The Italian Cape-r

Just when you think that you’ve seen it all something new always comes along just to remind you that you still need to keep reading, networking and learning.  Such a thing happened recently on facebook with this photo

Wow, a gorgeous 12 back Kenner Jawa! As we know, Kenner swapped the vinyl capes for the more common cloth capes early on in the production run.  Examples of vinyl caped Jawas have appeared on Kenner Star Wars cards, Palitoy Star Wars cards, and the very rare Kenner Empire Strikes Back cards to name a few.  They are highly sought after by collectors both loose and carded.  We do not know exactly why Kenner made the decision to switch from vinyl to cloth, although many collectors believe this was to justify the cost that Kenner charged for the figures at the time.

In usual circumstances, after a few hours a post like that would drop off the news feeds and we’d be back to discussing price rises and such.  However, there was a second picture to this post which made everyone sit up and take notice.

What you see here is a Harbert Empire Strikes Back sticker which shows that the product was sold in Italy in the early 1980’s.  So, how does a Kenner product made in the US manage to get over to Italy and then be found nearly 40 years later in a collection in the UK?

Well, we know that Harbert stopped producing their own figures after the initial Star Wars line ended.  For the Empire Strikes Back run onwards they imported Kenner cards and applied their own stickers to the rear as it was more cost effective.  Here is a picture of a Star Wars Harbert cardback, pretty isn’t it?


And here is an example of a Kenner Empire figure with an applied Harbert sticker.

Notice anything odd?

A UK price sticker!  We have now been able to say that unsold stock from Italy did indeed make its way over to UK shores to meet the demand of British children.  However, we are still a couple of years out from matching vinyl cape Jawas to Leia Bespins in Italy.  Oddly though, this isn’t the first vinyl cape Jawa to appear with a Harbert sticker.  This one was met with a lot of scepticism back in 2013 due to the damage to the bubble, cardback and Harbert sticker.


Notice that it has the same UK price sticker?

Over the years there have been a number of allegations made about certain toy dealers removing stickers from cards and reapplying them to new ones in order to create never been seen before, and therefore valuable, combinations.  There is even evidence to show price stickers being used to cover up tears and small rips!

Nick Dykes, consultant at Vectis Auctions where this item will be available in March, has personally inspected the item and does not see any issues with it.  The Jawa is mounted to one of the later 12c cardbacks so it is entirely plausible that there was some left over stock at Kenner which made its way to Italy and then on to the UK as the newer cloth capes were distributed.  One thing’s for sure, all eyes will be on the price that this beauty fetches late March.

Photos © Nick Dykes, Justin @starwarsforumuk, Jez Allinson