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!