Since Memorial Day weekend 1977 when fans around the United States first read a block of scrolling text on a theater screen, "Star Wars" has grown into one of the best-selling toy lines in history. In 1978 alone, Kenner sold more than 26 million action figures. By the time the original vintage toy lines were discontinued in 1985, that number had grown to more than 250 million [source: Sansweet and Neumann]. While most of these toys were sold in such large numbers that they're virtually worthless today, a select few have held or increased in value. Check out our list of the top 10 most valuable "Star Wars" toys to see if you're got a potential gold mine collecting dust in the attic.
10: Stormtrooper Luke
A few years after "Return of the Jedi" was released in 1983, interest in the franchise began to wane. To keep toy sales holding steady, Kenner produced a new line of action figures, known as "The Power of the Force." The Luke Skywalker with stormtrooper disguise was one of the last of POTF figures released during this period, so by the time it went on the market, fans had moved on to other things, and relatively few were sold [source: Strong Museum of Play]. Today, the limited number of Stormtrooper Lukes on the market gives it a value boost compared to other POTF figures, especially when you consider that this is one of the only POTF toys inspired by "A New Hope" rather than one of its sequels. In mint condition, a still-sealed Stormtrooper Luke is worth around $450, while even an unpackaged figure can fetch you $175 or so [source: Wells].
9: Vinyl-cape Jawa
Every "Star Wars" fanatic who comes across a Jawa instinctively scans the figure's robe to see what it's made from; Jawas with cloth capes are a dime-a-dozen, while those rare Jawa figures adorned with a vinyl cape are worth about as much as a car. In 1978, when Kenner produced the first Jawa toys, they were adorned with a simple vinyl cape. Before they launched production, designers at the factory decided that the vinyl used to make the capes just looked too cheap, so the company switched to a cloth cape before diving into mass production [source: Sansweet and Neumann]. Some sources suggest that only about six of these vinyl cape figures remain, and if you're lucky enough to own one, you can practically name your own price. In 2013, one of these tiny plastic figures sold for a staggering $16,000 to one very eager collector [source: BBC News].
8: Palitoy Medical Droid
You may expect the major characters or the super-rare figures to fetch the highest prices, but sometimes the value of an action figure lies in the packaging. As Kenner "Star Wars" figures flew off shelves in the U.S., British toymaker Palitoy produced its own line of the figures back in the U.K. One Palitoy figure, a simple, unnamed medical droid, brought in $11,000 at a 2013 auction [source: Burton]. Released in 1980, the FX-7 droid with its tiny plastic probe arm far exceeded its estimated value. Part of the toy's astronomical sales price was attributed to its packaging; not only was the droid sealed in its original, mint packaging, but the hole that vendors typically used to hang these toys from sales racks was unpunched, further boosting its value [source: BBC News].
The animated "Droids" series from 1985 inspired its own line of "Star Wars" collectibles, including many minor characters that never made it into action figure form in previous incarnations of the franchise. One of these figures, a portly blue bad guy named Vlix, is so rare that a carded figure could fetch as much as $12,000 to someone eager to complete their collection [source: Sansweet and Neumann]. How did Vlix, a relative unknown, get so valuable? It's all in the scarcity. The "Droids" line wasn't a huge seller for Kenner, so the company scrapped the toys in 1985, canceling those in pre-production. A few years later, the rights to some of these canceled toys were sold to a Brazillian toy company, which produced and sold Vlix only in Brazil, making it exceedingly rare in the U.S., where collectors never even got a chance to buy it upon its initial release.
6: Blue Snaggletooth
As Kenner produced the earliest "Star Wars" figures in 1977 and '78, they had very little to work with in terms of design inspiration. When it came to the blue Snaggletooth character, Kenner had only a tiny, waist-up, black-and-white photo of the character to serve as a basis for the toy. With so little information, Kenner made the action figure for this character blue with silver boots and represented him as about the same height as other characters from the series. The problem — when the film came out, Snaggletooth was actually a red dwarf with big hairy feet, boots nowhere in sight [source: Star Wars Toy Museum]. This oversized blue Snaggletooth figure was only released in the 1978 Cantina Adventure playset; after that, Kenner fixed his color and proportions to match those found in the film. The original Snaggletooth mistake sells for around $350, loose, as it never came on an individual card [source: Wells].
10 Most Valuable 'Star Wars' Toys (5-1)
5: Yak Face
Like Stormtrooper Luke, the Yak Face action figure is exceedingly rare — and valuable — due simply to the timing of its release. This minor character was part of the Power of the Force line, which was canceled due to poor sales before Yak Face could see the light of day in the U.S. Instead, Kenner sent him to Europe, where "Return of the Jedi" had only recently been released and "Star Wars" momentum was still in full swing [source: Sansweet and Neumann]. Since poor Yak Face never hit store shelves stateside, a carded version of the toy in mint condition will cost you a cool $1,900 [source: Wells].
Weequay, one of Jabba the Hutt's guards, is not really all that rare, but if you have a certain limited edition version of the figure, you could be looking at a nice chunk of change. Released as part of the second incarnation of the Power of the Force line during the 1990s, a carded, mint-condition Weequay is worth about $35 -- not a fortune, but still a nice return on investment if you bought the toy when it was first released. If you happen to have a sealed Weequay packaged with a special "freeze-frame" slide, however, you can expect to sell him for about 10 times that amount [source: Wells]. These slides only came with a limited number of the characters, so its relative scarcity means big bucks for those lucky enought to come across this version of the toy.
3: Anakin Skywalker
One of the most consistently valuable "Star Wars" figures of all is the 1985 Power of the Force Anakin Skywalker, but only if you happen to have him in the package. This character was initially released as a mail-away, so fans of the series could simply send away for him without hitting the store. If you went this route, your Anakin figure came loose, in a plastic bag. In 1985, Kenner released a packaged Anakin to stores, but many of the fans who were still collecting "Star Wars" toys had already mailed away for him by that point, so sales were relatively poor. The toy comes with no accessories, other than a collector's coin and a strange, out-of-character smile, yet will still cost you between $2,250 and $3,000 if you simply must add him to your collection [sources:Wells and Moen].
2: Missile-firing Boba Fett
In 1979, as Kenner prepared to launch a Boba Fett toy with real missle-firing action, rival Mattel issued a recall for a similar missile-launching toy from its Battlestar Galatica line. Fearful that their planned Boba Fett figure, which had a small red rocket on its back that kids could launch with the flick of a switch, would pose a choking hazard, Kenner scrapped their initial plans and redesigned the figure. The Boba Fett that Kenner eventually released to the public had its rocket welded firmly in place, eliminating the risk of choking — while making the figure much less cool, of course. Since the missile-firing Boba Fett never hit store shelves, it's considered one of the rarest and most valuable toys in the "Star Wars" line. If you happen to stumble across one, hold out for a high price because it's worth a fortune to the right collector [source: Sansweet and Neumann].
1: Double-telescoping Lightsaber
The Holy Grail for "Star Wars" collectors comes in an awfully small package -- in essence, it's a piece of plastic no more than an inch in length. In 1978, Kenner produced Darth Vader, Obi-Wan and Luke figures, with each holding a lightsaber. Each character had a hollow arm so that the lightsaber could slide in and out, making it look as if the saber suddenly "lights up" when in use. While all '78 versions of these figures have this telescoping lightsaber feature, a select few have a double-telescoping saber. Essentially, the first plastic section slides out of the figure's arm, followed by a second, even tinier section. Kenner quickly realized that this extra length of plastic was a manufacturing nightmare, and most kids would end up breaking it, so they switched to a single-telescoping version before mass-producing the figures. Any of these three characters with the double-telescoping feature will easily fetch more than $2,000 in mint, unopened condition [source: Wells].
Barbie, the ultimate classic doll, turns 60 this year. HowStuffWorks goes to the party.
Author's Note: 10 Most Valuable 'Star Wars' Toys
As you peruse the prices of toys listed in this article, keep in mind that "Star Wars" toys, like any collectible are only worth as much as someone is willing to pay. While I picked up my pricing figures from reputable sources, these prices could change any time based on changes in supply or demand for a certain figure. You never know — there could be hundreds of missile-firing Boba Fett's hidden in a storage facility somewhere, just waiting to be discovered.
- BBC News. "Star Wars Jawa Figure Auctioned for 10,200 Pounds." Oct. 24, 2013. (Nov. 24, 2014) http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-tees-24660920
- BBC News. "Star Wars Toy Valued at 50 Pounds Sells for 7,000 Pounds." Feb. 24, 2014. (Nov. 24, 2014) http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-tees-26263068
- Burton, Bonnie. "Got the 'Star Wars' Collector Gene? Advice on Turning Droids To Dollars." CNET. Feb. 26, 2014. (Nov. 24, 2014) http://www.cnet.com/news/got-the-star-wars-collector-gene-advice-on-turning-droids-to-dollars/
- Moen, Justin. "Toys and Prices 2011." Krause Publications. 2010. https://books.google.com/books?id=QGQVx5FEYcIC&dq=anakin+skywalker+figure+1985&source=gbs_navlinks_s&hl=en
- Sansweet, Stephen J. and Anne Neumann. "Star Wars – 1,000 Collectibles – Memorabilia and Stories From a Galaxy Far, Far Away." Abrams. 2009.
- Star Wars Toy Museum. "Blue Snaggletooth! A Star Wars Toy Holy Grail." Feb. 27, 2011. (Nov. 24, 2014) http://starwarstoymuseum.com/blue-snaggletooth-a-star-wars-toy-holy-grail/
- Strong National Museum of Play, The. "Star Wars Vintage Power of the Force: Luke Skywalker – Imperial Stormtrooper Outfit." Date (Nov. 24, 2014) http://www.museumofplay.org/online-collections/1/12/113.207
- Wells, Stuary W. III. "Universe of Star Wars." Krause Publications. 2011. http://books.google.com/books?id=-cWFFAweJZsC&dq=double+telescoping+darth+vader&source=gbs_navlinks_