Woman’s Day Magazine’s Star Wars Playset Designs (1978, 1980)






If you had told me last week that Woman’s Day magazine and Star Wars had something in common, I would have fallen on my lightsaber. Now I know better. Two issues of the magazine (November, 1978, and November, 1980) featured intricate, Star Wars-themed playset designs and do-it-yourself instructions. Actually, the Outer-Space Station from the first issue doesn’t mention Star Wars specifically (note the Micronauts stuff in the second photo), but it looks incredible nevertheless.

The instructions were ridiculously complicated. Here’s how we’re told to assemble the Solar Power Unit of the Space Station:

Materials 1/2″x24″x30″ plywood; 3/4″x12″x30″ plywood; 1″x1″x20″ pine; 1/4″x12″x24″ mirrored acrylic; 18″x36″ plastic-laminate; 12′ of 1/8″-diam. plastic aquariam tube; 18″ of No. 18 soft steel wire; 36″ of 1/4″-diam. clear acrylic dowel; 18″-wide acetate strips, 1′ each of pink, yellow, green and blue.

From 3/4″ plywood, cut pieces A, B, C and D (all 4′ high), with mitered sides following Top View diagram. Also cut 2 triangular sides and cross support for the heat (or sun) collector. From 1/2″ plywood, cut long outer side and base. Drill for acrylic pegs.

Assemble sides around base with heat collector parts. Paint edges and sides that will be visible. Laminate outer surface of outer side. Cut 1/4″ acrylic mirror: for sides with mitered corners, and for heat collector with top and bottom to fit. Sand cut edges to remove saw cuts, which will reflect in mirrors. Cut top (catwalk) and laminate. Glue mirrors and top in place.

Cut acrylic dowel pegs; insert in base holes. Cut plastic tubing for each pair of pegs. Cut colored acetate in 1/4″ strips (3″ shorter than its tube), slip into tubes and place tubes on pegs.

Trim frame pieces for heat collector from 1/2″ stock. Assemble with glue, pressing pieces together; paint. Glue frame in place with many dots of glue.

Cut and bend wire for ladder rungs. Place tape over acrylic and mark rung holes. Drill holes, remove tape and insert rungs.

Are you shitting me? Apparently the Woman’s Day editors realized that no one could actually build the Space Station, because the Empire Strikes Back sets (Hoth and Dagobah) were a bit more manageable—for someone with an endless supply of dedication and patience.

Speaking of which, I found evidence of only one of the sets completed back in the day. (Click to enlarge.)

Star Wars Stuff Spread

According to Alicia Policia on Flickr, her mom made the Hoth set between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 1980, when Alicia’s brothers were at school and Alicia, then 2 months’ old, was napping.

Ron Salvatore discusses the sets in length at the Star Wars Collectors Archive (part one here, part two here). The original instructions are posted as well. All Woman’s Day images are from Salvatore’s articles.

11 Responses to “<em>Woman’s Day</em> Magazine’s <em>Star Wars</em> Playset Designs (1978, 1980)”

  1. 1 Anon February 26, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Bizarre. Star Wars wasn’t generally that subtle in its advertising, but I don’t see a logo anywhere. Yet that is clearly a TIE Fighter and various other Star Wars toys. We’re these official or just outer space sets they shoved Star Wars characters onto?

  2. 2 2W2N February 26, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    These were in no way associated with or endorsed by Lucasfilm.

  3. 3 Gordon Peterson February 26, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    The first playset (Outer-Space Station) was not specifically for Star Wars. There’s plenty of vintage Mego Micronauts getting their fair share of exposure in the photos.

  4. 4 2W2N February 26, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Yeah. I don’t know about the first article, but the second refers specifically to “Empire Strikes Back Play Sets” on the cover and in the story.

  5. 5 leftylimbo February 27, 2013 at 12:12 am

    Wow! Those things are crazy cool. Yeah, I was gonna say, that first one totally reminds me of a Logan’s Run or Micronautian aesthetic. Actually its title fits…it may very well be an outer-space outpost or hub; a cosmic crossroads where all the universes meet.

    I like how in the second picture everything’s in scale, except for the snowspeeder doing a fly-by (and Fett’s ship nearby).

  6. 6 hobgoblin238 February 27, 2013 at 12:46 am

    I was going to have my guy make those for me but I decided against it. I do not have the space.

  7. 7 2W2N February 27, 2013 at 5:07 am

    Can your guy build me a life-size model? I’ll get a wrecking ball and make room.

    Oh, and I updated the first paragraph to make Gordon’s point clearer.

  8. 8 R2 February 25, 2017 at 4:33 am

    My amazingly patient & selfless mother made the Dagobah set for me (from a heavy cardboard stock, if memory serves) — complete with volcano & Slime pit! She was a gifted artist and often encouraged mother-son bonding via the glory of crafting. (Macramé! Styrofoam! Toothpicks! Felt! Découpage! The works!) I vividly recall spotting the 1980 article in my grandmother’s Woman’s Day stack — and practically vaulting into her dining room with the exciting news, interrupting a slightly boozy game of canasta. The pleas for a home for Yoda happily did not fall on deaf ears. Mom had long since given in to my Star Wars mania — even making extra outfits for my multiple Leias. She sure knew the way to her little girlie-boy’s heart. 🙂

  9. 10 MICHAEL a SMITHHISLER September 16, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    I have these plans for the 1978 space station, and build it for my sons in 1979. They played with it for years until teenage hormones took over. W e then used firecrackers, and other fireworks to create one last battle and destoyed the entire thing in a blaze of glory. It was worth all the years of fun we had together. Thy still talk about it.

  10. 11 SW fan October 19, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    I remember the first set, I was seven. My mother showed me the magazine. A kid at school had seen it too, he said his dad was going to help him build it but I never heard anything else about it.

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