Star Wars figure sells for £18,000
A Star Wars collector has paid £18,000 for a rare Boba Fett figure which went on sale 35 years ago for just £1.50.
Vendor and super fan Craig Stevens clenched his fist with joy when the auction price reached £15,000 for the pristine figure he has cherished since 1990.
The anonymous UK buyer, who bid over the internet, must also pay a 20% commission to the auction house Vectis in Thornaby, Teesside.
Mr Stevens, 45, from Croydon, said after the sale: "I'm amazed at the price, that was absolutely perfect.
"The money is going to go towards a house for me and my wife.
"We are looking to move quite soon so that will be perfect to put towards it.
"I hope it will go to a good collector who will look after it and cherish it like I have."
Mr Stevens was selling 85 figures from his collection and the extremely rare Boba Fett, the bounty hunter from the Empire Strikes Back, was the pick of the sale.
It is one of only four or five still in such pristine condition, the former chairman of the UK Star Wars fan club believed.
The sale has received bids from around the world.
Before the auction Mr Stevens said: "This Boba Fett is in the original packaging in the UK, it is in factory fresh condition, so I am looking at £10,000-plus for this one figure alone.
"He is a very popular character, he had about three minutes of screen time and became a huge cult figure.
"It was only available in this packaging for a year."
Sold under the UK's Palitoy brand, the packaging is unpunched, meaning the card had not been pierced to allow it to be displayed on a peg in a shop.
"Unpunched shows it has never been sold and it is factory fresh," Mr Stevens said.
The toy would have retailed for £1.50 in 1980 when it was released.
In 1990, a figure in similar condition would sell for £50.
"It has gone up and up and up to crazy prices," the collector said.
While it was a wrench to sell, he realised he needed to raise cash to buy a house with his wife Karen.
He said: "I'm living in a rented flat in my home town.
"You think to yourself 'I'm in a flat and I have got a box of figures worth as much as a house'.
"There's no contest really."
Mr Stevens still has 10,000 items in his collection of Star Wars memorabilia.
He said: "I was one of the children who queued up to see Star Wars when it was first released in 1977 and it had a tremendous effect on me.
"I began collecting everything that I could get my hands on connected to Star Wars and I have kept going right up to the present day."
Valuer Kathy Taylor said the figures came from the "golden age" of Star Wars films, and rarely if ever came to market.
She said: "We have never had a collection like this.
"We do get a lot of toys here which make big money, but this is the first Star Wars collection that we have ever had that is of this calibre."