Star Wars loves two things above all: its own history and its own metatextual history with merchandise. Sometimes, these come hand in hand — and what is old isn’t exactly new again, but it does suddenly have more people wanting it for more money.
This week’s The Book of Boba Fett — in actuality a stealth episode of The Mandalorian — featured the return of Pedro Pascal’s bounty hunter Din Djarin, catching up with the Mandalorian after the events of his own show’s season two finale. Along the way of claiming bounties and trying very badly how to learn to be both a long-distance dad and the potential heir to the throne of his own adoptive people, Din teamed up with recurring Mandalorian guest star Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) to replace his destroyed gunship, the Razor Crest, with a new vessel.
His new ship is much smaller and quicker, as well as very familiar to Star Wars fans: the sleek lines of the N-1 Naboo Starfighter, the chosen combat vessel of The Phantom Menace. One extensive rebuild montage later, Din finds himself rather enjoying a stripped down, paint-scraped version of the iconic ship, tweaked enough ways to look more than a little unique, but still immediately identifiable as Doug Chiang’s legendary starfighter design, to the delight of prequel-era fans across the world. The fighter’s re-appearance in the episode — complete with a fantastic little test flight sequence that in and of itself evoked Phantom Menace’s podrace setpiece — has had one rather peculiar impact beyond prequels nostalgia, though: if you’ve got the 23-year-old lights-and-sound version of the ship that launched as part of The Phantom Menace’s toy line in May 1999, you might be sitting on quite a pretty penny.
In the past couple of days since The Book of Boba Fett’s latest episode aired, eBay auctions for Hasbro’s classic Naboo Starfighter toy — or a similar one released by the company in 2011 — have exploded in value, whether they were listed in the wake of the episode’s airing or were one of the handful floating around the resell site in the months before. On average, these new listings — some of which call out The Mandalorian’s new connection to the ship explicitly, not just in listing name but in some cases, bundling in one of Hasbro’s own recent 3.75″-scaled Din Djarin figures in to boot — are suddenly asking for hundreds of dollars, well beyond the $US30 ($42) the ship retailed for when it was brand new. Old listings for the ship even before the episode aired have found their early low offers shoot up in bidding frenzies, and some are even customising the classic toy to appear more closely to the stripped-down iteration that appears in The Book of Boba Fett… and expecting quite the bounty in turn.
Given Disney and Lucasfilm’s tendency to lean toward the absurd when it comes to keeping secrets about Star Wars from fans, it’s likely we won’t see Hasbro attempt to capitalise on the sudden resurgence of interest in the Naboo fighter — and getting to make a new one explicitly styled after Din’s new ride — with new products any time soon. That’s the nature of merchandising some times. The toymaker’s only just gotten around to releasing figures in its Black Series line for Fennec and Boba based on their Mandalorian season two appearances, with a Book of Boba Fett-specific version of the title character still not expected until later this year. The same happened when Grogu, then known as Baby Yoda, immediately exploded in popularity in the early days of The Mandalorian, leading to a desperate scramble to get products out as soon as possible.
But if Star Wars is going to continue to be so utterly fascinated with its own past — and its desire to re-contextualize the iconography of that past in the present of its more recent timelines — it stands to reason that what is old being new again isn’t just going to apply to the narratives the series explores, but the toys it wants to sell you after the fact too. If you didn’t grab them the first time around, a long, long time ago, in a Toys “R” Us not so far far away, that is.
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Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.