A LONG time ago in a galaxy not so far away, Star Wars action figures were just toys - but now they're selling for thousands of pounds.
One Star Wars collector from Croydon, Craig Stevens, has put 75 of his "world-leading" collection of action figures on sale - to fund a new house - and they could raise more than £100,000 at auction today.
Craig told the Advertiser he was just the right age to be swept up in the frenzy which surrounded the first film's release back in 1977-78.
"I was one of those kids who saw it when it first came out. It dazzled us all and I'm still dazzled now."
He said collecting anything and everything to do with the iconic science fiction trilogy was a natural progression from being a fan.
"I was a huge fan and I just wanted to get my hands on anything with Star Wars on it.
"A lot of collecting was basically free of charge, you kept your cereal packets, your Star Wars crisps.
"A lot of relatives would say, 'I've found a Star Wars thing for you', so from day one I collected anything I could get my hands on."
Auctioneers Vectis estimate one of his figures - of cult bounty hunter Boba Fett - could set a new record for British Star Wars figures, with it estimated to sell at up to £15,000.
Though Boba Fett figures are relatively common, it is thought that Craig's Palitoy, packaged 'B' version is the "Holy Grail" of such figures - with only 3 or four known to exist.
Craig, 44, said it would be "heart-wrenching" to see it go.
"The Boba Fett is the one everyone is talking about and the one that means the most to me really. It's a beautiful piece in beautiful condition."
But he told auctioneers Vectis he was confident that by selling the collection at auction it would go to a collector who valued preserving the rare figures.
Sci fi, TV and film toy expert Kathy Taylor said: "The Palitoy Boba Fett figure is from the vintage 'Golden Age' of Star Wars films and they rarely if ever come on to the market.
"We have seen prices rise year-on-year for high end Star Wars items and I am in no doubt that we will see figures of this class selling for hundreds of thousands in years to come".
Craig has recently finished writing a book about the British fan experience called Star Wars: Made In Britain, and is looking for a publisher at the moment.
"What people forget is that there was a long gap between the films coming out in the US and here, so British fans had a completely different experience," he said.
"Even when they came out here, they slowly made their way across the country.
"The books in the shops are based on the American Star Wars fan experience and merchandise. Britain had a unique Star Wars experience which I have encapsulated in my book."
For more information on the auction, which is expected to get underway this morning, visit www.vectis.co.uk
A second batch of Craig's figures are due to go on sale on February 28.