Netflix’s The Toys That Made Us might very well be our favorite show of the year so far. And what’s not to love? The four episodes that debuted so far (another batch of which are currently in post-production) have charted the incredible — and often strange and/or hilarious — true stories behind Barbie dolls, G.I. Joe, Masters of the Universe, and, best of all, Star Wars.
For those readers who weren’t born in the 1970s or ’80s, we can’t begin to emphasize how Kenner’s Star Wars items immediately and permanently changed the toy landscape. Like the film that spawned them, there was nothing ever like it in pop culture before. These things were everywhere, and their success was a tribute not only to George Lucas’ mastery but also to the great workmanship and marketing from the Cincinatti-based Kenner company.
The company’s struggles in bringing these toys into the marketplace are chronicled in-depth in the Star Wars installment of The Toys That Made Us, but a deleted sequence sheds more light on how photography was used to make the product look as appealing as possible.
Exclusive to Den of Geek, the below clip includes insight from Kenner photographer Kim Simmons on how his images helped bring a galaxy far, far away to your local toystore:
Also of note is how this footage illustrates how Simmons’ work has influenced contemporary toy photographers, including Matthew Callahan — who draws from old Kenner photos as well as his own experiences as a U.S. Marine to create images of Star Wars toys placed in realistic battle scenarios. Just another example of how The Toys That Made Us is a success in its mission of proving the far-reaching impact that playthings have. For more on the show, we spoke with series creator Brian Volk-Weiss about how the series was made and where it can go from here.