A New Hope on VHS
You may have noticed that the pages for ANH, ESB and ROTJ on VHS all have the same basic descriptions, but with different pictures. It's difficult to elaborate on individual VHS releases so any description I write for a release of one of the films will fit the other two just as well.
Original Rental-Only Release
Release Date: May 27, 1982
Retail Price: $125 ("lifetime rental")
This release marked the debut of Star Wars into the home video market. The tapes were released with instructions telling the stores that they were loaned only. Stores began offering a "lifetime rental" for prices around (and sometimes exceeding) $120. This is arguably the only collectable VHS tape due to it's relative scarcity compared to subsequent releases (which sold in the millions). A copy in good condition could fetch over $100, while a sealed copy would fall in the $200-$300 range.
First Home Video Release
Release Date: September 1, 1982
Retail Price: $80
Released several months after rental-only tapes, this marked the first time that the film was availible - legally - in it's entirety. The $80 price tag may seem steep by today's standards, but in the early days of VHS, the tapes and prices were still aimed at rental stores rather than an individual. Despite this, many fans happily shelled out 80 bucks to finally be able to see Star Wars in their own home. This tape was released in Pan & Scan only. The box does not have a barcode.
Release Years (exact dates not documented): 1986 (Re-release #1), 1987-1989 (Re-release #2)
Retail Prices: $80
Trailers/Extras: Trilogy trailer either before (1987-89 release) or after (1986 release) the film
ANH recieved two (known) re-releases before being released in a boxed set in 1990. Re-release #1 coincided with the VHS release of ROTJ in 1986, when the complete trilogy became availible on VHS for the first time. This re-release contained an ad (after the film) for the trilogy (at this time, simply three cassettes that could be purchased separately). It also added a line of dialog for C-3PO, absent from the 1982 release and the 1977 theatrical release (it was added for the film's 1978 theatrical re-release): "The tractor beam is coupled to the main reactor in seven locations. A power loss at one of the terminals will allow the ship to leave." The box does not have a barcode. Despite being released in 1986, the only copyright date found on the box is a 1984 copyright for the package art. The copyright date for the trilogy ad states 1986.
The second (Re-release #2), released some time between 1987 and 1989, simply moved this trailer to the beginning of the tape, before the film. The film itself was left untouched and also features C-3PO's added line.
Both releases are essentially the same transfer as the 1982 release and therefore are also availible only in Pan & Scan format.
Original Box Set & Re-release
Release Dates: 1990 & 1992
Retail Prices: $59.98 set
Trailers/Extras: Trilogy trailer after the film (1990 Box Set), 1992 Box Set: Coming Soon
These two releases of A New Hope were released in box sets almost 2 years apart (in 1990, then again in 1992). However, the two releases are almost identical in terms of packaging. The 1990 release features a white label on the tape, while the 1992 release has a green/blue/white label. In addition, the 1990 release features the older CBS/FOX logo, whereas the 1992 release features the new design (both pictured above). The two releases can also be differentiated by the copyright date listed on the lower back of the case.
In 1992 the box set was released in Pan & Scan and Letterboxed format. The cassettes and artwork for A New Hope are the same in each box set but the Letterboxed versions have a "Widescreen" banner added.
THX Trilogy Box Set
Release Date: August 29, 1995
Retail Price: $49.98 set, $19.98 each
Trailers/Extras: THX Trilogy trailer before the film
Released as part of the 1995 THX Trilogy, this release was availible in both Pan & Scan (left) and Letterboxed (right) format. Pictures of both boxes are shown above, the only difference being that the Letterboxed version has a banner accross the top of the box proclaiming "Widescreen."
"Special Edition" Trilogy Box Set
Release Date: August 26, 1997
Retail Price: $50 set, $20 each
Trailers/Extras: Description of major SE changes before film
The VHS debut of Lucas' controversial "Special Editions" of the Original Trilogy. The films were released in a boxed set in both Pan & Scan and Letterboxed format. The Pan & Scan box has a gold border (to tie in with the gold theme of the P/S box set), while the Letterboxed box has a silver border. The Letterboxed casettes were also part of a "Widescreen Collector's Edition", but featured the same box and artwork as shown above.
Original Trilogy Re-release
Release Date: November 21, 2000
Retail Price: $40 set, $20 each
Trailers/Extras: Attack of the Clones trailer & more (Coming Soon)
This was the final release of the A New Hope on VHS. I don't think this release was anything more than a re-release of the 1997 transfer, likely with additional trailers and new box art. This set was released in both Pan & Scan and Letterboxed format. The Letterboxed release is has "Widescreen" written on the slipcover, as well as banners on the cassette boxes.