Is Star Wars icon Mark Hamill battling Dark Side of autographs?

Mark Hamill likes to have some fun with his autographs from time to time and it’s good business, too, as he’s a pricey signer — and also one that can be found in packs of cards after decades of Star Wars sets from Topps.

But there’s one thing that still gets Luke Skywalker’s robe in a bunch and it’s when pieces like this one — a 16-by-20 photo with some extra personality — hits the open market.

“Next time I should cut out the middle-man & just inscribe it: “Best Wishes to E-Bay!” Are you a Fan or a Dealer? #GoForceYourself” he tweeted on Friday along with the image.

Guess we can now assume the photo is authentic. It’s on eBay with a $1,500 Buy-it-Now price, though its owner is open for taking offers. (Shipping will cost you $15.)

The price seems a tad high but, hey, it is a large piece with plenty of personality — more than even the most-creative certified autographs out there.

If you’re curious, Hamill appears on more than 200 different certified autograph cards and many of them have come from Topps, which has had Star Wars among its business portfolio for 40 years. He’s also had autographs from other companies — Donruss/Playoff (now Panini America) in its 2008 Americana release and Razor (now Leaf Trading Cards) in its 2010 Pop Century release. Many of his autos are low-volume creations lately, which drives those prices high on eBay auctions. That means people will have to fork over more to land his ink. The lowest I saw today for certified cards on eBay? A mere $550 — and that’s why people turn to photos and other items and take the risk of stuff being fake. (They can’t afford that.)

Because of his legendary role in the legendary franchise, there’s plenty of demand and interest in Hamill himself, though he does still sign for fans when he can. And there are plenty of kids from the 1970s and 1980s who used to have Luke Skywalker haircuts who’d probably want his autograph in their collections and don’t have one. (Count Buzz among them — I’d settle for a simple certified sig but, yes, the “Landspeeder for sale” shot is one that would be sweet … just without the Landspeeder price tag.)

Has Luke been pulled to The Dark Side on this issue? It’s a tough call but he’s had plenty to say in the past on the topic. Some will say he’s helping fight fakes (the true Vaders of the hobby), while he and other celebs also tend to see dealers (or, really, anyone having to sell) as Vaderesque, too. That’s not always the case … but I get it from their perspective. Two years ago, The Hollywood Reporter noted that Hamill’s autograph could be had at Star Wars Celebration for $125. That’s higher than others who sign there, but getting to the event costs more than that, of course, and that’s not do-able for many for many reasons. (Hamill’s not yet listed for this year’s Celebration — you can see the current signer lineup here.)

Will Hamill be signing on for Topps’ recently released Star Wars Authentic line of officially licensed photos? He’s not there yet, though the new generation of stars from the new films can be had there. Perhaps more of the original cast members will show up there soon — after all, it’s the 40th anniversary of the franchise this year. There’s another typical way of nabbing an autograph, too. Here’s an example. Need a Darth Vader? David Prowse sells signed photos on his website — a common option for celebs these days, though Hamill doesn’t do that, either. I’m pretty Hamill doesn’t signs through-the-mail, either — he’d be signing for months on end if he did — but I have a fresh 1978 Topps card or two I could try.

Here’s hoping we’ll see a Luke Skywalker auto or two via Star Wars Authentic soon. The Force seems strong with that one. We likely wouldn’t see anything as strong as a “Landspeeder for sale” autograph but instead would find autographs that are unquestionably real and hopefully more affordable. Those are the most-forceful things of all.

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