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Star Wars' Worst Christmas Gift Ever Is Now Worth Major Bank

When "Star Wars" was released in 1977, it was impossible to predict just how large of a pop culture sensation the space saga would become. The state-of-the-art visual effects, charismatic and endearing performances, and sensational storytelling that explored good and evil slowly became part of American culture's fabric. George Lucas further revealed that what would become "Episode IV: A New Hope" was actually the first film in a trilogy that would form the middle part of a longer story. Writing for The New Yorker in 2002, Jonathan Lethem described the movie as an "escape from a surrounding darkness and a repository of something innocent."

Themes like this gave the feature an appeal that could also make it a hit in retail merchandise, which is precisely what happened soon after it became a phenomenon. But as merchandising for the original trilogy continued to grow in the late '70s and early '80s, so too did many awkward product tie-ins and much more. This trend was particularly seen during the run-up to Christmas 1977, which included an odd and misleading "Star Wars" Xmas gift that lives on as one of its worst-ever toy lines. But the one-time gift that left many scratching their heads during the holiday season is now worth major bank today.

The gift included an empty envelope with toy stands for unreleased action figures

Throughout the decades, "Star Wars" toys have evolved with each passing film and trilogy. To take advantage of the original movie's influence and popularity from a commercial standpoint, the now-defunct Kenner Products marketed and released a unique Christmas gift in late 1977 that was actually not much of a tangible gift at all. The product was labeled as the "Star Wars Early Bird Kit," which was essentially an envelope along with "a cardboard stand for action figures, some stickers and a certificate that was redeemable by mail for four figures: Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, and R2-D2. The figures would arrive between February 1 and June 1, 1978," (via The Hollywood Reporter)

According to toy expert Richard Gottlieb, while speaking to the History Channel's "Christmas Through the Decades" series, Kenner Products did not anticipate just how much demand there would be for an action figure line from the film. Despite retrospective criticisms, the aired commercial for the kit did indicate the toys were not included with the set at that time.

But even though many kids were likely a bit bummed that Xmas morning, flash-forward 40+ years into the future, and the cardboard stands in the envelope are going for thousands of dollars online, as mentioned by The Hollywood Reporter. Even what was once a peculiar move on a toy company's part is now gold thanks to the sheer supremacy "Star Wars" holds over popular culture.