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The 1978 Darth Vader double-telescoping figure that sold for $55,000 (£39,300) at Hake’s Americana of York, Pennsylvania.

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Early in the production process, the design was simplified, making these ‘double telescoping’ figures among the rarest of all Star Wars production figures.

Typically, Luke is the easiest to find because he was part of the ‘early bird’ mail-away promotion. Darth Vader and Ben Kenobi are much scarcer. ‘Carded and sealed’ examples of both of these figures from the well-known Russell Branton collection have set new price levels for Star Wars production figures in sales at Hake’s Americana of York, Pennsylvania.

Branton retained the Star Wars toys he played with as a child and began collecting seriously in 2003. His vast collection of vintage Kenner toys created from 1977-86 is now being dispersed across a series of auctions.

At Hake’s March 13-15 sale a 1978 Darth Vader double-telescoping figure reached $55,000 (£39,300) against a $35,000-$50,000 estimate.

Remarkable sums were achieved for Branton’s peerless figures from the original 1978 Kenner ‘12-back’ series. Both Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa were unpunched and graded by the USbased Action Figure Authority (AFA) at 95/100 Mint, the highest-rated examples known. The winning bids were $42,900 (£17,800) and $25,000 (£17,900) respectively.

This sale follows the November 2017 Hake’s auction which included one of only a few ‘double telescoping’ Obi-Wan Kenobi to have survived with its original ‘unpunched’ card. Like all figures in the collection, it had been authenticated and graded by the AFA, who awarded it 80/100 Near Mint.

It sold a little short of an eye-watering $75,000- 100,000 estimate, but at $65,000 (plus 18% buyer’s premium) it set an auction record for any Star Wars production figure.