CT scan solves 'Star Wars' mystery, but this isn't the toy you're looking for

A toy collector had his fingers crossed that a mystery toy from a galaxy far, far away could be worth thousands of pounds.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm

A mystery "Star Wars" figure has been revealed as the evil Emperor Palpatine. The Hounsfield Facility, The University of Nottingham

A CT scanner has solved the mystery of a toy collector's "Star Wars" figure potentially worth thousands of pounds -- but sadly it wasn't the toy he was looking for.

The still-sealed action figure is among those originally given away by toy manufacturer Palitoy in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with fans sending off tokens from the back of other "Star Wars" toys to receive these special figures.

UK-based toy collector Dave Moss bought the toy five years but never opened it, worried it would lose its value if the box was damaged.

Rob Burman of the Collectors Gazette shows off the mysterious box. University of Nottingham

Searching his feelings and using the force didn't provide any answers, so -- like Princess Leia sending a holographic message to Obi-Wan Kenobi -- Moss appealed for help on YouTube. His call was answered not by a starry-eyed Tatooine moisture farmer but by Nottingham-based Collectors Gazette editor Rob Burman, who took the boxed toy to Nottingham University to be investigated by a fully armed CT scanner designed for scanning the roots of plants.

Potentially, the toy could have been a rare rocket-firing Boba Fett worth as much as £5,000. Sadly for Moss -- but perhaps appropriately, given the character's time spent concealing his identity as Darth Sidious -- the figure was revealed to be a model of the evil galactic ruler Emperor Palpatine, worth closer to £30.

It's enough to make you turn to the dark side.