In Search of Glasses

by Joseph Tavano

The classic Burger King Star Wars glasses are often sold, yet barely researched. We take a good look at these collectibles from days gone by.

Star Wars collecting can be a curious thing. Most everyone knows about the action figures, and others move into statues, and costumes, and other fairly relatable merchandise. But every so often, a collector yearns for a piece that’s unique; a piece of significance. They dig deep into the history of Star Wars and its merchandising, and eventually they’ll come across a set of Burger King tie-in glassware. These Star Wars glasses were sold with the release of each original trilogy movie, and were a fairly common promotion at the time (except in Massachusetts, where state law prohibited restaurant chains to sell glassware, for some odd reason. They got plastic cups in Mass.)


Star Wars Glasses (1977)

So, all in all there’s four glasses for each movie. Star Wars featured Darth Vader,  Luke Skywalker, Artoo/Threepio, and Chewbacca, with various other characters in surrounding detail.

The Empire Strikes Back Glasses (1980)

The Empire Strikes Back had Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, the droids, and Lando Calrissian, with other characters in detail. Also of note, Vader’s glasses refers to him as “The Dark Lord of the Sith.” This was 1980, so it’s a pretty significant reference.

Return of the Jedi Glasses (1983)

Finally, Return of the Jedi featured entire scenes: Jabba’s palace, the Sarlaac pit battle, the Ewok village, and the Emperor’s throne room.

Collect all 12–or More?

Therefore, theoretically, it would seem, given a little searching, fairly easy to get all 12. However, things are not always as they seem. The Massachusetts plastic variety are exceedingly rare, and the paint wore off very easily, so it would take a small fortune and a lot of luck to acquire them all in good condition. But, there’s even more.

Last autumn I came across a set of the ESB glasses at an antique shop in Newport, RI. They were in great condition, but priced fairly high. I was able to talk the auctioneer down to a reasonable price (more on this later), and took my treasures home. I love this sort of hunt when I’m collecting; it’s 90% of the fun for me. I also love taking a good look at these collectibles as historical artifacts. It goes back to my days as a history major in college, and I get to flex some rarely used muscles in that sense.

So I get home, and I start examining these glasses, and a few things stand out right off the bat. First, the glasses come in two distinct styles! There’s a taller, oval shaped tumbler, and a shorter tumbler with a pedestal-style base. Take a look:


The one on the right is clearly different than the other three! Different paint, different glass, but no other differences whatsoever! Immediately I did some research. Well, I tried to do some research.

US, Canada, Round, Pedestal, and Plastic Variations

As it turns out, there’s next to no info anywhere on these glasses. They happened, they’re out there, but no one’s really cared to figure out how many different variations there are out there, where they were manufactured, or why the variations came to be! There’s an obvious difference in quality in ink, but the ink quality is uneven across the different styles of glass. There are ones made in Canada, as well as ones made in the USA, but both countries have different styles of glass, and both have different qualities of ink.

Frankly, it’s weird. I can only surmise that there were at least two different companies manufacturing the glasses to account for the variations in ink, and both had the same two styles of tumbler supplied to them. But, I have no way to confirm this as of today.

Collect All 108!

Therefore, a complete set of Star Wars glasses would include

  • 1. 12 US tumblers in the pedestal style.
  • 2. 12 US tumblers in the round style.
  • 3. 12 Canadian tumblers in the pedestal style.
  • 4. 12 Canadian tumblers in the round style.

That’s 48 distinct glasses.

Now, introduce the low-grade ink vs. the high-grade ink, and we’re up to 96 glasses.

Then, add in the plastic Massachusetts variation and…there are 108 different Star Wars glasses!

How can an area of Star Wars collecting, with all the variation and diversity in the marketplace as any other prized collectible, be so neglected? Has no one gotten to the bottom of all this! And, a very large sticking point remains.

No one seems to know how much they are worth.

With production information so scarce, the value is exceptionally hard to judge. You can search online and find an array of prices high to low, with absolutely no baseline to assess their value! As far as these glasses go, it’s the final frontier; the wild west of Star Wars collecting! In a hobby as categorized, chronicled, and curated as this, it is just an anomaly to find an area with so many questions.

As of today, most of those questions remain unsolved.

Get involved

Be a part of the story as it continues to unfold. If you have some info on these glasses, or would like to share your story, send it If I got any of this wrong, let me know, too.

For more coverage on the Star Wars vintage glasses, check out Chris’ Collectors Hutt video.

A big thanks to Chris at The Collectors Hutt and Mike MacDonald at Looking Away To The Horizon for help with the comparative research on this article. Thanks Guys!


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