Is this the rarest of all Star Wars figures? The figure known by collectors as the Vinyl Cape Jawa was one of the original series of a dozen figures that accompanied the release of the film in 1978 (jawas are the hooded creatures with glowing eyes who buy and sell droids).
The very first 'early bird' issues featured the character in a brown plastic cape but, after negative feedback that suggested it looked a little cheap, the design was changed to give Jawa a cloth cape.
Most surviving Vinyl Cape Jawa figures (they retailed at the time for 99p each), were made in the US by Kenner and can now command upwards of $5000. But earlier this year a British-manufactured figure, made by Palitoy of Coalville, near Leicester, appeared on eBay.
Authenticated by the US-based Action Figure Authority, it sold in its card and bubble plastic packaging for £11,300. Another has since emerged.
Thornaby auction house Vectis are tight-lipped as to where their example has come from but expect it to fetch between £6000 and £8000 at their television and film-related auction on October 24.
'Holy Grail' for Collectors
The Vinyl Cape Jawa was the first Star Wars figure to assume mythic status among collectors. But it was by no means the last. Here are four more models that have become part of Star Wars collecting legend:
- Double Telescoping Darth Vader, 1978
When the first wave of Star Wars 'early bird' action figure sets began arriving on the market in 1978, the original Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker figures came with 'double telescoping' rather than fixed light sabres. Luke Skywalker is scarce but Darth Vader and Ben Kenobi even rarer.
- Blue Snaggletooth, 1978
Another figure featured in the 'early bird' sets released in 1978 was Snaggletooth. The story goes that the design was produced from a grainy, black-and-white photograph of the character's head and both his scale and colours were wrong. It was quickly scrapped.
- Rocket Firing Boba Fett, 1980
The Rocket Firing Boba Fett was scheduled for mass production by the Kenner factory, but fears that children could potentially choke on the small red rocket led to its demise. Only a handful are known in two variations.
- Yak Face, 1985
When Kenner finally ceased production of Star Wars action figures in 1985 one design - Yak Face - had yet to be distributed to toy stores in the USA. Some were destroyed by the factory as overstock while others were sent to outlets in Europe and Canada.