What are Trilogos?
The Trilogo Concept
In 1984, a new design of Star Wars packaging was introduced for the European market. The main aim was to cut costs and combine multiple languages for easier distribution. This new packaging style came to be known by collectors as “Trilogo” due to the style of logo that was used.
As far as 3 3/4″ figures are concerned, almost all of them were packaged on some form of Trilogo card with the exception of the following:
Death Squad Commander*
R2-D2 (solid dome)*
*(R2-D2 solid dome can only be found on French Meccano Trilogos and while the Death Squad Commander exists on a “miscard”, it was never released on its correct card)
There are a few figures (Greedo, Cloud Car Pilot, Hammerhead, both Bespin Guards and Snaggletooth) that were released during the Trilogo period but not on “true” front and back Trilogo cards. As well as the action figures themselves, a selection of boxed vehicles, mini rigs, playpacks and playsets were also released in Trilogo packaging.
Trilogo figures and boxed toys were produced and sold right up until 1985/86.
Return Of The Jedi Three Logo Design
The new packaging combined the translated ROTJ logos that were used on earlier Spanish, French and English cards.
You can see below how each logo was reduced in size and used to create a cascading three logo effect.
In actual fact, there are 6 languages in total represented on the card in the “Ages 4 and up” and the “Collect all 70” text. (English, Spanish,French, German, Dutch and Italian)
Power Of The Force Three Logo Design
The end of the Trilogo period
After interest in Return of the Jedi (and Star Wars as a franchise) had died down, production came to a grinding halt.
Trilogo figures were produced in such large quantities that there was a huge amount of overstock to deal with.
You can read more about what happened to some of that overstock here.
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European Countries & Companies
European distribution is a very complex and interesting subject but due to the length of time each company produced the toys for, the massive amount of different products available during the Vintage era and also, all of the the different countries & companies involved, it’s extremely difficult for anyone to give a perfect overview of.
With that said, I hope you still enjoy this brief history of European countries and companies.
General Mills Europe
Whilst many big name companies were involved in the distribution of Star Wars figures in Europe, essentially they were all just following orders from one single company called General Mills.
General Mills were in almost complete control of European Distribution and each of the companies listed below acted almost like subdivisions of GM during production. (If you weren’t aware, General Mills actually owned Kenner as well)
Palitoy (United Kingdom)
Palitoy are one of the most well known companies involved in Star Wars figures, holding the license to produce the Kenner toys from the late 70’s. Early Palitoy figures which had the famous red, white and blue logo on them are coveted by collectors the world over and some are especially hard to find.
During Trilogo production, the Palitoy company was possibly the most important of all. Not only did they produce an enormous amount of figures for the UK, they also exported their stock overseas to other European countries. For General Mills Europe, Palitoy were essential in making European distribution work.
In Spain, there was a company called “Poch” producing Star Wars toys. During the ROTJ and Trilogo period, the company name on the packaging was changed from Poch to PBP.
PBP stood for Poch Borras & Palouzie, which were in fact three different companies in Spain. Each of the three companies produced different Star Wars items.
Poch produced the toys, Borras had the rights to produce board games and other non toy related products and Palouzie were producing Star Wars puzzles and school supplies.
General Mills managed to merge the three companies together in order to have one single company producing Star Wars items in Spain. The merge actually happened a little earlier than the packaging name change (during the ESB era in fact).
Earlier cards with the original Poch logo are incredibly rare, and just like Palitoy figures they are highly sought after by collectors.
By the time Trilogos crept in, PBP were still producing their ROTJ figure line and seem to have only produced a selection of figures on Trilogo packaging. This is possibly because they had a lot of the earlier figures already packaged on their own ROTJ cards but the exact reason is unknown.
General Mills later acquired 100% of PBP and shortly before GM were done with their toy divisions and production finished, they actually changed the company name on Spanish Trilogo cardbacks from PBP to GMJ, which stood for General Mills Juguetes (toys).
After the change from PBP to GMJ, some of the second wave of ROTJ figures and a few of the later released POTF figures were also sold in Spain on Trilogo cards.
Another big name toy company were producing the figures in France.
Miro-Meccano, well known for trains, cars and mechanical sets acquired the licence for Star Wars toys in the late 70’s just like Palitoy. They were primarily responsible for their own countries distribution but according to collector accounts, their products also made their way into other countries as well.
It is quite possible that France were one of the first countries to actually receive figures in Trilogo packaging and apart from the Palitoy produced “Hybrid” figures, almost all figures ever produced on Trilogo cards were sold in France.
Meccano Trilogos are quite interesting to collect due to their differences in appearance and interestingly it’s believed that the Meccano packaging factory (in Calais) was largely responsible for the packaging of all the “miscarded” Trilogos too.
An interesting Meccano company change can be seen on the back of a “GMJ” Spanish Trilogo cardback mentioned earlier. It’s the only Trilogo cardback that was ever modified actually and although the change is a minor one, it brought the company information and addresses up to date for both GMJ and Meccano.
The Meccano address was changed from Miro-Meccano S.A., 118-130 Ave. Jean Jaures, 75019 Paris to Miro-Meccano, Tour Essor 93, 14 Rue Scandicci, 93500 Pantin, Paris. This change happened quite late in Star Wars production and probably not long before production stopped.
Clipper Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands & Luxembourg)
In the Netherlands, Clipper Benelux held the Star Wars license and just like PBP, Meccano and Palitoy they had also sold Star Wars toys under their own name for a number of years before Trilogos were released.
Just like the other big companies, they only had their name printed on earlier cards, SW-ESB. During ROTJ they had begun importing and distributing figures from Kenner and Palitoy.
There are many different Clipper offer stickers to be found on Trilogos and they make for a fun variation to a carded run (especially for focus collectors). Whilst the cards technically do not differ from their offerless/stickerless cousins they can sometimes command a premium depending on the character and offer combination.
Parker (also known as Parker Brothers or Kenner-Parker) was a company yet again owned by General Mills Group, bought around the same time as Kenner in the late 70’s.
While their name changed a few times on packaging (Kenner-Parker, Palitoy-Parker-Bradgate etc) they always used the Parker name in some capacity.
The Parker brand name appears on many of the multipacks that were made up towards the end of the line and also on other items (non toy related) such as games, puzzles and watches.
The multipacks mentioned earlier are quite rare, some were made up just of figures while others included small mini rigs as well. They are some of the only 3 3/4″ toys to be released with the Parker logo on the packaging.
Harbert & Edilio Parodi (Italy)
In Italy, Harbert was the licensee for Star Wars up until ESB. Most early Italian figures with the Harbert logo are incredibly hard to find.
During the ROTJ period, Italy began receiving imported Palitoy and Kenner figures (much like Clipper) and were given Import stickers by various Italian distributors. Trilogo figures from the UK and Germany were among the imported stock.
One Italian importer that collectors may have heard of was a company called Edilio Parodi. General Mills division in Milan also imported figures for sale in Italy but whether Edilio and General Mills imported stock side by side or one took over from the other is unknown at present.
BRIO Scanditoy / Playmix (Scandinavia)
In countries like Sweden and Denmark, Star Wars merchandise (along with many other toys) were being imported by various different companies. Sweden’s toys were imported through Playmix who ran a similar operation to Clipper, offering posters and mail aways.
A company called BRIO Scanditoy were involved in supplying the other Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Norway and Finland). BRIO were involved in distributing Star Wars figures to these countries as early as the ESB line and often put out various brochures advertising them.
There were also a few smaller importers working to do the same job, perhaps buying direct from BRIO to stock the shelves of smaller toy stores. One such distributor in Denmark was called “Vily Nielsen” who were selling Star Wars toys to smaller shops around 1984/1985.
At the end of production, overstock was sent to America, to find out more click HERE!
Kay Bee & The Overstock
In an attempt to deal with the massive amounts of overstock figures that were left over at the end of the Star Wars Craze, Trilogos were sold to an American retailer called “Kay Bee” who then sold them at clearance prices. Many Trilogo figures on the market today are from this bargain bin period and proudly wear the Kay Bee “$0.79” or “2 for $1.00” price sticker on their card fronts.
Whilst many collectors dislike stickers on their cards, when it comes to Trilogos they become quite important. Kay Bee store stickers (however ugly they are) actually give us an insight into where exactly the overstock came from by looking at the cards that received them. The majority of these bargain bin Trilogos are common Palitoy produced cards but they were not the only cards sent over. German Parker cards and even cards with Clipper import stickers on them also made their way to America and onto the shelves at Kay Bee, which to me at least is pretty interesting!
This could mean that European Star Wars products were sent on to a central point before being bought by Kay-Bee or that they had been acquired by a wholesaler from various sources before being sold to Kay-Bee. Either way it’s great to know that some of the harder to find European variants can be found in the States and it is fun spotting which cards ended up in America.
Here are some examples below of Trilogo figures with the Kay Bee price sticker all with very different origins.
Gamorrean Guard / Clipper Import Sticker
R5-D4 German Cardback / Alternative Bubble
Luke Skywalker Jedi Knight Outfit / Italian Import Sticker
Darth Vader German Cardback / Rounded Bubble
And finally, to end all the speculation and rumours, Yak Face WAS actually available in America..on an imported bargain bin European card!
Here he is on a Palitoy produced Trilogo card complete with original UK price sticker and that great Kay Bee sticker, it doesn’t get better than that!
If you happen to have any Kay Bee stickered Trilogos that might be of interest please get in contact!
In the early days of collecting, the majority of Vintage carded collectors had no real interest in Trilogo cards. They were considered by most to be generic, boring and cheap looking. In fact, most European items were quite often overlooked by collectors right up until the late 1990’s/early 2000’s.
As time went on, things changed (thankfully) and most of the previously shunned European products began to rise in popularity with collectors, Trilogos included.
One major reason why Trilogos became more popular is due to the fact that when compared to their Kenner counterparts, Trilogos seemed to be immune to yellow bubbles! That’s not 100% true of course but in the majority of cases, Trilogo bubbles do tend to stay clear (even to this day). The chance to finally display ROTJ figures with clear bubbles in a collection is something many people loved about Trilogos.
Another reason why they became more sought after is that the Trilogo card is one of the only packaging designs that almost all the figures can be found on. This is great for those seeking a “set” as it’s not possible to get a complete set of figures on SW or POTF cards for example but on Trilogo cards, you can almost have a full set of Vintage figures in identical packaging which looks very uniform on display.
Cost plays a factor too of course and the relatively low cost of a Trilogo compared to other releases (Yak Face Trilogo VS Kenner POTF Yak Face for example) makes it easier (and cheaper) for collectors to put together a decent amount of figures on a budget.
There was a steady increase in activity in the Trilogo world from 2000-2005 but Trilogos were suddenly shot to fame in 2006, when a French collector by the name of Stephane Faucourt released a book entitled “From Meccano To Trilogo” which featured an entire section dedicated to Trilogos.
Due to Stephane’s efforts Trilogos were “cool” again and many other knowledgeable and dedicated collectors on collector forums appeared to share their Trilogo knowledge and findings. In the years following on from Meccano To Trilogo, more and more figure focus collectors seemed to turn to Trilogos as a way of adding to their collections in the form of the many different Trilogo card variations out there.
As you can see, Trilogos have definitely gone from being bargain bin figures to cherished collectibles enjoying the high life of acrylic cases and Ikea cabinets.