It’s true what they say, you never know how much you love something until it’s gone.
Since 1978 Star Wars fans have been able to buy an action figure, flip the card over and see a some, if not all of the other figures available or coming soon. In the toy industry showing other product on the card back is called the “cross sell” and it’s been around for over 30 years. In the pre-internet age cross sell was especially helpful as you didn’t know what other figures might be in a wave. As fans and collectors we used the cross sell card backs as a checklist for what figures we still needed to find and pick up to complete our collections. For Star Wars collectors there is comfort in the cross sell from the original painting for the original 12…
…to the color blocks of next iteration of cards…
… to the overwhelming, jaw-dropping “Collect all 92” image for Power of the Force…
As kids we pored over these cardbacks and studied them like religious tomes. We relied on them, discussed them, some people even marked on them to show which figures they still needed to pick up. The cross sell showed us how deep toy makers were willing to go in a property. Sometimes we even learned of new figures that were coming from the cross sell on the back of the cards. Can you imagine THAT in this digital age of instant information and leaks?
It has been a LONG time since we have gotten THAT robust of a cross sell as the original Power of the Force cards, but it’s still been a constant for modern Star Wars collectors as well. When Kenner relaunched the Star Wars “Power of the Force 2” line in 1995 we got additions like file cards, but we also had the full wave shown on the back of the card:
Over the next 20+ years we have seen the cards and cardbacks change year after year, but we always (with one brief exception) had some form of cross sell on the backs of the cards, whether it was showing actual action figures or actual character photos, you still got some sense of who else was in the line/wave.
The only real exception was the short lived Star Wars Black cards that were a transition for Hasbro after the 3-D Movie product lines were scuttled and we learned of NEW Star Wars movies were on the way. These Star Wars Black cards had all the same die-cut front image of a stormtrooper and had just one large washed out image on the back. This was the hardest time for many Star Wars collectors even WITH the internet to keep track of what figures were in each assortment. Star Wars Black transition was a “dark” time for Star Wars packaging.
Last year we got the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens product, and while they didn’t show actual figures on the cardbacks, each card had a great original painting the the character on the card front and we got a thumbnail of the paintings on the cardback for the cross sell.
Now we come to the new Rogue One figures that will go on sale later this week on September 30th. And the “modernization” and cost cutting of having multilingual cards, instead of having multiple cards for each region of the world, add to the fact that Hasbro is launching a new “Star Wars Studio FX” app along with the figures and the card back has two TINY sentences of biography at the top of the card… and everything else is just boring text.
It’s all just legal jargon and plugging the app (which is also explained in a double sided insert inside the bubble) and you have one boring, sad cardback that feels like the end of an era. I know from friends in the toy industry that including the cross sell images on the back of the cards is still a hotly debated topic for packaging. I for one will miss it. It was instantly recognizable to me that it was gone.
Where do you land on this subject? Will you miss the cross sell on the back of the packages? Do you use it at all when all when collecting?
Let us know in the comments section.
Good luck to everyone as you head out for your Force Friday/Go Rogue shopping this week.
And May the Force be With You!
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