Vintage Star Wars Radio Controlled Jawa Sandcrawler (1979-1980)

WOLF REVIEW. 5th June 2024

A study of a highly collectible toy

Is it really a grail piece?

Product description

The Star Wars Radio controlled Sandcrawler was a vehicle toy produced by Kenner for their 3.75-inch action figure toy line. It first hit the shelves in 1979 and was sold alongside other movie ships such as the Millennium Falcon, X-wing and Tie fighter. Seemingly it was not as popular and sold in far fewer numbers. As such it has long since been considered a grail piece, yet surprisingly not much has been written about this rare toy. In this article, we explore and examine this rather unique collectible.

A crawling rust bucket of junk?

The Sandcrawler was the Jawa’s vehicle of choice for travelling the deserts of Tatooine, scavenging and collecting whatever they felt had value. In the movie we see that it mostly contained droids and spare parts. It has a rather curious design with four sets of large tank like tracks supporting a voluminous and rusty looking container above. It looks top heavy and proportionately it doesn’t make a lot of sense. In fact, as a vehicle intended to move through undulating sand dunes it looks unstable and likely to topple. Nevertheless, the design is unique and apart from the tank like tracks it was something we had never seen before 1977.

How do you play with a Sandcrawler?

The Sandcrawler appeared near the start of Episode Four, and formed the backdrop to our introduction to Luke Skywalker as well as our beloved droids R2-D2 and C3PO. If you want to recreate or re-enact those scenes, the the Sandcrawler would certainly be important. Or perhaps you just really loved Jawas and as such this toy would fit a whole bunch inside. It does have a few playful features such big side door with detachable ladder for access inside. There is also an accessible cockpit, and even an operable elevator. The reality however was that at around $30 dollars (back in 1979), it wasn’t cheap and there were other Star Wars toys that made for better imaginative play.

Proportionately quite accurate to the movie.

Radio controlled!

It’s possible that Kenner foresaw the Sandscrawlers shortcomings, and gave it a secret weapon- the ability to be remote controlled. While slow and basic, that was reasonably advance back in the day and certainly a big draw card. As this toy nears 50 years of age, most will no longer work, but the electronics are simple so they can be brought back to life without too much effort.

Clean remote controls are hard to come by as they obviously come into contact with grubby little hands. The antennas are prone to bending or breaking and the battery covers also tend to ware loose or go missing. Reproductions parts are becoming more accurate and common but obviously it’s nice to have a clean original remote such as the one featured in this review.

This is considered a rather complete Sandcrawler with most of its components.

Original price tag asking $31 back in the day seems a bargain considering that a mint example today in box could be well over $3000US.


In the late 1990’s, when the force was particularly strong for collecting Kenner Star Wars toys, the Sandcrawler was often regarded as the rarest and ultimate collectors’ item when it came to the ships and vehicles. Certainly, a mint in mint box example is super rare, and not something you come across regularly. However, since the dawn of eBay, there have always been Sandcrawlers for sale, often many at the same time. We would argue that it’s not that rare and there are several other vehicles out there in the vintage Star Wars universe that are far harder to come by, and possibly produced in fewer numbers too. Desirability however is another thing altogether and while the Sandcrawler may not have appealed to kids back in the day, it has been a highly desirable piece for collectors ever since.

What’s there not to like about it? It’s a pretty cool remote-controlled toy with detailing and proportions that are truer to the real one in the film than most of the other toys in the 3.75-inch line. It also comes well packaged in a box that is nether too small or too big. There is something about the size of this toy feels very satisfying.

Kenner cleverly recreated scenes from the movie and used those photos to entice kids to buy the toy.

Radio controlled toys were novel in the late 70s, so it was definitely highlighted in Kenner’s toy products catalogues.

The Empire Sandcrawler.

At another level is the Canadian Sandcrawler that was released with Empire Strikes Back logo and French text in 1980. While possibly not as well-known or sought after, the Empire Sandcrawler is significantly rarer with good examples able to fetch almost double that of its Star Wars counterpart.

Side by side comparisons between the original Star Wars variant and the Canadian Empire one.

Fine print to delineate this as Canadian.

The toys from both Star Wars and Empire boxes were identical, but the remote for the empire ones were issued with a new sticker bearing a new logo and these were in fact just stuck over the old ones. This evidences the Canadian Sandcrawlers as repackaged old stock.

The instructions manuals and catalogs for the US and Canadian releases.


Loose Sandcrawlers are fairly plentiful but it is important to collect complete ones with all their correct parts and pieces, and that includes all original stickers. Good boxes are definitely rare as most are quite scruffy, torn and often without any inserts or paperwork. A good example in nice box will sell between $2000 and $3000US. A mint working example, or one that is still sealed in box could be significantly more. While these prices seem high they are not completely off the charts as the Sandcrawler have not continued to appreciate as rapidly as they did in the late 90s. If you can settle for boxes with some minor wear and tear, they can still be found for a bargain. The Empire version is probably unnecessary in our opinion though we know many collectors insist on having everything so they will need to be patient and prepared to spend big when they do turn up.

Word of the Wolf.

The Sandcrawler is a cool toy to have and certainly not to be passed up if you can afford one. It’s fairly iconic amongst collectors and certainly a great show piece to have in your collection. It looks confident both in and out of box, and not impossible own.


The information in this review is intended for informational or educational purposes to provide readers an understanding of how something may be seen from a certain design perspective. In this case it is from the view point of WOLF DESIGNS. As design is subjective this review should only be considered as an independent opinion. Information further to being of an opinion is provided to the best of our knowledge based on our own research at the time of doing the review. We cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies or inconsistencies and reserve the right to change or update any content as appropriate.
The final responsibility of the design resides with the original manufacturer.