Power of the Force Coins
By Gus Lopez
Most Star Wars collectors are aware of the aluminum coins that Kenner bundled with figures during the "Power of the Force" (POTF) promotion, and it is not uncommon to find a few of these coins in most large Star Wars collections. Complete Power of the Force coin sets are extremely scarce, and putting together an entire set of these coins can take years of legwork and a fair bit of money. For a production piece, the scarcity of some of these coins rivals that of prototypes. The POTF coins have received a great deal of attention in recent years, although they still manage to keep a low profile compared to most Kenner items. Some of the going prices for the tougher coins might be quite high, although they could turn out to be relatively low with respect to the actual scarcity and future demand.
There are a number of reasons why some people are thrilled about these coins. First, there's the mystique of the POTF line since it was so short-lived. It seems that anything made before 1990 with the words "Power of the Force" captures collectors' attention. The sculpting on the POTF coin line is some of the best Star Wars crafting ever. Not only are most of the sculptings accurate likenesses of the characters, but the scenes are not the same old tired movie scenes and poster images to which we've grown accustomed. Also, it's very easy to start acquiring a fair number of these coins since so many of them are common and cheap.
But once you start down the coin path, you cannot be turned. Ironically, some of the most common POTF coins correspond to figures that are worth a fair bit of money either loose or carded - the POTF exclusives:
I call these Category I POTF coins, and they consist of the coins that came with the figures that first became available during the POTF era. These are the most common POTF coins around, since Kenner was releasing these new figures at greater rates than the repackaged old figures. I wouldn't recommend spending more than $10 for any of these, except maybe Anakin and Yak Face (which are a bit scarce and are easily worth up to $35). Don't believe any dealer who tells you that the Han Carbonite coin is worth a lot because the figure is in demand; the Han Carbonite coin is one of the most common coins around.
There were also a number of coins available on card for figures that were originally issued on ROTJ, ESB, or SW cards and repackaged on POTF card. These include:
These are classified as Category II, and in general, these are a fair bit harder to find than the POTF exclusive coins in Category I. For most of these coins, a fair market price is around $8, but some can fetch around $20 such as Han Trench, Yoda, and Gamorrean Guard. Since all of Category I and II coins were available on card, none of these coins are extremely rare.
Kenner had planned to issue about 90 figures on POTF card, but scrapped these plans as interest in Star Wars waned in the mid 1980s. There were 62 coins in the entire POTF coin set (some coins appeared on a few different cards), yet I've listed only 35 different coins so far. These remaining 27 coins were only available by mailing in proofs of purchase to Kenner - the last of Kenner's famous mail-in offers. At this point, few people were bothering to participate in these mail-in offers, making these mail-in exclusives the absolute rarest of the POTF coins. In fact, many collectors who mailed away for POTF coins received coins in Categories I and II, making completion of a POTF coin set frustrating if one had already gotten these coins on card. There was no way to specify which coin you wanted, so it was the luck of the draw, and it's not like there were many collectors around to trade doubles. Some very lucky people were able to buy complete POTF coin sets directly from Kenner if they thought to ask.
All of the mail-in exclusive coins are tough to find. Even the most common of the mail-in exclusives is probably even rarer than the scarcest of the Category I and II coins. The distribution of these mail-in coins was not uniform. Most people who mailed into Kenner who did not get Category I and II coins, got one of the following:
We'll refer to these at Category III coins. By coincidence, these figures appear in the 1985 Kenner Toy Fair catalog as figures that Kenner had planned to introduce on POTF card. Apparently at the last minute, the figures were not issued on POTF card, and this could explain why these are the most common of the mail-in coins. Perhaps the coins were struck before the cards and figures were pulled.
There is another category of mail-in exclusive coins that were harder to get:
Some people did receive these in the mail, but they are much tougher to find than the Category III coins. We'll call these coins Category IV. Most of these coins sell for around $50 as the average price.
Finally, there's the Category V set of coins. These are incredibly difficult to find and I've only heard of a handful of cases where people actually got these in the mail from Kenner:
In most cases, the few that have made it into collectors' hands have turned up on the market from ex-Kenner employees instead of mail-in envelopes. I can't stress enough how incredibly difficult it is to find any of these coins. If you are near completion of your POTF coin collection and come across any Category V coins you need, I suggest not being the least bit picky about the price. You will be lucky to even see these on the market. They usually sell for around $75-100 when they do appear.
These five categories of coins are not etched in stone. There are a few coins that could be promoted or demoted by one category, but the idea is to give a general feel for the relative scarcities of these coins - information that has not been available in any guide to date.
These five categories cover the 62 coins in the regular POTF coin set. There are other Kenner coins as well: the 12 regular Droids coins and the 6 Ewoks coins. The Droids coins were issued in gold color and the Ewoks coins in bronze, to contrast with the silver finish of the POTF coins. All of the coins from the POTF, Droids, and Ewoks lines were made of aluminum, however.
There is a "63rd coin" in the POTF set which depicts two hands holding a lightsaber. The back of the coin describes Jedis, the Force, and lightsabers. It's tough to gauge how rare this coin is, but I've heard of less than 10 in existence thus far.
Then, there's the small Luke X-Wing coin that has surfaced in recent years. It is believed that this was planned for a mail-in offer that Kenner never held. Of all the specialty coins outside the regular 62 coin set, this coin isn't too tough to track down. On the other hand, it is believed that there are only 400 or so in existence, which is really not a lot. They can be found for $15-40 fairly regularly, so I'd suggest scooping one up if you come across one.
The next specialty coin is the Luke Jedi Knight coin with two images of Luke on the front and an X-Wing on the back. It is believed that this coin is a prototype for the POTF coin set, and of course, there are only a handful of these around.
There are also numerous Ewoks and Droids coin prototypes that have surfaced. These coins correspond to figures in the 2nd series of these lines that were never commercially available. The coins are available in silver, bronze, and gold. It isn't too difficult to track down just about every unproduced Ewok and Droid figure on coin (and in a couple different colors) but the average price of these coins is a whopping $200, although that doesn't stop some dealers from asking even more outrageous amounts like $600.
Next, we turn to variations. There are several that have been discovered, and new ones pop up every day. For instance the Han Trenchcoat coin is available with the name "Han Solo" and "Hans Solo". The Hans version is the much rarer of the two.
The Sail Skiff coin is one of the rarest coins in existence. To make matters worse, there are three variations of this coin! The regular coin reads "Star Wars Sail Skiff". In the 1985 Kenner Toy Fair catalog, there is a page with carded SW figures that shows unproduced figures with coins. If you look closely, you can see that the figures with the Sail Skiff coin actually say "Star Wars Sail Barge" instead of the wording on the production coin. A number of these Sail Barge coins have appeared on the market, but they remain extremely rare. Finally, there's a version of the Sail Skiff coin that says simply "Sail Skiff" across the bottom without the words "Star Wars" across the top.
One of the more common variations occur with the Luke Stormtrooper coins. On some of the coins, it appears that Luke has eyes and on other coins he is lacking any detail in his eyes. Both seem to occur quite frequently.
There are two versions of the Droids C-3P0 coin. One version is simply the POTF C-3P0 coin struck in gold color. The coin reads "C-3P0 Protocol Droid" just like the POTF coin. The artwork looks more like the 3P0 from the Star Wars movies than from the Droids series. There is also a Droids C-3P0 coin with sculpting that matches the Droids look. On this coin, C-3P0 is standing with several other droids, and "Protocol Droid" does not appear on the coin. Unlike the POTF-based Protocol Droid coin, the Droids coin back is updated for the Droids series. It is believed that the Protocol Droid version of the C-3P0 Droids coin is the slightly rarer of the two.
The Millennium Falcon coin, a Category IV coin, appears with two different coin backs. One says "HAN SOLO's famous space vehicle used by The REBEL heroes in their attacks on the EMPIRE", and the other reads "Bold and valiant REBEL who performed outstanding heroic deeds in the battle to overcome the EMPIRE". It is believed that the former was going to be bundled with a Han Solo figure, and the latter with some rebel such as Nien Nunb or Prune Face.
There are also coin back variations on the Creatures coin. One reads "Bizarre-looking, low-life aliens who hang out in local cafes and have a great disdain for any outside intruders" and the other says "Bizarre-looking aliens who hang out at local cantinas and are suspicious of all outsiders". In this case, it's believed that the former was an earlier version of the coin (since it contains errors) and the latter one is a corrected version of the coin. The former is the tougher of the two to find.
Most collectors are aware that the POTF coins have two different logos on the backs of the coins: POTF logo and Star Wars logo. Each coin has one of the two logos, and there seems to be no pattern to which logo is used, although there are no mail-in exclusive coins with the Star Wars logo. One interesting subtlety worth mentioning is that there are two different versions of the POTF logo on the coin backs: one with two horizontal lines under the words "STAR WARS" and the other with one horizontal line under "STAR WARS". The reason this is interesting is that the one-line version correlates highly with the Category V coins! Could it be that the Category V set had the most recent version of the POTF logo? Or was this an earlier prototype design of the POTF logo? It's hard to say, but this logo does give some indication of a coin's scarcity. Consult the chart to examine these differences.
How do you store these coins? Some people frame their sets although that makes it difficult to see the backs of the coins, and few people can afford two sets to be able to see the front and back simultaneously in a frame. There is a framed set which appears in the Tomart's Guide, but there are only about a dozen of these sets in existence, since they were only given to Lucasfilm and Kenner executives. These framed sets contain two complete sets of POTF coins so that the front and back of each can be seen. There are also some custom frames available for POTF, Droids, and Ewoks coins that allow both fronts and backs of the coins to be displayed. This is a nice alternative to standard framing. My preference is to use sleeved pages for milk caps (POGS). The size of the slots is perfect for POTF coins, allows easy removal, and enables one to view the front and back. Storing my coins on pages is like storing cards and when I discover new variations, I don't need to order new frames to be able to display the whole set together.
Most POTF coins are not too difficult to track down. Categories I, II, and III turn up at toy shows regularly. It's the Category IV and V coins that will give the collector some difficulty. Some suggestions include taking out "Wanted: POTF Coins" ads in SW Insider, Toy Shop, Star Wars Collector, etc. to list out the coins you need. You'd be surprised how many people have one or two of these tough coins lying around. Since POTF coins are still underrated, it is not uncommon to find some of the tougher coins at bargain prices. Most people don't even know which coins are the difficult ones!
I found many of my coins by calling some of the more visible, high-volume dealers on a regular basis to ask which POTF coins they have in stock. Since POTF coin collecting is esoteric, it is rare to see coins advertised in ads, however most dealers do have a small stock of these coins on hand. When I go around shows, I always ask dealers if they have any POTF coins behind the table, and it's surprising how many times this turns out to be the case.
In case you're bummed you missed out on these coins in the mid 1980s, there are some really nice Star Wars coins that recently hit the market, but people are unlikely to be aware of them. I'm referring to the Bend Ems coins. It's possible to have bought these Bend Ems 4 and 10-packs and still be unaware of the interesting coin: X-Wing, Millennium Falcon, and TIE Fighter, if the packages were left unopened. The Just Toys company decided in their infinite wisdom to show the generic SW logo side of the coin in the packaging, although the other side of the coin is infinitely more interesting. Since the Bend Ems seem to be vanishing forever from retail stores, I highly recommend buying three 4-packs as I did, and hope to get each of the three different coins. The coins are made from a heavy metal that is gold-tone and they are the same size as the POTF coins. The quality is top-notch which is surprising for a Just Toys product. If you hate the Bend Ems, you can always throw away the figures or give them to a friend so that you don't need to look at that Gumby Luke Skywalker on your shelf. For $10 a coin, it's not a bad deal.
I've put together most of this information while attempting to complete my POTF coin set piece by piece. As with anything in this hobby, conversations with other collectors have been a valuable help, and in particular, I wish to thank Tom Neiheisel, John Kellerman, and Josh Ling for their valuable input. By staying vigilant in the pursuit of POTF coins, I've managed to get all of them one by one.
If you're serious about completing a set, my advice would be to hold out for an entire set to buy in a one-shot deal. I have heard of sets selling for $1000-1500 in the last year, although sometimes they are sold for a lot more. One recently sold in Toy Shop for $2700. The same dealer was offered $3000 if he could find another coin set to sell. This is what buyers are willing to pay, not really due to gauging by dealers since dealers seldom get their hands on these sets anyway.
Why do I recommend waiting for a set? Well, it's just too difficult to find these Category V coins. You could spends years hunting these down (and possibly a lot of money) just trying to get the last few. Of course, it's lots more fun to complete a set piece by piece since you cherish each new acquisition. It is possible to complete a set this way, however, and I would suggest this more fun approach to non-completists since a great deal of these coins are relatively easy to find with very little effort.
COIN CATEGORYPRICE LOGO VARIATIONS Amanaman I $5 SW Anakin Skywalker I 30 SW AT-AT IV 50 POTF2 A-Wing Pilot I 5 SW AT-ST Driver II 8 POTF2 Barada I 5 SW Bib Fortuna V 75 POTF2 Biker Scout II 8 POTF2 B-Wing Pilot II 8 POTF2 Boba Fett IV 50 POTF2 Chewbacca II 8 POTF2 Chief Chirpa III 30 POTF2 C-3P0 II 8 SW Creatures IV 50 POTF1,2 Back: different wording Darth Vader II 8 POTF2 Droids IV 50 POTF1 Emperor II 8 POTF2 Emperor's Royal Guard III 35 POTF2 EV-9D9 I 5 SW FX-7 V 75 POTF1 Gamorrean Guard II 15 POTF2 Greedo V 75 POTF2 Han Solo (with Falcon) V 75 POTF1 Han Solo (Trenchcoat) II 15 POTF2 Front: Han Solo and Hans Solo Han Solo (Carbonite) I 8 POTF2 Han Solo (Hoth) IV 50 POTF1 Hoth Stormtrooper V 75 POTF1 Imperial Commander IV 50 POTF2 Imperial Dignitary I 5 SW Imperial Gunner I 5 POTF2 Jawas II 8 SW Logray III 30 POTF2 Lando General I 5 SW Lando with Cloud City IV 50 POTF1 Luke X-Wing II 8 SW Luke Poncho I 5 SW Luke with Tauntaun IV 50 POTF1 Luke Stormtrooper I 8 SW Front: eyes and no eyes Luke Jedi II 8 POTF2 Luke (Original) III 35 POTF2 Luke (Dagobah) V 75 POTF1 Lumat II 5 POTF2 Millennium Falcon IV 50 POTF2 Back: Han and Rebel references Obi-Wan Kenobi II 8 POTF2 Paploo II 5 POTF2 Princess Leia (Poncho) II 8 POTF2 Princess Leia (Boushh) V 75 POTF1 Princess Leia (with R2) V 75 POTF1 R2-D2 Pop-Up Saber I 5 SW Romba I 5 POTF2 Sail Skiff V 75 POTF2 Front: Barge, Skiff, no SW Star Destroyer CommanderIV 50 POTF2 Stormtrooper II 8 POTF2 Teebo II 8 POTF2 TIE Fighter Pilot III 35 POTF2 2-1B V 75 POTF1 Tusken Raider V 75 POTF1 Warok I 5 SW Wicket II 8 POTF2 Yak Face I 30 POTF2 Yoda II 15 SW Zuckuss V 75 POTF2