Star Wars Auction Insanity: The Force Was With The Consignors

June 21, 2024

On Friday, May 31, Heritage Auctions concluded their Star Wars Signature Auction, and prices were definitely out of this world. This was one of several recent auctions that I planned to bid in but did not due to the insanity of some of the early bids entered before the auction got underway. If there is such a thing as The Force, it definitely was with both Heritage Auctions and the consignors of this auction to say the least! The auction consisted of various graded toys and action figures from the coveted vintage Kenner Star Wars toy line, along with various production props, posters, and even vintage graded Topps Star Wars trading cards. The spotlight piece in the auction that every vintage Star Wars collector was watching was the highly coveted Star Wars prototype rocket-firing Boba Fett action figure (lot #89154). This was a hand-painted L-slot version and was graded by AFA (Action Figure Authority) in AFA 60 (excellent condition). The piece did not disappoint and is now the most valuable action figure ever sold at auction, selling for $525,000, which includes the 25-percent buyers premium that Heritage charges for this particular auction on lots selling for under $1 million. Please dont bother checking if you have a prototype rocket-firing Boba Fett action figure stashed away in your attic or basement, as these are just as the name implies, prototype action figures that were never available at retail. Nonetheless, they are quite popular with collectors. I always thought they were somewhat overvalued due to how many different variations have been sold over the past few years. To be fair, the handpainted L-slot version that was sold here is a much more uncommon variant. As such, this particular sale did not cause me to roll my eyes in utter amazement. However, other sold pieces in this same auction did just that. Lets take a look at some of those results. Proving that some collectors either have no idea how to research readily available comparable items, or even worse, get caught up in a bidding war, lot #89173 was an excellent graded example of a vintage Star Wars Return of the Jedi Imperial Shuttle produced by Kenner Toys. This example was factory-sealed and graded by AFA in 85 (near mint plus condition). Its sale price, which again includes the 25-percent buyers premium, was $8,750. Normally, I would not take issue with this even though that is a very high price to pay for this item, but unfortunately in this case, an exact example graded by AFA in 85 condition was readily available with a Buy It Now price of $5,000 on eBay. And quite interestingly, that item is still sitting on eBay right now unsold as I am writing this. It is amazing to me how certain auction companies can attract bidders that have the money to pay record prices but lack the common sense to search the internet for similar items being sold at lower prices. This individuals choice cost him or her about $3,750. Unfortunately, this isnt even the worst of it. Entered into evidence for your review and amazement is lot #89091, an original Star Wars Revenge of the Jedi movie poster in very fine to near mint condition. If you are just a casual Star Wars enthusiast you would be forgiven if you failed to realize that there was never a Star Wars movie released with the title Revenge of the Jedi. This is because at the last minute, George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, changed the name of Revenge of the Jedi to Return of the Jedi because he felt that a true Jedi would never seek revenge. Much to the dismay of the movie distributor and Kenner Toys, a lot of items were already being manufactured with the Revenge of the Jedi insignia. That said, this poster is by no means rare, and back in the 1980s if you were a Star Wars Fan Club member you had the chance to buy this poster for about $10. It is rumored there were thousands upon thousands of these Revenge of the Jedi posters made, and most up until this point have only sold for a few thousand dollars at most. In this auction, however, this item went for $7,500 with the buyers premium, a phenomenal price but par for the course in this particular auction. Last, but certainly not least, I want to talk about one of the Revenge of the Jedi proof cards that sold for an astronomical price in this sale. In doing so, I will skip my commentary on some of the exorbitant prices that were paid for many of the AFA graded vintage Star Wars action figures. It would take me much more than a few paragraphs to cover my commentary on this, and I already nearly suffered a near heart attack while watching the auction unfold in real time. That said, Revenge of the Jedi proof cards are simply pre-production action figure card backings that were never needed because of the name change to Return of the Jedi. There are estimated to be about 50 of these proof cards for each character, making them uncommon and somewhat scarce, but not considered rare. So lets now discuss lot #89170, which was an AFA graded Luke Skywalker in Bespin Fatigues Revenge of the Jedi proof card in AFA 85 condition. This piece sold for a jaw dropping price of $4,750, which, of course, includes the buyers premium. I acquired one 3.5 years ago and paid $1,400 for it, and the seller threw in free shipping. I understand prices in the antiques and collectibles trade move up and down, but make no mistake, I consider this a high price to pay for this item even at present time. I would value it around $3,000 in todays market, but obviously the high bidder would disagree. In conclusion, the market for vintage Star Wars toys and collectibles in near mint condition is at an all-time high, if we are to judge the market solely from the results of this auction. If you are a collector looking to sell and you have owned your collection for many years, you should be able to make a handsome profit. However, if you are a buyer, I urge you to use caution. The Force is definitely not with you here, and if you think this is going to be the norm going forward, always remember that only a Sith Lord deals in absolutes. Stay safe out there, and please bid with your head. Now if only there were such a thing as a Bidders Anonymous support group? Maybe that is what the antiques and collectibles trade needs, especially if these high prices continue? I think I may have just found my second or third career. Shawn Surmick has been an avid collector since the age of 12. He currently resides in his hometown of Boyertown, Pa., and is a passionate collector of antiques and collectibles. His articles focus on various topics affecting the marketplace.

 

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