The tradition of exclusive LEGO Star Wars sets dates back to before the line was even officially available for purchase when LEGO launched the theme with a promotional set sent to retail buyers and media representatives ahead of the 1999 American International Toy Fair.
These exclusives are some of the most desired – and most expensive – sets that exist. While many of these items will pop up in any Google search for the rarest sets, there are a few less-known promos out there. Perhaps the least known of these is Darth Vader with Medal, given out at the International Toy Fair in New York during 2013.
Released as a blister on a cardboard back, this exclusive is thought to be limited to 125 copies which in terms of production number makes it rarer than the majority of the other exclusives. It is unclear how this exclusive was distributed or if all the 125 copies were actually given out. Although the actual number is unknown, it is more likely that 150 were made which would keep it even with the Yoda (NY I Heart Torso) Promotional Set that was also given away that year.
Not only did it serve as an exclusive, but it was also an advertisement for the release of The Empire Strikes Out mini-movie on DVD. The confusing part is how similar the Toy Fair piece is to the DVD box art. Complicating matters further is that the Darth Vader with medallion minifigure is the same as the one that came with the DVD. Had the minifigure also been exclusive, it is probable that this item would be much more well-known. The combination of these two features likely gets the piece overlooked by the casual observer.
It is the back of the exclusive that sets it apart, with the “Welcome to Toy Fair 2013” in bold print on it to indicate that this is truly a limited edition item. It’s just too bad that they didn’t decide to number each of these!
Besides the photos that circulate around and a predicted number of copies, not much else is known about this piece. Even the distribution pattern of this exclusive is unknown. Perhaps even more odd is the fact that Toy Fair 2013 had two LEGO Star Wars exclusives. As mentioned the other exclusive from that year is the infamous NY I ♥ Yoda minifigure in a diorama standing on the street corner.
While the number of pieces is low, the number of exclusive prints and the rarity of the piece drives the price – as evidenced by a current eBay auction which sets the price at a staggering $5500. It is likely that the desirability of this exclusive overshadows this Darth Vader Celebration minifigure on cardback.
While several Marvel and DC minifigures have been released on cardboard – and even more themes that have been represented in blisters – the Darth Vader is unique for Star Wars fans. The closest similarity is the Chrome Gold C-3PO that came in special packaging for select winners in Australia – but more on that another time!
As the chief archivist, Kevin Downard maintains and curates the library catalog.
Getting in at the ground floor when the LEGO Star Wars theme first launched, Kevin has been collecting ever since. He is a self-proclaimed minifigure guru and has a passion for tracking down and cataloging every minifig variation – no matter how obscure. He has assisted Rebrickable and Bricklink in maintaining their set inventories, helped overhaul the rebelscum.com LEGO forum, and created the LSW Collector mobile app.