The Empire Strikes Back 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.
First Home Video Release
Release Date: November 13, 1984
Retail Price: $79.98
The original VHS release of The Empire Strikes Back. Released in Pan & Scan only, no barcode on box.
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
ESB 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). 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.
Both releases are essentially the same transfer as the 1984 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 The Empire Strikes Back 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 (shown above). 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 The Empire Strikes Back 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 and Letterboxed 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 the film
The "Special Edition" version of The Empire Strikes Back was 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.
"Special Edition" 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 Empire Strikes Back 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.