The Christmas of 1977, seven months after Star Wars opened, was devoid of any Star Wars toys for the young fan wanting to recreate their favorite scenes or pit the characters in their own expanded universe adventures. Not so Christmas 1980, when there were quite a number of toys to choose from including many from the previous film. Showing how much the toy market has changed since, that would be unheard of now. In spite of many "peg warmers" (unpopular, or overproduced or overstocked characters which keep the pegs in the toy aisles full and unavailable for newer toys) modern action figure lines, such as Star Wars churn out waves of fresh product every six weeks or so. This means that if you don't buy an action figure shortly after its initial release you're likely to miss out on it altogether (unless you turn to ebay). So, as I well know, parents of Star Wars fans today have to shop throughout the year, not just the weeks before birthdays and holidays if they hope to keep their young fans happy. These parents also have to keep their fingers crossed that their young fans will still be young fans when the gifts are handed out many months later.
Another big change you'll notice is the prices. The above images are pages from the Sears 1981 Catalog of Toys (for Christmas 1980) and the Sears Wish Book from a year later (I'm guessing since there's no date to be found). When I showed this to my son, he couldn't believe it. Fifteen action figures for $30.00!
The AT-AT, Slave I, Rebel Transport and Darth vader's TIE Fighter were toys I never wound up with, but I did love the Star Wars micro collection, and also received those circled Universal monster toys.
According to Star Wars toy retailer Brian's Toys
The AT-AT would now set you back between $225.00 -$400.00
Darth Vader's TIE Fighter is in the $150.00 - $200.00 range
The Rebel Transport also runs between $150.00 - $200.00
Individual loose action figures go for less than $10.00 to less than $30.00 for the most part.
Carded, they're a whole different story. Most of The Empire Strikes Back action figures range in price from between $50.00 - $150.00 with some going for far above that amount.
That cardboard Cloud City playset with the 4 action figures (which I do have in excellent condition no less) now sells for about $450.00. The Imperial Attack Base about $100.00.
Keep this in mind when the new AT-AT hits stores in August. While $100.00 may seem steep for a new toy, the new AT-AT stands roughly three-feet tall and has more features than you can shake a lightsaber at.