Star Wars Posts

Peter Mayhew: Celebrating the Giant of the Collectibles World

The galaxy lost an icon of gargantuanly hairy proportions on Thursday with the passing of the “big, walking carpet” that was Peter Mayhew.

Peter MayhewMayhew was known for his roles on the screen, his voice-over skills off it, and was an accomplished author of children’s books. But he was best known as the man who crammed all 7-feet, 3-inches of his gangly frame into the larger-than-life character Chewbacca of “Star Wars” lore.

Chewbacca was the first alien to teach us that extra terrestrials can be lovable, loyal, brave, huggable, fallible, funny and, dare we say, human. Every cosmically impossible entity — from Harry of “Harry and the Henderson’s” fame to Groot and all affable oafs between — owes a nod to the Mayhew’s portrayal of the Chewy.

Chewbacca legacy reaches across many galaxies, especially in the collectibles industry where he made his debut in 1977 as part of Kenner’s original set of action figures.

Peter Mayhew

Chewbacca looks to evade some mynocks in the belly of an exogorth (giant space worm).

How popular was Chewy as a collectible 42 years later? Chewbacca is the featured character in Funko’s Star Wars Smuggler Bounty box this month. Its subscribers receiving their boxes via Amazon the day of and before Mayhew’s passing.

Chewy’s likeness has come along way since the action figures and metal lunch box days. You can find him on just about everything from bath robes and chewy dog toys to Furbaccas and life-size film-ready heads.

Get a good look at the diverse world of Chewbacca collectibles on hobbyDB, including the Space Punch soft drink

What’s your favorite Chewbacca collectible? Tell us in the comments below.

Double Telescoping, Rocket Launching, Solid Gold Collectibles: 13 Rare Star Wars Toys

expensive star wars toys

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

As the individual “Solo” movie hits theaters this week, we thought we’d take a look back at some of the most expensive and/or valuable collectibles from the movies. Folks are going to drop a ton of money on movie tickets, so why not also on toys?

In this rundown, we’re not at all suggesting that you can retire if you find one of these in your attic. Instead you’ll  more likely kicking yourself because 12-year-old you didn’t bother to collect them all and store them safely in 1977. And you certainly shouldn’t have buried them in the sandbox with all those fireworks. What was I thinking? So the prices are based on what someone paid or might be expected to pay for one of these rare Star Wars toys as opposed to those sky-high, unfulfilled asking prices on eBay.

Action Figures

star wars small head han soloSmall head Han Solo. Han Solo’s appeal comes from his roguish charm, dashing good looks, and well-proportioned head. Wait, what? The early version of the 1980 Empire Strikes Back Han Solo figure from Kenner had, well, a tiny head. He just didn’t look right. So they changed it to a bigger noggin that restored those perfect proportions to his handsome self.  Supposed value: Maybe $2,000-2,500 for a mint, carded version. But don’t get cocky, kid.

double telescoping darth vaderDouble Telescoping Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Luke Skywalker. Early action figures of these characters came with a retractable light saber. The main part hid in the arm and slid out, and then a thinner center piece pulled out from there. Unfortunately, that thinner piece was prone to getting bendy, looking like the uninflated part of a balloon animal. Later models included a better saber solution. Supposed Value: Carded versions of these old ones can fall in the $2,000 range.

star wars rocket launching boba fett

Rocket Launching “21 Back” Boba FettIf that all sounds pretty specific, yeah. Very early versions of the “Empire Strikes Back” bounty hunter featured a back pack that could fire a plastic missile. Rumors of kids choking on the projectiles or shooting their eyes out led to that kind of toy disappearing. As for the packaging, Boba was number 21 out of 20 figures made at the time. Previous card backs showed a nice array of 20 different figures, but the card was hastily redesigned to squeeze in one more, making the whole back look unbalanced and odd. Supposed value: $2,500-3,000.

star wars yak faceYak FaceYou remember Yak Face, right? He was the lovable but feisty Yakora who… no, you don’t. No one remembers Yak Face. The history of which and how many action figures to produce from the original films is fascinating. At first, Kenner only did a few main characters, and they flew off the shelves so fast that they added a ton more. Then suddenly, after the third and seemingly final film, the craze was over (for the time being, anyway) and the last few were overkill. Yak Face was the last of the obscure first generation action figures. He was only released in Canada, the U.K., and Australia, so in the U.S., he’s hard to find. Supposed value: A carded one might fetch about $1,500.

kenner star wars jawaJawa with Vinyl CapeAnd of course, the most famous rare figure… Early versions of the Jawa figure had a brown vinyl cape, which was stiff and didn’t look right. So Kenner quickly replaced the cape with a cloth version and sold tons of those. Which means the vinyl version must be worth a fortune, even in played with condition, right? Well… Supposed value: Quite a few of them pop up online, so they aren’t exceedingly rare. In the package, about $1,500 to $3,000. Out of the package… basically worthless. The cape is easy to fake, as it was identical to Obi-Wan Kenobi’s cape, just shorter, so it needs to be in the package.

Comic Books

star wars marvle comic issue 1Marvel Star Wars Issue 1Of course that’s gotta be worth a fortune, right? In some cases, yes. Merchandising was surprisingly sparse when the original “Star Wars” hit theaters in 1977. But Marvel had been working on a comic book adaptation, and first issue sales were out of this galaxy. So it’s not that rare… unless you paid 35 cents for it. See, Marvel’s typical cover price for a comic book at the time was 30 cents, but they wanted to test the waters on a nickel price hike, so for just a few markets in the U.S., the cover said 35 cents. That variant is significantly rarer. Supposed value: Someone recently paid around $24,000 for a mint rare variant, as opposed to usual $1,250 or so for the common version. So that extra nickel was a good investment, even if it seemed like a ripoff at the time.

By the way, the value of later issues drops rapidly, as print runs increased and more people bought and saved them. The cover price would stay at 30 cents until issue 5, when it finally made the hyperspace leap to 35 cents.

Lunchboxes

star wars r2d2 lunchboxR2-D2 LunchboxEveryone remembers the classic 1977 lunchbox with the X-Wing Fighter on one side and the Land Speeder on the other. And those are sort of valuable at $500 or more for a nice one. But there’s a much rarer Star Wars lunchbox. The shape of R2-D2 is easy to adapt for many purposes including soft drink displays and mailboxes. It’s kind of an odd choice for a lunchbox, however, which may be why this one is so rare. King-Seeley (aka Thermos) made a dozen or so preproduction models in 1977, but it never made it to stores. Supposed value: If you find one with the label, you might pay around $3,000 for it.

Lego Items

star wars lego millennium falconMillennium FalconLego has made several versions of Han Solo’s ship including a tiny 92 piece Microfighter as well as the new Kessel Run version, which clocks in at 1,414 pieces. But in 2015, Lego unleashed the 7,541 piece Ultimate Collectors Series Falcon, priced at around $800, and selling in the aftermarket for more like $1,200. The detail is astonishing and the ship is huge, scaled properly to a Minifig being 6 feet tall. Supposed value: It has sold out out a couple of times and has been reintroduced, so you should be able to find one at close to retail price if you’re patient.

Speaking of Minifigs…

star wars bronze c-3poLimited Edition C-3POAt the 2007 San Diego Comic Con, Lego held a drawing for a rare C-3PO Minifig, the special limited edition bronze edition. As in, made of solid bronze. As in, limited to exactly ONE. No word on who won that figure, but hopefully it has been cherished either in a highly protected throne space on a climate controlled shelf, or by letting a kid enjoy playing with it. Supposed value: Priceless, really.

star wars boba fett minifigLimited Edition Boba FettNot to be outdone, in 2010, Lego released a special all-white plastic Boba Fett Minifig, limited to 10,000 pieces. And a pair of solid gold ones and a pair of sterling silver ones. There are exactly two complete sets of these in existence. Supposed value: Since there are twice as many as the C-3PO model, then, half of priceless?

star wars george lucas minifigGeorge Lucas PrototypeUnlike Stan Lee or Alfred Hitchcock, Lucas isn’t known for making cameo appearances in his movies. But a Minifig version of him appeared in some of the Lego animated Star Wars projects. Lego designed a figure, complete with clapboard, and produced a few, but it was never released to the public. Supposed value: One recently sold for nearly $5,000 on eBay in 2013.

As with any of these lists, take the values with a grain of salt. But if you do get a chance to snag that vinyl cape Jawa for under a grand, use any force necessary to grab it!

If these items are a bit out of your collecting budget, check out the Star Wars stuff on the hobbyDB Marketplace! And if you have any other rare, valuable Star Wars toys, let us know in the comments!

What Do Millennials Collect? Experience, Retro, Irony

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

There have been a lot of articles claiming that millennials don’t spend their money on “things,” so we thought it would be good to take a look at their collectibles market. Millennials tend to be more mobile than previous generations, so instead of buying a house (and things to fill it with), they tend to live lighter, putting that money towards experiences and travel.

So What Do Millennials Collect?

lego star wars destroyer

funko pop c-3poExperience, irony and retro are key ingredients. So going to to a Comic Con (experience) and snapping up the latest “Star Wars” items (retro) would fit the bill. The “Star Wars” franchise shows no signs of slowing down, given the number of movies, TV shows, and especially collectibles released in the last few years. And when those items have an inherent oddness (irony) to them like FunKo Pop figures, Lego building sets, or Hot Wheels character cars, you’ve hit the trifecta.

Each of those brands goes well beyond the “Star Wars” theme, so the potential for collectors to diversify is a huge market. Lego is now a $2+ billion brand  (there is a huge market for old and new kits!), Hot Wheels is grossing more than a billion dollars, and FunKo, despite only being founded in the late 1990s, is on its way there.

nintendo nesVideo games are a huge part of the Millennial experience too. but modern systems increasingly lack physical games to purchase in favor of downloads and online multiplayer action. However, older gaming systems have a certain appeal and have become a big collectible business. And it’s not just late 1990s/early 2000s games these people played while young, but even systems their parents might have owned, including Nintendo and Atari systems from the 1980s.

minus 5 dungeon of horrorsModern music doesn’t usually have a tangible form anymore either. It’s mostly downloaded and streamed, not really “owned” like it used to be. The huge exception: vinyl records are increasingly collectible. In fact vinyl records are projected to sell 40 million units in 2017, with sales nearing the $1 billion benchmark for the first time this millennium!

Some artists like Jack White (White Stripes, Dead Weather, Raconteurs, etc.) treat a new record as an additional level of performance art beyond the music itself. It’s one thing to capture a song live in one take… it’s another to record it direct to vinyl, instantly making a very limited number of pressings available for only one day. Consider that White recently released a record that secretly had to be played from the middle of the record outward, and the odd presentation becomes almost as important as the music.

Speaking of “records,” they used to be widely sold in places called “stores.” To celebrate the continued existence of such shops, Record Store Day (April 22, 2017) has become a huge annual nationwide event. It’s fun to stand in the very long line in front of the store and explain it to those not in the know.

“Record Store Day? Are they giving away free stuff?”

“Nope. In fact, they’re charging even more today.”

death cab for cutie cassetteIt’s true. Many artists release special recordings just for this event, often very limited editions in premium packaging, and none of them at all cheap. A few years ago, a band called The Minus Five created just 750 copies of a five record set of new material, including about 100 copies with each record in a different color (Yours truly was able to snag one of the regular copies that day, but not the multi-hued version.) In another instance, Death Cab For Cutie decided to release a new album only on cassette (which led to Cassette Store Day becoming a thing!). In most cases, these come with a digital download in case you don’t have the right listening equipment.

Speaking of which, stereo equipment is a big deal with Millennials as well. For all the convenience of a tiny device that can put 10,000 songs in your pocket, there is still great appeal to a big honking multi component vintage stereo system. They sound amazing but are anything but cheap. The market is there and it’s growing.

star wars record player star wars record player
Which brings us to this Star Wars portable suitcase turntable, another Record Store Day exclusive for 2017. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original movie, this retro record player will be on sale in a store near you. Experiential, Ironic, Retro… this might be the ultimate collectible for millennials yet.

If you’re a Millennial, let us know what you collect in the comments selection!

Guide to Vintage Carded Star Wars Action Figures

A Guest Blog Post by Mark Griffiths
This article was originally written for Rareburg, who in 2016,  joined forces with hobbyDB to provide an excellent source of collectible knowhow for the community. 

As with most things in life, ‘something’ is only worth what ‘someone’ will pay for it. This is true for most things in life, whether that be a second hand car, property or collectable toys.

Luke Skywalker x-wing

This guide to vintage carded Star Wars action figures will provide you with an insight into how to begin assembling a vintage Star Wars action figure collection (on cards) from the 1977 – 1983 era as working out just where to start can be a bit of a minefield. Return of the Jedi (ROTJ), Empire Strikes Back (ESB), Power of the Force and Tri Logo are just a selection of the different branded cards which exist, produced by Kenner and Palitoy with 65 back, 79 back and ‘Last 17’ (and more!) – the barriers to entry in collecting these treasures can be huge.

Imperial Commander

Not only is gaining a full understanding of the vast range of these 3¾ inch action figure produces a challenge, this is coupled with how ‘rare’ and ‘valuable’ is defined in different countries the world over.

My 30 years experience of collecting Star Wars carded action figures began back in 1984, after the final movie from the original trilogy had been released, when the obsession with the Star Wars franchise was well and truly over with the UK public. Believe it or not, I still remember working in my parents toy store having to re-box thousands of unsold action figures and playsets before shipping them back to the UK distributer as we could just not shift the stock. Just imagine having dozens of boxes of these gems in today’s market! From the crest of a wave 18 months previous we now had to make room for the next ‘fad’ as a range of merchandise from a Saturday morning cartoon called Transformers was on its way!

Romba

Since that time I have had a vested interest in collecting these figures and monitoring their values.

The late 1980’s and early 1990’s brought modest increases to most figures, but 1999 was a game changer. Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, produced 16 years after Return of the Jedi brought a great deal of attention back to the original action figure collection, just as The Force Awakens will in December 2015.

Although there had always been ‘hard to find’ figures such as Yak Face, Boba Fett with firing cannon and the elusive Jawa with plastic cape, the focus now began to move to a much broader range and the immense number of variations of each figure.

Darth MaulBut apart from Episode 1 bringing Star Wars back to the forefront of the public’s hearts and minds, why this increase in prices for the original ’77 – ’83 merchandise? Obviously, the rareness of some of these original figures but it was more than that, it was the newly produced Power of the Force range brought out for the Phantom Menace movie. The figures were not well received by the public, confusing ‘Comm Tech’, massive quantities – hundreds upon hundreds in the range and of course Jar Jar Binks! Kenner also seemed wise to the marketing of the so called ‘rare’ figures in the range. Back in the 80’s these ‘hard to find’ figures almost came about by chance, this time it all seemed a little too well planned.

Yak Face

These figures, now 16 years old themselves struggle to break $10 each, with many exchanging hands for as little as $4 – Mint on Card (MOC). The remaining parts of the prequel trilogy, Episodes 2 and 3 did little to change the collector’s appetite for the updated range and instead, once again the focus reverted back to the vintage collection.

But which figures I hear you ask, which particular figures from the original series are still increasing in value? Well as I am sure you will agree, certain figures which were rare 10 years ago are now even more sought after with onset of time but there are still some figures which are financially accessible. The Rancor Keeper for example on a ROTJ card can be purchased quite easily on another marketplace for as little as $30. That same figure on a Tri Logo card however can be valued as high as 5 times that amount, approaching $200. Yes, thats right, $200 for one 3¾ inch action figure, and not a particularly rare one at that!

The reason for this huge range in valuation is largely down to the quality and type of card which houses the character. A ROTJ card is less rare, whereas the ESB and Star Wars increase in value dramatically. In fact figures on a Star Wars card can cost thousands of dollars, particularly key characters like Han Solo and Princess Leia.

Rancor KeeperSo what of Tri Logo cards, where do they fit into the equation? So the story goes, these figures were run off by Palitoy at the very end of the production of Star Wars figures – a combination of overproduced characters backed on cards for the European market and new characters never released in the USA, once again limited to European stores. This is why the value of these cards holds strong in the US market.

So, where would I begin, what advice would I provide to collectors hoping to move into the vintage Star Wars carded action figure market?

Begin at the end! There are so many variations of just 1 action figure, it would be extremely (financially) challenging to collect every figure from that era as there are literally hundreds and hundreds – just one selling for $18,000 at a recent auction in the North East. Therefore, decide on your target collection, whether that be a full set of 1 character on different cards or a full set of figures on 1 card e.g. a full set of ROTJ backed figures.

BaradaDo your research! Before you begin, consider how many figures there are in a particular collection, which are more common and identify those which are rare – how much are you willing to pay and how are you going to acquire them, there are more avenues than just another marketplace…?

Understand your Cards! Which logo – ROTJ, Star Wars, Tri Logo…how many figures on the back of the card e.g. a 65 back is sometimes worth more than a 79 back, is the card ‘punched’ or ‘unpunched’ and is the card flat and free from sun damage and tears?

Buying Back Childhood Memories

Tracy MartinA Guest Blog Post by Tracy Martin
This article was originally written for Rareburg, who in 2016,  joined forces with hobbyDB to provide an excellent source of collectible knowhow for the community. 

Buying back childhood memories in the form of vintage toys has become one of the biggest growth areas for collectors in recent years. The Palitoy Employees sale, held at Vectis Auctioneers on Wednesday May 27th, saw lots including Action Man, Star Wars figures, Pippa and Blythe dolls, which all made for frenzied bidding, with, unbelievably, even an empty cardboard box that originally housed Star Wars figures making $160. The overall sale including premium totaled at $200,000, proving that there really is money to be made in nostalgia.

Action Man Judo SetOne of the star lots to be sold on the day was a rare Action Man ‘Judo’ outfit in its original packaging which sold for of $6,480, only one other is known to exist and this has never come up on the open market for sale. Other Action Man lots included a boxed racing car which achieved $2,280 against its estimate of $300-$500 and a Tottenham Hotspur carded football outfit for $2,400.

Most collectors are aware that vintage 1977/78 Star Wars figures will always sell for a premium if in their original packaging and not play worn condition, for example back in January of this year (2014) a Star Wars Boba Fett figure mint in its blister pack sold for a staggering $18,000.

blueOn the day of the Palitoy Sale the first figure to achieve over $3,000 was Princess Leia Organa making $3,600 then Chewbacca sold for $4,560 (including premium) but it was the boxed Death Star which tripled its bottom estimate at $5,280. Even Publicity photos for a Boba Fett Star Wars figure fetched $2,300 against its pre-sale estimate of $40-$60. Specialist, Kathy Taylor has said of the sale, “It is the best Star Wars sale we have ever had at Vectis, achieving high prices for some of the very best condition items”.

TammieAside from the expected prices for Star Wars and Action Man, there are however, other vintage toys now starting to grab attention with those wishing to relive their childhood through the toys they once owned that are surprising us when they sell for well above their expectations.

The pocket sized Pippa Doll released in 1972 was ideal for little girls to carry around, especially as she dressed in fabulous 1970s clothes. This fashion doll has seen a significant rise in interest on the collectors market in the last couple of years and price was no barrier at the Palitoy sale, especially as two ladies who were sitting next to each other bid furiously against each other as both wanted to secure the best dolls and outfits for their collections.

Blythe's BoutiqueA boxed Pippa in orange top and blue trousers sold for $1,200 and two lots of Pippa’s Boutique which included one doll and three outfits fetched $950 and $1,000 each. However, Pippa’s friend ‘Tammi’ wearing jeans and a blue psychedelic blouse in box gained the most interest with the bidding opening at $420 and finally achieving a staggering $2,760, which as far as I am aware, is a record price for a Pippa doll.

The 1972 Blythe doll also made a respectable $1,200 with premium and Tiny Tears is becoming more popular with a trade box of six dolls making $264. Two sealed lot of soothers and bottles accessories, which inevitable became lost when children originally played with the dolls, sold for $360 and $384.

Family Tree HouseOne of my all time favorite toys when I was a child was the Palitoy Discovery Time Tree House which was first released in the late 1970s. This moulded plastic green and brown tree shape opened to reveal a house setting with figures and accessories including a dog and kennel. A few mint in box came up for sale at the Vectis auction and made a respectable price of between $90-$100 each.

Girl’s World, the styling head that all little girls played with at some point in the 1970’s/80’s by applying make-up and adventurously creating hair styles was also up for sale making $30-$50 per lot. Even the cuddly 1980’s monkey Chic-a-boo sold for $15 hammer price with outfits selling for $40-$50 per lot.

Tracy MartinThe toy I personally should have had a punt on was in the previous day’s Dolls, Teddy Bears and TV & Film Related Toys at Vectis. Tracy’s Tea Party, the 1970’s doll that pours tea and serves too sold for between $40-$50 – well I am known to like a cuppa.

The final highlight of the Palitoy sale though was a pallet of Caran D’Ache, Jakar and Raphael pencils, crayons, rulers and assorted other items which opened the bidding at $20, finally achieving an astonishing $672 – proving that no toy item goes unmissed and that there literally is a market for all your childhood memories.

Tracy’s Toy Tips

  • Always try to buy in mint condition in original packaging when your pocket allows.
  • Start with buying things that spark your own nostalgic childhood memories.
  • Check all pieces are present such as accessories and playing pieces for games etc.
  • With dolls, check condition, hair plugs are all present, face hasn’t begun to turn green in color, fingers and toes are not chewed and there are no marks to body, arms and legs.
  • With outfits, check for stains, holes, rips and fading as all devalue the outfit.
  • Always buy from a reputable dealer or auction house.
  • Invest in modern toys although mass produced. Children still rip the packaging open and play with them, so invest in toys that are associated with a huge block buster film, are historically great toy makers and time or limited edition pieces. Examples are Star Wars Lego, Frozen toys, Harry Potter figures, games and toys, diecast cars such as Star Wars Hot Wheels collection.
  • Try and keep away from your children and store them in their packaging.