A Star Wars toy unearthed from a loft after nearly 40 years is one of the rarest examples ever found by a Derbyshire auction house.
The toy, a Tie Bomber ‘Authentic Imperial Spacecraft’ from film The Empire Strikes Back, is expected to spark major interest among fans of the cult movies ahead of the annual worldwide Star Wars Celebration day - May the 4th Be With You. The event was sparked by a play on words from film phrase ‘May the Force Be With You’.
The die cast metal toy, untouched and in its original box, was found by Steve Fulford, toy expert at Hansons Auctioneers, at a free valuation event at Marlborough Square Methodist Church in Coalville, Leicestershire, this week. (April 16)
He said: “I’m really excited about this. The Tie Bomber is the rarest of the die cast Stars Wars toys and few have survived in their sealed boxes.
“The toy was only released in America and in relatively small numbers. Around 75,000 were made. The spacecraft appeared for a few seconds in The Empire Strikes Back and it’s thought its minor role in the film led to poor sales and the cancellation of the product in 1981.
“It’s amazing to find one but it should be no surprise it’s turned up in Coalville. It was once home to The Palitoy factory which produced Star Wars toys and the owner of the item used to work there. The Tie Bomber was actually made in Cincinnati, Ohio, by Kenner Products but a note on the box tells us it was a sample. Perhaps it was sent to Coalville for assessment.
“With the huge demand for Star Wars toys Hansons has witnessed in the last 12 months, the price could skyrocket into orbit.”
The Tie Bomber has been given an estimate of £250-£350 ahead of its sale on June 20 at Hansons in Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire, but could easily smash its guide price.
Last year, 60 vintage Palitoy Star War toys more than trebled their original estimate of £2,000-£3,000 to sell for £9,240 at Hansons. Lots with estimates of £40-£60 sold for hundreds of pounds. For example, a Star Wars Return of the Jedi tri-logo carded action figure, Yak Face, made £700 from a £40-60 estimate.
The 77-year-old owner of the Tie Bomber, from Coalville, who didn’t wish to be named, said: “I was a clerical worker at Palitoy for 12 years from 1983 to 1995 and, from time to time, surplus stock was sold to staff. I assume this toy was sent from America to test whether it would sell in the UK.
“My son used to like Star Wars and I often bought toys home for him. For some reason, this one was never opened and I found it in the loft. If I bought it in 1983 it’s been there for 36 years. When I heard Steve Fulford was coming to do toy valuations in Coalville, I decided to take it to show him.”
David Wilson Turner, head of the toy department at Hansons, said: “When original, vintage Star Wars toys are untouched and in their original packaging, they’re unmissable for collectors.”
The Tie Bomber will be sold in a Toy Auction at Hansons, Heage Lane, Etwall, on June 20, which also features other Star Wars lots. Entries invited until May 31. To find out more, email [email protected].
Hansons valuers will be back at Marlborough Square Methodist Church, Marlborough Square, Coalville, Leicestershire, LE67 3WD, on May 14, 10am-1pm. To find out more, visit www.hansonsauctioneers.co.uk