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How big was Star Wars in the 70s 80s and 90s — Page 2

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SilverWook said:

Don’t forget Kenner brought back the toys in 1995, a full two years before the SE’s. Sure, Luke and the gang looked like they’d been hanging out on Eternia, but damn it was good to see Star Wars toys on the shelves again!
We also had the stuffed to the gills soundtrack anthology, and the (not so) Definitive Collection Laserdisc box set in 1993. I don’t think there ever was a time that the OT was out of print on home video in the 80’s or 90’s.

That Kenner line is the earliest I was conscious of Star Wars, I think. They’ve still got a ton of them at the comic shop I go to and I buy one every now and then. My favorite one I’ve got is a Sebastian Shaw Anakin Skywalker figure from '99 (I know it’s a little later, but it’s still the Power of the Force line).

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I remember walking into Walmart in the mid 90’s and suddenly, out of nowhere, there were TONS of Star Wars toys. The bodybuilding aesthetic made me laugh till I cried. I was a teenager so I didn’t want any of it, but it was cool as hell to see Star Wars stuff around again!

Ray’s Lounge
Biggs in ANH edit idea
ROTJ opening edit idea

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joefavs said:

SilverWook said:

Don’t forget Kenner brought back the toys in 1995, a full two years before the SE’s. Sure, Luke and the gang looked like they’d been hanging out on Eternia, but damn it was good to see Star Wars toys on the shelves again!
We also had the stuffed to the gills soundtrack anthology, and the (not so) Definitive Collection Laserdisc box set in 1993. I don’t think there ever was a time that the OT was out of print on home video in the 80’s or 90’s.

That Kenner line is the earliest I was conscious of Star Wars, I think. They’ve still got a ton of them at the comic shop I go to and I buy one every now and then. My favorite one I’ve got is a Sebastian Shaw Anakin Skywalker figure from '99 (I know it’s a little later, but it’s still the Power of the Force line).

I had that Anakin figure. It also came with spirit Yoda and Obi-Wan. There’s a store called Level Up Entertainment in the mall near me that actually sells those 90s SW toys. In a glass case display they also have the old school toys.

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Yeah, that was part of a whole “Endor ghosts set” or something. I’ve got it in my parents’ basement somewhere. Think I also had a separate ghost Obi-Wan that came individually, but I can’t remember for sure.

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Starwarsrules said:

I’m a 20 years old and of course I know Star Wars is big now but how huge was it in the 20th century

Have you never seen any documentaries about Star Wars? 😕

https://youtu.be/YXfkdXCs1N4

ChainsawAsh said:

Yeah, that was part of a whole “Endor ghosts set” or something. I’ve got it in my parents’ basement somewhere. Think I also had a separate ghost Obi-Wan that came individually, but I can’t remember for sure.

I have the “force ghost obi-wan” figure that I got from sending in bar codes from frito-lay in '97(?). Kellogg’s also had a Han figure in Stormtrooper costume that I sent away for (during the “one last time” campaign around 1995).

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Mielr said:

Starwarsrules said:

I’m a 20 years old and of course I know Star Wars is big now but how huge was it in the 20th century

Have you never seen any documentaries about Star Wars? 😕

https://youtu.be/YXfkdXCs1N4

ChainsawAsh said:

Yeah, that was part of a whole “Endor ghosts set” or something. I’ve got it in my parents’ basement somewhere. Think I also had a separate ghost Obi-Wan that came individually, but I can’t remember for sure.

I have the “force ghost obi-wan” figure that I got from sending in bar codes from frito-lay in '97(?). Kellogg’s also had a Han figure in Stormtrooper costume that I sent away for (during the “one last time” campaign around 1995).

Oh right, I remember now! Yeah, I have both of those, too.

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Star Wars was HUGE in the late 70’s and early 80’s. At least with young people, children and teens, probably a lot of young adults too especially if they were already into science fiction or action movies. But adults weren’t into as much as adults now. I remember picking George Lucas as someone I admired in school, and my teacher asking, “What has he done?” I guess I was supposed to pick Harriet Tubman or someone. Today, it would probably be the teacher who’s obsessed with Lucas and not the students.

It started to tapper off in the mid-80’s. But about '89 it felt like Star Wars was over–a thing of the past that was just going to fade away. I remember thinking at the time that even though Star Wars had been much bigger than Star Trek almost my whole life that it was Star Trek that would live on in the hearts of nerds everywhere. When I started college in '91, I found a bunch of Marvel Star Wars comics on clearance at a comic book store. I almost bought them, but didn’t for some reason.

That’s about the time it started to grow in popularity again with the first Zahn book and the Dark Empire comic limited series getting the ball rolling again, but it didn’t become mind blowingly huge again until The Phantom Menace. I think George Lucas finally realized he was never going to sell toys like he wanted to if he didn’t make films. Shadows of the Empire was his attempt to whip up a fan feeding frenzy without out going to the trouble of making a movie, but it didn’t work so he made The Phantom Menace, and everyone’s been Star Wars happy ever since.

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I went through a pretty strong ST:TNG phase in the mid-to-late 90s (and I will still stop on BBC America whenever I see its on), but Star Wars was always there in the background. I would agree with other respondents that it wasn’t a big thing in the early 90s - it was just sort of there. Once the SEs were released and Lucas announced production on the PT, the pop culture juggernaut that we know today kicked into afterburner and hasn’t really let up.

I recall pumping a metric shit-ton of hours into Tie Fighter (on 3.5" floppy!), Dark Forces, and Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II - one of the first great multi-player experiences on the internet.

Mavimao said:

I also think that because people who grew up on the films are now adults has a lot to do with the superfandom it has today. They’re buying tickets and making their kids watch these movies who want to buy toys and dress up for Halloween…rince, repeat.

This. A thousand times over, this. The whole “fly your freak flag” thing that’s so en vogue today was definitely not a thing in 90s. If you were a nerd, you were a dork and treated as such. Mainstream primetime shows didn’t reference Star Wars and other nerd-culture stuff every five minutes like they do today. But now, the children of the 80s and 90s are producing content, especially with the internet, which is why you have mainstream stuff like Family Guy and The Big Bang Theory. The degree to which Star Wars permeates all forms of media these days is absolutely incredible. I could be wrong, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find many, if any, Star Wars references in shows like Seinfeld and Friends.

Han Shot. Period.

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DeckardKatarn said:
I could be wrong, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find many, if any, Star Wars references in shows like Seinfeld…

No Star Wars references, but Star Trek

JEDIT: I take it back. There is exactly one.

After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true. ~ Spock

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Handman said:

DeckardKatarn said:
I could be wrong, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find many, if any, Star Wars references in shows like Seinfeld…

No Star Wars references, but Star Trek

Yea, I feel like Star Trek had much more momentum coming out of the 80s and into the 90s until 97-99. Star Trek was a consistent presence in the cinema throughout the 80s and you no less than three concurrent TV series during a period in the 90s, so it makes sense that for what little there was, you’d see more Trek references than Star Wars references. Also, Trek predates Star Wars by a decade, so folks who grew up on that would have started becoming influential in the 90s too.

Then Star Trek died.

Han Shot. Period.

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I can’t remember when Star Wars wasn’t huge. Other things came and went, some were huge for a short amount of time, but Star Wars has always been a constant. I remember when those Power oft he Force figures came out. Even that was a huge event.

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Star Wars was huge following the original film’s release. It only built up until Empire came out. But Empire didn’t do as well theatrically as the original. But it was the glory days of toys. I’d say between 79 and 84 was the peak. After 84/85, the Star Wars section in stores shrank and a lot of stores never got some of the later toys. Then it was out on video. Then the West End Games RPG, then the Power of the Force toys, which were everywhere. Not quite like the good old days where there was an entire aisle of Star Wars toys, but a pretty good selection. Some classics were brought back. The momentum carried through the 97 SE and Episode 1. But like the first Trilogy, it dropped off.

I would say Star Wars was at its most popular around Empire and at it’s second most popular around the SE and early PT.

The movies themselves have always been popular. I would say in many ways they are more popular now than ever. But we have a more diverse set of fans where some favor the OT, some the PT, and some the ST, and some one or more of the TV series. I’d say Baby Yoda/Grogu has been as popular as the original film was, and like the original film merchandising, no one was prepared.

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Michael Ward said:
it didn’t become mind blowingly huge again until The Phantom Menace.

From my own memory as a 9 year old in 1997, the Special Editions and all of the hype surrounding the 20th anniversary were the point at which Star Wars became mind blowingly huge again. Remember, they had to re-establish the Star Wars brand as a viable marketing behemoth like it had been in it’s heyday in order to get the hype train rolling for the prequels. I knew what Star Wars was as a child but to me in the early 90s it was just some forgotten old relic that old people watched marathons of on USA. I had a few of the vintage toys from random garage sales and thrift stores and I would be like “look, it’s that shiny gold robot guy from that old movie they show on TV all the time!”. Basically from the time I was born to about 1994, Star Wars to me was just “some old movie”. 1995 was when things really started to pick back up again with the new toy line and by 1997, You could find all manner of Star Wars merchandise in any department store like it was 1977 again. lunchboxes, backpacks, Pencil cases, underwear, toothpaste. You name it I had it.

For me, 1997 was the year that Star Wars came BACK with a vengeance! It was everywhere and EVERYONE was talking about it again. Oprah freaking Winfrey had her own special devoted to the Special Edition hype. That era to me as a child of the 90s is what I would have imagined it was like for children of the 70s growing up when the original film was released. If it weren’t for the '97 SEs and 20th Anniversary hype I wouldn’t have likely given a rat’s ass about the Phantom Menace as a child, It would have been just another movie to me. I was only hyped for it after having become a die hard Star Wars nerd 2 years before with the Special Edition theatrical re-releases, getting the '95 “Faces” VHS Trilogy for my Birthday and the Power of the Force toy line. All of the hype and anticipation for the prequels was based around the '97 SEs having firmly re-established Star Wars as a major pop culture phenomenon.

I certainly don’t love what has happened to the original versions of the films since the release of the Special Editions, but the hype around The Phantom Menace wouldn’t have been what it was without the mid 90s rebirth that began with the Special Editions. That is when the 2nd coming of Star Wars truly began.

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DeckardKatarn said:
I could be wrong, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find many, if any, Star Wars references in shows like Seinfeld and Friends.

qegt.gif

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Nien Nunb said:

DeckardKatarn said:
I could be wrong, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find many, if any, Star Wars references in shows like Seinfeld and Friends.

qegt.gif

That episode came in fall 1996. In 1996-1997 SW was again everywhere, so there were a lot of shows from that time making references. 3rd Rock was another that springs to my mind immediately having Hamill. This trend went on until 2005. Likewise before TFA, SW was again everywhere, for example in Pawn Stars they had a SW item coming in every month during the hype. I’ve collected these kind of snippets to my archive so it’s fun to see the progression and it capsulates the time.

And in the time of greatest despair, there shall come a savior, and he shall be known as the Son of the Suns.

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I’m sure it varies by country and by region, state, age group, etc. For me, for a time, Star Wars was something magical, something that was familiar, comfortable, that was appealing and hard to refuse. Now it seems more like a relic of the past, a cool piece of history wrapped up in nostalgia. My views may be just my own, but I can articulate my perception.

I was a baby in the 70’s. In the 80’s, Star Wars was a blockbuster franchise (I was 5 when ROTJ came out), and if you were a kid, it was all about the toys and make-believe. It was awesome. By 1985, I remember seeing the toys in the stores and walking right by, without the interest I once had. Yes, ROTJ was back in theaters that year, but we didn’t go see it (if I had my way, we would have, but we taped it off TV the first chance we got). So I think Star Wars wasn’t that big for me or other kids I knew by the late 80’s. By high school I discovered the Zahn books existed, and a couple of friends (who were nerdy super fans) got me interested in it again. The general view seemed to be that these were some old cheesy movies made for kids… until the special editions came out, then people caught the nostalgia bug. “I remember these movies when I was a kid!” teenagers were saying. Everybody acknowledges that Star Wars was a popular franchise in its time, regardless of whether they personally cared for it. It has had more lasting power in peoples imaginations than say, Indiana Jones, or American Graffiti (or even E.T.), and it has almost had the dedicated following of Star Trek (I feel like Trek fans have had to put up with mixed quality product for a lot longer, forcing them to weather a lot of storms and struggle as fans perceived as defending a shoddy franchise). I should pause there, because Trek has always been seen as a cult thing (since the original series was cancelled after only three seasons and stayed alive only on fan goodwill for some time). Star Wars kind of blows everything up, and then goes away, repeat.
I credit this popularity with the movies. I doubt many people became Star Wars fans because of a novel or a comic book, those things cater to people who already are into the franchise.

That hype ramped up to the release of Episode I and then I remember a lot of people kind of losing interest, thinking it kind of sucked, and collecting wasn’t what it used to be, etc. My superfan friends and I kept up with it, but the rest of the public seems to have lost interest once a movie left theaters. I stayed a fan through the video games (much less the EU of the 2000s, I had lost interest in most of the EU by the late 90s). Then it seemed like people got interested again with the Force Awakens, and while the hype continued through the Disney movies, I soured a lot on Star Wars in general. I had been losing interest in the EU by the late 90s and while I was hoping for it to reset, I didn’t quite like what we got.

This negative attitude of mine can be exaggerated, I really don’t hate Star Wars, I just don’t have the superfan (fanboy) attitude that some of my friends had, where they would find the good in every product, any excuse to justify buying it and pretending to like it. I wasn’t ashamed to be a fan, but I wanted to clarify to people that I didn’t like “all of it.” The sad part is the poor quality (IMHO) of some of the Star Wars product turned me off from the franchise for awhile. I had to cleanse my pallet by watching the despecialized editions again. I am far more interested in going back to some of the early EU and the old games, than checking out the latest thing that says “Star Wars” on it.

As for the people I know, they seem to be mostly casual fans “Oh I remember that was fun when I was a kid” who are curious and will check out a new movie, but generally won’t stick around for a trilogy unless they are dragged to it. Contradictions in the lore don’t bother them because they don’t pay that close attention or don’t really remember it very well. The superfans I know have been tested, most of them are still fans, but they have a harder time defending the new stuff. I can’t speak for everyone. I know that there are forums that are packed with people, there are conventions full of people (well there were, before the pandemic). To me, in my life, Star Wars seems to have been a fad that comes and goes. That doesn’t diminish the importance to film, or the merchandising empire it built, or my personal love of it.

Star Wars is part of the culture, but that doesn’t mean everybody has seen the movies and likes them. But they know what you are referencing when you use a catch phrase, just like if you pulled something from Star Trek or WWF, across multiple generations.

I never stopped liking Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, or the Jedi Knight video games. I just no longer feel obligated to “stick up for” heavily criticized new episodes. I thought the Mandalorian was okay. I still haven’t finished the second season of Clone Wars since it began. I’ve never seen rebels. I get more excited about fan edits than about new official releases. Still, if one day we got the original 1977 Star Wars (Or the original Empire or Jedi) on blu-ray in decent quality, I’d buy it, for more than a dollar. MTFBWY

<i>TCBOO</i>

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I turned five in 1977, but missed seeing STAR WARS on the big screen (same with EMPIRE), but did get to see JEDI at the cinema in late 1983.

I discovered STAR WARS through the original KENNER 3 & 3/4 inch action figures (around 1978 / 79). My first KENNER figure was Luke Skywalker: X-Wing Pilot in 1979.

STAR WARS (and the two sequels) were H-U-G-E back then. The merchandise was everywhere.

If you were lucky enough to be taken to a department store’s well-stocked toy section by your parents, the KENNER figures and accessories were everywhere. The little plastic dudes & dudettes were as common as flies.

A fantastic time to be alive (for a child). It was a pleasure to have lived through the original STAR WARS hoopla.

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Great video.

Wish I was a time traveller.

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I can assure you, for the first 3/4 of the 20th Century, Star Wars wasn’t big at all.