17 May 2022
Sought-after Boba Fett L-slot rocket-firing prototype leads series devoted exclusively to rarest collectibles
In the investment-obsessed world of fine art, scarcely a week goes by without some new auction record being set, either for a particular artist or art genre. Hake’s Auctions, the groundbreaking Pennsylvania company that has specialized in pop culture memorabilia since 1967, also rewrites the record books with regularity, but not with Picassos or Van Goghs. It has become known as “The House of Star Wars” because of its consistent ability to achieve world-record prices for prototypes and other rarities from the fabled sci-fi film franchise. With collector demand at an all-time high, Hake’s has responded to the call by adding something new to its roster: an online auction dedicated exclusively to Star Wars memorabilia. The debut “Special Event” has opened for bidding and will run through June 2nd.
“When an auction house recognizes that a collecting trend has become a sensation, the next logical step is to introduce a specialty sale dedicated to that particular category,” said Hake’s president, Alex Winter. “That’s what has happened with Star Wars collectibles, and it’s why we decided to add a new auction loaded with the best of the best and the rarest of the rare.”
The market started signaling the future for vintage Star Wars items four to five years ago, with Hake’s auction results firing off the cannon, time and again. On November 16, 2017, a Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi 12 Back-A double-telescoping action figure, AFA-graded 80NM, started the ball rolling with an auction price of $76,700. Then came the era of Boba Fett, with stunning prices paid for prototypes of varying types and grades. On November 7, 2019, an extremely rare J-slot rocket-firing Boba, AFA-graded 85+ NM, shot to $185,850. Lightning struck again on June 30, 2021, when a Boba L-slot rocket-firing prototype, not as rare as the J-slot but also graded AFA 85 NM+, landed at $165,200.
But nothing validated the intense competition for premier Star Wars collectibles more than Hake’s March 16, 2022 auction of another fresh-to-market Boba Fett J-slot (Version 2) rocket-firing prototype. AFA-graded 50 VG, it shattered all existing Star Wars auction records with a winning bid of $204,435. “It was graded considerably lower than the J-slot we sold in 2019, yet it still sold for about $18,600 more than the better example. That tells you how hot the market is for Star Wars right now,” Winter said.
The current 201-lot auction contains not only prototypes and pre-production items, but also foreign issues, highest-graded examples and more. In addition to action figures, there are vehicles, playsets, store displays, proofs, movie posters and cast-signed photos.
“For those collectors and investors who only want third-party-graded items, this is the auction for them,” Winter said. “Every single piece that could be third-party graded, has been – that includes all of the figures and toys.”
The Star Wars parade opens with its grandmaster: a Boba Fett L-slot rocket-firing prototype action figure, AFA-graded 80+ NM (archival case). It is encapsulated with a notarized COA from Collectibles Investment Brokers (CIB) and estimated at $100,000-$200,000. “This is the item most requested by our Star Wars bidders, and we continue to deliver by offering these elusive, highly coveted figures,” Winter said. “New collectors, including savvy sports card investors, are buying Star Wars figures, so we think this Boba prototype has a chance to set a record.”
For those who may not be in the market for a prototype, a Star Wars Boba Fett 21 Back-B encapsulated action figure from Kenner’s 1979 toy line, AFA-graded 85+ NM+, might be a satisfying alternative. The figure presents especially well, with the character’s blaster still in place in the bubble. The card does not have a price sticker, and it is a higher-grade toy than the example Hake’s sold in March for $29,000. Its pre-sale estimate is $20,000-$35,000.
A foreign production that will not go unnoticed is Lili Ledy’s (Mexican) 1979 Boba Fett action figure with removable rocket, AFA-graded 80+NM. The encapsulated figure, from their “La Guerrade Las Galaxias” Star Wars toy line comes with a blaster and removable rocket, which was intentionally designed not to be fired. Its estimate is $20,000-$35,000.
The jaw-dropping selection of international rarities continues with a 1981 French Meccano Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Boba Fett 3.75in action figure on an 18 Back (square) cardback. AFA-graded 40 Good, it comes to auction with a $10,000-$20,000 estimate.
North of the border in 1985, Kenner Canada released a Star Wars: The Power of the Force Yak Face 4-inch encapsulated action figure for shipment to foreign outlets only. AFA-graded 80 (Yellow) Y-NM, the Yak Face in Hake’s sale comes on a 92 Back blister card with an exciting addition intact: its matching aluminum collector’s coin. Estimate: $10,000-$20,000
It would be very difficult to find a better (loose) example of a Kenner Hong Kong 4.25-inch Star Wars Darth Vader action figure than the one offered in the June 2nd sale. Issued in 1977, both the figure and its double-telescoping saber are AFA-graded 90 NM+/Mint (archival case). Considering there are perhaps only one or two such figures in existence that are graded higher, collectors may view Hake’s Darth as a “buy now or regret it later” opportunity. Estimate: $20,000-$35,000.
A 2.25-inch Jawa 12 Back-A action figure with a vinyl cape, AFA-graded 80 NM, comes from Kenner’s 1978 Star Wars toy line and is encapsulated on an unpunched card. It is a superior grade (75 EX+/NM) to the one Hake’s sold for a record $36,000 in March. Pursued by many collectors, this rare variation carries a conservative estimate of $20,000-$35,000.
Star Wars collectors love vintage store displays, and this auction offers several exceptional rarities to tempt them. A nearly 3-foot-long double-sided shelf display header with text and images of Kenner’s first 12 Star Wars action figures is encapsulated and AFA-graded 75 EX+/NM. Estimate: $20,000-$35,000. A 24 by 40-inch-long Toy Center display in an encapsulated case is AFA-graded 60 EX and features “Star Wars Action Figures” text and images of the Death Star looming in the background as Darth Vader leads a squad of TIE Fighters into battle against X-Wing Fighters. The 1979 production is entered with a $5,000-$10,000 estimate. Made in 1978 as a Toy Galaxy display, a double-sided bell-shape hanger is AFA-graded 90 NM+/Mint. Measuring 16 by 18 inches, it features Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia as seen on the Star Wars movie poster by The Brothers Hildebrandt. Like the Toy Center display, its graphics include Darth Vader’s TIE Fighters battling X-Wing Fighters. Estimate: $5,000-$10,000
Kenner’s “early bird” kits were produced prior to the release of the company’s Star Wars toy line, either as an offer or the kit itself. Both types are represented in Hake’s auction. A sealed early bird certificate package, AFA-graded 85 NM+, consists of a cardboard envelope with a sealed kit marked “Not To Be Sold After December 31st, 1977.” Its contents include a cardboard stand, stickers and a coupon to be redeemed by mail for the first set of action figures – Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Chewbacca and R2-D2 – which would become available in early 1978. The second pre-release early bird mailer kit, encapsulated and AFA-graded 80 NM, actually contains a starter set of those same four figures (Luke Skywalker is the version with a double-telescoping saber), plus a cardboard stage with foot pegs, a mini catalog, and original white mailing box. Each of the early bird kits is estimated at $10,000-$20,000.
Alex Winter said there is every expectation that the company’s first Star Wars Special Event will be a tremendous success. “Our March auction grossed $3.2 million, and $1.2 million of that figure was attributable to 300 lots of Star Wars collectibles,” he said. “The 201 lots in the June sale closely match the level of rarity and desirability of the 201 best in the March sale.”