Record-setting prices just kept on coming at Hakes
$3.2 million online auction of pop culture rarities and didnt stop until the last-minute clash of the titans that determined ownership of the sales top lot: a Star Wars Boba Fett J-slot rocket-firing prototype action figure. Conceived by Kenner in 1979, the J-slot Boba Fett Version 2 was designed with a J-shape triggering mechanism on its back for firing off rockets, but the toy never made it to the production stage due to safety concerns. On that basis alone, the pre-production archetypes became immediate rarities, but more than four decades of Star Wars mania have catapulted the J-slot prototype to an extraterrestrial level of desirability. The coveted example offered by Hakes ignited a bidding war that ended at a sky-high $204,435 a new auction record for any Star Wars action figure.
Bidding on the figure remained static at just under $100,000 until right before the initial 20-minute clock ran out at 9 pm. At that point, two bidders starting going back and forth with their bids, waiting each time till the renewed clock had almost run out of time, said Alex Winter, president of Hakes Auctions. The competition was still going strong two-and-a-half hours later. I think each of the bidders might have been hoping the other would fall asleep. But they went at it strategically, and we were more than happy to wait as long as it took to get a record-setting result like that.
The previous world auction record for a Star Wars prototype action figure was set in 2019 (also by Hakes) with the $185,850 sale of a Boba Fett prototype graded *AFA 85+ Near Mint. The grading is a significant detail to note, since the example sold on March 16 was in AFA 50 VG condition, yet it topped the previous record by more than $18,500.
The fact that it sold for so much more than the previously offered prototype, whose condition was graded much higher, shows the current strength of the vintage Star Wars toy market and just how fast it has risen over the last few years, Winter remarked. The figure was won by a California resident.
It was not just the mysterious bounty hunter Boba Fett who inspired Star Wars fans to bid aggressively. The sale was led by the most coveted Star Wars figure of them all, but Star Wars as a whole set a record. There were 300 lots of Star Wars items in the sale, and together they grossed $1.2 million the highest amount weve ever achieved by a Star Wars section in any of our sales. Several individual world auction records were set, in addition to the one set by the Boba Fett prototype.
Those records include: a Canadian-issue Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back three-pack containing 3.75-inch action figures of Stormtrooper (Hoth Battle Gear/Snowtrooper), AT-AT Driver, and Cloud Car Pilot from Kenners 1981 series, which sold for $42,835 (estimate $10,000-$20,000); and a Star Wars Jawa action figure with a vinyl cape, AFA 75 EX+/NM condition in a 12 Back-A blister card, which set a record for any type of carded Jawa figure at $36,285 (estimate $10,000-$20,000).
GI Joe is on the rise with collectors, as this auction proved quite decisively. From Hasbros 1982 A Real American Hero toyline, an AFA-graded 80 NM (archival case) Series 2/20 Back blister card containing a 3.75-inch-tall action figure of Commando Snake Eyes more than tripled its high estimate at $18,500. A straight-arm version of the same figure, AFA-graded 85 NM+ (archival case) in a Series 1/9 Back blister card, reached the midpoint of its estimate range at $15,575.
The political memorabilia section was red-hot, with its own record-setting highlights. First and foremost was a James M Cox/Franklin D Roosevelt jugate campaign button from the US Presidential election of 1920. Only six Cox/Roosevelt jugates are known to exist in the 1.25-inch size, and of those six, three are held in the Cox family collection. Two others are prized assets in an East Coast collection and not likely to see the light of day anytime soon. Adding to its rarity, only three of the six known buttons are of the particular design exhibited by Hakes example, which sold for an eye-watering $185,850. This price far exceeds the $70,092 previous auction record for a pinback of any type, which was set by Hakes with the sale of a Babe Ruth 1915 American League Champions button in June 2021.
A second political button that created a bidding frenzy was the mate to the Cox/Roosevelt button: a 1.25-inch jugate depicting 1920s other major presidential and vice-presidential candidates, Warren G Harding and Calvin Coolidge. In searching through nearly 20 years of past auction records, we couldnt find an example of this button offered for sale anywhere, Winter said. Estimated at $5,000-$10,000, the Harding/Coolidge jugate commanded $51,920.
For their March 15-16, 2022 event, Hakes secured several pieces of important, investment-grade art, including the original pen-and-ink cover art for Incredible Hulk #283 comic book, published by Marvel in May 1983. The talent behind the action-packed image of a rampaging Hulk leading an Avengers charge is the duo of Ed Hannigan (art) and Al Milgrom (inks). With penciled notations and a Marvel copyright inkstamp on verso, the vibrant inkboard swept past its $10,000-$20,000 estimate to land at $33,315. Also easily surpassing expectations, the original Sal Trapani and Charles Paris pen-and-ink art for the cover of Metamorpho #7, DC Comics August 1966, knocked down $25,130.
Of the many artists represented in the vintage music posters section, Johnny Cash claimed top honors. A rare and colorful poster promoting a 1960 Toronto concert featuring Cash and the Tennessee Two, with Bill Munroe (sic.) and the Blue Grass Boys as the opening act, peaked at $11,160 against a $2,000-$5,000 estimate.