"Kid, I've flown from one side of this galaxy(website) to the other and I've seen a lot of strange stuff(listings) but I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all powerful force(ebay) controlling everything, there's no mystical energy field(seller) controls my destiny, it's all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense"
Hello, I'm Andy and you could say I'm a bit of a Star Wars fan. As a kid I played with the toys mostly from Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi (I was one when A New Hope came out). I like the vintage toys and I've started collecting them again over the last couple of years. I don't have a huge collection, my focus is mint loose figures and I buy the odd duplicate/variant and ones in better condition to improve my collection. I've got some nice mint vehicles and a few bits I've had since childhood as well. I've decided to write this guide because of the way some sellers are ripping people off by selling non-vintage repro items as vintage and misleading us in their listings. It's unfair, it ruins our hobby and it devalues our collections. I'm fed up with it so I am going to cut through some of the bull and expose a few truths. We want to know that what we are getting is genuine but more importantly as it was described in the listing. The following information is a combination of research I have done using website resources, talking to other collectors and friends and my own personal observations and opinions. Much of what I say is likely obvious to some but I want to give more inexperienced buyers a few pointers so they don't waste their money. Don't take what I say as gospel, I'm not an expert, I'm just a collector and Star Wars fan who wants to fight back against the strokers. I am going to talk mostly about repro and vintage weapons/accessories. I am also going to talk about listings themselves; wording, photos, condition of items etc and things to avoid because this is often how you will get done.
Part 1: Vintage or Repro?
The repro problem is quite bad. Many people will tell you that there is no real definite way to tell the difference between vintage and repro, this may be true but there are things you can do to identify fakes. There is a lot more rubbish out there than you think. Some repros are much easier to spot than others but there are some very accurate ones around. Some weapons and accessories are probably easier to fake than others. For good reference photographs of vintage figures, weapons/accessories and for repro information there are sources on the internet two of which are rebelscum(photo archive) and sithnet(the jawas armoury index). There are variations of some vintage weapons some of which can be found on these websites. With weapons it seems to me to be the blasters and rifles that are the biggest repro problem although all the weapons are probably faked. Capes, helmets and stickers etc are another matter altogether that we will go into later.
Weapons. I personally don't believe in the float test, you put the weapon in a glass of water and if it floats it's vintage and if it doesn't it's repro. It comes down to the density of the plastic and I don't think it's reliable or conclusive. Vintage ones do float though so if a small weapon/blaster sinks there's a good chance it's repro.
There is a test you can do by dropping blasters from about five inches onto a flat table. The repro ones will bounce higher and make a louder noise on impact than the vintage. It's got something to do with the older plastic on vintage ones being softer. I don't know if this is entirely accurate but vintage weapons do seem to make a slightly duller sound so if it makes a loud "ping" it could be repro.
The vintage weapons are supposedly made of a softer plastic than many of the repros which are more brittle. Because this depends purely on the plastic the weapon is made from I wouldn't rely on this method either. Who's to say a repro couldn't be made of a similar plastic? The vintage ones are slightly pliable/bendy though so if a weapon has no give in it at all and is completely stiff it's probably repro.
To my knowledge none of the vintage blasters or rifles are painted, they are all moulded out of coloured plastic. If a weapon is extremely shiny, the top surface chips, scrapes or peels off or it is obviously painted then it is a repro.
I think the most reliable way to tell vintage from repro is visually by comparison using the real thing as reference. There are different ways to do this; a weapon with a carded unopened figure, a weapon with a graded figure, a weapon a collector/friend/yourself has owned since original purchase/childhood or a guide book or website. I am going to share some thoughts on some weapons I have. All the repros I have were sold to me on ebay as vintage, they are worthless. Remember, check the websites for proper details and sculpt/shape etc. I am not an expert so don't take this information as fact, this is just a guide and my opinion on some of my stuff. I'm just trying to help people and I have stated that you should look elsewhere for good vintage reference.This guide is continued as another guide under the title:
Buying Vintage Star Wars figures on ebay(continued)