MY COLLECTING STORY
I first saw Star Wars for my birthday in February 1978. I remember talking about the Droids on the ways home and getting the Marvel comic with the free cardboard x-wing.
It wasn't until later that year my mum bought me the Darth Vader figure. I had my first figure.
Yes I cut off the tip of the lightsaber (looked much better back then).
From then on every Saturday I got my £1.50 pocket money and it went on getting my favourite characters. Usually from Dewsbury market but sometimes from J and B or Hodgsons department stores.
Yes Woolworths had figures but they were a lot more expensive and stocked what you could find elsewhere, it wasn't until the line was ending did they reduce the price of the stock and start repacking figures into 3 packs.
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
Around the time of The Empire Strikes Back for some reason, probably because I wasn't going to the cinema, I didn't collect the new line of figures. Only when I went to France on a school trip did I pick up a Meccano Ben Kenobi, a figure not seen in a local stores. If only I'd of kept this, be worth at least £2,000 carded now.
RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
In 1981 a small movie called Raiders of the Lost Ark came out and made me fall in love with the movies again so I went to see Star wars again but in a double bill with Empire. This was only the second time I'd seen Star wars and my first hearing Vader telling Luke he was his father, no spoilers back then. No Internet, no videos.
I believe that is one of the reasons we love the kenner/Palitoy line, it was the only way we could remember and react to the movies. We could make our own sequels with our toys.
RETURN OF THE JEDI
By the time Jedi came out the toys were everywhere, flooding the market and it was at this time my collection really took off. I had a big box full of figures with the weapons kept in matchboxes. I had the full Jedi lines, jabbas goons but curiously no Jabba, the Endor guises for the main characters and my prised possession, the Speeder bike, of which I begged my mother to let me go pick up after school before they sold out. I bought two (they had shelves full).
Not only did I get the Speeder bike, I had the battle damaged x wing, Scout walker and most of the mini rigs.
Strangely enough I never asked for a Millennium falcon or At-At, I cannot think of any other toys I got for Christmases, I guess I went for quantity over quality.
I did receive a droid factory from a friend who knew I liked Star Wars. I'd never seen one before and wondered if it was an official product as the R2D2 was very different, with 3 legs.
By the time of the Power of the Force line came out I'd sold my collection to a boy who had come with his mum to buy my figures. I wanted to to buy some A-Team figures (yes I know).
I just hope he looked after and still has them.
I don't have the A-Team figures.
I did briefly flirt with collecting again in the early 90s as a market stall on Leeds market was selling figures and vehicles cheap. I finally got the Falcon and Jabba.
But alas I needed American football equipment and sold the lot again.
Which brings us to today. I am trying to complete a loose run, yes all the figures I had I'm trying to get again.
So if you have any Beaters or otherwise laying about, I have a good home for them.
And I promise that they won't be sold this time.
The Darth Vader figure came out with the rest of the line in 1978. Kids and adults were screaming for Star Wars toys and only a trickle of things came out such as a few action figures and Darth Vader stood out. One of the two unique features is that it had a vinyl cloak and a double telescoping light saber (DTLS). That was cool but the line was discontinued after the light saber proved to be too fragile. Many of the light sabers not only broke but there were only a small number of them produced before Kenner changed the design. This all makes for one fine collectible because not only is the DTLS Darth Vader rare upon rare when mint in box, but it's price is now in the high five figures. Yes, you can find this item going for £6,000 or more. Before you go running to list your Darth Vader on eBay to reap thousands of dollars keep in mind that Kenner only discontinued the double telescoping light saber and not Darth himself. So, there are plenty of non-double telescoping light saber Darth Vaders around and they are worth less than £50 loose. For a good overview of the light sabers used check out the earlier volume.
Darth Vader was part of the original 12 figures released by Kenner and what collectors call the 12 Backs. He was not part of the 4 early bird figures that Kenner released first. Obi Wan Kenobi (Ben) and Luke Skywalker both had DTLS's as well but since they were released earlier more of those figures were made with the DTLS. Because Darth Vader was released later and the decision to change the design was made shortly after his release there are far fewer Darth Vader DTLS versions in existence.
The Darth Vader 1978 action figure was the turning point for Star Wars collectibles. He was the bad guy and mysterious. He'd escaped the battle of the Death Star yet fans at the time still didn't know his full origin. It wasn't until years later that his true origin was revealed and that made this figure an even more popular and sought after collectible. It's 3 ¾ inches tall and Kenner the company that manufactured it had no idea what they had created. Somewhere there's some Kenner guy who is crying figuring if he'd stashed some of the original figures away he would be rich.
As I said above I clipped off my lightsaber to look more realistic and most kids did this, try finding a full (non repro) saber.
Even though this figure is as stiff as Dave Prowse fighting Alex Guinness I still love it as it's my figure, my first Star Wars toy.
Thank you for reading