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An Out of this World Piece: A Star Wars Billboard from Toltoys

Blog by Moog

Some of our visitors may have noticed that the Auction Barn recently has become the home of a very large bit of Star Wars memorabilia – but did you know it’s a part of Australian Star Wars history?

This huge three piece poster is a variation on one of the original 1977 Star Wars posters illustrated by the legendary Tom Jung, who created the most iconic early images of the franchise now so ubiquitous; only preceded by a handful of earlier posters that were mere text or didn’t have image references for the appearances of Mark Hamill as Luke and Carrie Fisher as Leia.

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Stand back, and you’ll see a magnificent panorama of iconic faces and scenes from the film, the credits from the original poster cut off on the bottom but the classic lines are still emblazoned to the top left: ‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…’ Come closer and you’ll see the dot matrix making up the print, lending it that real retro look and feel and showing you just how it was made. It’s likely that this piece was originally a billboard poster, one of a less common landscape variant of the iconic original art, with the text portion to the right cut down and remounted for a different kind of display.

Whilst the front is a spectacle to behold, the back has a secret of its own. Two panels have a label from David Jones – one of Australia’s oldest department stores, indicating it was delivered to an address in 1979, only two years after the film’s debut, and a year before the next, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. The address? Toltoys Pty Ltd, 104 Bourke Road, Alexandria, a suburb in Sydney, NSW.

To many of us, this doesn’t mean a lot – but to dedicated Star Wars toy collectors, especially in Australia, Toltoys are the people behind making sure Star Wars fans, young and old, got their hands on the now highly sought after figures and toys that are almost as iconic as the movies themselves. Those charming little figures, sandwiched between plastic blisters and cardboard backing, were imported into Australia on behalf of Parker Brothers by Toltoys. Collectors of variants and rare pieces will know Toltoys best, as we were lucky enough to get a great selection thanks to the work of the Toltoys team, and pieces in premium condition can easily fetch above $10,000 today. Not just a Star Wars legend, Toltoys also brought Australia everything else needed for a retro childhood – board games, tether tennis poles, etch-a-sketches, MEGO superhero figures of Captain America and Batman, and so much more. If you grew up in the 70s or 80s, it’s almost certain Toltoys had a part in it. Just take a look at the incredible Toltoys Kid blog for an overview of the ephemera of the time!

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So how did a piece of Star Wars and toy history end up at the barn? It’s simple – it’s all in the family! Our vendor – a lucky kid indeed – came to acquire this amazing piece by being lucky enough to be the son of a Toltoys employee through the 70s and 80s. Taken home to adorn a childhood wall, sure to be the envy of your mates in any decade, and especially now.

This item is Lot 1 in our weekly Antiques and Collectables, Section 2, ending on the 28th of June, 2022. If you’d like to see it in person, you’re welcome at our showrooms here at 11 Wiluna Street, Fyshwick, Canberra, 9-5 on weekdays and 9-12 on Saturday. This is something we’re sure you’ll not see again any time soon – so come in from the cold and have a look around!

And if you have any Star Wars pieces, toys, or other cool pieces you’d like to share and potentially sell, email [email protected] or come into the showrooms for a chat!

 

The author would like to thank the vendor for sharing the provenance of this piece, and Toltoys community for their warm welcome, in particular Brody Walker (@starwars_vintage_toys on Instagram) and Ryan Lee-Taylor of the Australian Vintage Movie Posters facebook group, and the Toltoys Australia facebook group.

For further resources, check out Toltoys Kid, Star Wars Vintage Toys, and the Star Wars Toltoys Panel from Star Wars Celebration 2019 for an overview of the fascinating history of the brand.