Star Wars price wars! What drives the collectable Star Wars toy market!

Here is some valuable advice from renowned toy expert

There something magical behind the reason an aging toy goes up in value and becomes worth collecting.

A Star Wars super fan I know was searching for odd toys and merchandise linked to his favourite movie franchise. He told me he had seen a three-inch plastic toy figurine of a Star Wars character about to go on sale at auction and he asked me to guess what its value was.

“Oh, maybe £25! If it’s in a nice clean box,” I suggested. The Force was definitely not with me on this. This toy was actually marked up at a mind blowing £1,400 to £2,200. It is expected to beat that value by a significant margin when it goes under the hammer.

 Hammerhead under the hammer

I asked the fan which character from Star Wars was so in demand. Was it Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader some other main character? No, it was Hammerhead, a strange obscure creature with a lesser role in the early Star Wars adventures.

When I went on-line looking for this Hammerhead I had no problem finding him (I assume he is a male).  E-Bay and Amazon threw up dozens and they were a real bargain, some as little as £5. Hammerheads still in their original box were around at £60 which is hardly setting the collecting world on fire.  I was left scratching my own hammer-head. Some of these big valuations for Star Wars memorabilia seemed to be from another planet.

What makes this bubble-wrapped “on card” version of Hammerhead toy (Lot 5232) being auctioned by Vectis Auctions so collectable? There are others too, not quite as pricey, but still enough to merit a sharp in-take of breath. A Star Wars AT-AT Driver for instance is listed at £1,200 and a Darth Vader at £200.

 Inside view from a toy guru

I had a chat with a lady who can shed light on the collectors’ market for Star Wars toys. Kathy Taylor works for Vectis, the world-famous toy auctioneers, and has been around vintage toys for more than two decades. What Kathy does not know about the market, you could write of the back of a matchbox.

Kathy explained that partly it is about knowing your toy history and applying it to what you see. Those in the know will be aware that "Palitoy", the Leicester-based toy company, which closed in the 1994, remains an iconic toy brand. The company famously manufactured Action Man and Play-Doh as well as Star Wars figurines and playsets.

Palitoy made Star Wars figures in large numbers, but so few survive today and hardly any in the condition of this authentic Hammerhead specimen. Hence a very high valuation,” said Kathy.

There can be many reasons why these seemingly trivial toys become so sought after. The Darth Vader, listed with Vectis at £200-£300 was bubble wrapped on a card designed for another more famous character, Chewbacca. A simple packaging error changed the game in terms of collectability and value.

 Time to look for insurance?

It’s been estimated that one in twenty households could be storing Star Wars memorabilia in their homes, often hidden in the loft or cupboards. 

A survey by LV= insurance of 2,000 people found 36pc of owned toys considered "collectables", from Beanie Babies to Hornby train sets. At least 5pc said the owned Star Wars items. 

An LV= company spokesman said: “Our research suggests millions of people have old collectables like Star Wars toys, which they may have even forgotten about.”

I assume the LV= survey was designed to make people aware they should insure these collectables against damage, loss or theft.

Kathy Taylor, says even old toys, which have long lost their original box, could be worth hundreds of pounds. And just because China is mass manufacturing Star Wars toys does not mean they won’t become a lucrative investment.

“New Star Wars movies will be made and a new generation of fans will emerge. It is worth buying toys now, as children who aren't even born yet will become collectors," Kathy said. “I believe the franchise will carry on globally - and vintage products are in short supply.”

Buyer beware

Kathy’s top tip for those looking in the attic or down the settee for older toys - and this applies not just to Star Wars - is to be alert for small items linked to a particular toy. For example, there was one Luke Skywalker play pack packaged with the hero carrying a black blaster weapon.

“Kids, being what they are, tended easily to lose this blaster weapon,” said Kathy. “Today if you have one, it is worth lots.”

But beware trying to buy these missing accessories on line. Kathy says a small cottage industry has grown up of people making their own versions of the missing accessories.

“They look OK, but unless but it is genuine they won’t add the true value. These attempted reproductions are usually made out of the wrong plastic or aren’t the colour of the original. They can be spotted by experts.

“My message is - buyer beware. You might think you’ve restored the toy to its original state but expert eyes will recognise a reproduction.”

May the Toys and Star Wars figurines be with you - and may they always be collectable!


The two high value lots at the Vectis Auction both sold. The Hammerhead I mentioned sold for a disappointing £850 having been valued at upto £2,000 I recall….but get this….The Darth Vader which had been incorrectly boxed in a Chewbacca container sold for £1,600 when it was only valued at £2-300!


Dermot Martin

Have a look at our RARE Star Wars Collectables including a signed Jeremy Bulloch “Boba Fett” Framed Presentation! View the range here >>