Blue Snaggletooth! A Star Wars toy Holy GrailPosted Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011
Today my brother Cade and I discovered one of the holy grails of Star Wars toys - and as Darth Vader once famously uttered, "It will be a day long remembered."
Earlier this month Cade had learned from our cousin Jared that the barber in our hometown had boxes of vintage Star Wars toys in his basement that he wanted to sell. Thanks to our cousin Jared, Cade was going to get first dibs at the loot.
It sounded promising. The guy is a few years older than us - old enough to have been collecting when the first Star Wars film opened in 1977. And, as our parents enthusiastically pointed out, he was an only child. So, perhaps, his toys would be in good shape.
This morning we finally got our first look at the Star Wars toys in question. The owner had brought them to his business office so we could view them together. He had not opened the boxes in 30 years - so the adventure of opening each box and discovering the great toys of our childhood was shared by all three of us. That, perhaps, was the best treat of the morning.
As the box lids were removed one at a time, we saw that the toys were remarkable - Millennium Falcon (with only a few pieces missing), a snowspeeder (mint as it could be out of box), a rebel transport (complete and in great shape), all of the Hoth playsets - with most pieces intact.
Then came the most exciting discovery for me - a generic "Space Case" action figure case from the 1970s - covered in Star Wars stickers and filled with Star Wars action figures. They were in remarkable shape - R2-D2 with stickers intact, C-3PO with gold coloring unfaded by time, Leia with her famous hairdo relatively unscathed by battle. That's not all. Stormtroopers and Jawas galore. If any one of the Jawas had a plastic cape (they did not), they would instantly have caught our eye as such figures now sell for thousands of dollars.
Then we saw him - the Blue Snaggletooth! Along with the vinyl cape Jawa and the storied rocket-firing Boba Fett, Blue Snaggletooth is part of the triumvirate of Star Wars holy grails. This is his story:
With the immense popularity of Star Wars, the demand for new action figures was putting tremendous pressure on the toy makers at Kenner to come up with new toys. That means the toy makers sometimes made mistakes. When designing Snaggletooth, Kenner only had a black-and-white, waist-up photo as reference point in re-creating the cantina alien.
The designers made Snaggletooth tall - as tall as the average action figure - with a blue spacesuit, silver gloves and silver boots. This Snaggletooth packaged in a Kenner baggie and included along with other cantina characters in the "Star Wars Cantina Adventure Set," which was sold exclusively by Sears for the 1978 holiday season.
Kenner soon realized its mistake and in early 1979 re-sculpted Snaggletooth as he actually appeared on film - as a dwarf wearing a red spacesuit with hairy hands and feet (no boots). The Blue Snaggletooth was pulled from the line and was replaced by the red Snaggletooth in the Cantina Adventure Sets issued post-1978.
The Blue Snaggletooth was never released as a carded figure and thus became a rarity even though many units had been released in the 1978 cantina sets. So, there he was - the blue Snaggletooth - in a generic space toy carrying case along with other less sought-after Star Wars action figures. The owner was aware of Blue Snaggletooth's value - estimated at about $140. In the spirit of our morning of Star Wars nerd bliss - the owner kindly offered to part with the rare figure for $70 - a deal my brother accepted after some deliberation.
We were thrilled with the discovery - and hours later Cade called with more good news. He'd checked eBay to see what blue Snaggletooth was selling for - and discovered one auction in which the figure was being offered for a "Buy It Now" price of $1,199.99.
The auction, Cade excitedly related to me, was for a blue Snaggletooth with no dent in the boot. He had checked - his blue Snaggletooth didn't have a dent in the boot, either. Ka-ching! He was sure he'd hit a gold mine. And perhaps he has.
However, we must remember what all Star Wars fans have learned (sometimes the hard way) - that eBay prices do not always reflect true market value. This eBay seller may very well believe that blue Snaggletooth - with his AFA grade of 85 and his non-dented boot - is worth that price. But he has yet to receive it, and no price guide has ever addressed the boot dent issue. More importantly, no price guide to date - including the most recent (fourth) edition of the Star Wars Super Collector's Wish Book - has ever valued Blue Snaggletooth at more than $210.
Still, blue Snaggletooth is a great find and a rare toy - and quite a bargain having been purchased at one-third its current market value.
But, as any Star Wars toy collector knows, the true value of any toy comes from the pleasure it gives the owner. Today my brother and I had the rare treat of re-living part of our childhood through the examination of these vintage toys. And that is, without question, priceless.