The History of CommTech
In 1999, Hasbro released the CommTech chips, which were included with
3-3/4" Star Wars action figures. Doubling up as an action figure
stand, these chips contained phrases and sounds from the Star Wars movies.
These chips were available in a number of different languages including:
English, French, German & Italian. A device called a CommTech reader
was used to play the sounds from the chips and it had some built-in sound
effects on its own. When a CommTech chip is swiped past the face of the
reader, the information on the chip is transferred to the reader using a
RFID. RFID stands for Radio Frequency
. The technology was impressive in its day, however the
sound quality was considered somewhat primitive. A company called
Innovision developed the technology for Hasbro.
In the early stages of development, this line was referred to as DataTalk and
there were some conceptual models made to pitch the idea. The line later
changed to CommTech which was used in most countries. In other countries,
it was referred to as CommTalk due to some trademark issues. Early chips
were developed to test the functionality of the technology. These chips
were hand-made and contained a large circuit board within the chip. As
development progressed, the circuits were reduced in size. Prototype first
shot housings were created to hold the electronics. The production chips
included a photo of the character that it belonged to. There were multiple variations of the first generation CommTech chips, click here to learn more.
As Hasbro began the transition of the "Power of the Force 2" and
"Episode I" lines to "Power of the Jedi", a second wave of
CommTech chips and reader were planned for release. These chips included
more storage capability for "Twice the Speech". The second
generation CommTech chips were redesigned to an oval shape. Prototype
chips and sample carded figures were deviloped for advertising purposes.
The second generation reader was developed to include removable sound cartridges
for additional sound effects. Unfortunately the CommTech technology was
cancelled and the second generation chips and reader never made it to toy
shelves. Many of the prototypes and samples were destroyed, however some
survived! Figures from this line were later released with a more
cost-effective accessory known as a "Force File".