Premier Collectible Auctions of Fountain City, Wis., has announced plans to produce and conduct live auctions of modern-era toys in association with Morphy Auctions of Denver, Pa. Premier’s debut live auction will be July 25-26 at the Bristol Hotel in San Diego, and is timed to accommodate conventioneers attending the San Diego Comic-Con International.
Branded as “The Greatest Toy Auction on Earth,” the 1,500-lot event will feature a $2 million selection of pop culture items, toys, and collectibles from the 1970s and ’80s, with a special emphasis on Star Wars and GI Joe action figures. Other subcategories of particular interest to collectors of postwar toys include Transformers, Masters of the Universe, Indiana Jones, Superheroes, Ghostbusters, ThunderCats, sealed and graded Nintendo video games, and original concept artwork.
The top-estimated lot of the sale is a rare version of Star Wars character Boba Fett that originally was advertised as a “rocket-firing” action figure. “It was made so that rockets were spring-loaded to fire from the character’s backpack,” explained Premier Collectibles Auctions’ CEO, Brian Semling, “but it was withdrawn before production because of safety concerns. As a result, only several dozen ‘loose’ examples are known to exist. The one in our auction was used at the 1979 Toy Fair and is the only example complete with mock-up packaging.”
Semling, who has dealt in Star Wars and modern toys since 1994, considers the prized prototype in his upcoming auction to be “the greatest action figure on earth,” and values it at $100,000-$150,000.
Other highlights in the sale include a complete set of 16 three-packs of Star Wars and The Empires Strikes Back figures – one of only five known complete sets, this one being in the best condition of them all; and a GI Joe U.S.S. Flagg, measuring 8 feet long when assembled – surely one of the largest action-figure-related toys ever made. This item has been assigned an “80” by Action Figure Authority (a third-party grading service), and is still sealed in its original box. It is the only example of this item ever graded by AFA. Semling explained that in order for a toy to be AFA graded, it must be in its unopened original packaging. “This is the only example of this toy that has ever qualified for AFA grading. It is a rare and iconic ‘Joe’ piece.”
Semling believes interest will be keen for original preproduction artwork for toys from Star Wars and Transformers, and props from such franchises as Indiana Jones. Within the group are a drawing of Transformers’ Omega Supreme, a watercolor for Droids’ Boba Fett, an Indiana Jones crashed-airplane prop, and an Indiana Jones voodoo doll prop. In all, more than 150 original artworks, preproduction art pieces, and props will be offered.
While the aforementioned lots represent a few of the best items in the sale, Semling stressed that the auction includes a wealth of “very nice regular toys that the average person can afford … There are great collectible pieces at all price points. Everyone will be able to bid.”
Within the modern toy sector, Premier Collectible Auctions’ upcoming sale represents the first time anything of such magnitude has been produced for collectors. “The preview will be a virtual museum of the best items in the world under one roof,” said Semling. “We planned the time and place so that this outstanding display would be available to the many thousands of visitors who’ll be coming to Comic-Con, July 24 to 27. Many of these items may never again appear at auction. It’s a very important grouping.”
Morphy Auctions, a division of Geppi’s Entertainment Auctions, will provide an on-site production team during the preview and auction. Morphy’s chief operating officer, Dan Morphy, said he is very excited to be involved in the new venture with Brian Semling and Tom Derby of Collectible Investment Brokerage, who serves as Premier Collectible Auctions’ director of Acquisitions and Authentication. “Star Wars, GI Joe, Transformers – these are the toys that many of today’s collectors remember from their childhood. The interest in these categories has never waned; it has only grown stronger over the last few decades. We’re really looking forward to being able to merge our expertise as toy auction producers with the reputation and knowledge of the Premier Collectible Auctions team.”