At the center of the phenomenal success of George Lucas's six Star Wars movies and the related merchandising empire stands the tiny 3.75-inch, plastic action figures of the series' characters. The Kenner toy company initially purchased rights to produce Star Wars toys before the first movie appeared in 1977. The scarcity of petroleum (a key ingredient of plastic) in the 1970s led the company to model its figures in such a small size-smaller than G.I. Joe and many popular Mego figures of the time. The smaller size, however, reduced production costs and enabled Kenner to offer accessories, vehicles, and elaborate play sets scaled to the figures that made manipulation and play easy for small hands. Three decades and millions and millions of 3.75-inch figures later, the Star Wars story is still going strong.