Why Are Star Wars Toys so Expensive?


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The Star Wars franchise is one of the most successful in the world. The first movie was released in 1977, and decades later, the franchise is still around and making more money than ever. The original action figures are worth more than most action figures from any other franchise. Even the new toys carry a high price tag. 

Why are Star Wars toys so expensive? The success of the Star Wars franchise is undoubtedly the reason for the price tag on Star Wars toys and figurines and the fact that most toys were produced in limited numbers. The original toys are seen as collector’s items, making them worth more than many other movie action figures and toys, and the value doesn’t seem to be going down anytime soon. 

Whether you are a collector or not, if you have some of the toys that came out when the first movies came out, they could be worth thousands today. Some are worth more than that. I have included a list of the five most expensive Star Wars toys plus a bonus item, but before you read about the toys, let’s learn more about why the toys have managed to become so expensive in the first place. 

What Makes Star Wars Toys so Expensive?

There are many factors that contribute to the price tag of Star Wars toys in today’s market. Whether you are looking at collectible items or mass-produced toys, these toys are some of the more expensive ones you’ll see. 

A lot of this has to do with the fact that there were collectibles items produced. Actually, the first twelve action figures that were produced and distributed are considered collector’s items. They carry this title because they were produced in such small quantities. Some of the action figures only made it to the prototype phase and never made it to market, so there are only a few in existence. 

Why were the first action figures only produced in small numbers? Well, to put it plainly, Kenner, the company that produced the action figures, new the market and they knew the Stars Wars story. It was evident that this movie was going to make loads of money, which inevitably leads to sought after merchandise. And there isn’t much more sought after than merchandise that was only distributed to a few locations. 

The history behind the franchise: 

It all began on May 25th, 1977. Well, at least that’s when it began for Star Wars fans everywhere. This was the day, 40 years ago, that the original Star Wars film was released. Fans waited in lines a mile long for tickets to see this game-changer of a movie. 

The first Star Wars was the movie that revolutionized the world of special effects. It has since become the greatest space opera of all time. For so many, it changed the meaning of the term blockbuster and brought modern movie merchandising into the world. After the release of the first movie, movie fans of all genres expected more from their films. They wanted those high-budget effects in every movie they watched, and this still holds true today.

Before the first Star Wars was released with the complementary 12 original action figures, no one was tapping into the market of movie merchandising. George Lucas revolutionized the field in this aspect. It gave consumers a way to keep the movie alive long after it was over. Today, people will head out for what is called “Force Friday.” It is the Friday before any Star Wars movie comes out, and is designated for buying all the new merchandise. 

The movie franchise even unconsciously created a day for itself with the signature catchphrase, “May the force be with you.” May the fourth works as a perfect play on words to this unforgettable catchphrase, and now it is to the point where everyone pretty much acknowledges this day as an unofficial holiday of sorts. 

In fact, on the 2011 UK census, there was an overwhelming 175,000 plus citizens that registered as “Jedi” and following “Jediism.” Making this the seventh most popular “religion” in the UK. 

The story: 

Although the movies have revolutionized and started things like modern movie mass merchandising and special effects, it is still miraculous that the franchise has continued to stay in our lives and thrive over the last 40 years. Many psychologists have even tried studying the psychology behind the movie and how it relates to humankind. 

What is it that makes these movies so great? 

There are a few key things George Lucas did when telling the story that ensured the films’ success: 

  • Followed the “Hero’s Journey” formula 
  • Created one of the most memorable villains in cinema at that time
  • Created a line-up of just as memorable supporting characters

Moviegoers didn’t know what to expect when the movie first came out. No one had ever put together a movie quite like this. At first, people were mainly excited to see the revolutionary special effects, but when they got a taste of the galaxy far, far away, well, people couldn’t get enough. 

Aside from the special effects and legendary merchandising pursuit, Star Wars was written in a way that gives it a timeless quality. No matter how many times you’ve seen the movies, you simply can’t get sick of them. Despite the setting of the movie taking place in outer space, the happiness, love, suspense, and sorrow are things that will always be prevalent in human nature. 

What brings such emotion alive? The characters. George Lucas has done an impeccable job developing each character in the films. Without them, the story would not be. Good and bad, they all play their part, and they’re all valuable, just like the action figures that have been manufactured and collected over the years. 

Hero’s Journey formula: 

Dr. Travis Langley, a Psychiatrist and author of the book Star Wars Psychology: Dark Side of the Mind, has done his fair share of studying the psychology behind why the public fell in love with the story as much as they have. He has stated that, in a sense, psychology overtly shaped Star Wars. 

Unlike many other authors and creators that subconsciously follow steps of a hero’s journey, and miss major details in the process, George Lucas deliberately followed a formula. A formula outlined by Joseph Campbell and influence from Carl Jung’s writings about the power of archetypes and myth. George Lucas wanted there to be as much psychology and philosophy as magic and sci-fi, and this formula allowed him to do just that. 

The Hero’s Journey is a twelve-step formula that outlines what a character goes through in a story to come to the story’s hero. The twelve steps include: 

  • The ordinary world
  • The call to adventure
  • Refusal of the call
  • Meeting with the mentor
  • Crossing the threshold
  • Tests, allies and enemies
  • Approach
  • The ordeal
  • The reward
  • The road back
  • The resurrection
  • Return with the elixir

George Lucas was said to be having trouble finishing his original story until he came across Joseph Campbell and these twelve steps. The journey of Luke Skywalker closely follows this formula. It helped put George Lucas’ ideas into motion and help him finalize the story. Lucas also modeled his hero from the great hero’s in history like The Cowboy Movie and The Samurai. 

The answer as to why Star Wars has continued to grow is unclear, even to psychologists. The most logical answer is that it has a story that applies to all ages. All of the trials and tribulations combined with the loyalty and friendship between characters is something that is relatable no matter what age you are. People will always want that connection. 

That is also why the story will never die. Star Wars has gone down in history for being the pioneer of many different things already, and the story itself is sure never to be forgotten. 

Darth Vader: 

Darth Vader is the most memorable villain in all of cinema, especially when the first movie came out over forty years ago. In 1977, the black suit, helmet, and cape made Darth Vader, the most intimidating villain of the time. You simply can’t help but love something about him, though. He is a master of the “Force,” able to choke someone with a single thought. 

Despite being incredibly feared and ruthless, Vader ends up saving his son Luke Skywalker from being murdered by Emperor Palpatine, dying in the process. This selfless act was seemingly so uncharacteristic of the villain that he couldn’t help but win our hearts. 

Line-up of characters: 

The films showcase a long list of characters. Naturally, some are more developed than others, but regardless, the line-up of developed characters allows the audience to better connect to the story. If a viewer is able to connect to a character, than the viewer is more likely to remember the character and the movie. 

George Lucas did an amazing job of creating a diverse line-up of characters for anyone one person to relate to. This is another reason the franchise has seen so much success. 

There are five major traits that every human character follows: 

  • Conscientiousness 
  • Agreeableness 
  • Neuroticism 
  • Openness
  • Extraversion

A high score in conscientiousness means the character is organized and self-directed, while a low score reads more towards spontaneity and carelessness. If the character is high in extraversion, this means he is outgoing, while a low score leans more towards introversion. 

  • Obi-Wan Kenobi shows high conscientiousness while Anakin Skywalker is more disorganized. 
  • Emperor Palpatine, Anakin Skywalker, and Han Solo all show traits of low agreeableness because they all have a tendency to put their own needs before others. 
  • High scorers would be Luke Skywalker, Princess Amidala and Yoda
  • C-3PO shows high Neuroticism because he is constantly worrying about himself as well as other characters
    • Qui-Gon Jinn has a more chill attitude which would land him a low score in this trait
  • Luke Skywalker is a good example of high openness because he is desperate to explore new horizons
    • C-3PO has a low score in this area because he is really only happy when he is in familiar circumstances
  • The outgoing characters or high scoring extraversion characters would be Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2. 
    • The introverts of the bunch are the Jedi Knights, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda.

Whether the viewer is aware of these traits or not, these are some of the things we look for in other people when we are trying to relate to them. The fact that there are so many different personalities that come through in the films is one of the main reasons the story has had so much success over the years. 

The Universe: 

After the release of the first movie in 1977, it immediately surpassed Jaws to become the highest-grossing film of all time. The fan base was craving more. This was when the expanded universe was born. The first book of the expanded universe is called Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster and was published in 1978. The book takes place during the time period between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. 

With the publishing of this book, the Expanded Universe was born and began to blossom over the years. It wasn’t until 1987 when the Star Wars role-playing game came out that the spark truly ignited the flame of the Expanded Universe. So many different stories and came out during this time that pretty much patched every hole in time within the trilogies. 

The New Jedi Order: 

One of the stories even featured Luke Skywalker falling to the dark side. These books showcased new and exciting possibilities for the universe and kept the fan base mesmerized. However, it wasn’t until the rare alien species, Yuuzhan Vong, was introduced that things really got flipped upside down. The storyline fell under the banner of The New Jedi Order and was compiled of 19 books, three short stories, and three online novellas. 

The expanded universe helped to create a world apart from the world of Star Wars, but it still felt like Star Wars. Many of the main characters appeared in these 19 stories and fought the alien invaders. This only kept the fans more intrigued and gave them more life events to be able to relate with the characters. 

The combination of these three factors is what has turned Star Wars into what it is today. All of the creative minds that were involved in creating not only the original universe of Star Wars but also the expanded universe turned this franchise into a classic. George Lucas didn’t only capture the hearts of fans with his story, but he captured the minds’ of creatives around the world. Everyone wanted a piece of the pie. 

It is easy to see how much of real-life George Lucas managed to portray within a sci-fi universe. A created a world in another galaxy that felt so close to home for all who watched it. 

The demographic: 

Believe it or not, George Lucas himself stated that the movie was originally created for 12-year-olds. Continuing by saying it was a film designed to show kids on the cusp of entering the real world what matters most: 

  • Trust
  • Honesty
  • Friendship
  • Living on the light side
  • Avoiding the dark side

He also later said in other words, “Basically, don’t kill people and be compassionate and love people. Basically, that’s all Star Wars is.” 

That said, the franchise is now expanded from the original trilogy and is 40 years old. So, those twelve-year-old kids that were fans in 1977 are in their fifties now. The magic behind the franchise is that not only do these fifty-year-old adults still love the films, but their kids and grandkids also love the films as well. 

Kids today are privileged with beautiful, big-budget cinemas all the time, but they still watch the original Star Wars movies and love them all the same. This just goes to show that a pioneer will always be appreciated, and that is exactly what the Star Wars franchise is on so many levels. 

Now that the franchise has expanded its universe and created other things like video games, tv shows, and kids’ books, the demographic has broadened immensely. Today, the demographic is considered to be from two to 70 years of age. Not many other franchises in history can say the same thing for themselves, and a lot of it has to do with just how long the story has been progressing. 

The 6 Most Expensive Star Wars Toys

Now that you know more about why Star Wars toys are so expensive, here is a list of the six most expensive Star Wars toys to date. These six toys are listed in order, and the price of the most expensive toy will surely blow your mind.

Although, if you are a dedicated star wars fan, then it may not come as that much of a surprise.

1. Anakin Skywalker of 1985

Part of The Power of the Force collection released by Kenner, this Anakin Skywalker action figure is special for a couple of reasons. It features a special collector’s coin inside, which automatically increases its value to Star Wars collectors. It was also only released in Canada. 

One of the coolest things about this figure, though, is that it is the pre-DVD release Anakin Skywalker. There was a lot of sadness expressed by fans when he was replaced with Hayden Christensen for the DVD release, so the fact that the figurine features the original Anakin makes it all the more valuable. 

In a mint condition original packaging, this action figure is worth $7500 today. Truly a rare and prized item. 

2. LEGO Millennium Falcon of 2007

LEGO has made it on the list again with this incredible model set. The LEGO Millennium Falcon original cost $500 and is made up of 51,000 pieces. Because of this, the Millennium Falcon is one of the most expensive and extensive LEGO model sets ever released. The company truly went all out for this one. 

A completely constructed model can get you a nice $1000 or more, but if you have one of these models in the original undamaged box, it is worth $9000 or more today. 

3. C-3PO gold Minifigure

LEGO does it again with this Minifigure. A C-3PO Minifigure made entirely of solid gold. There are only five in existence, making them extremely rare, and they were given out at prizes to winners of contests. Seeing one of these in the market place is an even more rare occasion. 

The LEGO company purposefully produced low numbers for most of their Star Wars Minifigures, with the intention of adding value and making items collectors would go nuts for. They knew what kind of a success Star Wars could potentially be, and they made figurines to complement the success. 

If you are looking to sell your solid gold C-3PO, you can easily get $10,000 for it. As for the people hoping to score one in the future, “May the force be with you.”

4. Vinyl Cloak Jawa of 1977

This action figure is based on characters in the original Star Wars film called the “sand people.” They aren’t typically a fan favorite by any means, but this is a perfect example of how a limited supply affects the market value over-popularity. 

The original figure was produced with a vinyl cloak, and it is this edition that is worth so much to collectors. Soon after the distribution of the small number of these vinyl cloak Jawas, the cloak was switched to a cloth one. Kenner thought the vinyl made the figurine look cheap, so they changed it. 

This is one of the most important action figures to get authenticated before purchasing from someone. There was a very limited amount that was made, but the amount of fakes that have been created is unimaginable. Some people even question if the vinyl cloak is even real. 

All that said, if you are looking to buy or sell your Jawa action figure, the going value for them is roughly $18,000. There was one sold at an auction for $53,000, though. 

5. Unpainted rocket-launching Boba Fett prototype

Out of all of the Star Wars action figures, the unpainted prototype of the rocket-launching Boba Fett is the holy grail. It doesn’t get more rare or valuable than this figurine. So much so that a lot of people consider it a myth rather than an actuality. The number of these in existence is unknown, but it is so valuable because it was a mail-in proof of purchase prize, and it had a firing rocket launcher. 

It is said that the original design was seen as a choking hazard and was forced to be changed. The prototype does exist, though, and if you managed to get your hands on an unpainted version, you have reached the holy grail of Star Wars collector’s toys. 

There is no question that people will pay thousands for this figurine. In fact, one sold on eBay for $22,500 a few years ago. 

The following items listed are high dollar items and memorabilia from the films. They may not be considered toys, but they are certainly worth mentioning. 

6. R2D2 Droid Movie Memorabilia

The last item on the list is an item used in the original trilogy of Star Wars movies. This item is mentioned as a bonus because its value made a name for itself in the history books. 

In 2017, the 43-inch tall R2D2 droid that was used in the original trilogy was sold at a California auction. The droid sold to a Star Wars fan for $2.76 million. This price tag makes it the most expensive item ever sold in a movie memorabilia auction. This number surpassed the lightsaber Luke Skywalker used in the first two films, as well as Darth Vader’s helmet from the original film. 

Finding one of these movie memorabilia items for sale again may not ever happen, but if it does, you can be sure that the price will only go up. The Star Wars franchise is one of the most profitable and noteworthy franchises ever, and the movie props are likely to never drop in market value. 

Pricing:

If you are like most of the people around the world, and you didn’t manage to snag one of these toys back when they initially released, you may have a tough time finding one for sale. That said, if you keep an eye out, you may not find the exact toy you are looking for, but Star Wars memorabilia does occasionally get resold. 

Pricing is really dependent on what people are willing to spend on the toy at that time. Prices can and do fluctuate, which is another thing to keep in mind. Before you purchase one of these expensive keepsakes, it is always best to have it checked out for authenticity before purchase. 

Star Wars has become a franchise that expands over generations. Even though the last movie is about to come out, we certainly have not seen the last of Star Wars. The fact that the story has continued for so long only proves its magnitude and value even further. Star Wars is a classic, and there aren’t many homes in the world that haven’t heard of it.

Brad

Sci-fi lover and Tech Nerd.

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