When Snoopy Invaded “Star Wars”

January 11, 2015 – In 1979, Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang briefly invaded the Star Wars universe with the release of “Star Snoopy Colorforms”. Except Snoopy & Co. never bothered to get the permission or licensing rights from Lucasfilm, Ltd., and nobody seemed to care.
Snoopy 1 Colorforms were invented in 1951. They are thin vinyl sheet images and shapes which are applied to a laminated board, much like placing paper dolls against a paper backdrop. The vinyl cut-outs stick to the background by non-permanent adhesion. The Colorforms vinyl pieces can be repositioned against graphic backgrounds to create endless designs and scenarios at a child’s whim.
Snoopy 2 Snoopy Beagle Scouts
There were over a dozen Snoopy and Peanuts Colorforms releases, including the “Snoopy’s Beagle Scouts” stand-up play set (pictured here) and the “Snoopy You’re a Pal”. However, only one Star Wars cross-over set was released.

So how did the late Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz (1922-2000) skirt licensing fees and trade-mark and copyright laws? If you look closely at the packaging, no Star Wars characters, names, or logo are referenced. The narrative on the box cover states:

SNOOPY is star of this space-fantasy Colorforms set. Create many spectacular space adventures with Colorforms. Plastic pieces stick like magic. No scissors or paste needed.”

There are quite a few Star Wars-inspired forms in this 1979 Star Snoopy playset, however, to leave little doubt that Colorforms was freely borrowing from somebody else’s “space-fantasy”. For example, the cover art features the “Star Snoopy” title printed in the same stylized font and crawl as the original Star Wars movie. Snoopy’s vehicle is labeled “X-7” – in case you missed the obvious X-wings configuration. And the vinyl cut-outs include several lightsabers, a friendly robot that vaguely resembles C-3PO, and Lucy is crouched and reaching out to another cut-out labeled “PLANS” (Death Star, anyone?). If that’s not enough, how about a couple helmets that look suspiciously like a Stormtrooper helmet and an X-Wing pilot’s helmet. Several ceremonial medals are thrown in for good measure.
Snoopy 3

To date, over a billion Colorform sets have been sold worldwide. It’s not clear whether Lucasfilm ever sued Schulz or the Colorforms Corporation, sent them a cease-and-desist letter, or whether George Lucas simply shrugged his shoulders and looked the other way. It’s an interesting footnote in Star Wars history, nonetheless, to see that once upon a time, a plucky beagle invaded someone else’s “space-fantasy” and got away with it.