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10

The Great Star Wars Heist

Many people who collect Star Wars merchandise do it out of love for the franchise, but some rise to the level of museum curators or dealers in rare antiquities. The hobbyists and professionals have formed a community around Star Wars toys and memorabilia, and great friendships have been forged over action figures. Zach Tann is a serious collector who knew who was who in the community. In 2017, he was offered the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to buy a toy that was so rare it was never released for public sale.   

Among the promised figures in the January 1979 Kenner catalog was a new Star Wars character, a bounty hunter named Boba Fett. In a time when most action figures were little more than a torso and five twistable appendages, Boba Fett would come with a spring-loaded backpack that could fire a plastic missile.

But before the item could be released, a child choked on a similar missile, this one from a Mattel Battlestar Galactica toy. With that, the dream of Fett's projectile backpack was over, and Kenner scrapped the in-progress design and replaced it with a safer one. But this redesign came so late in the design process that several prototypes of the original Fett figure had already been made. Instead of throwing them out, many Kenner employees held on to them.

The prototypes could fetch many thousands of dollars. Tann paid the asking price, but before he received his Rocket Fett, Tann got news that it might be stolen. And what about the other items he'd purchased from the same dealer? What about all the other stuff this guy had sold to other collectors? Once the ball started rolling, the crimes and possible crimes would rock the entire Star Wars collector community. Read what happened at Popular Mechanics. -via Digg

(Image credit: Kenner)


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