We’re big on anniversaries here at Hasbro. To us it’s not just about marking the passage of time but also commemorating those magical moments that make Star Wars so special. Because we’re all fans here, we love the opportunity to relive our favorite scenes and revisit our treasured toys. With the celebration of the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, we thought it was a great time to look at the different ways we’ve celebrated some other 40th anniversaries around here.

From 1977 – 2017: The Early Birds

If you’ve read our other stories about product and packaging development, you know that we start planning way ahead to make sure everything is ready at exactly the right time. For the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: A New Hope, we started talking in 2015—a whole two years early! At the time, we were starting to discuss new packaging ideas for The Black Series, and the concept of "collections inside collections" came up.

We knew that we wanted to do something innovative and special for fans and collectors, in 2017 to connect with that feeling of treasuring the original figures, whether they’d been collecting from the beginning or wanted to get their foot in the collectible door. First, we focused on how we’d make it new. We decided to “upscale” the original 3.75” figures into the by-then-standard Black Series 6-inch scale. But which figures? That answer seemed obvious: we’d remake the first twelve Star Wars figures, now in 6-inch scale.

 

The original twelve figures in 3.75” scale were really hard to find and expensive to get. Plus, new fans were being introduced to the original trilogy all the time, and Rogue One had ramped up interest in the original trilogy as well. Releasing the original twelve Star Wars figures in 6-inch scale for the first time to mark the anniversary of the first movie will be a love note to fans old and new… some of whom happened to be working on the project here at Hasbro.

Remaking the original twelve figures allows us to relive our childhoods and make improvements such as reworking the Black Series Darth Vader figure that hadn’t lived up to the expectations of fans. We could also make some of the more obscure figures that we hadn’t had an opportunity to weave back into the line, like the Jawa and the Death Squad Commander. It really gave the design team a lot of room to have some fun.

The plans for the celebration of the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: A New Hope may have been pretty obvious to us, but Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back would require a different approach.

From 1980 – 2020: The Empire Looms

As we began to think about our plans for the Episode V anniversary, we realized that while there wasn’t quite the same legendary feeling in the The Empire Strikes Back figure line as there were with those “first twelve” from A New Hope, fan reaction after the release of the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: A New Hope figures had been extremely positive. We were really guided by feedback coming out of that. We knew character selects for The Empire Strikes Back would be tougher. What would we do if there hadn’t been an original version of that figure on the classic cardback that we could recreate?

As much as we wanted to preserve what was done with figures in the original trilogy, some figures didn’t have an original cardback, like Luke in his Snowspeeder. But we realized that we were already moving away from being exactly like the original by doing these figures in a 6-inch scale. After talking it through, we decided that our goal was to celebrate the spirit of the original toy line in the 6-inch scale, not necessarily to adhere exactly to what had been done before.  

With the Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary Collection, we set out to make sure fans could get the iconic characters from the scenes they love, representing the figures that are part of the rich tapestry of not only the movie, but of the entire Star Wars galaxy.