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Vintage 'Star Wars' toys get top dollar
Collectibles from original trio of movies bringing prices as high as $6,500.
May 16, 2005: 4:43 PM EDT
By David Ellis, CNN/Money staff writer
The highly sought-after action figure
The highly sought-after action figure "Vlix" is believed to be the rarest 'Star Wars' figure. It can fetch as much as $6,500.
A wind-up R2D2 toy that was available only in Canada is valued at $2,400 in its original packaging.
A wind-up R2D2 toy that was available only in Canada is valued at $2,400 in its original packaging.
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NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The final box office tally and merchandising sales generated from the final installment of the Star Wars saga may remain clouded long after its May 19 release date, but sales in the vintage toy market have been turning light sabers and mint-condition Luke Skywalker action figures into gold.

From an early poster for the third movie, mislabeled "Revenge of the Jedi," to a Boba Fett action figure that escaped a manufacturer's recall, items produced during the first trio of films are more popular than ever and price tags are showing it.

"There's been a very significant jump with the new movie coming out," says Nathan Hanneman, the editor of Action Figure Digest, a monthly publication that tracks prices in the collectible toys market. "If there's money being transferred from Star Wars, it is for the vintage stuff."

The first 12 action figures produced by Kenner in 1977, if still in their original boxes and in mint condition, might have sold for $2,400 a year ago. Now, he says, it's not unusual to see those same dozen toys going for $4,200.

Toys, patches and posters produced between the theatrical release of the first movie in 1977 and 1985, when the toymaker for the series, Kenner, was purchased by rival Hasbro (Research), seem to be the hottest items, according to Hanneman.

Among the most highly-sought after items is the Jawa figure, a hooded creatures with bright yellow eyes that appeared in the first film. Those that were originally produced with a vinyl cape sell for as much as $3,000. Possibly the most highly-prized item of all, fetching as much as $6,500, is a Brazilian-produced action figure called "Vlix" that appeared in a 1983 Star Wars cartoon.

While the space-tale turned cultural phenomenon will finally come full circle next week, collectors remain mixed over the future of Star Wars collectibles, both vintage and recently-introduced, if "Revenge of the Sith" is indeed the final chapter in this 28-year cinema story.

Rodney Spriggs, president and CEO of the Joplin, Mo.-based entertainment collectibles chain Vintage Stock, says collectible prices should remain high because of expected releases such as a DVD box-set and the popular "Clone Wars" series on the Cartoon Network.

"I think with Star Wars, you will see it hold their value if not increase more over time, especially with the vintage figures," he says. "We have a new generation that will want to buy this stuff."

While some of the recently-released items are inching higher in price, such as a Darth Vader mask that alters your voice, Hanneman was not so sure that "the force" will be with either the vintage toys or new "Sith" products.

"That's what will be interesting to see if, after the film, if any of this stuff maintains any of its value on the secondary market, because it didn't for the last two films," he says. "I'm really curious to see if it is going to last once the film has come and gone."

Is the 'Star Wars' hype going to hurt your business? Click here.  Top of page

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