With 'Star Wars' movie due to land, old toys go galactic

Mon Nov 30, 2015 8:09pm EST
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By Michael Roddy

THORNABY, England (Reuters) - Vintage toys linked to the "Star Wars" film franchise are moving faster than a swirling lightsaber, sending prices of many of them soaring into hyperspace.

With the latest in the series - "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" - due to open in December, auctioneers in the northeast England town of Thornaby have sold one for a colossal 18,000 pounds ($27,000), 35 years after it went for 1.50 pounds in the shops.

This was not a historic piece of trivia like the movie-prop blockade-runner spaceship that California-based auctioneers Profiles in History sold for $450,000, or Princess Leia's actual slave costume, which went for $96,000.

What collectible toys specialist Vectis Auctions Ltd sold in January on behalf of British collector Craig Stevens was a small plastic replica of bounty hunter Boba Fett, a cult character from "Star Wars" sequel "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980).

With the proceeds of that, and mainly other toys anyone could have purchased for pocket money at the time, Stevens and his wife bought a house - for cash.

"I'd like to say I had some kind of vision but I didn't, I collected for myself," Stevens told Reuters, adding that some items he had collected had been about to be thrown away.Various collectors' hoards of "Star Wars" memorabilia, from robots, to spaceships, "Death Star" pencil sharpeners and on to packaged figurines, are piled up in Vectis, which will hold another in a series of online auctions of about 700 pieces on Dec. 8.

The most valuable toys are those that are sealed in their original packages from decades ago, having never been used, Kathy Taylor, Vectis's "Star Wars" expert, said, adding: "It's not a normal retail situation we're in here."

“It isn’t anything that’s just a toy," she said. "It’s actually a way of life and a cultural thing. People even look at some of these cardbacks that we sell as works of art."   Continued...

Vintage action figures of Star Wars characters Darth Vader (L) and Luke Skywalker stand on a table ahead of an auction of Star Wars and film related toys at the Vectis auction house in Stockton-on-Tees,  Britain November 23, 2015. REUTERS/Phil Noble