Return of the Jedi Trading Cards (Part 1)

OK, I’ll get this off my chest for those that don’t know me: I’m a huge Star Wars fan. You’ll be seeing and reading lots of Star Wars stuff on this site. So with all the recent hype around Star Wars and The Force Awakens, I thought it would be fitting to start off the first official entry for Electric Porcupine with an old set of collectibles that I still cherish: my Return of the Jedi trading cards! I’m going to share a few of my favourite cards in this feature. Here’s a quick tidbit about this article and the site in general. I live in Canada, so I’m using Canadian spelling, people – get used it.

rotj packages

Old school card packs

A little backstory: I was five years old when I got to see Return of the Jedi in the theatre.  I had already seen the first two movies and watched them constantly thanks to one of my parents, or friends of theirs, pirating the first two movies for our VHS player. I had so many Star Wars action figures by that point and was already hungry for more. While The Empire Strikes Back became my favourite in the series as I grew up, when I was a kid, Return of the Jedi was my favourite movie. Not because of the Ewoks (although I thought they were cool at the time), but because of Jabba and all the creatures in his palace. I swear I wore out the first 45 minutes or so of our copy of the movie because the monsters and the action in Jabba’s palace was where it was at.

young with star wars

Me with my Return of the Jedi book

These cards were released in 1983 by O-PEE-CHEE.  The 132 card set features stills from the movie and either footage they didn’t use or photos that they got through Lucasfilm.  Each card had its own title and description of the picture. I thought it was really cool that on the back of the card, it said the story was continued on the next card and gave the name of the upcoming card. While collecting these as a kid, I thought about what photo would be on the card I didn’t have and it fueled my thirst for hunting it down, or asking my mom for more money to go down to the store to get another pack.

Another interesting thing about these cards is that the title for each card and its description were both in English and French here in Canada. I wasn’t sure if this was just the standard for North America, so I went sleuthing and and found out that you can look at the whole collection over at http://www.tradingcarddb.com , but it looks like it was Topps that distributed them in the US and the cards were printed only in English.

Weird fact: this is the binder that my mom used to put my cards in when I got the whole collection. I’m sure there were Star Wars binders available at the time, so I really don’t know why my mom put them in this. If I was to ask her today, she would probably be amazed that I still had them, let alone not even remember anything about the binder.

binderfirst 8 cards

My mom was such (actually, I should say IS) a cool lady. She’d have some kids from the neighbourhood over to trade on our front porch area…even some older kids (maybe 10-12 years old). She would be the mediator over trades to make sure that it was card for card. Once I finally got my collection completed, instead of putting them in card holder sleeves, she just taped them in. Mind you, I don’t think it even crossed her mind that these would be remotely collectible or that these should all be in mint condition, away from the hands of a five year old.  I think the reason I can’t get rid of the binder these are in is because it reminds me of my mom helping me collect them and helping me. OK, enough of the backstories. It’s time for some of my favourite cards!

#13 – Court of Evil

Court of Evil front  Court of Evil back

My lucky number 13 is the host for an excellent shot of Jabba the Hutt, Bib Fortuna (his right-hand man), and the creepy, yet wildly amusing Salacious Crumb.  And the title, “Court of Evil” just sets the stage for how bad these villains are.  Look carefully in the background as well because there’s a Jawa hanging out!  This movie strengthened my obsession with monsters and weird creatures, and this card just symbolizes what I loved about this whole section of the movie. You’ll probably see later on, as time goes by, how much I dig Jabba and his cronies.

#20 –  Sy Snootles and the Max Rebo Band

Max Rebo  Max Rebo back

I love music. I could work my parents stereo/record player by the time I was two. Sy Snootles (who I didn’t realize was a female until later on in life) and the Max Rebo Band (featuring the elephant like Max Rebo on the keys and Droopy McCool on his electric wind pipe thingy) always struck a chord in my youth coolness metre.  They were just cool characters that could jam, and that made them resonate with me. On a side note: I never had these figures as I kid. I had almost every character, so I have no clue why they never found their way into my house.

#29 – Decarbonized

Decarbonize Front  Decarbonized back

I always thought Leia (as Boussh) thawing out Han from being frozen in carbonite was a really awesome scene in the movie and this card really captures that moment.

#41 – A Monstrous Fate

Monstrous Fate front  Monstrous Fate back

Ah, the Sarlacc Pit. How awesome to see something like that as a kid, although it was a bit terrifying.  I remember asking what “digested” meant after I heard how the Sarlacc slowly digests its victims over several hundred years and could envision how gross that would be. Suffice to say, the concept of the Sarlacc terrified me for a while and I think I actually had nightmares about it. Too bad Lucas put those stupid tentacles on it in the special edition.

#47 – Boba Fett’s Last Stand

Boba Fett Front  Boba Fett back

One thing kids like are cool looking characters, and that’s what Boba Fett was.  Back in the simple times before the Expanded Universe, fan fiction, character bibles, etc, all we knew about Boba Fett was that he was a bounty hunter, he captured Han, and brought him to Jabba. That was enough for people to know he meant business, although his on-screen time was actually limited. This card showcases a great pose of Fett ready to strike.

Boba Fett also garnered interest by being an early mail-away figure for The Empire Strikes Back in 1979! Enough has been written on the Net about how it was supposed to include a feature to fire the rocket from its backpack but ended up not including the feature due to safety concerns

That’s all for this edition. I’ll revisit some more cards from later on in the movie in a post in the near future.

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