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The Rise and Evolution of Star Wars Collectables

The Rise and Evolution of Star Wars Collectables

The Star Wars franchise not only revolutionised cinema but also set the stage for one of the most expansive and influential merchandising empires in history.

From the early days of action figures to the modern era of advanced collectibles, Star Wars toys have become as epic as the saga itself.

So, read on for a brief history and background into one of the pop culture industry’s biggest and most successful brands…

Star Wars Merchandise Rights

Before Star Wars creator George Lucas sold his company Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012 for $4 billion, he’d had the sole rights to all the merchandise.

In the early days, he made a groundbreaking and lucrative move by negotiating a deal with 20th Century Fox for the merchandise rights to the first film, Episode IV - A New Hope in 1977. This decision laid the foundation for what would become one of the most successful merchandising ventures in history.

With the foresight to recognise the potential value of merchandising, Lucas saw the success of Star Wars extending beyond the box office. By retaining the rights to produce and license Star Wars collectibles right up until 2012, he ensured that the franchise would have a presence in the hearts, minds, and hands of fans worldwide.

The Birth and Boom of Star Wars Toys

After the release of A New Hope, each new film in the saga drove renewed interest and innovation. George Lucas partnered with American toy companies like Kenner Products and granted them the exclusive rights to produce Star Wars toys. 

Kenner's subsequent release of the first line of official Star Wars action figures in 1978 included iconic characters like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, Chewbacca and R2-D2. It meant that fans could take their favourite characters home with them and collect the set, marking the beginning of a merchandising, marketing and cultural phenomenon.

Demand for licensed Star Wars collectables started to skyrocket, so the range soon expanded to include different types of products like playsets, posters, and t-shirts. Iconic products like the Millennium Falcon and the Death Star Space Station became must-have items for fans of all ages.

The 1980s saw the release of Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back and Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, and with it new characters that could be commercialised, like Boba Fett, Yoda, Ewoks, Admiral Ackbar, and Jabba The Hutt. In 1999, Episode I – The Phantom Menace came out, which introduced the fanbase to the likes of Jar Jar Binks, Padmé Amidala and Darth Maul, and in 2002, Episode II - Attack of the Clones came with Count Dooku and Jango Fett.

Star Wars Pop! Vinyl, Lego & More

With five popular movies out, many big names in the modern pop culture collectables space began to join forces (pun intended) with the Star Wars brand in the early 2000s. They started to make and distribute their own lines of Star Wars figures and building sets, further diversifying the market.

Funko’s Pop! Vinyl range had bobbleheads and retro bundles, Star Wars Lego sets included lifesize helmets and spacecrafts, and collections of Star Wars Lego figures were created for each film in the franchise.

Disney+ streaming shows have only further expanded the series’ scope, with characters from The Mandalorian, Andor, Ahsoka, The Book of Boba Fett, Tales of the Jedi, and Obi-Wan Kenobi now part of Star Wars canon, and therefore, part of the merchandise. The Hasbro Star Wars bounty collection in particular is a good example of this, with its Series 4 range completely dedicated to figures of fan favourite, Grogu (aka The Child).

The franchise's influence extends beyond traditional toys now, with more immersive and interactive additions. From electronic lightsabers and remote-control droids to Tamagotchi’s, box lights, and blind boxes, modern Star Wars memorabilia is always evolving.

Original Star Wars Figures Return

In the world of collectables, what’s old is new again. When it comes to Star Wars collectables, this has always been the case. The market continues to thrive, fueled by nostalgia and the enduring popularity of the franchise.

Collectors have eagerly sought out limited-edition products over the years, making a lot of Star Wars figures very valuable. Vintage ones, such as original Kenner Star Wars action figures and rare variants, are prized possessions these days. 

Many 1978 figures have the biggest price tags, including the Radio Controlled Jawa Sandcrawler valued at $1,100, a 1988 TIE Interceptor bought for $2,151, a C3PO Action Figure which sold for a staggering $3,000, a collectable Cantina Playset worth $3,350, and a Yak Face figurine worth $4,000. Remember – they need to be in good condition and still in the box to go for these kinds of prices.

The Star Wars Vintage Collection and Black Series figures were made to commemorate this era of classic merch and the anniversaries of the original release dates of the films.

Browse our full range of Star Wars products right here on our website!

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