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Guide to Kenner's Star Wars Figure Card Backs
by Chris Fawcett



Without a doubt, the most collected items from the Star Wars trilogy are action figures. Among action figure collectors are those who collect unopened figures in various packaging schemes that Kenner made. Most of the figures came packaged on a 6" x 9" card with a bubble or blister attached and the figure inside. The backer cards went through many changes in the line's eight-year history creating many variations of collectibles for the Star Wars action figure collector.

The information contained here will hopefully be of great help to the carded figure collector. While it would be almost impossible for a single person to obtain one of every variation of Star Wars carded figures, it is interesting to know what one has and what to be on the lookout for. At this point in time, few collectors are interested in which card back figures are on with the exception that most prefer 12-backs if given a choice. There are some figures, though, even harder to find than 12-backs. They're not as well known and not as well advertised. They may be difficult to track down, but the hunt is half the fun.

The most often used terminology for labeling these different cards stems from the number of action figures pictured on the back. Thus a 20-back has 20 figures pictured on the back of the card. A letter system is also used to designate the logo on the card. A 65-ROTJ back, then, would be a card with 65 figures on the back and the Return of the Jedi logo on the front. To break things down even further, there were different toy offers, promotions and advertisements on otherwise identical cards. These differences are noted by adding a letter to their designation and are assigned in the order of their release. For instance, a 65A-ROTJ figure would have the Return of the Jedi Logo on it, 65 figures on the back and the pictures of the Ewoks have been blacked out. A 65B-ROTJ is the same as a 65A-ROTJ except that you can now see the Ewoks on the back of the card. 

 
Star Wars 12-backs 

One of the most popular with collectors, the twelve backs belong in a category all their own because of the higher prices they command. It is interesting to note that there are instructions on the 12-backs for using the telescoping lightsaber feature that was originally planned for Luke, Ben, and Darth. The saber feature was dropped, but the text still made it onto the packaging.

 
Star Wars 

Star Wars cards were also released with 20 backs which showed the first two set of figures and then on 21-backs which included the Boba Fett figure. 

The last Star Wars header card was actually a 32-back. This seems odd looking at the fact that ESB cards started with 21-backs before moving on to 31- and 32-backs. This SW card, however, is simply a 12-back with a sticker slapped over the bottom half showing the next twenty figures e. A likely reason for this oddity is that Kenner started releasing ESB 31-backs and had some SW 12-backs left over. They wanted to update the card to let people know about the new figures, so they printed up a sticker showing the new figures. These were probably released just after the ESB 31-backs and before the 32-backs came out. These SW 32-backs are fairly difficult to find and could command a price of up to 40% more than book to a buyer interested in such variations. 

   
Empire Strikes Back 

The first ESB cards were the 21-backs. These are basically the same card at the SW 21-backs with the logo updated for the Empire Strikes Back. These cards are some of the hardest to find and often get prices up to 50% over book. Of all the card variations, the ESB 21-back is probably one of the most sought after even though it may not be the rarest. 

The Empire headers had a long life, proceeding from the 21-backs to 31-, 32-, 41-, 45-, 47-, and 48-backs. As new figures were added to the line, they were put on the card backs. Many of these cards also had variations on the toys and playsets shown at the bottom of the card.

 
 
Return of the Jedi 

ROTJ cards had four card backs starting with a 48-back and proceeding through 65-, 77-, and 79-backs. The 48-back is the tough find of the bunch because it was a transition card like the ESB 21-backs. Kenner was moving all the figures onto ROTJ packaging and this card had the short run before being updated with ROTJ figures on the back. It can garner some price increases in the range of 25% over book value. 

It is interesting to note that the 65A back has two figures blacked out on the card. These are both Ewoks. The reasoning behind this is that these cards were released before the movie Return of the Jedi was actually in theaters. George Lucas wanted to keep the Ewoks a secret, so he insisted that Kenner not reveal them.

 
 
Power of the Force 
 
There was only one card back for this series of figures, the 92A (right). Figures that come on this card are often the mostly highly priced, even if the figure had been released on an earlier card. This is due to the fact that many less were released and that the nifty packaging which included a collector's coin is usually more sought after by collectors than other carded figures.
 
 
Droids and Ewoks 

These two cards had scenes from the cartoons on the fronts and pictures of the Droids and Ewoks toys on the backs.

 
 
 
Trilogo & other Foreign 

Trilogos were identical to ROTJ and POTF cards with the exception of the trilingual packaging. Figures packaged on Trilogo cards bring a much smaller price than the same figure on another card back. Most of the Trilogo card backs are the same as their U.S. counterparts, but there are a few differences. There is, for example, a 79-back Trilogo card with the Ewoks blacked out in the same manner as the 65A card. This back does not appear on the U.S. packaging. 

There were many other foreign packaged items by Kenner affiliates in Europe, Asia and South America including Takara (Japan), Meccano (Mexico), and Palitoy (England). Some of these packages are very similar to their North American cousins and some are radically different. 
 

 
Promotions
Kenner held many promotions for free merchandise. Sometimes these were printed right on the card and at other times they were stickers plastered onto other card backs. Some offers appeared both ways. Here's a run down of the basic promotions that Kenner ran on blister cards: 
1. Action Figure Collector's Stand: This offer appeared only on 12-backs and came with two variations, one offering the stand for 2 Proofs of Purchases and $2.00 and the other adding that it could be received free for 12 Proofs of Purchase. 
 
 2. Free Boba Fett: This promotion was for the infamous Rocket Firing Boba Fett, none of which were ever actually shipped. The offer has several different appearances with later cards having a sticker slapped over the part of the card touting the Fett with a firing rocket. There are also several expiration extensions which appear as stickers on earlier cards with the offer. 
 
3. Free Secret Star Wars Figure: This offer appeared on several cards extending from Star Wars and into the Empire Strikes Back era. The latest ESB card with the offer revealed that the secret figure was Bossk.
 
4. Action Figure Survival Kit: This package had several items to be used as accessories to the action figures. The offer ran only on the ESB 41-backs. 

5. Star Wars Display Arena: Running on ESB 45-backs, this promotion only had one variation, an extension of the deadline. 

6. Free 4-LOM: This offer only ran on one card, the ESB 47 back. 

7. Free Admiral Ackbar Figure: This offer was touted as a Revenge of the Jedi offer, the name of the third movie before George Lucas decided to change it into Return of the Jedi.
 
8. Free Nien Nunb Figure: This offer was only on ROTJ 48 backs. 

9. Free Emperor Figure: This offer only ran on the 65C card backs. 

10. Free Anakin Skywalker Figure: This offer was on card backs from 65-backs through the end of ROTJ 79-backs.
 
Bringing it all Together

Below is a table that lists of the all 45 of the Kenner U.S. cards. They are listed in numerical order with information on headers, promotions, and other items distinguishing one card type from another.

Table 1.
Pic  Cardback#-Header  Offer Other toys pictured  Description
12A-SW Action Figure Stand Tie Fighter, X-Wing, Landspeeder The back of the card has artists renderings of the first twelve figures. There is a description of each and also instructions on how to use the telescoping lightsaber feature. The Action Figure Stand is offered for $2.00 plus 2 POPs.
12B-SW Action Figure Stand Tie Fighter, X-Wing, Landspeeder Identical to 12A except the Action Figure Stand offer has added that it can be had for 12 POPs.
12C-SW Action Figure Stand Tie Fighter, X-Wing, Landspeeder Identical to 12B except the description for working the telescoping lightsaber is different.
12D-SW (12/32) None Tie Fighter, X-Wing, Landspeeder Identical to 12C except for a larger sticker on the bottom showing the next 20 figures.
12E-SW Secret Figure Tie Fighter, X-Wing, Landspeeder Identical to 12C except for a larger sticker on the bottom showing the Secret Figure offer.
20A-SW none Action Figure Case, Droid Factory, Creature Cantina, Land of the Jawas, Dewback This card has the eight new figures above the original 12 figures.
20B-SW none Action Figure Case, Droid Factory, Creature Cantina, Land of the Jawas, Dewback The card back has a different picture of the Creature Cantina and a different description for it and the Land of the Jawas.
20C-SW Boba Fett Creature Cantina, Land of the Jawas The front of this card announces the free rocket-firing Boba Fett offer and the back explains how to get him along with a couple pictures of the figure.
20D-SW Boba Fett Creature Cantina, Land of the Jawas This card is identical to 20C except that the rocket firing Boba Fett picture is covered by a black sticker.
20E-SW Boba Fett Creature Cantina, Land of the Jawas This card is identical to 20C except the Boba Fett picture on the back is covered by a yellow and black sticker containing a description of the bounty hunter.
20F-SW Boba Fett Creature Cantina, Land of the Jawas This card is identical to 20D but with an additional red circular sticker extending the offer's deadline to 3/31/80.
20G-SW Boba Fett Creature Cantina, Land of the Jawas This card is the same as 20E but with an additional red circular sticker extending the offer's deadline to 3/31/80.
20H-SW Boba Fett Creature Cantina, Land of the Jawas This card is the same as 20G but with an additional red circular sticker on top of the round sticker extending the offer's deadline to 3/31/80.
20I-SW Boba Fett Creature Cantina, Land of the Jawas This card is the same as 20D but with an additional red rectangular sticker extending the offer's deadline to 12/31/80.
20J-SW Boba Fett Creature Cantina, Land of the Jawas This card is identical to 20E with an additional red rectangular sticker extending the offer's deadline to 12/31/80.
20K-SW Secret Figure Creature Cantina, Land of the Jawas The front of the card has a sticker over the Fett offer that announces the Secret Figure promotion. The back has a sticker over the entire top of the card with details of the offer.
21A-SW none Action Figure Case, Droid Factory, Creature Cantina, Land of the Jawas, Dewback This card back shows the first 21 figures.
21B-SW none Action Figure Case, Droid Factory, Creature Cantina, Land of the Jawas, Dewback This is identical to 21A except that the toy pictures are in a different placement.
21C-SW Secret Figure none The front of this card has a sticker with the Secret figure offer. The back would be the same as 21A except that the sticker for the free figure covers the bottom half of the card.
21D-SW Secret Figure none This card is the same as 21C except for a red rectangular sticker extending the offer to 12/31/80.
21E-SW Secret Figure none This card is the same as 21C for a red circular sticker extending the offer and revealing the secret figure as Bossk.
21F-SW Secret Figure none This card like 21C except with both the round and rectangular stickers from 21E and 21F.
21G-ESB Secret Figure none This card is identical to 21C except for the ESB header and the fact that the Secret Figure offer is printed instead of being a sticker.
21H-ESB Secret Figure none Same as 21G except for a red rectangular sticker extending the offer to 12/31/80.
21I-ESB Secret Figure none Same as 21G except for a red circular sticker extending the offer and revealing the secret figure as Bossk.
31A-ESB none Snowspeeder, Imperial Transport, Millennium Falcon The first thirty one figures are shown on the back.
31B-ESB none Hoth Playset, Star Destroyer, Vader Case Identical to 31A except for the toys pictured.
31C-ESB Survival Kit none Identical to 31A or 31B with a larger sticker showing the Survival Kit offer.
32A-ESB none Snowspeeder, Imperial Attack Base, Millennium Falcon  Identical to 31B with Yoda and the Imperial Attack Base added and the Imperial Transport removed.
32B-ESB none Hoth Playset, Star Destroyer, Vader Case Identical to card 31A except for the addition of Yoda in the upper left hand corner and slightly different toy pictures.
32C-ESB Survival Kit none Identical to 32A or 32B with a large sticker showing the survival kit offer.
41A-ESB Survival Kit none The bottom of this card has the Action figure survival kit offer and the top shows the 41 figures.
41B-ESB none Vader Case, Tie Fighter, Dagobah, X-Wing, Millennium Falcon, Cloud Car, Slave I  41 figures are shown on the back.
41C-ESB none Snowspeeder, 3 Mini Rigs, Tauntaun, Probot Playset, AT-AT, Imperial Attack Base This card is the same as 41A except for the toys shown.
41D-ESB none Vader Case, Tie Fighter, Dagobah, X-Wing, Millennium Falcon, Cloud Car, Slave I The figure pictures are shown on a blue background instead of in the small boxes. Otherwise the same as 41A.
41E-ESB none Snowspeeder, 3 Mini Rigs, Tauntaun, Probot Playset, AT-AT, Imperial Attack Base This figure pictures are shown on a blue background instead of in the small boxes. Otherwise the same as 41B.
45A-ESB Display Arena none This card has the Display Arena offer. The card back has the figures pictured on a yellow background and the offer is on the bottom third of the card.
45B-ESB Display Arena none This is the same as 45A but with a sticker extending the offer's expiration.
47A-ESB Free 4-LOM none The card offers the free 4-lom figure on the back and front. The top shows 47 figures.
48A-ESB none AT-ST, Tauntaun, Wampa, 5 Mini Rigs, Rebel Transport This card has 48 figures on the back. First line of text at top of card says 'STAR WARS'. Second line of text says 'ACTION FIGURES Collect all 48!'.
48B-ESB Free Ackbar none Same as 48A except for a sticker on the bottom third explaining the offer.
48C-ESB Free Ackbar none Same as 48B except the offer is printed not a sticker.
48D-ROTJ Free Nien Nunb none The bottom third of the card has the Nien Nunb offer. First line of text at top of card says 'STAR WARS'. Second line of text says 'ACTION FIGURES Collect all 48!'.
48E-ROTJ Free Nien Nunb none Same as 48D except first line of text at top of card says 'STAR WARS ACTION FIGURES'. Second line of text says 'Collect all 48!'.
48F-ROTJ Free Nien Nunb none Same as 48D except first line of text at top of card says 'STAR WARS'. Second line of text says 'ACTION FIGURES'. Third line of text says 'Collect all 48!'.
48G-ESB none AT-ST, Tauntaun, Wampa, 5 Mini Rigs, Rebel Transport Same as 48A except first line of text at top of card says 'STAR WARS ACTION FIGURES'. Second line of text says 'Collect all 48!'.
65A-ROTJ none Bandoleer Strap, Y-Wing, C-3PO Case This card shows 65 figures except two, Logray and Chirpa, are blacked out.
65B-ROTJ none Bandoleer Strap, Y-Wing, C-3PO Case This card is identical to 65A except the Ewoks are visible.
65C-ROTJ Emperor none The same as 65B except for the bottom third of the card explaining the Emperor offer.
65D-ROTJ Anakin none The same as 65B except for the offer for Anakin on the bottom of the card.
77A-ROTJ none The Rebo Band, Ewok Glider, Ewok Catapult, Rancor The back shows 77 figures.
77B-ROTJ Anakin none This card is the same as 77A except that there is a sticker on the bottom telling about the Anakin offer.
79A-ROTJ none The Rebo Band, Ewok Glider, Ewok Catapult, Rancor Shows 79 figures.
79B-ROTJ Anakin none This is the same as 79A except for a sticker showing the Anakin offer.
79C-ROTJ Anakin none The back has printed info on the Anakin offer.
92A-POTF none Collectors Coins The back adds all the new figures and the bottom third explains the Collector's Coins.
Tri-Trilogo none none This card is actually a 79-back, but it only appears on Trilogo cards. Notice the blacked out Ewoks.
E-Ewoks none Ewok Battle Wagon, Ewok Village, Ewok Glider, Ewok Catapult The back shows 6 Ewoks figures.
D-Droids none ATL-Interceptor, Side Gunner, Droids Lightsaber 12 Droids figures are pictured.