Australian Toltoys ESB Vinyl Cape Jawa: When this figure was first brought to the attention of collectors outside of Australia, it was greeted with a heap of skepticism. However, due to the exhaustive efforts of Aussie collector Ben Sheehan, this figure has been accepted into popular collecting lore once and for all.
Firstly, the cape that is paired with this figure is substantially darker than the one that was found on the U.S. vinyl cape Jawa. As most collectors know, for years, fake vinyl cape Jawas have been surfacing on the secondary market, the products of unscrupulous people having cut down the cape of the Ben Kenobi figure. Since the Ben cape is darker than the legitimate vinyl Jawa cape, these fakes are fairly easy to identify.
As you can tell by looking at the above photo, which shows, on the left, a loose example of the Aussie figure beside its American counterpart, the Australian version is substantially darker.
Because this Australian piece has a darker-than-usual cape, it might initially be confused with a modified Ben Kenobi cape. According to Ben, as well as several other Australian collectors, all VC Jawas issued down under possessed a cape that was darker than that of its U.S. counterpart. So this piece should not be considered strange in that respect-- since it came from Australia, it makes sense that it has a darker cape.
The photo you see above shows a VC Jawa on American Star Wars card beside the ESB variant. As you can see, the Australian version is much redder in tone.
The cape color is merely one interesting aspect about this figure-- the fact that it's on an ESB card is fairly astounding. But, according to Ben and some others, fairly small numbers of these figures were issued in Australia, all of them on the same version of ESB card. As one would expect given the time at which this would have been issued (early '80s), the piece features the later Jawa bubble type, which angles out at the top.
To put all doubt to rest, Ben managed to pack up 2 carded and 2 loose figures and send them halfway around the world in 2002. They were studied in depth my ourselves and number of other known U.S. collectors including Todd Chamberlain, Michael Mensinger, and John Kellerman. The carded figures were studied under magnification and black light to confirm the validity of the bubble seals and the capes on the loose figures and carded figures all matched perfectly. An exhaustive point-by-point analysis was performed on the carded figures and noted in detail in a signed document. As expected, the most emphasis was on the integrity of the bubble seal and there were no doubts that they were original and untampered with.
So what seemed highly unlikely in the beginning turned out to be yet another nugget of vintage Star Wars collecting knowledge - that there was indeed a special version of the vinyl caped Jawa specifically released in Australia.
Since 2002 other loose figures have been discovered and graded by Action Figure Authority. Many collectors have put this figure on their want list, but to find one is still an exceedingly rare discovery. We were thrilled at the amount of effort Ben went through to legitimize this figure and we were honored to be asked to help authenticate them.
Description: Chris Georgouilas and Ron Salvatore