A long time ago, in a state sort of far away, George Lucas created a sci-fi world which spawned numerous sequels, video games, books and action figures. Star Wars is one of the most successful franchises of all time with its six films generating over $8 billion in revenue and a total franchise revenue, as confirmed by Forbes, entering the $27 billion range. Whether you grew up in the 1970s, 80s, 90s or early 2000s, Star Wars likely influenced you in some way. With Disney now in control of the franchise, you can expect a slew of new movies and merchandise as Mickey looks to cash in on a proven money maker – and hopefully make up for the last three films released in the series.
Of course, many of us fell in love with the movies, went to see them in theatres and owned the VHS tapes – ah, those massive bulky tapes that degraded over time. Long before we were sucked into buying a relentless stream of “digitally enhanced” and “improved” DVD collections with more and more terrible CGI additions, we played with the toys. Running around our houses and back yards we pretended we were Luke Skywalker or Han Solo, attacking the Death Star or fighting of hordes of Tie Fighters. Our toys got dirty, they suffered ‘battle damage’ and parts mysteriously went missing only to be found dug up in a garden or driveway decades later. If we knew then what we know now, many of us would have unwrapped those figures and toys, looked at them and then stored them away, unopened. Realistically, it didn’t happen and the toys were played with and damaged, lowering their value but providing us with priceless memories.
The following list looks at 10 of the most valuable Star Wars action figures. Unsurprisingly, almost all of them are from the 1977-1979 period when Star Wars toys were just getting onto the market. In most cases, the general market value of the figure is listed. Don’t be fooled, these toys often sell privately for a lot more than the ‘official’ values listed here. In a few cases, recent auction values have been added to show just how much money mint-boxed versions of these action figures command in today’s market.
10 Blue Snaggletooth - $500-$700
In the rush to get figures out to market as quickly as possible, it is understandable that errors occurred. In 1978, Sears released a special Cantina Adventure Playset. A cardboard backing of the famous cantina (cue Cantina music) came with four action figures, one of which was Snaggletooth. There was one major problem, however. The Sears Snaggletooth was in a blue outfit and full size. In actuality the proper Snaggletooth, released later by Kenner, wore red and was shorter. Additionally, the Kenner version was released on a blistered cardback. The Sears version came in no such package. The result is that a blue Snaggletooth is bit rarer than the corrected red version, making it a little more valuable for collectors.
9 9. Luke Skywalker (with double-telescoping lightsaber) - $1000
In 1976 Mego Corporation turned down the offer to make Star Wars figures. The license was picked up by Kenner who, by 1977, were unprepared for the demand in toys generated by the first release. To compensate, Kenner created an ‘early bird’ package where kids could send away for the first four figures when they became available in early 1978. Luke Skywalker was part of this early release and came with a rare double-telescoping lightsaber which extended from his arm. Later versions of Luke came with a simpler one-piece lightsaber which makes the original release valuable and sought after by collectors.
8 Han Solo (with blaster) - $1,000
Everybody’s favorite scoundrel – he flies the Millenium Falcon, has a Wookie as a friend and did, in fact, shoot first. Solo was first released as part of the original 12-back figures in 1978 – collector lingo for the back of the packaging which showed the original 12 collectable characters. There were two major variations of early Solo figures. One had a small head while a later release was given a much larger head. Nevertheless, in original blistered cardback packaging with his favorite blaster, this smuggler action figure will fetch at least $1,000, if not substantially more.
7 Yak Face - $1,000
What? Who? One of the last Kenner Star Wars figure to be released, Yak Face was a very minor character who appeared in Return of the Jedi in 1983. You could be excused if you never saw him during scenes involving Jabba the Hutt. Yak Face was stamped and ready for sale in 1985 when Kenner closed down the Star Wars line due to slumping sales. Rather than sit on a bunch of unwanted action figures, the company reportedly decided to ship them to Canada and Europe. The United States never officially received any of the unfortunately named action figures which set the stage for a big jump in value. Sure enough, today the market value of this figure, packaged and in mint condition is said to be $1,000.
6 Boba Fett - $2000
In 1979, Kenner looked to release a figure that hadn’t even appeared on screen yet – the bounty hunter Boba Fett. Fett made his appearance in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back but there was a promotional offer in ’79 where you could send in some proofs of purchase and get a rocket-firing Boba Fett figure in the mail. Production was delayed, however, when it was found the rocket Fett fired could become a choking hazard. In any event, Boba Fett was released as part of the 21-back collection in 1979 (with no firing backpack rocket). Fan love for this character and the fact the figure was released before the film he appeared in make the Boba Fett action figure a much sought after piece.
5 Vlix - $4,000
Looking to cash in on the success of Star Wars, George Lucas released two animated series, Star Wars: Droids and Star Wars: Ewoks. Kenner looked set to cash in on the new series and began a line of action figures. Unfortunately, Droids was cancelled after 13 episodes and Kenner had only produced one line of production runs. Somehow, the mold for one of the second-wave characters –Vlix- reached Brazilian company Glasslite where it went into production in 1988. A rare Glasslite packaged Vlix can go for thousands online and is likely to only increase in value as the years pass.
4 Obi-Wan Kenobi (with double-telescoping lightsaber) - $6,000-7,000
Part of the original 12-back release in 1978, Obi-Wan Kenobi is one of the most sought after Star Wars action figures. Like the Luke Skywalker figure, Kenobi comes with a telescoping light saber which is very fragile and was very difficult to make. As with Skywalker, Kenner soon switched over production to use a simpler one-piece retractable light-saber making original Kenobi figures valuable. What makes him so much more than a 12-back Skywalker? Since the Luke Skywalker figure was part of the ‘early bird’ release, it came out sooner and was in production longer, meaning there are more of them around than the Obi-Wan Kenobis.
3 Darth Vader (with double-telescoping lightsaber) - $6,000-7,000
One of the most iconic villains of the big screen, Darth Vader was big, strong and scary – before George Lucas ‘enhanced’ him. The 1978 12-back Vader was one of the original releases from Kenner. Like the Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi figures, Vader came with a very rare and delicate double-telescoping lightsaber. Like Obi-wan, this Vader was produced for a shorter time than the Luke Skywalker figure, making it substantially more valuable. If you are old enough to have played with this guy, and possibly broken off his lightsaber while fighting the rebel scum, you could be excused if you now want to yell out a Lucas-edited ‘Noooooooooooooooooooo!’
2 Medical Droid FX-7 – approx. $12,000
This is a bit of a strange one which may just be a one-off, although we’ll keep our eyes on the market to see if the value stays up. In any event, the FX-7 medical droid made a very brief 20-second appearance in the 1980 Empire Strikes Back when it helps to heal Luke after Han Solo saves him on Hoth. Various sites value this toy at around $100 on the secondary market. That value was blown out of all proportion when an original 1980 Palitoy FX-7 (Palitoy is the British licensed manufacturer) sold for nearly $12,000 last February. The question remains of what effect this will have on other mint-conditioned / packaged figures of this type. If you have this guy sitting around, you may need to thank the winning bidder for adding a little more value onto an otherwise low-value action figure.
1 Vinyl Cape Jawa - $18,000+
The Jawa was released by Kenner as part of the original 12 action figures in 1978. For several months, Kenner sold the Jawa with a vinyl cape, similar to what was found on the Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader action figure. As the Jawas were the smallest action figure in the line and yet still cost the same (around $1.99) as other figures, the people at Kenner decided that the consumer might feel a bit ripped off. Therefore, the Jawa’s vinyl cape was replaced with a cloth cape to compensate for the figure’s small size. The halt in production of vinyl-clad Jawas meant this particular toy was rare almost from the get-go. Since then, many fake vinyl Jawas have come onto the market in order to cash in on the $2000-$3500 market value. In all likelihood, collectors will spend a lot more than this, as proven by one recent auction which fetched over $18,000 for an authentic, packaged and mint-condition vinyl cape Jawa.