Published on June 13, 2016

Star Wars: A Licensing Empire [Infographic]

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Star Wars Merchandise

Remember a long time ago, here in this galaxy, when Star Wars was just a movie? Neither do we! It’s no surprise that Star Wars is one of the most valuable franchises today and it’s mostly due to all the licensed merchandise that’s available out there. Sure, things started small with books and action figures (have you seen how many Luke Skywalker action figures there are?), but it’s grown into a colossal business. You can get Star Wars shoes, purses, slippers, bathrobes, pajamas, toasters, jewelry... pretty much anything you can think of!


If you add everything up - all the way down to Star Wars branded macaroni and cheese - you’ll find that Star Wars merchandise sales exceeded a quarter of a billion dollars last year alone! That’s a whole lot of noodles! As much as we’d like to go into every detail, we’d prefer to use our time to keep watching Star Wars movies on the regular. Here’s a look at amount of Star Wars movies, books, and toys produced since the franchise launched 40 years ago.

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Star Wars Merchandise Infographic

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Star Wars: A Licensing Empire Highlights

 

1976:

  • November: The first Star Wars novel, Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker was published. It was published before Star Wars premiered in 1977.

 

1977:

  • 1977: The original 12 Kenner Star Wars action figures were made. They're often referred to as the Star Wars 12-back figures.
  • April: The first issue of the Star Wars comic book was published.
  • May: Star Wars premiered in theaters. It was later titled Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope.
 

1978:

  • 1978: The second run of Kenner action figures were made, also known as the Star Wars 20-back figures.
  • February: A sequel novel to A New Hope called Splinter of the Mind's Eye was published. It was considered to be the first installment of the expanded Star Wars universe.
  • March: Official Star Wars Fan Club Newsletter #1, the first issue of the official Star Wars fan club newsletter premiered. A contest held with the release of the second issue gave this publication its name, Bantha Tracks.
  • November: The infamous Star Wars Holiday Special appeared on TV, introducing the new character, Boba Fett. It was the first Star Wars-themed spin-off movie.

 

1979:

  • 1979: Kenner released its first Boba Fett action figure. Originally advertised with a rocket-firing backpack, they decided to make the backpack static for safety concerns. Rocket-firing prototypes are extremely rare and are worth thousands of dollars.
  • April: Han Solo at Stars' End, the first book in a series about Han Solo's adventures, was published.
  • November: The first Star Wars annual comic book by Marvel, Star Wars Annual 1: The Long Hunt debuted.

 

1980:

  • 1980: Kenner debuted its 31-back The Empire Strikes Back action figures.
  • April: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back novel was published.
  • May: The Empire Strikes Back, the second Star Wars film, premiered in theaters. The title was later changed to Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

 

1981:

  • 1980: The Kenner 41-back The Empire Strikes Back figured debuted.
  • March: A Star Wars radio show was produced and broadcast by National Public Radio. It was the first radio dramatization of the original Star Wars movie trilogy.

 

1982:

  • 1982: The first Star Wars video game, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, was introduced for the Atari 2600 and the Commodore 64.
  • 1982: Kenner's 45-back figurines for The Empire Strikes Back debuted. There was also a separate mail-away Admiral Ackbar figure available in 1982.
  • November: Marvel's Marvel Movie Showcase 1, a collection of the first three Marvel Star Wars comic series was published.

 

1983:

  • 1983: Star Wars: Jedi Arena, a video game for the Atari 2600, premiered.
  • 1983: Kenner's line of 65-back figurines for Return of the Jedi were made.
  • May: The official novelization of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi was published.
  • May: Return of the Jedi premiered in theaters. The title was later changed to Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
  • June: The first book of the Lando Calrissian series, Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu, was written.
  • July: Star Wars: The Arcade game was released by Atari. The game was considered to be one of the most popular video games of all time, and was later released for home consoles.

 

1984:

  • 1984: Kenner released their 77-back and 79-back action figures for Return of the Jedi, the last figures before their Power of the Force line.
  • 1984: Atari released the Star Wars: Return of the Jedi arcade game. It was later made available for at-home systems.
  • 1984: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi; Death Star Battle was produced for several Atari game systems.
  • November: The Ewok Adventure, a TV movie based on the Star Wars universe, premiered.
  • December: A Guide to the Star Wars Universe was published.

 

1985

  • 1985: The last of the original Kenner Star Wars movie action figures, the Power of the Force line, were made. Kenner also made figures for animated series Droids and Ewoks, but these toys didn't sell well. The Kenner "vintage" toy line ended in 1985.
  • 1985: Atari released The Empire Strikes Back, an arcade game.
  • May: The first in a series of Marvel Ewoks comics, Ewoks: The Rainbow Bridge 1, was published.
  • September: Droids, an animated Star Wars TV series began. It only lasted for one season and ended in June 1986.
  • September: A sister series to Droids, Ewoks was produced for television. This animated series ran for two seasons.
  • November: A TV movie called The Battle for Endor was shown on television.

 

1986:

  • 1986: Comic books, novels and TV episodes continued to be produced.

 

1987:

  • June: Spaceballs, the famous Star Wars parody movie, was released.
  • Fall 1987: The first fan club magazine for Lucasfilm fans, The Lucasfilm Fan Club Magazine 1 was published. Later, the name was changed to Star Wars Insider.
  • October: The first Star Wars roleplaying game sourcebook, The Star Wars Sourcebook, was published.

 

1988:

  • 1988: Mastertronic developed the Star Wars: Droids video game as an arcade-style game for the Amstrad CPC Commodore 64 and the ZX Spectrum.
  • 1988: A two-person board game called Assault on Hoth was produced by West End Games.

 

1989:

  • January: West End Games published Battle for Endor, a solitaire board game.
  • January: The Starfighter Battle Book: X-wing vs TIE Interceptor adventure book was published by West End Games.

 

1990:

  • 1990: A roleplaying board game called Escape from the Death Star was made.
  • June: Scoundrel's Luck, a choose your own adventure book, was published.
  • June: Another choose your own adventure book called Jedi's Honor debuted.

 

1991:

  • January: A tabletop wargame using miniatures, Star Wars Miniatures Battles, was produced by West End Games.
  • May: The novel Heir to the Empire, the first book of the Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, was published. This book introduced the character, Mara Jade.
  • November: Star Wars, the video game, was released for the NES.
  • December: The Empire Strikes Back video game was also released for the NES.
  • December: The first in a series of 6 Dark Empire Star Wars comics, Dark Empire 1: The Destiny of a Jedi was first published.

 

1992:

  • June: The Glove of Darth Vader, a Star Wars Legends junior novel, was published.
  • November: The first in a series of three Star Wars Super Nintendo Games, Super Star Wars was released.

 

1993:

  • 1993: Sega produced Star Wars Arcade.
  • 1993: A Star Wars-themed chess video game called The Software Toolworks' Star Wars Chess was made.
  • February: Star Wars: X-Wing, the first LucasArts PC game based on the Star Wars universe, was made.
  • November: LucasArts published Star Wars: Rebel Assault, their first CD-only video game.

 

1994:

  • February: West End Games published their first role-playing game magazine, Star Wars Adventure Journal Volume 1, Number 1.
  • March: The first novel in a series called the Jedi Academy Trilogy, Jedi Search was published.
  • April: The Dark Horse comic book series, Star Wars Droids: The Kalarba Adventures 1, starring C-3P0 and R2-D2, debuted.
  • April: The Courtship of Princess Leia novel was introduced. This book includes the wedding of Leia and Han.
  • October: The premiere issue of Star Wars Galaxy Magazine 1 came out.

 

1995:

  • 1995: The first wave of Kenner's (under Hasbro) Power of the Force action figures were released.
  • February: Star Wars Legends novel, Ambush at Corellia, was published. This book was the first in the Star Wars: The Corellian Trilogy.
  • February: Star Wars: Dark Forces, a first-person shooter Star Wars computer game, was made.
  • April: Jabba the Hutt: The Gaar Suppoon Hit was written. It is the first comic book in a series of one-shot comics.
  • June: Young Jedi Knights: Heirs of the Force was introduced. This book is the first of the Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights series.
  • October: Heir to the Empire 1, the first comic in a series of comics based on the novel, was published.
  • December: The base set of a Star Wars card game, the Premiere Limited set, debuted.

 

1996:

  • 1996: Several waves of Power of the Force Star Wars action figures were produced by Kenner/Hasbro, along with a line of Shadows of the Empire figurines.
  • January: The first in a series of X-Wing novels, X-Wing: Rogue Squadron, was written.
  • March: Before the Storm was published, the first book in the Black Fleet Crisis Trilogy.
  • October: Tales of the Jedi - The Golden Age of the Sith 1: Into the Unknown was published. This Dark Horse comic was the first in a series of Tales of the Jedi - The Golden Age of the Sith comics.
  • November: Originally released for the Nintendo 64, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire was a video game set during both The Empire Strikes Back and the Return of the Jedi timelines.

 

1997:

  • 1997: Kenner/Hasbro released several more waves of Power of the Force action figures.
  • February: The first Dark Forces Trilogy book, Dark Forces: Soldier for the Empire, was published.
  • March: LucasArts developed Star Wars: Yoda Stories for the PC, and later for the Game Boy Color as well.
  • September: Star Wars Kids 1 was the first issue of the Star Wars Kids magazine.
  • November: Specter of the Past, a novel written by Timothy Zahn, was the first book in the Star Wars: The Hand of Thrawn Duology.
  • December: A comic by Dark Horse comics, Crimson Empire 1 premiered.

 

1998:

  • 1998: Kenner/Hasbro released more waves of Power of the Force figurines, as well as some Expanded Universe action figures.
  • 1998: Sega and LucasArts created an arcade game called Star Wars Trilogy Arcade.
  • February: Star Wars Galaxy Collector 1, the first issue of the Star Wars Galaxy Collector magazine, was published.
  • February: LucasArts released the video game, Star Wars: Rebellion.
  • August: Mara Jade – By the Emperor's Hand 1 was published by Dark Horse Comics.
  • December: The video game Star Wars: Rogue Squadron was released for the N64 and PC.

 

1999:

  • 1999: The last of the Power of the Force figures by Kenner and Hasbro were released, along with the first waves of action figures for the new movie, Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.
  • February: The Vader's Quest 1 comic kicked off a series of Vader's Quest comics.
  • May: The newest Star Wars movie and the first movie of the prequel trilogy, Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace was introduced.
  • May: Video game Star Wars Episode I: The Gungan Frontier was produced.
  • May: Dave Wolverton wrote Jedi Apprentice: The Rising Force, the first book of the Jedi Apprentice series.
  • October: Star Wars: DroidWorks was a video game made for the PC. This game allowed the player to assemble droids to complete certain tasks.
  • November: Union 1 was published, the first in a series of Star Wars: Union comics.

 

2000:

  • 2000: Hasbro introduced the Power of the Jedi action figures.
  • 2000: A podracing arcade game, Star Wars Racer Arcade, was developed.
  • January: The first in a series of Star Wars Chewbacca comics, Chewbacca 1, was published.
  • March: Star Wars: Force Commander was made as a game for the PC.
  • April: Video game Star Wars: Episode I Jedi Power Battles was made for the PlayStation and Dreamcast.
  • September: Wizards of the Coast published Star Wars Gamer 1, the first issue of Star Wars Gamer magazine.
  • September: Darth Maul 1 was made by Dark Horse comics, the first in a series of Darth Maul comic books.
  • November: Wizards of the Coast released the first edition of the new Star Wars roleplaying game, Star Wars Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook.
  • November: The Star Wars: Demolition video game was made for the PlayStation and Dreamcast.

 

2001:

  • 2001: Hasbro's Power of the Jedi toy line continued production in 2001.
  • 2001: Part one of the Trade War trilogy, Consignment, was released.
  • February: A Star Wars flight simulation game called Star Wars: Starfighter was made for the PC, Xbox and PS2.
  • April: Dark Horse's Jedi vs. Sith 1 was the first issue in the Jedi vs. Sith comic book series.
  • April: Star Wars: Super Bombad Racing, a Star Wars-themed kart racing video game was released for the PlayStation 2.
  • September: The Jedi Quest series of comics started with Jedi Quest 1.
  • November: Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds was a real-time strategy computer game made for the PC and Mac.
  • December: Video game Star Wars: Obi-Wan was released for the Xbox.

 

2002:

  • 2002: Hasbro's Star Wars SAGA line of action figures began. They also began their first line of Disney Theme Park-exclusive figures.
  • 2002: Hasbro and Toys "R" Us released their first exclusive comic book, Full of Surprises.
  • 2002: LEGO made a stop-motion animated film, LEGO Star Wars: The Han Solo Affair. It's also known as Star Wars Episode V½.
  • May: Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones showed in theaters.
  • September: The first Star Wars: Empire comic, Empire 1: Betrayal, Part 1, was published.
  • November: A Legends video game, Star Wars: The New Droid Army, was released for the Game Boy Advance.

 

Phew! That’s quite a bit of merchandise and, with several new movies set to be released, you can guarantee that even more will be made each year. What’s your favorite piece of Star Wars memorabilia? Do you collect Star Wars action figures? There are so many cool ones, but we’d have to say our favorite is still Chewbacca. If you love Star Wars, you should take a look at our selection of Star Wars gifts and see what kind of sweet merchandise exists in this galaxy. Thanks to JediBusiness and Wookieepedia for the facts!

Design Credit: Kate Willaert

Devin Rubink
Devin Rubink

Devin is a Marketing Specialist at FUN.com. What’s fun for him? Devin loves watching movies and playing with toys. His favorites include Marvel superheroes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Star Wars. Devin is not one to back down from an epic lightsaber battle or Nerf war, but if you wish to defeat him, just offer him ice cream and he’ll let his guard down.

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