Sunday, on a local classifieds site, I found a listing titled “Star Wars ‘Early Bird Special'” with the following description:
I have an Early Bird Special with Chewbacca, Luke Skywalker, R2D2 and Princess Leia. Original packaging from the 70’s in the original box sent in the mail! The light saber in Luke’s arm functions properly. Send an email to me if interested.
There wasn’t a picture and my first thought was that it was probably the 2005 Walmart reissue, but I figured it didn’t hurt to send a question asking for a picture. A few days passed with no response, so I figured it must have sold.
Wednesday, I received a reply that the seller didn’t have any pictures. I decided to ask some questions about the set, like figures still in bags, Double Telescoping Saber (more on that later), paperwork, etc. He answered all my questions and everything sounded correct. I arranged to meet him Thursday night to see the set and hopefully work out a deal.
I originally planned on selling the figures as they weren’t still sealed in the bags and I want to upgrade the set with those later, but in talking with the seller, I’ve changed my mind about that. He shared his memories with me in receiving the set and coming to Utah to visit family to see Star Wars for the first time. I could tell it still meant something to him and he was making sure it was going to a good home. The surprising part was he opened the figures, but never really played with them, so they are all in great condition.
There are two points that make this set special to collectors. The first is that this was the only way to receive Star Wars figures when they were first released. They were obtained from the early bird certificate package which was sold during Christmas of ’77 by mailing off a coupon. These boxed sets of figures started to arrive in February ’78 and it wasn’t until a few months later that stores started receiving figures to sell.
The other part is that earlier sets included a Luke Skywalker with a double telescoping lightsaber. The smaller tip of the lightsaber slides into the larger piece and back out. It has been said that this idea was scrapped early on because of cost. Some Darth Vader and Obi-Wan figures shipped this way to stores, but they are even harder to find. This set that I bought included one of these Lukes.
Here’s the original commercial for the Early Bird Set. Go in about 47 seconds to see it.
Here’s the set I bought.
And here’s a comparison showing the two different lightsabers. The double telescoping is the first picture with the regular one just below.
I’ve wanted one of these for a very long time and I’m glad I was able to find one locally.