Kenner Products



2015-06-26 11:07:30

Kenner Products was a toy manufacturing company founded in 1947.

It’s most notable dealings among collectors was obtaining the rights to produce Star Wars action figures and play sets for the film trilogy from 1977 through 1985.

Kenner also produced an acclaimed line of figures for the Super Powers Collection (1984-1986) based on DC Comics characters; toys for the Six Million Dollar Man television series; and ventured into the diecast toy car market in a short-lived range called Fast 111s.

Company history

The business was founded in 1947 by three brothers, Albert, Phillip, and Joseph L. Steiner in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States. It was named after the street on which the company’s original premises were situated.

Six Million Dollar Man

The company saw huge success in 1975 with its line of figures based on the U.S television show 'The Six Million Dollar Man' and its spin-off 'The Bionic Woman'. Both lines were seen as the first successful range of figures based on a television show, and were some of the most popular toys of the mid-1970s.

Main article: Kenner Six Million Dollar Man action figures

Star Wars (1977-1985)

After the Mego Corporation rejected a proposal to produce Star Wars toys in 1976, Kenner obtained the rights a year later to produce Star Wars action figures and play sets for the Star Wars film trilogy.

Through its Star Wars association, Kenner popularised the 3.75 inch action figure that became an industry standard. The model still dominates today’s toy markets.

'Telescoping Lightsaber' Star Wars action figures

Main article: 'Telescoping Lightsaber' Star Wars action figures

When the first wave of Star Wars “Early Bird” action figures arrived on the market in 1978, the original Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker figures came with a telescoping lightsaber accessory.

The figures were difficult to manufacture and the lightsaber broke easily, and production was eventually halted. It has been said that only a few hundred of these figures were ever made.

Today, the telescoping Luke Skywalker figure is said to be worth around $600. The telescoping Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader figures are believed to be worth $6000 - $7000 each.

Super Powers collection

The 'Super Powers Collection featured figures based DC comic book characters such as Superman and Batman. The line ran for three years from 1986 to 1986, and was heavily marketed by both companies.

The 'Super Powers' logo appeared on a wide range of merchandise (including bed sheets, colouring books and a lunchbox, and a series of comic books.

The line began a rivalry between DC and Marvel comics in terms of their action figure ranges, as previously characters from both companies had been produced by the same company - Mego.

With the Super Powers line launched, Marvel went to rival company Mattel to produce their 'Secret Wars' line of figures, which was the subject of an equally grand marketing scheme involving a high-concept comic book series which brought all the major Marvel characters together in one story.

Notable sales

Two Kenner Star Wars Return of the Jedi Princess Leia and Boba Fett figures “on Original Cards” (meaning in their original box) auctioned at Morphy Auctions, Denver, Pennsylvania, United States on 30th March 2006.

Billed as Near Mint, C-9 in terms of condition, both 4" figures were consigned from the collection of actor Leonardo DiCaprio and sold for $4,000.

In the same sale, a Kenner Star Wars plastic coated Jawa - one of the rarest figures - also from DiCaprio’s collection (Near Mint Plus, C-10) brought $4,500.

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