14 of the Most Valuable 'Star Wars' Collectibles in the Galaxy
When George Lucas made an $11-million gamble on his sci-fi Western set in "a galaxy, far, far away," he never fathomed the payoff would land him in the multi-billionaire's club, let alone spawn this planet's ultimate movie-merchandising juggernaut.
Also caught off guard by the "Star Wars" phenomenon was Ohio-based Kenner toys. Contracted in the spring of 1977 to produce a line of movie-related toys, the company figured on plenty of time to manufacture plastic action figures, spaceships and play sets. Wrong. Following the movie's release, demand was instantaneous and rabid. And from 1978 to 1985, Kenner wound up selling more than 300 million "Star Wars" toys. As Lord Vader would say, "Impressive, most impressive."
As the "Star Wars"-obsessed universe gears up for the openings of new saga-inspired attractions at Disney theme parks, plus "The Rise of Skywalker" premiere in late 2019, right on cue there's a resurgent spike in the desire and prices for "Star Wars" collectibles.
In terms of intrigue and value, all memorabilia is not created equal. So we've corralled an eclectic list of treasures and added a dash of Kessel spice by not only featuring commercially available merch, but also one-of-a-kind items directly tied to the saga's production. May the eBay force be with you.
Chewbacca’s Original Costume Headpiece
Poor Chewbacca. In the original trilogy, he weathered insults like "furry oaf," "big walking carpet" and the cruelest dig of all, "flea-bitten furball." But in a 2012 auction, Chewie got the last laugh when the screen-used headpiece/mask worn in the original films by actor Peter Mayhew (RIP) realized $172,200 — placing it among the most expensive "Star Wars" costume pieces ever sold.
‘Star Wars’ Comic Book Issue #1
Is that Luke Skywalker on the cover of Marvel's premiere "Star Wars" comic? Or did Gary Busey swipe a lightsaber?
In the late '70s, Marvel began testing the market waters with a five-cent increase (from 30 cents to 35 cents) on its single-issue comics. The debut issue of "Star Wars," tagged with the inflated price, was distributed to only four U.S. cities: Memphis, Toledo, Tuscaloosa and Wilmington. If you nabbed a copy and kept it minty mint all these years, expect to pocket upwards of $20,000...and laugh about Luke Busey all the way to the bank.
‘Star Wars’ Early Bird Certificate Package
Although the Kenner toy company had signed on to produce "Star Wars" toys before the movie's May 1977 release, it was blindsided by the film's surprise success and couldn't meet the immediate, insatiable demand for merch. So, come Christmas 1977, kids anticipating a bounty of "Star Wars" action figures under the tree were instead presented with what was essentially an empty box.
The "Early Bird" package was an envelope containing a cardboard display stand, sans action figures, plus a paper snail-mail certificate that promised to ship you four figures (Luke, Leia, Chewie and R2-D2) once they were ready in the spring of '78. Naturally, most kids had trashed the useless display stand and accompanying ephemera long before the actual toys arrived. Today, a complete package can fetch up to $9,000.
Jawa Action Figure With Vinyl Cape
Forget Luke and daddy Darth. Surely topping every kid's wish list of original "Star Wars" action figures was the Jawa. Okay, not exactly, but eventually everyone bit the bullet and got a Jawa to complete their collection.
Were you among the few to grab a first edition of Tatooine's pint-sized desert scavenger, the Jawa's signature brown cloak was made of vinyl. After the initial production run, Kenner switched to a cloth cape.
Extremely scarce, a vinyl-cape Jawa packaged on its original unopened card can net between $10,000 and $18,000, depending on condition. Loose un-carded specimens in cherry condition sell on eBay for about $1,200. The Jawa has achieved mythic status among collectors, so beware the many fakes out there.
Carrie Fisher's Personal Copy of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ Shooting Script
Frustrated by George Lucas' often clunky, hokey dialogue in the "Star Wars" screenplay, both Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford recall telling Lucas, "George, you can type this sh*t, but you can't say it!"
Though "The Empire Strikes Back" script was penned by Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett, by the time filming was underway in '79, Fisher and Ford had taken to doctoring and punching up their own lines. That is, when they weren't partying all night with the Rolling Stones and showing up drunk to work the next morning.
In 2017, Fisher's estate auctioned her personal, hand-annotated shooting script for Episode VI and collected $51,000. Sale proceeds were donated to The Jed Foundation, which works to prevent teen suicide.
Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi Action Figure with Double-Telescoping Lightsaber
Though Sir Alec Guinness enjoyed the financial windfall from his Ben Kenobi role in "Star Wars," he once famously called the saga "fairy tale rubbish." Later, recalling an encounter with a young, autograph-seeking fan, Guinness said, "I just hope the lad, now in his thirties, is not living in a fantasy world of second hand, childish banalities."
One can only imagine Guinness rolling his eyes had he lived to see the 2017 auction of a 3.75-inch-tall, plastic Kenobi action figure that fetched an astronomical $76,700.
Why the high price? The original Kenobi figure came with a two-piece, telescoping lightsaber that slid out of the Jedi master's arm. Kenner, citing high production costs, quickly switched to a cheaper single-piece saber. At a 2017 Hake's Americana auction, a near-mint example of the rare, original version set the world-record price for a toy action figure.
George Lucas' ‘Star Wars’ Panavision PSR 35mm Movie Camera
As Luke and the gang fought their way out of the Death Star, George Lucas shot some of the action with this camera used for principal photography of Episode IV. The Panavision company famously refuses to sell its functioning movie cameras to anyone (including Lucas), but let go of this particular rig due to its trashed condition.
Acquired by historic film camera collector Martin Hill, it was fully restored and sold at auction in 2011 to an anonymous buyer for $625,000. Let's hope Lucas himself didn't get his hands on the camera with plans to come out of retirement. "Return of the Jar Jar," anyone?
Boba Fett Rocket-Firing Action Figure (Prototype)
Though it never caused a child fatality, arguably the most infamous, potential "choking hazard" toy of all time was the original Boba Fett action figure developed by Kenner. Nicknamed "Rocket Fett," the figure wore a backpack with a mechanism that fired a small plastic missile — the perfect size for getting lodged in junior's larynx.
As any old-school collector worth their bounty-hunter cred knows, "Rocket Fett" was never released to the public. So what you'll find on today's market are strictly prototype figures, which reportedly number less than 30 and appear in various stages of product development.
Confirmed sale prices have ranged from $20,000 to $86,000. At the 2019 Star Wars Celebration convention in Chicago, a high-end dealer stunned nerds by offering a mega-rare "Rocket Fett" prototype with a price tag of $365,000, plus tax. So far, no takers.
‘Star Wars’ Happy Birthday-Style One Sheet Poster
Company: 20th Century Fox
To celebrate the one-year anniversary of Episode IV's release, the studio shipped this poster to theaters still showing the blockbuster 12 months later. By then, "Star Wars" action figures were a toy store phenomenon, so they were assembled around a candle-topped birthday cake for a poster that in today's market will put a $3,000 to $5,000 dent in your wallet.
‘Star Wars’ Costume Design Sketchbook
For "Star Wars" archaeologists digging deep into the saga's origins, artifacts rarely get better than this original production sketchbook by the first film's Oscar-winning costume designer, John Mollo. While legendary conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie chiefly designed the look of the "Star Wars" universe and its characters, it was Mollo tasked with actually creating the costumes.
During production of "A New Hope," Mollo kept a personal sketchbook with hand-drawn designs for Vader, Chewbacca, the "Creature Cantina" aliens and much more. The book also served as a production diary, containing notes from his meetings with George Lucas. Under a 2018 Bonhams' gavel, this original-trilogy treasure snapped up $162,000.
Han Solo's Leather Jacket
The vast majority of expensive "Star Wars" memorabilia is vintage. So if an item associated with the current sequel trilogy is going to command big bucks, it better be something special (sadly, Kylo Ren's emo tears are not for sale). Fitting that bill, the leather jacket worn by Harrison Ford in "The Force Awakens" sold at a 2016 auction for $191,000.
While cynics might assume everyone's favorite hyperspace pirate was simply "in it for the money," Ford in fact autographed and donated the jacket for a charity auction benefiting epilepsy research. The cause is personal to the actor, whose daughter suffers from seizures.
LEGO Ultimate Collector's Millennium Falcon
Han Solo's pride and joy got the royal LEGO treatment with this 5,197-piece bad boy, later surpassed in size by the toy maker's 2017 "UCS Millennium Falcon" set. Yet the '07 version is more valuable (around $3,000 on eBay), thanks in large part to its original retail price of $499.99. And you thought that $30 "Star Wars" LEGO kit on your kid's Christmas list was outrageous?
If you're a collector with pockets deeper than a sarlacc's pit, this is the droid you're looking for. Purportedly the only screen-featured Artoo unit in the public realm, the prop was assembled from original parts used to build and upgrade several Artoos employed throughout filming of the original trilogy, plus prequel Episodes I and II. For instance, Artoo's domed top is from "Star Wars," while its legs were fashioned for "The Empire Strikes Back."
Though non-functional, the 3-1/2 foot-high, aluminum and fiberglass Artoo still managed to command a whopping $2.76 million at auction in 2017 — making it the priciest collectible in the "Star Wars" galaxy. The buyer wished to remain anonymous, no doubt worried his droid will be kidnapped by Jawas.
C-3PO ‘X-Rated Error’ Trading Card #207
In "Star Wars," an X-Wing Fighter pilot first lays eyes on the Death Star and marvels, "Look at the size of that thing!" The same could be said of C-3PO's impressive, ahem, "droidhood" on this notorious "Star Wars" trading card.
According to urban legend, a disgruntled Topps employee airbrushed a pornographic appendage on Threepio as a prank. However, the official "Star Wars" website maintains it's the original photo taken for the card and attributes the droid's enhanced nether regions to a wardrobe malfunction.
Whatever the case, the offending image went unnoticed by Topps and soon kids across America were giggling over Threepio's "goldenrod." Parents were not amused and complained to Topps, which issued a cleaned-up "corrected card." Naturally, collectors covet the infamous "X-rated" version. In tip-top shape, they go on eBay for $80 to $100.