Tuesday 25 August 2015

1994: STAR WARS GALAXY Issue 1 (Topps)

From the last quarter of 1994: the launch issue of TOPPS' STAR WARS GALAXY magazine.

The mid-nineties saw a profusion of officially licensed STAR WARS magazines as different publishers, in different territories, tried to grab a slice of the resurgent interest in the franchise (and, no doubt, hoped to be at the front of the line when liceses related to the impending new movies were dished out). 

The existing LUCASFILM FAN CLUB (companion company to the Official Trek outfit) had been publishing a flimsy wraparound for their mail order business since 1986 (which, in turn, had replaced the equally flimsy but less glossy Bantha Tracks published by the Star Wars Fan Club).  They started to offer better value for money, and chase shop sales, by rebooting as the STAR WARS INSIDER, from issue 23, in 1994.

The selection widened again in 1996, at least if you lived in the UK, when Titan Magazines added a SW title to their existing Trek offering.  The UK edition shared a lot of material with the US title and Titan eventually took over publication in 2007.  It's still going today.

Sitting in the midst of this, Card makers Topps took advantage of their existing (dating back to 1977) relationship with Lucasfilm to launch this magazine, borrowing the title from the card sets they'd published since 1993.

Topps, witnessing comicdom's expansion into the card business (at one point Marvel owned Fleer, Skybox and Panini), pushed back with an ambitious move into publishing.  But, they couldn't nab (although I'm sure they hoped to) the SW license from Dark Horse so they settled for the next best thing: a comicbook-sized magazine devoted to the saga and spin-off merchandise.  Following the tried-and-tested DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE formula, they commissioned new SW strips from Dark Horse anyway.  Although I'm sure Topps hoped for the day that the license would come up for renewal and they'd have a chance to use their history, commitment to the brand and experience with other Hollywood franchises (notably THE X-FILES) to wrestle the rights away.  

Published quarterly, it ran for thirteen issues between late 1994 and late 1997.  Then, possibly to define its niche amongst the other licensed magazines, it relaunched as STAR WARS GALAXY COLLECTOR MAGAZINE with a larger format and, as the name suggests, a new emphasis on SW merchandise and collectibles.  They certainly had A LOT to write about during this period.  Eight issues appeared between February 1998 and December 1999.  

Each issue of original SWG maximized the synergy wrought by the Topps connection and came polybagged with trading cards.  Another highlight was the original illustrated covers, another benefit of the card art connection.  

The magazine is not to be confused with Titan's 2010 launch of the same name which reprinted US Dark Horse strips for the British market.  Despite a handsome format (the 'Collector's Edition format pioneered by Marvel UK/ Panini and subsequently adopted by Titan for their DC reprints), it closed after 24 issues. 


  1. Those topps magazines were great while they lasted. Another one I miss is TV-FILM MEMORABILIA , in fact there is no currently published title which is dedicated to such things unless you count BLOCKS which focuses exclusively on lego.

    The marvel ownership of fleer would explain how they are able to re-produce the 90's trading card sets in the pages of their current line of trades and the EPIC COLLECTION., especially the x-men titles.

    1. pick of the week must be BACK ISSUE 83 ( yes the next one is out already ! ) which features a superb article on the ' spidey in the uk ' stories from the 80's. There is also a nice piece on the ' story so far ' recaps which were unique to marvel uk. I particularly loved the ones for STAR WARS WEEKLY, they offered an alternate take on previous events and only added to the novelty factor.

      Also out is an updated , revised version of the 80's ALMANAC from sci-fi now. Its almost identical to the first edition but now with additional pages on back to the future.

  2. Hi Slow,

    Nothing to do with this post, just for info as you may have missed this one:

    Marvel UK watch -- bad guy organization Mys-TECH has been a background nuisance in recent issues of SHIELD by Mark Waid and rotating artists. Mentioned in #5-6 and hinted at earlier, behind a scheme involving (no spoilers ...) a classic Marvel supernatural character. No specific Mys-TECH players involved, or at least none I recognised (which doesn't say much!), but organisation was name checked several times.

    And on a different note, regards your "Star Wars 2" collected book ... I've always felt the first ("color") volume is supremely difficult to track down because it has such a generic title. Try finding a book called "Star Wars" with no writer listed on any sales site, eBay, Mile High, abebooks, etc.--the results are in the hundreds!

    I made a lucky find of a pristine copy of Star Wars 2 in a haul of cheap books a couple of years ago, only to have the cover torn in a subsequent house move. To add insult to injury, it was the only thing to get damaged--and the only book in the box that I couldn't simply pick up another copy of from any bookshop! Perhaps fate was punishing me for my hubris at finding it so cheaply ...?!

  3. thanks for the info krusty, I must check those issues of SHIELD...shame about that book.

  4. I was visiting Vancouver Canada when I grabbed this issue at a random comic shop. got it in particular for the Boba Fett related stuff in it but I remember it being an over all pretty cool magazine.


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