The lunchbox was a standard must have every year when I was a kid and if you had a super cool one with the latest hit movie or tv show, it was a bonus. I always felt bad for the kids who had to buy the hot lunch or take their lunch to school in brown bags and just assumed the brown baggers were too poor to get their own lunch box. These were the days of the metal lunchbox. Not those flimsy plastic ones that broke with one drop. However, as the 80s began, the metal ones were on their way out with the plastic ones coming on full throttle. This was evidenced by the several different lunchboxes released for The Empire Strikes Back.
This one was mine. It was, by far, the coolest of all of the lunchboxes that year. Featuring a great photo of Luke discovering Yoda on one side and an amazing shot of the Snowtroopers on Hoth on the other. The original Star Wars lunchbox was cool but this blew the doors off of that one. It was almost like someone said, "We have to make this lunchbox the coolest lunchbox in the world. We have to make the lunchbox just as cool and awesome as the movie." They, of course, succeeded. The side panels (just as important as the main pictures) were pretty cool as well. How can you go wrong with good versus evil?! One one side was the good: a great picture of Yoda. The opposite side was the menacing Darth Vader flanked by two stormtroopers. Pure genius! And let's not forget the top and bottom strips. These sides and top and bottom pictures are what set the great metal boxes apart from their not-as-cool plastic off spring. Those would be just one picture (a sticker mind you!) plastered on the front and that was it. There would be no cool painting of Bespin on the bottom of the plastic lunch box. Nor would there be a picture of everyone's favorite droids on the top. Only if you had the mighty metal lunch box, would you get to enjoy these great pictures on a daily basis!
The Empire Luchbox also paved the way for the future with a brand new invention called the flip-top thermos. Before, you had the usual thermos that you had to open and pour and then drink from the attached cup if you were dainty or drink right from the thermos if you were cool and manly. I was neither. I put a straw in mine and drank it that way. With the advent of the flip top, all you had to do was take the cup off, flip the top and you were good to go!!! Spill proof! (sort of - kids will always find a way to spill their drink) And what was cooler was as you were drinking from your cool new flip top, you got to show off your love of the great Jedi Master by showing his image before you. (a good lunchboxer always had the image on the thermos facing out so their friends could see!)
This lunchbox also featured one of the first plastic latches to hold the front on and prevented all of your edible goodies from falling on the ground as you walked to school in the morning. Some of you are probably saying, "but Dartman, I had the cool metal lunchbox but mine was completely different from the one you had". That's because there were two. The other metal lunch box featured super cool paintings from scenes in the film. Though not as cool as the photos, these were still pretty cool images to sport on a lunchbox. The photo of Luke with Yoda is represented in artistic form from a different angle and gives the great Jedi master an air of greatness by use of perspective. And it also appears that Luke has already started his traning here as his hand is extended and his eyes are closed, thus willing you to eat your lunch through the use of the Force. The flip side features a magnificent painting of the goings on in the cockpit of the mighty Millenium Falcon. This is cool as Han Solo is not represented at all on the photo model. It seems odd to me now that he wasn't. If I remember correctly, my friends and I all thought Han was the coolest of the cool but yet none of us minded that he wasn't on our metal status symbol. It might have been the fact that we were in awe of the majestic coolness of Yoda at the time. The sides of this box featured a collage of various characters from the film and some scenes that were non-existent on the other box. The sides showed Luke on a Tauntaun and Vader surrounded by stormtroopers, bounty hunters and Lando. (I wonder why they threw Lando in with the bad guys?) While the top had a nice painting of the Hoth battle complete with At-Ats and the bottom had a nice space shot of the fleet of Star Destroyers. (couldn't find any great pictures of those) The thermos was pretty much exactly the same as the other one except it was blue and the image of Yoda was reversed. I'm not sure if that one came with the flip top. Along with these two great metal lunchboxes, there was also two plastic lunchboxes released as well. Both of them were red and were nowhere near as cool as the metal ones. The first and better of the two plastic boxes featured a strange, posed promo shot of our heros somewhere in the inner corridors of the rebel base on Hoth with their weapons drawn and pointed right at you. Kind of like, "eat your lunch or we'll blast you into kingdom come". This whole scene seems very strange to me. It doesn't happen in the film at all. Even the painted box features scenes from the actual film. Not to pick on anyone who had this one but I think it's kind of a cheap substitute for the cooler metal ones. At least put one of the photos from the metal on on the box! Come on. If you think that one's bad, there was another that was even worse. This time around, it was sticker of an X-Wing fighter approaching a planet with small shots of scenes from the film. While this does sport scenes from the actual film, it just looks cheap and horrible. Not to mention the main image just doesn't make any sense at all. Are we to conclude that the X-Wing pictured is Luke's as he is approaching Dagobah? I don't remember that scene looking like that! If you had this one, I'm sorry. There's nothing else I can say.