by Steve York
Released towards the end of the Return of the Jedi action figure line, Tri-Logos were a cheap, economic way for manufacturers to release figures to different countries at once. By late 1983, France's Meccanno, Spain's PBP, the Netherland's Clipper and England's Palitoy ceased manufacturing figures on their own company cards and had switched to Tri-Logos, which incorporated cards with logos in English, French and Spanish. Originally released primarily in Spain, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, Tri-Logos eventually found their way to clearance bins around the world. Many found a cluttered home at Kay-Bee Toy stores in the United States at $.79 each or "Two for a Dollar" bins when their stocks failed to move. The normal Tri-Logo cardback mentions "Collect All 70" in six different languages, though 79 figures are numbered with the last two figures, Paploo and Ewok Warrior (Lumat),blacked out. Both Bespin Guards, Greedo, Hammerhead, Snaggletooth, Cloud Car Pilot, Power Droid and 4-LOM are absent from the cardback.
Tri-Logo cards are mainly identified by larger and thinner bubbles. Because of the thinner plastic used, Tri-Logo bubbles are almost always damaged and mint specimens can command a premium price. The larger bubble is not always the case as some figures were released with smaller, thicker bubbles. Though their bubbles may be more susceptible to damage, almost all Tri-Logo bubbles have proved to be immune to yellowing, an ailment which has gripped a majority of Kenner released Return of the Jedi and Power of the Force figures. The cardback thickness themselves really differs. Some Tri-Logos have very thin high quality cards while others are made from thicker stock and are more grainy with lesser quality.
Almost all figures can be found on Tri-Logo cards, including the final wave of Star Wars Power of the Force line (their cards are different in that they include a UPC code in the front top right corner of the card). Some figures were not released on Tri-Logo cards in any form though some can be found on miscarded cards. These figures include Walrusman, Power Droid, Star Destroyer Commander, and 4-LOM. Others were released on modified single-logo Return of the Jedi fronts with languages in the upper corners and Tri-Logo card backs. Some collectors refer to these as "Hybrid" cards or "Tri-Logo backs." These figures include both of the Bespin Guards, Snaggletooth, Hammerhead, Greedo, and the Twin Pod Cloud Car Pilot. Miscards are not too rare on Tri-Logo cards. The most common examples are normal Klaatu figures on Klaatu skiff cards. It is believed other miscards were deliberate. In an effort to get figures out of the factory and into stores, when certain cards ran out of stock, other similar cards were substituted. Examples of these include Weequays on Barada cards, Han original and Han Hoths on Han Bespin cards, or Imperial figures on AT-ST Driver cards. Typically these miscarded figures feature smaller bubbles which are more susceptible to cracking.
Some Tri-Logo figures are much harder to find than others. Some of the more difficult Tri-Logos to locate include the Princess Leia Hoth Outfit, Luke Skywalker Bespin Fatigues, IG-88, Princess Leia with white gown, Death Star Droid, Luke Skywalker Tatooine Outfit (either blonde or brown hair), Stormtrooper, Yak Face, and Amanaman. The rarest figures to be found on Tri-Logo cards are the Emperor's Royal Guard, Yoda with Orange Snake, Boba Fett, Cloud Car Pilot (Tri-Logo Hybrid Card), General Madine, and Jawa. Some of these figures routinely sell in the hundreds to thousands of dollars as only a few examples are known to be in collector's hands.
A number of Tri-Logos have gained recognition from collectors because of their unique photo and card variations. Some figures feature significantly airbrushed photos, reversed pictures, or picture much more of the area around the original photo used when compared to Kenner US releases. Figures like IG-88, A-Wing Pilot, FX-7, Jawa, Nikto, Rebel Commander, Amanaman, Lando Calrissian, Rebel Commando, Stormtrooper, and Princess Leia Bespin Gown exhibit these differences. The Rebel Commando features a green airbrush of its uniform, a change Kenner themselves instituted and planned on using as the photo for the unreleased Power of the Force Rebel Commando. The picture on the Princess Leia Bespin Gown appeared only shortly on American 31-Back Empire Strikes Back cards. The Stormtrooper had the second trooper in the background totally airbrushed out.
Some cards feature photos totally different from the ones used on domestic release cards. These include the TIE Fighter Pilot, Romba, Lobot, Luke Skywalker Bespin Fatigues, and Princess Leia Hoth Outfit. Some of these photo variations also appeared on Mexico's Lili Ledy Return of the Jedi figures.
Some of the more interesting variations can be found in the figures themselves. Some figures were released in different variants. The Luke Skywalker Tatooine Outfit could be found with both blonde and brown hair on the Gunner card. Yoda could be found with either Orange or Brown snake. Existing figure molds were sometimes modified to erase the country of origin markings on the figure's legs, leaving either a depression or an added plastic bar in its place. These variations include a Greedo cast from a darker plastic with different paint highlights, a Rebel Soldier cast out of a dark brown plastic and with dark brown paint highlights, and the YPS Trooper, a variation once only believed to have only accompanied the German YPS comic book premium has been found on Tri-Logo cards.
Perhaps the most infamous is the Tri-Logo Boba Fett. Also released on Palitoy Return of the Jedi cards, different paint variations of this figure have surfaced. The figure is cast out of a much lighter plastic, almost a light gray color compared to the blue of the domestic release. The yellow knee tool piece can be found either painted or unpainted, different yellow and brown paint colors used as well as different green and red colors. A good indicator to identify the Tri-Logo Boba Fett is a slight ridge where the country of origin normally is.
It is important to note that not all figure variations mentioned above are found on all Tri-Logo cards. These variations depended more on the factory they were produced in. Many carded figures have the "normal" figures attached that appeared mainly on Kenner cards. The normal dark blue Boba Fett appears with about the same frequency as the Tri-Logo variation figure.
A number of variations exist in the vehicles, accessories, and packages that were released in Tri-Logo boxes, including Tri-Logo boxed versions of Power of the Force items with the Power of the Force logo.
Though Tri-Logos were treated as an inferior product for a number of years by collectors, research by collectors has uncovered many of the unique variations which has sparked interest in the line. New variations continue to surface and new information continues to be compiled on card variations, figure variations, and variations that were specific to countries.
If you have any information on Tri-Logo variations or have further questions on them, please feel free to e-mail Steve York at email@example.com.