The European Full Circle Punch

While Trilogo production was in full swing, a slight modification was made to the cards that is not only instantly noticeable to collectors but somewhat intriguing too. 

In the mid 80’s, just before Star Wars finally let go of the incredibly tight grasp it had on the toy market, there was a manufacturing change introduced which affected the shape of punch holes on all commercial products/blister packs (including toys) sold in countries located in continental Europe.

As this modification occurred around the time the second wave of ROTJ figures were released, both the Meccano company in France and GMJ (General Mills Juguetes) in Spain adapted their cards to comply with the new regulations, turning this:

Palitoy Type 3 Punch

…into this:

euro slot

As well as Spanish and French Trilogo cards, the later released German POTF “Kraft Der Macht” figure multipacks (containing 3 carded Trilogo or ROTJ figures) and the  figure & vehicle multipacks (containing 2 loose figures & a mini rig) also exhibit the circle punch.

Palitoy/UK

Interestingly, the new “full circle” punch (often referred to as being “UFO” shaped) was NOT used on cardbacks distributed by Palitoy in the UK with the company continuing to use the traditional style instead. 

Somewhat ironically however, by the time the Power of The Force figures were released, all of the European companies were supplied with the standard Palitoy cards to package them on (no doubt to cut production costs). This meant that both companies earlier compliance with the new production regulation ultimately ended up being slightly pointless!

How many were produced?

As the full circle punch card variations can be hard to find (and in many cases more sought after than regular cards) collectors often ask me just how many characters can be found on this card style, so here are some lists I’ve put together to answer that question.

Meccano/France

This is the full list of Return of the Jedi figures that were produced in France with the full circle punch:

  • Emperor’s Royal Guard
  • Biker Scout
  • Luke Skywalker (Jedi knight outfit)
  • Nikto
  • 8D8
  • Princess Leia Organa (In Combat Poncho)
  • Wicket
  • The Emperor
  • B-Wing Pilot
  • Klaatu (Skiff Guard Outfit)
  • Han Solo (In Trench Coat)
  • Teebo
  • Prune Face
  • AT-ST Driver
  • Rancor Keeper

As you can see, the majority are from the second wave but there are also a few first wave figures in the list too.

The earlier released Emperor’s Royal Guard, Biker Scout and Luke Jedi can all be found with both the regular punch and the full circle punch but this isn’t particularly surprising as they would have all been popular figures that were continually produced both before and after the change.

But what about the figures from Star Wars & Empire Strikes Back? Well, very few early figures which had previously been reissued on standard Trilogo cards were re-packaged on cards with the circle punch in France. 

To be more precise, there were only six reissued figures from the two previous films released on the the new style card and almost all of them were imperials. Five of the six make perfect sense as reissues because they were all troop/army builders which would have been in high demand:

  • Imperial Stormtrooper (Hoth Battle Gear)
  • AT-AT Commander
  • Emperors Royal Guard
  • Stormtrooper (Garde Impérial)
  • Tusken Raider

Photo credit: The Corroy Brothers

The only real exception to the army builder rule is Lando Calrissian from The Empire Strikes Back but my guess is he was just a popular in demand figure at the time.

 

GMJ/Spain

In Spain, the following second wave ROTJ figures were produced by GMJ with the full circle punch:

  • Nikto
  • 8D8
  • Princess Leia Organa (In Combat Poncho)
  • Wicket
  • Klaatu (Skiff Guard Outfit)
  • Han Solo (In Trench Coat)
  • Teebo
  • Prune Face
  • AT-ST Driver
  • Lumat
  • Paploo *Available on the Ewok Warrior card

Unlike in other countries, there were very few earlier figures reissued on Trilogo cards in Spain. In fact, there were only two: Zuckuss and LXW, but they were both only available on the first incarnation of the Trilogo cardback, the 65 back “Hybrid” card (Trilogo front/ROTJ PBP Back). There was no full circle punch card variation produced for either figure.

So there you have it, while this relatively insignificant change was just a simple production modification back then, nowadays it’s very much seen as a cool variation by collectors.

Perhaps more importantly though, it’s one of the few specific card traits seen on Trilogos that can also be used to identify which country certain carded figures originated from and even when they were released!

 

 

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