Remember those little "Star Wars" toys you or your kids had back in 1978, when Kenner began its endless line of action figures and accessories? Good. You might want to sit down.
"Star Wars"-related merchandise has become one of the hottest tickets in the world of collectibles, even as companies continue to churn out new items by the shopping-cart load. But the fresh stuff - mostly put out by Kenner and Galoob, which started its Micro Machine line in 1993 - look like quite a bargain next to some of the oldies.
Always wanted a 3-inch plastic-cape jawa figure? Get ready to spend at least $1,600, according to Lenny Lee, editor and publisher of Lee's Action Figure News and Toy Review. (That's if you can even find one - they were quickly taken off the market in '78 and replaced with a cloth-cape variation). How about the electronic Flying Aces Target game, a small X-wing flight simulator? Yours for only $1,500. (Both prices are MIP, or mint in package.)
"Most of the stuff was ripped off the packaging card," says Lee. "Anything that made it through the Christmas of '78 or '79 is pretty scarce in its own right." He added that most of the original figures, which once sold for $2.98, would now fetch at least $100 if still unopened.
Of course, you don't have to go back 20 years to spend big bucks. The magazine Star Wars Insider offers a 6-foot "Deluxe Stormtrooper Replica" for $4,995. If you're light in the pocketbook, consider a Deluxe Boba Fett helmet for $995.
The strangest twist comes from the new Kenner line, featuring action figures of Prince Xisor and Dash Rendar. Never heard of 'em? That's because they never even appeared in a "Star Wars" film. Both come from the novel "Shadows of the Empire," one of several titles in the expanding "Star Wars" publishing industry.
One man who takes all of this quite seriously is George Lucas. He waived his option to receive an additional $500,000 bonus for directing the original "Star Wars," opting instead for the merchandising and sequel rights. The Force may be powerful, but there's nothing like good old market instincts.