A GUIDE TO VINTAGE STAR WARS FIGURES & ACCESSORIES

Palitoy Empire Strikes Back Cardbacks

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ESB 30A CARDBACK

The first release of figures for the Empire Strikes Back added 10 new figures to the existing 20 give rise to the 30A card. Only 10 figures were released on this card. It features the Empire Strikes Back logo on the front of the card and a mid-size Palitoy logo between the size of the 20-back and 12-back logos but more to the centre of the card. There is another card variation with 30 figures listed on the back which has a larger Palitoy logo on the front like the 12-back which is known as a 30B. The logo size is how they are told apart. This card also features the letters TM on the K of the Empire Strikes Back logo. This is absent on the 30B card and onwards.

The back of the card shows the 10 new figures above the existing 20 figures. Most of the new figures shown are prototypes painted by hand and are a little different from the figures that were released. The bottom of the card shows the Palitoy Imperial Troop Transporter vehicle and the Palitoy Droid Factory playset. The Imperial Troop Transporter was never seen in any of the films and was made up for the toy market. This card variation, and all card variations up until 30B were manufactured in Hong Kong at the Kader Industries factory by the Palitoy (Far East) Company Ltd and then shipped back assembled to the Coalville factory in the UK. The bottom right hand corner has no writing on the white border, unlike the 30B which has Made in Hong Kong written there. This is the other common way to tell 30A and 30B cards apart. It looks like this writing was omitted on this card variation, and corrected on the 30B variation.

Two of the figures released on this card featured pictures on the front of the card that were only used on this card variation. Leia Organa Bespin Gown features an upper body shot of Leia rather than the usual full body shot, though this reverted back on the Tri-Logo release of this figure. Luke Skywalker Bespin Outfit features a full body shot of Luke rather than the usual gun drawn head and upper body shot used for the rest of the card variations. The blond hair version of Luke Skywalker Bespin Outfit appeared on this card.

Single stemmed bubbles with a footplate were used on all figures on this card variation.

It is possible to collect all 10 figures MOC and at least one Palitoy collector has managed to do this. These figures are all rare and expensive MOC and it is a great achievement to have done this.

ESB 30B CARDBACK

The 30B card differs from the 30A variation in 3 ways. The Palitoy logo on the front of the card is larger than that on the 30A, and is of the same size as that on the 12-back. Next, the font used on the Ages 4 and over text on the top right hand corner on the front of the card is different between the 2 variations. Lastly, on the back of the card, it says Made in Hong Kong on the white border in the bottom right hand corner of the card. This card variation, and all card variations up until 30B were manufactured in Hong Kong at the Kader Industries factory by the Palitoy (Far East) Company Ltd and then shipped back assembled to the Coalville factory in the UK.

The original set of 10 ESB figures that appeared on the 30A card can also be found on the 30B variation, along with the second set of 11 ESB figures. This is despite the fact that the figures on the second of ESB figures do not feature on the back of the card! This suggests that the 30B variation came out after the 30A variation. The Dengar figure has still to be seen on this variation. Of the original set of 12 figures Princess Leia Organa, Chewbacca, Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi, Han Solo and Death Squad Commander are known to have been released on this card. The others bar Sandpeople have been reported as existing but with a single MOC example. This suggests they were a salesman example or similar and did not make it to retail. From the second set of 8 Star Wars figures Luke Skywalker X-Pilot is known to have been released. Again the others bar Greedo and Snaggletooth are reported as existing but with a single MOC example. This gives the known number of figures released on this card to be 29.

Leia Organa Bespin Gown reverts to her familiar full body shot and Luke Skywalker Bespin Outfit reverts to his gun drawn head and upper body shot on the front of the 30B cards. These are the pictures usually seen for these figures unlike on the 30A variation. This is the first card variation to feature the brown hair version of Luke Skywalker Bespin Outfit.

Single stemmed bubbles with a footplate were used on all figures on this card variation. The size of the bubbles varies to accommodate larger figures like IG-88 (Bounty Hunter) to smaller bubbles with a much longer stem like on Yoda.

It is possible to collect the first set of 10 figures that first came out on the 30A card variation on the 30B card variation as MOC and at least one Palitoy collector has achieved this. These figures are rare and expensive and it is another great achievement to have done this.

It is also possible to collect the second set of 10 figures (not including Dengar) as MOC and at least one Palitoy collector has also achieved this. Boba Fett is the rarest and most expensive of this set and it is another great achievement to have done this as well.

ESB 41A CARDBACK

The second set of figures released for the Empire Strikes Back were released on the 41A card. This card is almost identical to the Kenner 41-back on the front and back of the card. The front of the card has the Palitoy logo where the Kenner one would be and there is no square white price box in the top left hand corner. The Palitoy logo is the smallest one yet, and has a box with a black background underneath it featuring trademark information. The back of the card features the 41 figures now available and vehicles and playsets mostly from the Hoth range of toys. The manufacturers text is also changed to that of the Palitoy company. The left hand box shows the Snowspeeder, Tauntaun, Turret-Probot playset and MLC-3, PDT-8 & MTV-7 mini rigs. The right hand box shows the Imperial Attack Base and Darth Vader TIE Fighter. This card variation, and all card variations up until 45A were manufactured in Hong Kong at the Kader Industries or Smile factory by the Palitoy (Far East) Company Ltd and then shipped back assembled to the Coalville factory in the UK. You can see is says Made in Hong Kong on the back of the card above the right hand box. The letter K next to it stands for Kader Industries and is the factory code that was also shown on Kenner cards that were also manufactured in the Kader Industries factory.

The second set of ESB figures had already been released on the 30B card variation which means that no figure made it’s debut on this card. This tends to make them a little less popular with collectors. The first and second sets of Star Wars figures and first set of ESB figures also appeared on this card variation. 41-back cards are much more common than 30-back cards for the first and second sets of Star Wars figures.

There are 2 other variations of 41-back cards, the 41B and 41C. Almost all figures appeared as either a 41A or a 41B & 41C. The only exceptions to this so far are Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot that appeared as all 3 variations and 2-1B that appeared as a 41A and 41B.

This is the last card variation that the original C-3PO appeared on. This is because this figure was replaced by a new version with removable limbs that debuted on the 45A cardback.

There is a sub variation where there is no factory code K for Kader Industries next to the Made in Hong Kong Text which is the 41AN variation. In this case the factory code is S for Smile Industries and is to the left of the Greedo figure. This variation also has a perforated punch compared to the 41A variation. All figures found on the 41A variation can be found with the factory code K, whereas only a subset can be found with the S factory code on 41AN. Also, the 41C card variation which was manufactured later can only be found with the K factory code. The 41AN variation is generally less common than the 41A, though on some figures the 41AN is more common.

Single stemmed bubbles with a footplate were used on all figures on this card variation.

ESB 41B CARDBACK

The 41B card is identical to the 41A variation with the only difference being the vehicles and playsets shown on the reverse of the card. The left hand box shows the Imperial TIE Fighter, X-Wing Fighter and Star Destroyer playset. It says (With Figures) under the text for Star Destroyer playset. This card variation, and all card variations up until 45A were manufactured in Hong Kong at the Kader Industries or Smile factory by the Palitoy (Far East) Company Ltd and then shipped back assembled to the Coalville factory in the UK. You can see is says Made in Hong Kong on the back of the card above the right hand box. The letter K next to it stands for Kader Industries and is the factory code that was also shown on Kenner cards that were also manufactured in the Kader Industries factory.

There are versions of this card that have a small blue sticker over the (With Figures) text. This is because the Palitoy version of the Star Destroyer playset did not include figures. It is possible that there was a plan to include figures with the playset which later changed, or it was just a mistake that they were going to be included. In some cases the text was scored out with blue biro pen. Presumably this was done in factory before the small blue stickers were available.

There is a sub variation where there is no factory code K for Kader Industries next to the Made in Hong Kong Text which is the 41BN variation. In this case the factory code is S for Smile Industries and is to the left of the Greedo figure. This variation also has a perforated punch compared to the 41B variation. All figures found on the 41B variation can be found with the factory code K, whereas only a subset can be found with the S factory code on 41BN. Also, the 41C card variation which was manufactured later can only be found with the K factory code. The 41BN variation is generally less common than the 41B, though on some figures the 41BN is more common.

In the Netherlands, the 41B variation was sold with a wrap round Clipper sticker. The front of the card has the sticker on the right hand bottom corner with the same text that features on the 45BN in the tilted white box. The back of the card has the Clipper sticker on the lower half of the card covering up the English text that is there. Since this was not made up to be a Palitoy card, but a Clipper card, it is not given a sub variation on the Palitoy cardback guide. 

This card variation was also sold in the Dutch market with the addition of a wrap round yellow sticker.

Single stemmed bubbles with a footplate were used on all figures on this card variation. FX-7 (Medical Droid) had quite a large stem compared to other figures. This was also the first card variation which saw Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi (Grey Hair) as opposed to Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi (White Hair). 

ESB 41C CARDBACK

The 41C card variation is identical to the 41B with one difference. On the back of the card, the text (With Figures) has been removed from underneath the Star Destroyer playset text. This was because the Palitoy version of the playset didn’t come with figures as was originally stated on the 41B. This card variation, and all card variations up until 45A were manufactured in Hong Kong at the Kader Industries or Smile factory by the Palitoy (Far East) Company Ltd and then shipped back assembled to the Coalville factory in the UK. You can see is says Made in Hong Kong on the back of the card above the right hand box. The letter K next to it stands for Kader Industries and is the factory code that was also shown on Kenner cards that were also manufactured in the Kader Industries factory.

There are only a few figures that have been found on a 41C variation, and all of those are also on the 41B variation.

This is the last card variation to feature the original R2-D2. This is because this figure was replaced by a new version with popup Sensorscope that debuted on the 45A cardback.

Unlike 41A and 41B there is no sub variation where the factory code K is missing after the Made in Hong Kong text. This is because this card variation was an amendment of the 41B variation, and the missing factory code was added on that card variation.

Single stemmed bubbles with a footplate were used on all figures on this card variation.

ESB 45A CARDBACK

The 45A card variation added a third set of ESB figures to the range of figures available. There are 8 ESB figures that are known to have debuted on this card. They are Artoo-Detoo (R2-D2) (With Sensorscope), C-3PO (Removeable Limbs), Luke Skywalker (Hoth Battle Gear), AT-AT Commander, (Twin-Pod) Cloud Car Pilot, Bespin Security Guard (Black), Imperial TIE Fighter Pilot and 4-LOM. The front of the card has the the familiar ESB logo and the same Palitoy logo as on the 41-back. Above the Palitoy logo is a blue circle with a special offer in it saying Become a Star Wars Bounty See Back for Details. This is the only Palitoy card with a special offer circle on the front unlike Kenner which had many. It was also the last card to feature the Palitoy logo on the front of the card. This makes the 45A card more popular among collectors. The back of the card featured the 45 figures to collect with details of the special offer underneath. The words Special Offers! are in big bold yellow letters to the left of this text. The offers you could get were Dengar the ruthless bounty hunter, a Survival Kit or the impressive Darth Vader collectors case, which holds 32 figures. Reference was made to the Bounty Hunter Capture Log and an address included for sending in for the special offers. There is also a Boba Fett symbol to the left of the address along with writing saying Offers open to U.K. residents only. This was the last card variation that was exclusively manufactured in Hong Kong at the Kader Industries or Smile factory by the Palitoy (Far East) Company Ltd and then shipped back assembled to the Coalville factory in the UK. You can see is says Made in Hong Kong on the bottom line of text on the back of the card.

The Boba Fett symbol appeared on boxed vehicles and playsets too, the larger the toy, the more symbols it had. The AT-AT Walker had an impressive 9 symbols on it. It is believed these symbols were to be cut out for a special offer that never happened in the end. The Bounty Hunter Capture Log came inside the box with larger vehicles and playsets or was available from toy stores. It detailed how the 3 special offers could be claimed. You had to cut out the name tag on the front of the figure card and send in the appropriate number of name tags along with postage and packaging costs. Dengar required 3 name tags, the Survival Kit required 4 and the Darth Vader collectors case needed 6. We can tell that this special offer was very popular with children because of the number of surviving cardbacks which have either had the name tag cut out completely from the cardboard or have the name cut out from the paper front of the cardboard.

It is believed all of the earlier Star Wars and ESB figures also appeared as a 45A with the exception of the original R2-D2 and C-3PO. Updated versions of these figures with a popup sensorscope and removable limbs debuted on the 45A instead. The new R2-D2 card has the text NOW!! WITH SENSORSCOPE to the right hand side underneath the name tag. There were 2 further figures that debuted on this card. They were Imperial TIE Fighter Pilot and 4-LOM. It is not known if Zuckuss appeared on this card. None of these 3 figures were listed on the back of the card. Confirmed examples are also missing for Hammerhead, Leia Organa Bespin Gown, Yoda and Ugnaught.

The text featuring trademark information under the Palitoy logo on the front of the card, is either on a black background or printed directly on the background picture for the figure except for the 4-LOM, Han Solo (Bespin Outfit), Luke Skywalker (Bespin Fatigues), Rebel Soldier (Hoth Battle Gear) and Imperial TIE Fighter Pilot figures. Here both variations exist giving rise to the 45AB sub variation for the one where the text is on a black background. The font used on the Become a Star Wars Bounty See Back for Details writing is also different between the 45A and 45AB sub variation. Only the smaller font is seen on the 45AB variation. Both types of font are seen on the 45A variation, giving rise to the 45AC variation for the thinner font text seen on the 45AB variation with the fatter text being the 45A variation. There is also a font which is slightly wider and shorter than the text on the 45AC variation giving rise to the 45AD variation. On this variation the A of ‘Become A’ is much further over than on the 45AC variation, above the letter R of ‘Wars’. The R5-D4 and Sand People figures have also been found with both a 45A and 45AD variation. There is no example of a figure being found with both a 45A and 45AC variation or a 45AB and 45AC/45AD variation or a 45AC and 45AD variation. There does not seem to be a pattern as to which variation each figure is with the distribution being fairly random. 

The 45AD variation also has a spelling mistake on the back of the card with Leicester being spelt Leichester. This means that the 45AD variation was produced first, and the spelling mistake was spotted and then corrected on later card/figure variations. The text underneath the Palitoy address also stretches further to the right on the 45AD variation.

A small letter S appears to the left of the Boba Fett head on the back of the card on the 41AB and 41AC variations showing these were produced in the Smile factory. The 45A and 45AD variations were produced in the Kader factory and do not have this letter next to the Boba Fett head.

In the Netherlands, the 45A variation was sold with a wrap round Clipper sticker. The front of the card has the sticker on the right hand bottom corner with the same text that features on the 45BN in the tilted white box. The back of the card has the Clipper sticker on the lower half of the card covering up the English text that is there. Since this was not made up to be a Palitoy card, but a Clipper card, it is not given a sub variation on the Palitoy cardback guide. The background colour for the back of the wrap round sticker is normally black but can sometimes be white as well.  The text on the white version is a little different in places too compared to the black version. 

Single stemmed bubbles with a footplate were used on all figures on this card variation. This was the last card variation to feature the footplate. It was removed in subsequent card variations. There are some examples with rectangular bubbles that were used on this card variation. Death Squad Commander and Sand People are examples of figures on which this occurred. Some of the single stem bubbles have a number embossed on the bubble in the bottom right hand corner. Certain figures only used certain bubble numbers. IG-88 (Bounty Hunter) used 08, Imperial Commander used 01, 2-1B used 03, Princess Leia Organa used 03, Artoo Detoo (R2-D2) (With Sensorscope) used 12 and Chewbacca used 02.

ESB 45B CARDBACK

The 45B card variation is the last card to bear the ESB logo on the front of the card. It is also the first card not to feature the Palitoy logo on the front of the card which tends to make it less popular with collectors. The card is the same as the 45A variation with the following differences. The special offer circle and Palitoy logo are missing from the front of the card. The ESB logo now has a black border to the left and right of the Wars text in the Star Wars logo. On the back of the card the Special Offers! text is now white instead of yellow and is in a much thinner font than on the 45A. The text describing the special offer is arranged a little differently and is of a bolder font than on the 45A. The Boba Fett symbol to the left of the Palitoy address now has stars in the background unlike the 45A which has no stars in the background. This is the first card variation that was manufactured in the Coalville factory in the UK, despite it saying Made in Hong Kong on the bottom line on the back of the card and also on the front the card in the bottom right hand corner.

It is believed that all of the earlier Star Wars and ESB figures appeared on this card. The figures without confirmed examples are Sand People, Hammerhead, Ugnaught, Lobot and Zuckuss. The Palitoy factory ran out of Palitoy 45B cards for some of it’s figures and used German General Mills and Dutch Clipper cards which were also manufactured in the Coalville factory. These cards had a Palitoy sticker covering the entire bottom half of the reverse of the card to cover up the German and Dutch writing. This sticker had the same text as on the back of the bottom half of the 45C variation. The front of the German ESB card is identical to the front of the 45B. Several figures appeared with this sticker on a German card, AT-AT Commander, Dengar and R2-D2 with sensorscope for example. There is still the German writing that says jetzt mit Sensorscope on the front of the R2-D2 with sensorscope card which they chose not to cover up. This sticker variation is known as 45BD, the D standing for Deutschland/German. The Dutch Clipper ESB card has a tilted white box on the top left hand corner on the front of the card that says Gratis Premies! Zie Achterzijde and Offre Gratuite. Voir Au Vers. The phrase is the Dutch and French for For free offers! See back. On the top right hand corner is says 4 jaar en ouder which is Dutch for 4 years and older. Dengar, R2-D2 with sensorscope, Zuckuss, Imperial TIE Fighter Pilot and 4-LOM are known to have appeared on this card with a sticker on the back. This sticker variation is known as 45BN, the N standing for Netherlands/Dutch. The R2-D2 card says NU MET SENSORSCOPE instead of NOW!! WITH SENSORSCOPE on the front of the card. Zuckuss has only ever been found on the Dutch card which means it may never have existed as a 45B.

This card variation also saw the double stemmed bubble making its first appearance, but without the footplate seen on earlier card variations. No footplates are seen on any card variations from this variation onwards. The addition of the second stem allows the card to stand upright by itself. The double stemmed bubble also appeared on the 45C and 65D card variations. 

Single stemmed bubbles were seen on this card variation, but they are less common than the double stems. The single stem bubbles have a number embossed on the bubble in the bottom right hand corner. Certain figures only used certain bubble numbers. Han Solo used 04, Death Star Droid used 02, C-3PO (Removable Limbs) used 015, AT-AT Commander used 01 & 03, Artoo Detoo (R2-D2) (With Sensorscope) used 12, Bespin Security Guard (Black) used 01, TIE Fighter Pilot used 13, Cloud Car Pilot used 02 & 03, Luke Skywalker (Hoth Battle Gear) used 03, 4-LOM used 13, FX-7 (Medical Droid) used 08, Imperial Commander used 01, Bossk (Bounty Hunter) used 03, Chewbacca used 02, Darth Vader used 08, Luke Skywalker used 02 & 04, Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi used 04 and Stormtrooper used 03.

C-3P0 (Removable Limbs) has the bubble number 015 written across the bottom of the bubble rather than up the side. Also, the black plastic sack for the unassembled figure is loose whereas it is inside a clear plastic bag on later card variations. 

This card variation was the first card variation in the stock of unused cardbacks acquired by Toy Toni after the Palitoy factory closed and subsequently made into MOC with unused bubbles. The unused cardbacks were 500 Bossk (Bounty Hunter), 264 Imperial TIE Fighter Pilot and 66 Chewbacca. The numbers for Bossk (Bounty Hunter) and Chewbacca is a 50/50 split between Palitoy and German cardbacks as large quantities of mint MOCs exist for both and the original sales list of unused cardbacks did not differentiate well between ESB Palitoy and German cards. Also, both Palitoy and German cards for these figures were available for sale on toytoni.com. Toni used both double stem and single stem doubles on these figures.
 
For TIE Fighter Pilot, he used a narrow double stemmed bubble which is different from the factory used double stemmed bubble shown above. The angle between the top of the double stemmed bubble and the sides of the double stemmed bubble is more pronounced on Tonis bubbles making them look more pointy, whereas on genuine double stemmed bubbles there is no angle and they don’t look pointy. Toni also used a single stem bubble with no number and a single stem bubble with the wrong bubble number, 03 instead of 13, so this can be used to detect a Toni card. 

On Bossk he used a single stem bubble with no number which is taller and narrower than the genuine bubble with number 03. On Chewbacca he used a single stem bubble with no number which is taller than the genuine bubble with number 02. The bubble he used for Chewbacca is the one used on the 65D variation. The seals on Toy Toni cards are generally very weak and worsen with time, so older examples show signs of bubble lifting and air pockets in the seal. The seal on the TIE Fighter Pilot with single stem bubble number 03 above is quite poor.