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Les Jouets Star Wars Exhibit

by Darby Harn

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of travelling in Europe for two weeks. I spent three days in Paris visiting a friend, and it just so happened that a major new exhibit of vintage Star Wars collectibles was opening at the same time at Les Arts Decrotifs, attached to the Louvre in the heart of the city.

The exposition features around 450 Kenner and Hasbro pieces from 1978 right up through today – literally, as one of the window displays featured the MTT and the Republic Dropship, which is by the way, the first place I’ve seen it – all taken from the collection of Arnaud Grunberg. Let me just say I saw many stunning things on my trip – the Louvre, Omaha Beach, the Tower of London – this was certainly one of them. I wasn’t sure what to expect to be honest, but I was floored.

The collection tracks the history of Kenner toys from the literal beginning, with original concept art created during the development of the 12 backs. This was probably the most jaw dropping aspect of the exhibit. In addition to what we recognize now as the ‘lost line’ look, there were two other concepts that moved the 12 back closer to what it ultimately became. Now, photography was strictly forbidden at the exhibit, but I did manage to catch a few quick snaps – I apologize for the quality.

Also on hand was the original prototype of the rocket firing Boba Fett. You can’t see very well in the picture, but to the right is the original art used on the Boba Fett offer sticker itself. The collection also featured at least three vinyl cape Jawas, including a Meccano one carded. Various European boxed and carded vintage examples in outstanding condition made up the bulk of the exhibit as it travelled through ESB and ROTJ. Another major highlight included prototypes of the unproduced ESB 12 inch line, including two different versions of Lando Calrissian, including the one seen here, originally only seen in French Meccano promotional literature at the time.

Another highlight for me were the Regal dolls, including the promotional Chewie, who stands about four or five feet tall. This was the first I’d seen of him in person. Also on display was the astoundingly intact Speeder Bike ride on toy – the one where only 200 or so were produced – from K Mart. Huge and awesome. Another very cool French piece I want to point out is this blind box kind of set up from ROTJ featuring bagged figures for sale – very cool.

The exhibit went on through the prequel era, by no means as comprehensive or featuring any prototypes or any behind the scenes examples. This seemed included for good measure, but I might have left it out all together or included some modern prototypes. It seemed like an afterthought.

All in all this was a fantastic display, and real tribute to the wonderful history of Star Wars collecting. I hope that anyone that gets a chance goes to see it – it’s cheap at only 9 euros – and it’s part of what will be a tremendous experience in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

** JediDefender would like to thank Darby for the great review!

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