The 6 Rarest and Most Collectible Vintage Star Wars figures
Yesterday I discussed how Hasbro is resurrecting the Rocket Firing Boba Fett figure this year. That figure has become a “Holy Grail” for many Star Wars collectors. There are many different figures that have become popular and collectible for whatever reason in the vintage Kenner figure line. Many become popular because of an error made in production, some become popular because they were released at the very end so only limited numbers exist today.
Let’s take a look at the six of the rarest and most collectible vintage Star Wars figures ever made. All of the figures in this list were officially released to retail and aren’t prototypes or mockups. They are actual figures.
Blue Snaggletooth – Released in 1978 as part of the Sears exclusive Star Wars Cantina Adventure Set. Blue Snaggletooth was supposed to be half as tall and in a red-suit. The mistake happened due to a miscommunication by Lucasfilm. Essentially, Lucasfilm sent over a black and white headshot of the alien and Kenner “made up” the blue suit and his height because they had nothing to compare to. This was later corrected which only created demand for the incorrect tall, blue figure (as these things tend to do). Blue Snaggletooth has become legendary in Star Wars collecting circles. It’s not as rare as one might think, but they aren’t exactly plentiful and the popularity of this variation keeps the demand high.
Vinyl-cape Jawa – Of the original 12 vintage Kenner Star Wars figures in 1978, the very last one issued to retail was the Jawa. He first appeared as you see him on the left, wearing a plastic (vinyl) cape. As the line of Star Wars figures proved to be hugely popular, Kenner switched the Jawa to a cloth cape (on right) because it made the figure look better. By doing this, it created a situation in which the vinyl cape Jawa is now an extremely rare collectible. This one is not as well known as the Blue Snaggletooth to people outside the Star Wars collecting community, but Star Wars collectors know the specifics of this VERY well. Vinyl cape Jawa is one of the most faked vintage figures of all time due to it’s high price on the secondary market. All you have to do is take a vintage Obi-Wan, remove the cloak, cut it to size then place it on a Jawa. If you are good enough (and have zero scruples), you can affix the figure to a used Star Wars 12 back card and you have something that may get you thousands of dollars from a collector that doesn’t know any better. However, someone willing to pay thousands for this figure variation WILL know better.
Double Telescoping Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader – “Double telescoping” is a term used for the original mechanics of the lightsaber action feature on Luke Skywalker, Ben Kenobi and Darth Vader. If you look at the above pics, you can see the lightsaber opens up into two parts. One part comes directly out of the hand and the second part comes out of the very tip. This was done as a cheap way to give the lightsaber some length. However, Kenner was not happy with this and changed the mechanics to a single piece of plastic. Not many of these “double telescoping” figures actually made it to retail, which makes them doubly rare.
Brazilian Droids Vlix – Vlix is an obscure villain from the often maligned Star Wars cartoon, Droids. So how is it that this character no one has ever heard of is considered probably the rarest commercially released Star Wars figure ever? Well, the Droids line of figures (as well as the cartoon) did not fare too well, so it was canceled in the US after the first series of figures. However, Kenner had already developed and prototyped the second series of figures before the line was canceled (including our friend, Vlix, up there). Glasslite held the Droids figure rights in Brazil and somehow got the Vlix figure on card and in stores before everything was canceled. No other region in the world was able to release a Vlix on card. As a consequence, very few of these carded Vlix figures exist, probably around a dozen…or LESS.
Yak Face – Mr Face here is highly sought after as he was at the tail end of the Kenner vintage line and never offered in the United States. He was sold in Australia, Asia and Canada, but never made it to the States. Also, he was one of the last figures offered in the Star Wars Power of the Force line (pic on the left) so he was made in limited numbers. Yak Face was also offered on a “Tri Logo” card in Europe (pic on right) in higher quantities but he came without the collector coin and no weapon.
Star Wars Boba Fett – Considering Boba Fett is one of the more popular characters, it’s not surprising that one of his figures is one of the rarest and most collectible. Boba, as a figure, started out as the first Star Wars mail away figure, in the now infamous “rocket firing” figure. When that was done, as Kenner was gearing up for Empire Strikes Back, they decided to release Boba on a card for anyone that didn’t get the mail away figure. What’s interesting is that they released Boba on one of the last releases of the Star Wars cards. Boba wasn’t even in Star Wars and he got released on a Star Wars card. His next release would, obviously, be on an Empire Strikes Back card. So it’s easy to see how having a vintage Boba Fett carded, on the original Star Wars card (which he wasn’t even in) is highly collectible. Also, this is one of only three Star Wars figures that used original artwork instead of a still from the movie. The others were Power of the Force Anakin Skywalker and the Star Wars Walrus Man. Also, the Boba Fett released on a Tri Logo European card was cast in a lighter shade of gray, which makes it also collectible.
Now, I know immediately people are going to ask why I didn’t include “rocket firing” Boba Fett. Mainly for the reason that I stated above, it was a prototype and never “officially” released as a figure. All of the vintage “rocket firing” Bobas you see are only sample mockups and not intended to be an official product. That is why I didn’t put it on the list. There are many prototypes in people’s collections now that are, for the most part, rarer than the ones I list here. Let’s take a look at a few of these. I’ve already talked about rocket firing Boba Fett, so here are three other prototypes.
White Cloak Bib Fortuna Prototypes – This looks odd, but this is a packaging prototype used by Kenner to determine bubble size and how the figure would sit inside its bubble. At this point, Bib Fortuna was a new figure, so his cardback was probably not ready so they just affixed it to an older Walrus Man card. Also, the Bib Fortuna figure was not released with a white cloak. The production figure had a brown cloak, further proving this is just a prototype. There is also a picture of a Bib Fortuna in a red cloak, but these have never been proven to exist outside of Kenner product photography samples.
Han Solo in Trench Coat (with no camouflage) – This is a very similar situation to Bib Fortuna. This is a packaging test to determine if the figure will fit comfortably inside the bubble. Also similar, this Han’s trench coat doesn’t have the camouflage pattern that the production figure would have.
Revenge of the Jedi proof cards – This one isn’t a figure, but the card that held the figure. Return of the Jedi was originally titled Revenge of the Jedi. Many of you probably already know that, but did you know that it was a last minute change? Because it was such a late change, Kenner had already mocked up a set of 49 cards with the original Revenge title. These cards were produced as proofs and prototypes, but never released to stores. Since the name change happened very late and very abruptly, many companies had also already mocked up products with the logo. These Revenge prototypes and proofs are highly sought after in the collectibles market because they showcase what may have been.
Those are some of the most widely sought after Star Wars collectibles. They can bring thousands of dollars on the secondary market. However, you have to obtain them first, and that’ll also set you back thousands of dollars.
Thanks to the Star Wars Collecting Archive for all the pics and links in the article.
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