As the much-anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens prepares to roar into theaters on Friday, the franchise’s enduring legacy and multigenerational appeal was on full display at a Sotheby’s auction this weekend. A 600-item block of Star Wars toys, collectibles and other ephemera sold for over $505,000 in an auction dubbed “Return of the NIGO,” a nod to Japanese clothes designer Tomoaki Nagao who sold off a fraction of his Star Wars collection to the highest bidders.
As avid Star Wars toy collector and “Jessie’s Girl” rocker Rick Springfield told Rolling Stone in our examination of his one-of-a-kind collection, there is an insatiable market for toys from the original trilogy, and not just for household name characters like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Darth Vader. CNN reports that a figurine dedicated to the character Yak Face, who had a split-second appearance as one of Jabba the Hutt’s cronies in Return of the Jedi, sold at Sotheby’s for $7,250 due to the scarcity of the item (Yak-Face wasn’t exactly a big seller when the toy was released in 1983.)
Among the other standouts at Sotheby’s Star Wars auction was a pristine set of seven The Empire Strikes Back figurines – released exclusively to Sears stores in Canada – that went for over $32,000, three times its estimate. Even a 1977 Star Wars cardboard box touting an “Early Bird Certificate Package” went for $20,000 because it was only one of five in existence. An early version of a Like Skywalker toy that was recalled due to its faulty lightsaber also sold for $20,000.
NIGO’s impressive Star Wars collection is on the level of Springfield’s, although the rocker says he won’t sell his toys, which includes a rare “21-Back Boba Fett.” “I actually like the toys more than I like the movies,” Springfield said, adding that he refuses to take the toys out of the packaging. “They’re cheesy figures! They’re badly painted, badly made … the only cool thing is the great artwork.”