Is it time to sell my vintage Star Wars figures?
March 25, 2009 4:08 PM   Subscribe

Is it time to sell my vintage Star Wars figures?

I saw this post on Uncrate about a complete set of vintage SW figures for $2,700-$3,500. I don't have a complete collection - far from it. But I have a couple dozen loose figures and three Empire edition figures in their original packaging (Darth Vader, C3PO and a rebel soldier). I didn't keep them as an investment, but they don't take up a lot of space in a box so I kept them around. I don't have (and won't have) any kids to pass them down to.

Is ebay the best place to sell/research the value on these? More importantly, is this a good time? I think I read somewhere that there is a Star Wars live action TV show in the works, but I tend to doubt that will be relevant. I'm thinking values may have leveled off.
posted by friarjohn to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I know quite literally nothing about collectibles and collecting, but I can't imagine that prices for collectibles are relatively high with the economy in the state it's in.
posted by CRM114 at 4:31 PM on March 25, 2009

How long are you willing to hang on to them? If you wait for the release of either a)another movie, or, better yet, b)the Blu-Ray (or whatever's next) release, you might be able to make some more bank. Or, as noted, above, just waiting until the economy's better might be worthwhile.

If it's no big deal to keep them, and you don't desperately need the money, I'd say hang on to 'em.
posted by box at 5:12 PM on March 25, 2009

I got rid of almost all of my Star Wars toys when I turned 14 (waaay back in 1985). I had a whole bunch of figures and ships, including the little AT-AT and the big one, and Slave I. I sold them to a collector. My mom (the ultimate materialist) thought I was crazy. I've never regretted my decision, but, then again, I don't collect anything except for certain kinds of rare books. So I'm no expert.

For whatever it's worth, I think one of the challenges of trading Star Wars collectibles is the sheer volume of crap toys and figurines that are continuously issued by the franchise. It's probably not worth your time trying to sell the loose figurines. It would be interesting to see what the original packaged figures might fetch on eBay.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:52 PM on March 25, 2009

Loose figurines won't get you much. Some comics and collectibles stores will buy them off you, but not always, and probably not with things the way they are at the moment. Certainly can't hurt to do some research on eBay to see what the Vader, C3PO and rebel soldier will go for, though.

Or maybe, I don't know, keep them around for your (potential) kids?
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:42 PM on March 25, 2009

Vintage Darth Vader in box from Return of the Jedi is going for $120 US, so figure you can get a bit more than that for an Empire Strikes Back Vader (still has the retractable light sabre). I saw a C3P0 on ebay from StarWars going for $300, But I'm guissing a 3P0 in box from ESB is worth a fair amount too because he should be able to come apart meaning there are a lot of incomplete ones out there.
posted by furtive at 6:44 PM on March 25, 2009

Online price guide to Star Wars figures gives $85 for Vader and $90 for C3P0, $45 for Rebel soldier. Also has prices for loose figures. Don't know how old it is but should help give you ballpark info.
posted by furtive at 6:59 PM on March 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: CRM, can you believe the economy was the last thing on my mind?

I'll probably just hang onto them for a while longer -- I'm not in any big hurry. Oh yeah, I forgot I also have an X-wing and a Bespin Cloud Car. Still, they don't take up a lot of space. I used to have the Millennium Falcon but I don't recall what happened to it.

Thanks for the link, furtive. At least it's a place to start.
posted by friarjohn at 8:03 PM on March 25, 2009

Last I checked, the little plastic peices, guns and whatnot fetched big prices because most collectors cannot find the right match for all their loose peices. If you really need the cash, match up all your "guns" with the loose figures you have and you can sell off just the exta peices for a little pocket money.
posted by emjay at 7:45 AM on March 26, 2009

Response by poster: Good call. I'm pretty sure I have all the guns and bits for all the loose figures.
posted by friarjohn at 10:33 AM on March 26, 2009

Best answer: Seems as if you've already decided but I thought I'd throw in my two cents. I know a thing or two about SW collectibles... (searching for arniec Star Wars on google pretty much shows why)

While the Star Wars Clone Wars has helped gain interest in Star Wars amongst kids, the lack of movies has created somewhat of a lull in Star Wars collecting overall. The "fair weather fans" have moved on to new things, and a general saturation of the market for every type of collectible has seen a lot of prices drop on Star Wars collectibles in the past two years. An item I paid $800 for in 2002 (Obi-Wan Kenobi saber) now regularly sells for just over $100.

But what's happened to you seems to be what's happened to a lot of people lately...they find some Star Wars items, hear about people making a fortune off old toys, and say "Hey! I have those!"

The truth is, loose Star Wars figures aren't worth much if they're common figures. The most common figures are from the first Star Wars movie, the Luke in white outfit, Obi-Wan in brown, etc. They're the most common as they were released movie after movie after movie. These are commonly found in garage sales for $1 or flea markets for $3.

Having the weapons, original weapons not repros, helps. But still the rarity of the figure matters.

CARDED figures go for a lot, especially if card condition is good, and the older the card the more expensive the figure. But loose...well, I just bought over 100 loose figures, WITH weapons, for $150 from a local collector. Was it a full set? No, there were duplicates. Were they all perfect? No, the snowtroopers were various shades of yellow, etc. But they certainly weren't thousands of dollars either.

Some of the rare figures I know of off the top of my head are: vinyl caped Jawa, R2 with pop-up lightsaber (ROTJ), Yakface (ROTJ), Yoda with BROWN snake (ESB), and so on.

But the link you provided to UCrate...there's something else about this listing that matters, and that's the AFA grading. Collectors have mixed opinions about AFA, but AFA (Action Figure Authority) if you're not familiar is a grading company for action figures. You can find their page at Their cost for grading a Star Wars-sized loose figure ranges from $16 to $150 depending on item value and how fast you want it graded. When AFA grades your figure they look at the condition the figure is in and determine a "grade". Things like scratches on the figures from play or improper storage, missing paint from wear, yellowing of figures from storage and age, etc. will all contribute to reduce a figure's grade.

(an aside: AFA used to be only for carded figures and would grade based on card quality, bubble clarity, etc. They have since moved into loose grading).

An AFA graded figure sells for a LOT more than a non-AFA graded figure in the open market, like eBay. Even Hasbro has gotten into the act with AFA graded figures on their direct sales toy site. A brand new modern G.I. Joe figure from Hasbro costs $7.99; AFA graded it costs more... For AFA 9.0 it's $50; AFA9.25 it's $60; AFA9.5 it's $70. Some collectors roll their eyes at AFA grading for a number of reasons-- the cost of grading; the extreme amount figures cost when graded; the fact that many people believe they can grade with their eyes and don't need an official seal; the fact that once sealed in an AFA case figures can still be damaged and degrade. However other collectors like AFA grading because you know you are getting a quality item.

So here you are getting a lot of AFA graded figures. However if AFA grading is unimportant, collectors know that this full set can be bought at a much cheaper price piece-by-piece.

As for timing, right now collectors are in a lull. The economy has hit collector hard. Several Star Wars items have had edition sizes reduced to satisfy the smaller collecting market. The live action TV series is a carrot Lucasfilm continues to dangle, and has since 2005. But its original premiere in 2008 has been pushed to '09, then '10. Now I hear '11 or '12 is the earliest we will see the live action show, but as it will not feature any characters from the old movies I doubt it will have any more impact on vintage toy sales than the current cartoon has.

I would say that values have fallen sharply in the past 4 years, but are now fairly level. I don't think for loose figures you're going to get a ton of money; perhaps $250 or so, but which figures you have greatly influences that, as does the existence and condition of their accessories. But that amount isn't really going to go up in the near future (meaning next 5-10 years).

So given all that...good luck. And remember, eBay sets the prices of everything nowadays. You can look up your specific figures there to see what they go for loose.
posted by arniec at 7:07 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow, thank you for all that. I'm not trying to cash in big and make a small fortune. If they were taking up a lot of space I'd probably just sell them for whatever and be done with it. But they all fit in a shoe box in a larger box with the two ships.

FWIW, I am a Star Wars fan of a sort, I'm just not really a collector.
posted by friarjohn at 10:58 AM on March 27, 2009

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