It was 1995. Ten years after Kenner said Sayonara to the original Star Wars Generation and for most of us the farewell (obviously) was too early. Even if it meant we were given a breather and a chance to catch up, most of us never asked for a break. We didn't need vacation from little plastic Star Wars dudes. In fact, to many of us, the mandatory hiatus of action figures was the worst part of The Dark Ages.
Yeah, we knew there were no more movies being filmed after Return Of The Jedi but to those of us that protected the Star Wars flame there was always the promise of brighter days. George Lucas went on record in 1983 saying that it wasn't over. We all just needed to wait until movie making technology reached his vision, and if you ask me, he was very focused on seeing technology get there.
We should never, ever, forget that Lucas has done more for feature films and our ability to suspend disbelief than anyone since Alfred Hitchcock, and that everything that came from Computer Generated Images came from Lucas' vision. Personally I don't recall any film released prior to A New Hope to have computer graphics incorporated into the the photography, and even as simple as it was to see the Death Star plans by today's standards, what he and his team achieved for a movie released in 1977 was a massive leap in filmmaking.
Sure we'd all like to think that Star Wars (A New Hope) was a success simply because the film is totally awesome, but the truth of it is Industrial Light & Magic's pushing of the envelope so all the special effects that supported Lucas' story made us believe in the Force and the tyranny of the Galactic Empire just as much as the actors did. ILM opened the door for not only George Lucas to eventually see what was in his head realized, but for all filmmakers. The possibilities were endless. But that's neither here nor there (this time out).
We aged and grew almost decade without Star Wars toys on the store shelf, but we began to see a quiet resurgence in the Force. It started with a small rumbling with Dark Horse's Dark Empire comics, and Timothy Zahn's Heir To The Empire books, but book shelves aren't toy shelves (even though most of us disregard that fact in our own homes every day) so it wasn't until 1993 that we felt the Force in the toy stores first with JustToys' bendies multipacks and followed with Galoob's Micro machines, but as we moved past 1993 and 1994, we knew something big was coming, and it did in a way come.
At the 1995 International Toy Fair, Kenner revealed the first assortment of new Star Wars action figures and related toys. We were still living in a pre-Interwebs age, so it wasn't until March of that year that we saw the first nine figures, and (correct me if I'm wrong) the first two vehicles in the newly relaunched Power Of The Force line. All we had to do was wait six months for them to arrive on store shelves.
Even though those months were long and our anticipation never faltered, it was a long wait.
Eventually, as the months tend to do, September finally arrived, and Kenner's Power Of The Force> line began shipping. For many of us, that meant specialty market for quick finds, and at least where I lived, $20 a figure, but you know what? that was a price I was happy to pay for a new Star Wars toy. In 1995 there was no taking for granted new Star Wars anything.
Of course, we were all at least a little bit in denial, since the packaging didn't feel like Star Wars and the over the top muscly men and bull-legged women in the line's first year were a far cry from what we had imagined in our heads to be the triumphant return to the action figure aisle.
That said, the 1995 assortment paved the way to what we get now, and as such should be held with high regard as an important period of Star Wars collecting history, and we should all of us own at least one orange carded figure.