Vintage Star Wars action figures collecting
Vintage star wars figs are still as hot in the toy market as it was when it first came out
The birth of star wars toys commenced with a great loud bang fresh from the memories of those who were able to witness the start of star wars saga.
Eager fans soon started to collect star wars action figures because of the success of the star wars films, star wars memorabilia and other keepsakes soon hit the market with the intent of elaborating film’s massive success.
Grabbing the first license to produce action figures, Kenner's star wars are rightfully considered the vintage ones. They were able to circulate the figures a year after the first star wars movie awed the world.
The vintage figure line included a selection of ships and play sets scaled at 3 3/4" and 12 large size figures. The line ran from 1978 until 1985 packed under the titles of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and the Power of the Force where the figures are based from.
Kenner produced a total of 115 action figures apart from the diverse variations of the figures.
A collection of star wars action figures will never be complete without the presence of the vintage figures. The Star wars saga began in 1977; it too was the beginning of the SW action figures collecting fame that lasts up to this day.
How much are old star wars action figures worth?
Even though star wars dominated the sci-fi genre back in the late 1970’s, the demand for its action figures continues. The value of a star wars action figure is impelled with several important basis. As such, each classic star wars figure varies value from the other.
These older star wars toys value will vary depending on order of production runs, limited production, availability of dealer stock, current public demand, rarity, variation, historical popularity, and some other factors.
With regards to value, star wars minis collecting do have an advantage over this. The figure being small is also cheaper compared to the bigger star wars figs, but the value remains superb due to the miniatures level of rarity.
Refer to the database & checklist of star wars minis for a complete listing of the mini figures.
However, there is no fixed and permanent worth for the loose star wars toys. The values may be changed anytime its collector wants to without such a fuss as a notice. Past and present values of the action figures do not guarantee the same value for the future.
The prices for any collectible, action figure or not, in this case, star wars action figures are determined on what the public or the interested buyer is willing to pay at a particular time.
Vintage and rare star wars figures
What Kenner produced back in 1978 is now most sought after by star wars collectors. Unknown to the company at that time, these now vintage and valuable star wars toys would create great impact to action figure collecting and a new lead in the action figures industry which fetch prices around thousands or more.
The 1978 “Telescoping Lightsaber” Darth Vader figure go for an average market value of around $6,000. This figure was included in the first wave of Star wars “Early Bird” set in 1978 along with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker with the same features and the lightsaber accessory. The Darth Vader figure was said to be the most highly priced with only a 100 versions being made.
The plastic weapon would pop and rise from the hollow arm of each figure then a thinner piece would pop out. However, these figures proved difficult to manufacture and also breaks easily thus it was cut from production by the time the second wave of star wars was released.
The original Jawa figures first hit the shelves outfitted with a thin vinyl cape thus named “Vinyl Cape Jawa. By the Jawa figure’s second release, the vinyl cape was replaced with a sewn cloth robe. This was Kenner’s way of making up with the buyers because Jawa was half the size of the other figures.
Another rare star wars action figures is the 1980 Rocket Firing Boba Fett, having a value of $1,000 to $2,000. The action figure was includes in Kenner’s first wave of Empire Strikes Back action figures. The figures existence was once questioned due to Kenner’s denial of ever producing the Boba Fett figure that came with a missile that fire from its back.
Kenner got worried about the safety of the tiny projectile and re-released Boba Fett with the missile permanently glued to its backpack.
1985 Yack Face saw the official cancellation of Kenner’s star wars action figures line. It was the last figure that had gone thru production but was never distributed to toy stores. To compensate for the production losses, Kenner shipped Yak Face to outlets in Canada and Europe thus never retailing in the US.
The Yak Face figure did made way to some collectors but remained rare thus fueled to the rumor that Kenner did destroy some of the figures. Yak Face has an average market value of $1,000.
Included in the Early Bird set was Blue Snaggletooth. The figure was said to be the rarest Star wars action figure in the market and priced at $400. When the prototype for the figure was made, toy makers had very little basis. With only a grainy black and white photo, they tried to make up the rest of its profile.
Blue Snaggletooth’s figure wore a blue suit with an average human height creature when actually the character is red suited and stands 3ft tall. The figure was immediately cut from production and was never seen again.
More than 30 years ago, star wars action figures redefined the very meaning of action figure collecting. At Kenner's first release of the star wars toy line which represents every character to appear in the film, the toy world got fidgety for more.
Today, these vintage figures are most sought after by collectors. These rare star wars figures make a good addition to any collection and fervent fans are willing to pay thickset just to get one.
One particular figure that most collectors want to comprise is the “yellow – haired Luke Skywalker. Collecting circles dubbed the yellow hair to differentiate it to the later version of Luke which has a brown hair.
The figure was included in the 12 original characters that Kenner released in 1978 and Luke Skywalker was one of the top sellers due to his lead role in the star wars film. The figure mimicked an appearing and disappearing lightsaber effect from the original movie. The particular feature is also present in the figures of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader.
Another famous figure in Kenner’s 1st wave of star wars toys is the vintage Han Solo. Renowned for its head, Han Solo’s features was changed in the event that the first release featured him with a much smaller head than the later version. Fans however opted for the smaller headed figure.
Sales of Han Solo action figures outweighed Luke Skywalker’s which somehow pinpoints who the real hero in the movie is. Although Luke is the main protagonist of the tale, Han’s character charmed fans making him the hero of their own pretend adventures.
The main heroine of the original star wars trilogy is also included in the first wave as it is as demanded as the other vintage figures contained in the line. Out of the original 12 figures, 5 came with vinyl capes including Princess Leia.
Princess Leia Organa action figure is a basic to any star wars collection. It was reproduced with almost every toy line, modifying and adding features but maintaining its ever permanent popularity. Princess Leia’s character was no maiden-in-distress but a take-charge woman in action.
Every now and then, these vintage figures get a new version. However not all of the characters have multiple varieties in accordance to several toy lines. An actuality that there are star wars action figures that were never remade nor have any other version other than what has been solely produced.
To name a few includes the figures of:
• Death Squad Commander (Star Destroyer Commander)
- a 1978 star wars figure by Kenner in gray suit looking like the back part of Darth Vader's Helmet. Not having the technology we have today, the reference photos were not so clear then, making it hard to tell if the character did wear a gray or a black suit. Either way, the figures featured a black suit since then making no modern equivalent version of the figure.
• Hoth Rebel Solider
- the 1980 figure with the brown jacket stays un remade although Hasbro was able to release a new version of the figure, still the wide variety of Hoth Rebel figures does not compensate for the original and unique one with the brown jacket.
• Bespin Security Guard (Black) & Bespin Security Guard (White, with moustache)
- 2 modern Bespin Guards were made by Hasbro based on an Asian (black) and the other is modeled after the company's own employee Brian Wilk (white).
• Power Droid
- all modern droids released by Hasbro are either in brown or gray. Kenner's version in 1979 is the rare blue Power Droid.
- is actually an Ewok, scheduled to be released in 2007. It seems to be so true due to a package of action figures stands with its name on it. But instead Graak was the one produced looking a lot like Lumat.
- all modern releases of the Barada figure from 1998 - 2006 have blue pants and white shirts while the 1984 figure wore red pants and a yellow shirt with white sleeves.
- the Nikto character was first seen in the Return of the Jedi being employees of Jabba the Hut. The original version in 1984 is one in a blue shirt. The first modern release in 1998 was with a yellow armor and in 2008, Nikto had a rather brown costume.
• Imperial Dignitary
- the first and only original Imperial Dignitary in Kenner's line was a tall purple guy with a big hat whose name was Sim Aloo. Hasbro released its own version in 2003, 2 new Imperial Dignitaries, neither of which is thin and wore a distinctive hat.
- the original 1983 Klaatu has not yet been made a modern update. The figure was seen in Jabba's Palace.
The star wars toys checklist holds a comprehensive record of all star wars toys ever released including the ones mentioned above.
Buying vintage star wars action figures
One important tip in buying vintage star wars action figures or any star wars toy for that matter is to be armed with a complete checklist of items available and knowledge in the history of the star wars toy lines, important dates, and key figures, even the movie it was based from should matter.
The vintage star wars toys are the ones produced from 1978 to 1985 under Kenner Toys changing the toy industry as we know it. Star wars action figures continue to be among the more popular toy lines even after several decades and even several new competitions.
Star wars collectors who seek for the vintage figures often find themselves in auction sites, comic book and thrift shops, garage sales and collectible toy dealers. Most of the vintage star wars figures found today are used and loosed out of their packages.
There is a small number of the vintage toys that can be found unopened. Serious collectors formulated specific terms applicable to all facets of toy collecting. “Carded” is the term for unopened figures; “boxed” for ships and play sets that are also unopened, “blister” are action figures on cards that are packed inside a clear plastic allowing purchasers to see the entire item.
Other popular terms and abbreviations are:
• MOC – mint figure on the card
• MOMC – mint figure on a mint, undamaged card
• MIP – mint toy in the package
• MIMP – mint toy in mint package
Toys in mint or near mint condition are worth more than the loose toys. MOC and MIP means the toy is in mint or unblemished condition but has defects in the packaging.
Indeed even the packaging of the star wars toys are heavily taken into consideration by serious collectors. The package changes every now and then, Kenner did so, changing the logo to reflect new movie titles. The backs also alters to replicate the release of new toys so does the movie photo featuring the star wars character.
Star wars figures in vintage collection
Just like the star wars clone wars collection Hasbro does a high quality representation of the old star wars figures.
The company is now re-releasing the original star wars figures in their vintage collection. In 2004 a new toy line labeled Star Wars Vintage Original Trilogy Collection was circulated.
The toy company does it again in 2006. The Star Wars Vintage Saga Collection action figure line pays tribute to Kenner’s classic star wars toys. The line is a remake of the original classic figures in a new and improved versions housed in their also original packaging.
The star wars figures features ball jointed knees, ankles, elbows, shoulders, and neck. Some of the figures included in the collection are the Sand People (Tusken Raider), Greedo, Han Solo in Trench Coat, Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot, and Biker Scout.
In 2007 another vintage collection was also released. The star wars figures are just like the old figures in retro-style premium packaging with bonus features. Each 3 3/4-inch star wars character features enhanced articulation and the best possible decoration.
Star wars vintage line features Hasbro’s finest collection of star wars toys. These fantastic figures will sure to become as classics as their 20th century predecessors.