Revisiting The Golden Grail

by Bill Cable
on 2021-09-29, 09:42:26

It's been over three years since I discovered the Golden Grail one fateful morning on eBay.  It stands as my greatest collecting story to this day.

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Recently someone posted a video on YouTube highlighting the find.  I don't want to draw attention to the video as it's pretty terrible.  It's full of outdated info, and it's presented using all of my content without my permission or giving CreatureCantina any credit.  It was clearly created using the original find article, ignoring all the follow-up articles I posted.

But the video did motivate me to reach out to some experts and write this article, containing all of the most up-to-date information we have about the Golden Grail.  After my initial discovery, a couple more eBay auctions popped up, and the toy store in Hong Kong was subsequently contacted directly by a few collectors who successfully came away with additional figures.  I contacted two of those collectors, Tom Derby (https://collectinvest.com/) and Chris Whitlock (https://www.facebook.com/collectorarchive).

There are currently 12-14 confirmed ESB45 C-3POs.  They breakdown thusly:

  • 1 x original Golden Grail (owned by Bill Cable)
  • 1 x second auction (owner unknown)
  • 1 x direct purchase from Hong Kong toy shop (by Jeff Echtenkamp)
  • 4 x third auction/direct purchase (by Chris Whitlock)
  • 6-8 x direct purchase from  Hong Kong toy shop (by Tom Derby)

There may or may not have been some overlap on the counts between Chris and Tom, which is the reason for the range.  There were 4 of the figures with the black Xs.  Initially there was believed to be 3, but Chris was informed by a buyer that one more of his had a very light X on it... so light Chris didn't notice it.

So that's the latest info... but it gets even more interesting!

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More figures were discovered along with the C-3POs!  There were between 30-40 2-1B figures, and 10-11 Bespin Guards.  The 2-1Bs were all on offerless ESB41D cards.  Chris noticed the bubble stems were slightly smaller than standard, but Tom felt the difference wasn't significant or indicative of them being preproduction.  

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The Bespin Guards were a bit more interesting.  They were found in two variants:  1) ESB48C with stemless bubble 2) ESB45 with test paint first shot figures.  Both are almost certainly preproduction.  The stemless bubbles weren't used until Return of the Jedi figures, so this was likely a bubble test of some sort.  The ESB45 figures used a lighter brown for the skin, and some even looked to have hand-cut bubbles.

The presence of the preproduction pieces discovered along with the ESB45 3POs have led many to speculate the 3POs are preproduction or test run figures as well.  The black Xs would indicate they were rejected, and that's why C-3PO was never seen at retail on an ESB45 cardback (except in Peru).  I'd agree it's a very compelling argument, and the most likely true story.

So there you have it - the most accurate and up-to-date info available on ESB45 C-3POs!  I hope you'll rely on these experts and avoid any of the outdated info that's circulating.  Thanks for reading, and a big thank you to Tom Derby and Chris Whitlock for all their help putting together this article!





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