Don't Get Cocky: How to Invest in Vintage Star Wars Action Figures
While traditional investors might think it's a trap, collectibles performed extraordinarily well in recent years. But, do Star Wars toys hit the mark?
Updated Nov 18, 2022
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If there's one piece of culture that has permanently made its stake in the late 1970s and early ‘80s zeitgeist, it's Star Wars. The popularity of Star Wars has rebounded time and time again, making it one of the rare franchises that's ubiquitous across many generations and cultures. Love it or hate it, Star Wars laid the foundation for the genre that we know today as science fiction.
When it comes to serious vintage toy collecting, your sights should only be set on ones that are sealed and graded.
Star Wars established the tone, theme, and graphics that are so familiar to cinema fans today. Star Wars was an aesthetic that everyone, from kids to grandparents, vibed with. And that also extends to vintage Star Wars merchandise.
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Star Wars action figures are as quintessential a part of the franchise's history as the movies are, and there's no shortage of investors trying to get their hands on them. While there have been tons of Star Wars action figures produced over the past half-century, not all of them will be good investments. So charge your kyber crystal before you explore the rarest and priciest vintage Star Wars Toys.
Investing in vintage Star Wars toys
Investing in vintage Star Wars toys
Without a doubt, there's a fortune to be made in vintage Star Wars collectibles. But, a toy lightsaber you got 20 Christmases ago isn't going to cut it. You see, the Star Wars franchise licensed its action figures and other toys to different companies over the years. While Star Wars merch from the past decade has been made by Disney, those aren't nearly as coveted as the Star Wars action figures produced by Kenner.
A 1978 Kenner Darth Vader action figure sold for over $25K on April 14, 2022.
Kenner Star Wars action figures
In 1976, Kenner was the first company to accept the license to produce Star Wars action figures. The film was theatrically released the following year and Star Wars became a hit faster than Han Solo made the Kessel run. This cemented Star Wars as the leading Sci-Fi movie franchise and made Kenner's exclusive toy deal even more lucrative.
Kenner's Star Wars figures became an instant commercial success after the Star Wars saga hitting cinemas drove their astronomical demand. These were such valuable Star Wars toys that, by the Christmas season of 1977, Kenner couldn't keep up with demand. In fact, they were forced to sell early bird certificates that could later be redeemed for the first four figures: Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, and R2-D2 (and a mail-in form to get the display stand).
Kenner—a small toy company that unknowingly bit off more than it could chew—was the only licensed Star Wars collectibles producer throughout the first film saga. Star Wars toys produced by Kenner in the later 70s early 80s era are some of the most desirable collectibles to this day. While the company was acquired by Hasbro in the early 90s, the Kenner name stays relevant well into the Disney Star Wars era.
1978 Star Wars 'Early Bird' set
The history of this toy may seem trivial after five decades, but it's the story behind this toy that drives up its value. The Star Wars 'Early Bird' package was highly limited and sought-after from the get-go and had the attention of not just fanatics and collectors, but also parents and news media. The highly unusual, yet, successful marketing tactics employed by Kenner made this toy an infamous keepsake; An elegant toy for a more civilized age.
A 1978 Kenner Star Wars 'Early Bird' set offered on Rally for $12.5K in Feb. 2022.
These days, the value of a sealed Star Wars collection set is mostly determined by its condition. Like all toy collectibles, the condition of valuable star wars toys is usually assessed on a 100-point scale similar to PSA grading for trading cards. To get a ballpark price, let's look at a set initially offered on the collectibles investing platform Rally.
This set was graded 75, or near mint condition (NM), and 1,250 shares were offered to investors at $10 each. That makes the initial value of this collection of vintage Star Wars figures $12,500, which is approximately the price most late 1970s Star Wars action figures can fetch. That's a presumably fair price for a valuable star wars collectible considering 157 Rally users invested in it.
However, there's a light side and a dark side to pricing valuable Star Wars toys according to past sales.
1978 Kenner Darth Vader figure
The market for Star Wars collectibles surged as new Star Wars movies, series, and toys came out and generated hype among both new and old fans. Increased interest leads to greater demand for vintage Star Wars collectibles, but also higher speculation over their prices. This could make the market for Star Wars toys more volatile as they can be overvalued as easily as they can be undervalued.
The 1977 Kenner Darth Vader figure is a perfect example of how speculation and newfound demand could lead to wildly different prices for very similar items. One Darth Vader graded 85 that was listed on the Otis (now Public) investing platform received an offer last March for $19,600, followed by a $25,420 one the very next day.
Price chart of 1977 Kenner Darth Vader figure ($7.5K). Source: rallyrd.com
But in June, a Kenner Star Wars figure also rated 85 was offered on Rally for a total value of $7,500. That's a 70% price difference for two identical assets, at least as far as we can tell. So, either someone paid way too much for a Darth Vader toy or 281 investors got a great bargain on Rally. Nevertheless, investors also took home a handsome 127% return on Darth Vader.
What's the most valuable vintage Star Wars collectible?
What's the most valuable vintage Star Wars collectible?
The Vintage Kenner Darth Vader figure is an anecdote that perfectly demonstrates how much collectibles prices can vary; Two Star Wars collectibles that're practically the same in every regard might fetch radically different prices. Factors like current market conditions, the release of new movies or shows, and the popularity of particular characters are just a few of the things that impact the price of star wars collectibles.
That last factor is the main reason why prices for Kenner's Star Wars Millenium Falcon toy spaceship are so high. The Millenium Falcon—considered a supporting character by diehard Star Wars fans—is arguably the most coveted Star Wars toy produced by Kenner. Though most Millenium Falcons have sold for $200-$500 in recent years, those unboxed ones aren't exactly 'investment grade.'
Price chart of 1979 Kenner Millenium Falcon spaceship ($50K). Source: rallyrd.com
But, when it comes to serious vintage toy collecting, your sights should only be set on ones that are sealed and graded. An unboxed Kenner Millenium Falcon is undoubtedly a super rare find, making it potentially one of the most lucrative toys you can invest in. And, if you're looking to invest, it's your lucky day. Rally has an unboxed Millenium Falcon trading on its platform for just $5 a share.
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Star Wars comic books
If you're a dedicated Star Wars collector or just a film fan who happens to invest in collectibles, then the 1977 Marvel Star Wars #1 comic book should definitely be on your radar. This was the first Star Wars comic book written by legendary writer Stan Lee and is probably the most valuable Star Wars collectible on the market. The best part is that Rally has a copy of Star Wars #1 you can invest in right now starting at $4.70.
Price chart of 1977 Marvel Star Wars #1 ($50K). Source: rallyrd.com
Star Wars #1 is one of the rarest comic books in existence since there are only about 1,500 copies of the 35-cent variant. What makes it even more valuable is its significance in the intertwining histories of Star Wars and Marvel Comics—Lee was hesitant to adopt the space opera into a comic book, but Star Wars' popularity ended up being what saved the struggling comic book company. Marvel Star Wars #1 is the most expensive Star Wars collectible on Rally worth $56,400 (that's cheap compared to the top vintage comic books).
The fear of loss is a path to the dark side, so if you're looking to start investing in Star Wars collectibles, then platforms like Rally are your best bet. You might be able to find a good deal on a Kenner Boba Fett on eBay or come across the Han Solo figure you always wanted at an auction house, but that means also dealing with the hassle of bidding wars and the anxiety of having your collectibles shipped from a galaxy far, far away.
The more convenient way to invest in Star Wars collectibles is through a collectibles investing platform. The widest selection of Star Wars collectibles you can invest in can currently be found on Rally. If you've got an eye for deals, one deceptively valuable Kenner Star Wars figure is a 1978 Vinyl Cape Jawa with an 80 grade. Though its market cap sits at over $35K, you can get in on this one starting at under $4 a share. That's cheaper than a gallon of Bantha milk.
Price chart of 1978 Kenner Vinyl Cape Jawa figure ($35.55K). Source: rallyrd.com
If sand people aren't your thing, Rally has you covered. They have figures of popular force-yielding Star Wars characters like Obi-Wan and Luke Skywalker you can invest in. While the total worth of Rally's Ben Kenobi figure stands at $20K, it's trading on the platform for just $10 a share. Similarly, Luke Skywalker is trading at $5.70 per share, but its total value is hovering over $28K.
While you can do all the vintage Star Wars investing you desire on Rally, they offer more than just old toys. Rally is the destination for investing in all types of collectibles, from luxury watches to pokemon cards and fine wine to fractional NFTs—need we go on? If you're looking to diversify your collectibles portfolio but don't want to put all your younglings in one Jedi Temple, then Rally is the best place to start.