Most collected items have “Holy Grails”, items which are unusually valuable or rare. Often they are unobtainable, such as The Day the Clown Cried for movie fans. Sometimes they are only effectively unobtainable, because the handful of copies known to exist are priced well out of range of the average person, such as Action Comics #1 or a 1913 Liberty head nickel.
For Star Wars toy collectors, that rarity is the Boba Fett with the firing rocket pack. What makes this “grail” unusual is how many people claim to have owned it.
The story is simple: Kenner was the toy company that manufactured all of the earliest Star Wars toys, and they liked to do send-aways: get kids to cut out pieces of the packaging of other toys, have them send in the proofs-of-purchase along with basic shipping costs, and the kids would get an exclusive toy in the mail six to eight weeks later.
Boba Fett was one of the earliest examples of such a toy for Kenner, and what made him particularly special was that he came with a rocket pack that could fire a spring-loaded rocket. The figure had two rockets, so it could still be used if one was lost.
Many, many fans recall having received this toy, and playing with the spring-loaded rockets. Unfortunately, none of them seem to be on the market today.
Well, that’s not quite true. One was, but it’s not available for sale anymore.
In reality, Kenner scrapped the rocket-firing design because of quality control issues before the toy reached full production stage. All of those people who recall playing with it? They played with other spring-loaded toys like the Battlestar Galactica or Shogun Warriors lines… before those toys were pulled from the market due to child injuries and choking deaths. They played with the Boba Fett which was sent to them, probably after discarding the small apology letter which accompanied all of the early mail-away Fetts… the letter which explained that no firing Fetts were produced.
Except that wasn’t quite true.
While none were ever mailed, a few dozen prototypes were made, almost all of which had design problems. Because of those errors the toys were not given full paint jobs or accompanying equipment, and they sometimes aren’t even complete figures; that said, more than eighty of the prototypes were known to have been produced.
And then there’s one. One prototype that made it all the way to painting, complete with the two promised rockets. When it went up for sale, it fetched more than $100,000… and that, for a small toy, is definitely “collector’s holy grail” money.
Kind of a shame that everyone who swore they had one didn’t keep theirs in perfect condition….
Question of the night: What was your favorite doll/action figure, as a kid?