Teesside toy and model specialist saleroom Vectis (20.83% buyer’s premium) offered a Palitoy Empire Strikes Back Princess Leia Bespin figure on a punched 30B back card on November 30, estimated at £2000-3000.
The auction house said it featured “transitional imagery depicting only half of Leia and not the standard full-length picture of the princess. These variations weren’t available in shops for long and as such perhaps only a handful remain in existence.
“Although the original imagery could still fetch a respectable £1500 at auction, the rarity and condition of this carded figure ensured it attracted a great deal of attention from bidders.”
After “a fierce battle”, a phone bidder emerged victorious with a bid of £7500.
Owned by Darth Vader
Unboxed, playworn, no weapon present – the Star Wars Darth Vader figure on offer at East Bristol Auctions (19% buyer’s premium) on November 19 really did not sound that promising.
So how can the £2100 hammer price for this Palitoy 1977 figures estimated at £50-80 be explained?
This Darth Vader was in fact owned by Darth Vader himself: the late Dave Prowse, whose estate East Bristol has been selling. Prowse played Vader in the original trilogy although the voice was that of American actor James Earl Jones – a more menacing option than Prowse’s West Country accent.
It was one of an array of Star Wars figures offered in playworn condition. The saleroom said they were “either purchased by or sent to Dave Prowse during their run, and he would in turn give them to his son, James”. It added: “Action figures from the original Kenner/Palitoy lines that belonged to key cast members have never come to market.”
Hunt for bargains
Although extremely important to the Star Wars galaxy, the ‘power droids’ used to recharge vehicles and machinery go almost unnoticed in the films. With little fanfare, these boxy mobile plug-in generators appear in all episodes of the original 1977-83 trilogy.
Power droid action figures were produced by Kenner in Ohio and Palitoy in Leicestershire for all three ‘classic’ Star Wars films although, upstaged by more iconic characters, they were sold in relatively small numbers.
Palitoy examples are particularly hard to find in their original packaging. One made for Return of the Jedi came for sale at C&T (22% buyer’s premium) in Kenardington, Kent, on January 6 where, guided at £100-150, it took a surprise £1850 via thesaleroom.com.
C&T offered 93 figures originally bought from a Tesco bargain bin for 99p each in the 1980s. Originally priced at £1.59, they were marked down for a quick sale. The buyer, now in his 70s, kept them sealed in the original packaging.
Other stand-out prices included a Yak-Face figure from 1983 film Return of the Jedi, at £1650 (guide £700-900), and Luke Skywalker dressed as an imperial stormtrooper – which still had its ‘Tesco 99p” offer price label – for £1850 (estimate £300-400).
Both were Palitoy ‘General Mills Star Wars Tri Logo’ versions. GM almost completely controlled Star Wars figures European distribution (and owned Kenner). As the name suggests, Tri logo brought together three smaller logos in different languages.
In this same auction, further highlights included a Palitoy General Mills Return of The Jedi Boba Fett carded figure with a Debenhams £1.39p price label. It took a 10-times low estimate £2000.