A Star Wars toy that has been left open for 45 years has sold for £21,000.
The extremely rare 2.25-inch tall plastic statue of Jawa was produced in 1978 following the huge success of the first film, A New Hope, which was released the previous year.
It is one of only 10 to 15 surviving examples known for the coveted brown vinyl cloak on its original back tag.
Manufacturers Palitoy and Kenner quickly withdrew the vinyl-capped Jawa and replaced it with fabric because it was cheaper to produce.
The toy was brought home by the shopkeeper, a man in his 70s from Kent who served as art director for Marvel UK from 1974 to 1979.
He was sent it as promotional merchandise when Marvel was running a contest to give away early Star Wars characters in one of their magazines.
The salesman had no idea how valuable it was until he brought it along with some of his old Marvel comics to Excalibur Auctions, by Kings Langley, Herts.
It attracted a hammer price of £21,000.
Auctioneer Jonathan Torode said: “The seller, who worked for Marvel in the 1970s, was sent this promotional character while their magazine was organizing a giveaway.
“Then he took it home and put it in a drawer, where it stayed for 45 years.
“He didn’t know how valuable it was until he brought it to us along with some old Marvel comics.
“He was flabbergasted when we told him the character was one of the rarest-taged Star Wars characters ever in existence, with about 10-15 documented examples.
“The vinyl cape on the Jawa has been replaced by a not-so-manufactured canvas cape and the UK Palitoy tag variant is even rarer than the US Kenner version.
“It’s an honor to handle such a piece of Star Wars toy history.”
Jawas, who have been in Star Wars since the first movie, are 3 ft tall humanoids that cover their faces and scour the Tattoine Desert in search of discarded scrap.
The world record for a Jawa statue is £40,000, set in Pennsylvania, USA in March.
In February, a collection of more than 400 unopened Star Wars toys sold for £622,000.