Most Star Wars collectors are well aware of the difficult path the now legendary toyline had during its infancy. The Star Wars brand was shopped around at Toy Fair in New York City in February 1977, being passed over by major toymakers including Mego. The newly emergent property continued its search for a licensor before wisely being snatched up by Kenner, a division of General Mills Fun Group. This decision was due in no small part to the Vice President of Marketing and Product Planning for the Kenner Toy division of General Mills, Craig R. Stokely.
Joining Kenner in 1973 as a Product Manager, Stokely utilized the marketing skills he honed with General Mills to see the potential in ABC’s popular prime-time television show The Six Million Dollar Man and was largely responsible for Kenner acquiring the licensing rights to The Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman shows. The toylines were a success and helped Kenner gain stronger footing in the toy industry.
Stokely also kept abreast of upcoming Hollywood projects. This keen insight led to a meeting at Toy Fair with Charles Lippincott, who wanted to discuss an upcoming sci-fi film he was representing – Star Wars.
Seeing concept drawings by Ralph McQuarrie as well as a brief trailer for the film, with its iconic characters, robots and ships, Stokely saw unlimited potential for toys, leading him to secure the licensing rights for all the Star Wars movies. This deal made Kenner the second-largest toy marketer at that time and his savvy decision helped make Star Wars the pop culture juggernaut it is to this day.
“I’ve been very fortunate to be at the right place at the right time” said Stokely, who called his five years with Kenner “the best time of my life.”
We are pleased to offer items from the Craig R. Stokely Collection in this auction, including Star Wars action figures, vehicles, puzzles and games, Lucasfilm Christmas cards and more as well as some Six Million Dollar Man items, including one of the most iconic toys of the 1970s, Col. Steve Austin Bionic Man action figure.