Variations are a big part of vintage Star Wars collecting but have yet to impact on the die cast scene. Justin Lea, regular contributor to the Vintage Star Wars Die Cast website, wonders why that is and gives us his insight to those variations below. If you know of any other variations please get in touch.
Loose figure variant collecting over the past ten years has surged to the point of collecting different facing eye balls, yet the unloved eleven that make up the die cast line have remained relatively untouched by eagle-eyed variant collectors.
Is it that as there are only eleven 'boring' out of scale vehicles to collect collectors feel uninspired to pursue these slight differences?
Did the trauma of receiving a die cast X-Wing for Christmas instead of a large scale toy stick for a lifetime, and cloud collectors' future habits?
Probably not, but whatever the reasons, many collectors do shy away from the die cast line.
Many die cast collectors come to this website to check their mint on cards and boxed variants against the matrix, or to add unrecorded examples not yet listed. Next up loose variants...
Differences in sculpts of seemingly identical toys are a result of different factories using differently tooled steel moulds to produce the toys, or moulds being replaced during the lifetime of a toy. Die cast vehicles were either made in factories in Macau or Hong Kong, with the 11C and 11D card backs having a small 'U' or 'MB' added to the racetrack on the rear depending on whether they were made in Hong Kong or Macau. Cards with no letter (including the 11C) are all made in Hong Kong.
Loose die cast collecting is an affordable and relative safe toy line to collect as prices are low and reproduction items are limited to the smaller accessories like the Y-Wing bomb, Land Speeder windshield and the Imperial Cruiser's Blockade Runner (see Reproductions above).
Variants within the line are fairly easy to spot in person or by viewing good quality pictures. Finding variants in high quality condition is challenging, as most have been played with and show the usual signs of paint chips or flaking.
The images below show the currently recorded major variants and minor variants. Major variants include distinct mould differences, countries of origin (COO) and major paint applications. Minor variants include minor mould differences and some paint/colour applications. Note that some minor colour variations have been left out, as a list of shades of Cloud Car orange would clog up the internet.
There are no major COO or mould/cast variations for the Land Speeder. The only minor variation is the paint application; the Land Speeder's body colour seems to have remained a constant colour yet the body pin stripe has two colours variations.
The Luke and C3PO miniature figures do have minor mould differences and paint applications. The C3PO vac-metalized gold colour can be distinctively different.
X-Wing major variations can be seen in the following four examples. Made in Hong Kong V1, V2, V3 and Made in Macao have distinctive mould differences on the wings and COO markings. There are no major body variations for the vehicle.
TIE Fighter major variations can be seen in the following two examples. There are no major cast variations found for the TIE body except for the introduction of the peg/dowel system as detailed on the TIE Fighter Page.
The V1 TIE Fighter body and wings have a different mounting application to the V2 example. The TIE V1 wing has a peg/dowel as a part of the wing that fits into the V1 TIE body with a locator grove to hold the wing in place.
This design was soon improved to the V2 that has a separate dowel glued into the TIE V2 body, and which slots into a TIE V2. The V2 wing has a cavity to locate the dowel and locator grove to secure the wing.
The TIE V1 and V2 wings have slight mould variations that can be hard to see. The best way to find the slight variations is to look for the mould numbering found on the inside of the wings. COO lines are placed slightly differently on the V1 and V2 wings.
Major variations of the underside of the Millennium Falcon mould can be seen in the following two examples. There are no major variations of the mould for the upper part of the vehicle.
The mould variations can be easy to spot by comparing the copyright text. V1 mould has no comas after each 'PROD' whereas V2 has comas after 'PROD'.
The images below detail the different mould features and copyright line spacing.
Twin-Pod Cloud Car
There are no major COO or mould/cast variations for the Cloud Car. The only minor variation is differences in the paint application; whilst there are many shades of orange, only the gloss and matt finish examples have been shown below.
Slave 1 major variations can be seen in the following two examples.
Made in Hong Kong and Made in Macao have distinctive mould differences on the side wings and COO markings. There are no major variations of the body cast for the vehicle.
The miniature Boba Fett mould has slight differences between the Hong Kong and the Macao examples.
Snow Speeder major variations can be seen in the following three examples. Made in Hong Kong V1 and the Hong Kong V2 have distinctive mould/cast differences that can easily be identified.
The Made in Macao example has the same mould/cast as the Hong Kong V2 except the Country of Origin marking has been changed. Its possible the same tooling used in both countries at separate times with Macao being at the end of the line.