Action Man toy haul makes £180,000
Boxes of unsold and unwanted Action Man and Star Wars toys that lay untouched in a retired salesman's garage for decades fetched £180,000 at auction today.
One collector paid £5,400 plus commission for a rare Action Man judo outfit while publicity photos for a Boba Fett toy made more than £2,300 when the estimate had been £40-60.
When the judo set went on sale in 1970 it retailed for 12 shillings, or 60p.
Another bidder even paid £160 for an empty cardboard box in which Star Wars figures had been packaged at the Palitoy factory.
The final total stood at £180,000, with collectors paying more than £200,000 in total once commission had been added. The top end of the auctioneers' estimate had been £81,000 for the day's sales.
When Palitoy ceased trading, rep Doug Carpenter was allowed to keep unsold stock and he kept boxes of it in his loft and garage.
Now 88, he and wife Daphne handed them over to son Paul, 51, to sell after the family heard about a Boba Fett figure, untouched in its pristine box, had sold for £18,000 earlier this year.
Paul, who lives in South East England, said: "It's brilliant and it will help my mum and dad no end.
"They will put most of the money into their house. I don't think it will sink in for them until they see the final figure.
"Now they have got a bit of money to do what they want with. They are too old for big holidays, but the money is there for them to have a comfortable time."
Kathy Taylor, a valuer for Vectis Auctions in Thornaby, Teesside, who handled the sale, said: "I cannot believe the amount of interest there has been.
"I first had a phone call from Paul which was as a result of us selling the Palitoy Boba Fett figure earlier in the year for £18,000.
"He was aware that there was a quantity of stock that had remained in storage and he wondered whether there was anything similar to the record-breaking figure that was sold."
As it turned out, his father had unwittingly been holding on to toys which were worth well into six figures to collectors today.
The valuer said: "It was unbelievable to see all the boxes coming out with stock that was factory fresh, which hadn't been opened, it was like a time capsule."
Vectis encouraged Mr Carpenter to throw nothing away, as even factory notes, boxes and invoices have a value to collectors.
Ms Taylor said: "Factories sent toys out in what were called trade cartons and these, from the 1970s and 1980s, can be very rare.
"They are rarer than the items themselves.
"For a collector to own a trade carton, even if it is empty, is a big bit of history to them."
She believes prices for Star Wars memorabilia, with a new film due out this year, have not peaked yet.
And more pristine collectable toys from the 1970s and 1980s could be out there. "You all need to get in your lofts and see what you have got," she said.
Action Man sporting goods were relatively poor sellers in the 1970s, as children preferred to see him soldiering. But that unpopularity makes the outfits even more valuable now as few of them remain.