These Star Wars figures brought big bucks, but yours may not
I was in an editing program in Tucson, AZ, in 1983 when the Star Wars enthusiasts in our group corralled us all into going to see the latest movie in the trilogy, “Return of the Jedi.” I had not seen the first two movies, but I joined in this night out.
Unfortunately, none of us had the prescience to recognize the phenomenon on the screen. No one suggested that we stop by a K-mart to pick up a few of the $2 toy action figures based on the movie. Since we were all adults, we would have (hopefully) kept our figures in their original packaging and not played with them like the kids whose parents bought them as toys.
If we had made the right choices, ours would be likely worth the top dollars that a Japanese collector got for his Star Wars memorabilia in a major online auction at Sotheby’s last Friday. The 600 figures, helmets, cookie jars, cards, coins, lightsabers, blasters and more sold for $502,202.
Fashion designer Tomoaki Nagao, owner of the clothing companies A Bathing Ape (BAPE) and Billionaire Boys Club (with Pharrell Williams), started building his collection in the 1990s. He is known professionally as Nigo, and Sotheby’s dubbed the auction “Return of Nigo.”
Some of the items were rare, all were highly graded, and most were in their original packaging. They were sold for much more than their estimates, with the lowest – a Chewbacca Power of the Force Generation 2 Commtech chip – going for $188. Most of the items sold for more than $2,000.
One of the top price-grabbers was a 1978 Luke Skywalker action figure with a double-telescoping lightsaber. There were only 20 confirmed to be made, and this one had a serial number indicating that it was one of the first off the assembly line, according to Sotheby’s. It sold for $25,000 (with the buyer’s premium of 25 percent).
It was not the highest: a complete set of 62 Star Wars Power of the Force coins from 1985 went for 27,500. Other items included a 1989 Hungarian “Boba Fett” action figure, $15,000; 1983 Trilogo General Madine action figure, $12,500; eight 1984 “Return of the Jedi” 79-Back action figures, $875; two 1983 “Return of the Jedi” Tsukuda action figures, $500, and a limited-edition 2007 Shadow Stormtrooper helmet, $5,625.
Here are some of the most valuable Star Wars figures.
Those who played with their Star Wars toys would get the kind of prices that were common at a local auction I attended yesterday. Very few of those figures and other memorabilia were in original packaging; they had been played with. Some were both dusty and dirty, and the seller was probably glad to get rid of them.
The highest price paid was $50 and the lowest, $2. And that was an Obi-Wan Kenobi figure that only got a bid after the auctioneer added some non-Star Wars items to it.
Here are the reality-check prices from an auction house without the cache of Sotheby’s or the collection of Nigo: