OK, so maybe that’s not a direct quote from Star Wars but the desire to collect and trade Star Wars stickers certainly has stuck around during the past 38 years. Indeed, it’s only grown more and more a-peeling to the millions of Star Wars fans across the planet and as we count the days down to the release of The Force Awakens it’s a good time to look right back to the earliest days of the saga when Luke and Leia weren’t brother and sister, Han Solo definitely shot first and blue milk only came full fat.
Star Wars (1977)
Here in the UK the Star Wars phenomenon landed on December 27, 1977 after a summer of eagerly awaiting this monster of a film which had been eating up box office records like a great white. Naturally kids and sci-fi fans were keen to get their hands on any Star Wars products they could and so jumping into the fray came this rare and unique sticker set. Coming in sets of 12 these are referred to as the Fascal set due to that name being printed on the reverse of the sticker backings. Unnumbered, the set consisted of:
Clearly designed in the 70’s they used a mixture of images from the Marvel comics adaptation and bespoke line art drawn especially for the set. These days they are a tough and desirable find.
and most desirable
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
1980 brought us the second chapter in the Star Wars story The Empire Strikes Back and with it the first full UK sticker album. The Empire album was released by F.K.S Publishers, a company based on the Kilburn High Road in London who were best known for their sucessful series of football stickers during the 70’s. Consisting of 255 stickers the album took no small amount of dedication to collect and complete and these days a full album in good condition is hard to come by. Indeed, my own copy was bought off a schoolfriend back in 1982 when she decided to swap her full album for my partially completed one and ‘cash in’ to raise money to buy more Palitoy The Empire Strikes Back figures.
Printed in orange tones the inside of the book is beautifully laid out with scroll work on the top and sides of the pages reminiscent of Leia’s Bespin gown. Throughout the 22 page book there are black and white images showing scenes from the movie and perhaps most attractively the final 13 stickers are of Ralph McQuarrie’s stunning production paintings.
A full box of stickers contained 100 packs and again an unopened box is hard to come by these days. Anyone who collected these back in the day will remember the thrill of the chase, a feeling that still remains to this day as collectors of stickers, poggs, trading cards and more hunt down the missing numbers to complete their collections.
Return of the Jedi (1983)
Figurine Panini picked up the license by the time the third installment rolled around and so the sticker album for Return of the Jedi was a different layout and style to its predecessor. A much squarer design to the Empire album, this 180 sticker set was similar to the Topps stickers available in the States but differ due to the 6 languages (English, German, French, Italian, Dutch and Spanish) printed on the reverse of the stickers and the packs.
Opening with the familiar ‘A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far, Far Away…’ it introduces us to our lead heroes and villains, recapping their looks from the previous films before leading us very lightly through the events of the film. It’s worth remembering, even at the end of the first trilogy there was no Star Wars title available on video other than the 1977 original, so kids had to consume their Star Wars via constant trips to the cinema, re-reads of the novelizations, storybooks, the first wave of Marvel comics and their imaginations. This album gave away as much of the narrative as it could, but no more.
The back end of the album gives us a page to peel and stick cut outs of the lead vehicles, the Shuttle Tydirium, the A-wing, B-wing and the Millennium Falcon before ending with the celebration scenes on Endor and a relieved looking Luke Skywalker. Printed in blue tones, this is as OT vintage as it gets.
Interestingly not printed with the Special Edition logo, this 1997 sticker album from Panini covers the new elements introduced in the Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition. Walking us once again through the events of the three films it utilizes the advancements on printing to splash full color pages and loads them with written sidebars explaining the story.
The center of the album is especially unique with a series of stick & lift peel off stickers that lists the most wanted aliens in the galaxy. Where else would you learn that the eager Greedo had a bounty on his head for 40,000 credits for non-completion of a contract but furry old Muftak had a bounty of an enormous 250,000 credits for murdering Gamorrean guards?
The stick & lift gimmick meant that these stickers could be placed anywhere and then reused and moved, which could lead to all kinds of fun. Snowspeeders attacking the Death Star? It could happen.
The center of the album also contained a very cool vehicle identification guide with craft ranging from Sandcrawlers to Vader’s TIE fighter. The pull out poster focuses on the aliens of Star Wars, primarily Jabba’s Palace and is loaded with great images.
So there you have a potted history of the sticker albums that were released to accompany the original trilogy. Next time we’ll take a look at the prequels, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels as we continue to count down to December and – we hope – the first sticker album of the sequel trilogy.
Mark has contributed to Star Wars Insider for almost a decade, is the owner of Jedi News, writes for The Metro blog and co-hosts RADIO 1138. He’s an honorary member of the UK Garrison of the 501st, a friend of the Rebel Legion and when heís not talking or writing about Star Wars he can usually be found sleeping where heíll most likely be dreaming about Star Wars.