Darth Vader Collector's Case



back (click to enlarge) original-issue mailer box (click to enlarge)
Back and Original-Issue Mailer Box (click to enlarge)

Catalog Entry
Catalog Description:


A dramatic, three dimensional sculpture of STAR WARS' classic villain. This collector's item collector's case is 15 3/4" high, holds 31 actio nfigures, and comes with a sheet of self-stick labels with every action figure's name--so kids can perosnalize each compartment. This handsome case also comes with a four color photo that displays and identifies every action figure! There's even a storage chamber for action figure accessories. And when DARTH VADER snaps shut, the hidden handle in back makes him a carry case. STAR WARS Action Figures not included. Ages 4 and up.

Source: 1980 Kenner Toy Fair Catalog

If you've recently found one of these cases in your attic, and you've come to this page in hopes of finding out what it's worth, turn back now because it's not worth spit. In fact, if it's possible for something to be worth less than spit, the Darth Vader Collector's Case is that something. You see, every male child in America had one of these things. I think owning one was even mandated by law in some areas of West Virgina.

What impact does this strange but true fact have on the collectability of this item? Let's just say that, in the eyes of most of today's collectors, loose Darth Vader Collector's Cases are like the Star Wars hobby equivalent of tribbles (yes, that's a Star Trek reference)-- they seem to reproduce and multiply until you're literally drowning in the things. I have dealer friends who've taken them to collectibles shows and tried to give them away. And, honestly, I have at least five of the things lurking in my basement at this very moment. It's almost scary.

So, loose, it's dirt common. In unused condition, however, with its cardboard skirts intact, the toy is considerably tougher to find and can sell for a decent (if not exactly high) price.

When one considers that so many of these cases are out there on today's market, it becomes apparent that Kenner sold tons of them. And, I have to admit, it's a nice looking item. As a case, though, the thing functioned horribly. You seriously could not close figures inside of it and carry them around without causing about one-third of them to tumble out of their compartments and fall to the bottom of the case. In short, it didn't work. If you wanted to store and protect your figures, the much more mundane vinyl storage case was a much better option.

First issued in 1980, the earliest Darth Vader cases did not come with the colorfully-printed "skirt" package that later versions did. This is because toy toy was first sold through catalog retailers, who shipped the item bare inside of a plain cardboard mailing box. When the item did reach stores, it featured the skirt, which displayed the 31 figures then included in the line on its reverse. Between 1980 and 1984, the Vader case experienced a number of packaging revisions, most of them concerning the number of figures displayed on the skit. The variations I know of are listed below. The item was also issued in a Return of the Jedi skirt, as well as with two different trios of free action figures: Bossk, Boba Fett and IG-88; and Luke Bespin, Yoda and Darth Vader. The insert included inside of the case can also be found in a number of different versions.

It should be noted that, during the early '90s, toy producer Just Toys issued a carrying case for their line of bendable rubber figures. It, too, was fashioned after Darth Vader's bust, and thus it resembles the vintage Kenner piece to a high degree.

First Issued: 1980 (mailer box, without package, with 31-figure insert)
Re-issues: 1980 (ESB packaging, 31 figures on reverse); 1980 (ESB packaging, 31-back with Bossk, Boba Fett and IG-88); 1980 (ESB packaging, 32-back); 1981 (ESB packaging, 41-back); 1981 (ESB packaging, 41-back with Luke Bespin, Yoda and Darth Vader); 1982 (ESB packaging, 47-back with rebate sticker); 1982 (ESB packaging, 47-back with printed rebate); 1983 (ROTJ packaging, 65-back); 1983 (ROTJ packaging, 77-back)

Description by: Ron Salvatore
Photo: Ron Salvatore
From the collection of: Ron Salvatore
Country:United States
Film:Empire Strikes Back
Category:Toys / Action Figure Related / Action Figure Accessories


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