small handful of unbroken belts exist in collectors hands as the shear fragile and brittle nature of this part means that most sealed examples of the Yoda figure contain a broken belt inside the bubble!

Cardback Designs

The Top Toys packaging mimics it’s Kenner counterpart from the front, however Top Toys made several small changes for the Argentinian market including Spanish translations for some character names and the changing the “RETURN OF THE JEDI” title to “EL REGRESO DEL JEDI”. The full range of card backs can be viewed further down this page along with an small guide on how to distinguish the card back variants that exist for the Top Toys figure range.

The Spanish translations for the character names.

1207     Chewbacca

1222     Osito Ewok (1)     Ewok Bear (2)

1203     Darth Vader

1224     Logray

1220     Luke Skywalker

1209     Stormtrooper

1221     Yoda

Brojo De La Tribu Ewok    (Wizard Of The Ewok Tribe)

Maestro Jedi     (Jedi Master)

El Maestro Jedi     (The Jedi Master)

(1) Name plate description for Chief Chirpa
(2) Osito meaning “Toy Bear or Teddy”

Cardback Variants

Although the Top Toys range of figures was short-lived, the artwork for the card backs changed several times. These changes have never been fully documented and are still relatively unknown in the collecting community. This guide will aim to document these difference for the first time.

The collecting community has already coined the phrase ’17 backs’ for the Top Toys cards which is based on the images found on the reverse of the cards. However, if you look closely you will find that only eight of the first twelve figures are actually named. In addition, you can also see that the following text ‘Boba Fett – con su Rifle Laser’ appears as the last name on the top list. We know from pre-production pieces which have surfaced that this particular figure was pencilled for a release but never got past the prototype stage. While we could have adopted the name ’14 backs’ based on the text descriptions, or even ’18 backs’ if you add Boba Fett into the mix, this guide has decided to keep with the ’17 back’ terminology. Due to the amount of known card back designs we have included designations such as 17A, 17B and 17C.

Below you will find a list of all the differences found on the 17A to 17C card backs.

1 – Hanger Slots. While the placement of the punched slot is completely random on all card backs designations, the ones found on the later issued 17C have a larger notch in the centre.

2 – The trademark symbol located to the lower right corner of the EL REGRESO DEL JEDI logo was updated on the 17C card backs from TM (Trademark) to MR which is short for MARCA – in Spanish this can be translated as ‘brand’ or ‘trademark’.

3 – The alignment of the red EL REGRESO DEL JEDI text compared to the STAR WARS logo is different when comparing the 17A/B’s to 17C. If you look closely you can see that the long vertical edge of the “L” is either aligned with the left or right of the “T” depending on the type of card back.

4 – The licensing information underneath the Kenner logo was updated on the 17C card backs from “Licensed by Lucasfilm Ltd (c) General Mills, Inc.” to a more simplified “Licensed by Lucasfilm Ltd (LFL)” This was more than likely due to changes at CPG (the parent company) when General Mills the toy division was restructured in 1984-1985.

5 – Located below the bubble is a catalogue number. While these are not unique to any card back they are unique to each of the individual characters so are worth a mention. Below is a full list of the numbers used for the Star Wars action figure range. As you can see there are large gaps in the numbering, the reason for this is unknown.

1203 – Darth Vader
1207 – Chewbacca
1209 – Stormtrooper
1220 – Luke Jedi
1221 – Yoda
1222 – Chirpa
1224 – Logray

6 – The trademark symbols found next to the Luke and Leia image and to the lower right of the EL REGRESO DEL JEDI logo were also updated on the reverse of the 17C card backs from “TM” (Trademark) to “MR” (Marca) the Spanish for ‘brand’ or ‘trademark’.

7 – The type of card used on the later 17C release card back was also different. This is more noticeable when viewed from the reverse. If you compare the images you will see that the 17A and 17B have a matte finish as opposed to the 17C which has a glossy finish.

8 – The only difference between the 17A and 17B card back is the wording “y proximamente” which in Spanish can be translated as ‘AND SOON’. This was referring to the Logray and Lando Calrissian figures, the latter of which was never released.

9 – Three extra lines of Lucasfilm & CPG licensing were added to the 17C card backs. This ties in with the change to the copyright information on the fronts of the cards described in point 4.

10 – To make room for the additional licensing information on the bottom left corner on the reverse of the card backs, the Logray and Lando Calrissian names and character descriptions were re-positioned above the image of the five ROTJ/ESB characters.

The above ten points highlight the known differences which can be found on the three Top Toys card back variants. If you know of any other differences or see something we have missed, please feel free to let myself or one of the Variant Villains team know.

Acknowledgements

Mark_Yeo, J_G & emperorburns for the MOC photos