A small piece of Star Wars action figure history comes for sale at Vectis Auctions in Thornaby, Stockton-on-Tees next month.
Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Roland Arkell
The April 30 TV & Film related sale includes a series of resin prototype used in the British manufacture of three figures from The Return of the Jedi toy range.
In the early 1980s, these 3¾in ‘master models’ were sent by Ohio toymaker Kenner to Roger Morrison, the European tooling manager, at Palitoy – the British company tasked with making Star Wars figures for the European market. They were used to produce beryllium copper castings and then the injection moulds for general production.
The three figures are the Ewok village shamen Logray, Bib Fortuna (Jabba the Hutt’s chief of staff) and a member of the Emperor’s Royal Guard (the Galactic Emperor’s personal crimson-clad bodyguards). Each have more detail than the final mass-produced item and are slightly larger in size, to allow for shrinkage in the moulds. Sourced directly from Roger Morrison, they have been authenticated and encased by the grading company UK Graders.
They carry estimates of £6000-12,000 – a punchy number but no more than collector can now expect to pay for the rarest Star Wars figures. When Vectis sold the Craig Stevens collection in 2013, the Palitoy version of Boba Fett, preserved in mint condition on its un-punched card back took £15,000 followed in July 2017 by a French issue Boba sold for £21,000 – then a record for a Star Wars production figure. Subsequent sales in the US have improved upon this sum.
Hake’s Americana of York, Pennsylvania set new price levels for Star Wars production figures with a series of sale in 2017-18 of the vast Russell Branton collection. Hake’s November 2017 auction had included one of only a few ‘double telescoping’ Obi-Wan Kenobi to have survived with its original ‘unpunched’ card. It sold a little short of an eye-watering $75,000-$100,000 estimate but at $65,000 (plus 18% buyer’s premium) it set an auction record for any Star Wars production figure.