Star Wars mystery solved by University of Nottingham's X-ray scanner

Emperor Palpatine figure Image copyright University of Nottingham
Image caption The X-ray scan slowly revealed the face of Emperor Palpatine, also known as Darth Sidious

A man had a box containing a mystery Star Wars figure X-rayed by a university in the hope it was worth thousands of pounds.

Toy collector Dave Moss, 40, bought the package online but did not want to open it in case he devalued what was inside.

Mr Moss had his fingers crossed that the figure was a rare Boba Fett model, possibly worth as much as £5,000.

Unfortunately, the University of Nottingham scan revealed an Emperor Palpatine figure worth only about £30.

'Completely pristine'

Special mail-away packages were sent to collectors in the late 1970s and early 1980s by Palitoy, a UK company, in exchange for tokens collected from the backs of Star Wars toys.

Image copyright University of Nottingham
Image caption The small white boxes were delivered after collectors sent off tokens

Mr Moss bought his boxed figure about five years ago for about £5.

Rob Burman, from Nottingham, answered Mr Moss's call for help on YouTube in trying to find out the box's contents without opening the package.

Image copyright University of Nottingham
Image caption The Emperor Palpatine first made his appearance in the second Star Wars film, the Empire Strikes Back, but only as a hologram

He said: "Every person who got one of these would have ripped it open looked inside, saw the model, played with it. This will be [probably] the only one completely pristine."

Mr Burman, who is also editor of The Collectors Gazette, took the box along to the university which has a new machine located at their Hounsfield Facility, that can study roots in soil without disturbing the plant.

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Media captionThe university's x-ray machine can produce a 3D model of the figure

The machine, which has a digital detector to capture images, produced a 3D-picture of the Emperor Palpatine figure.

Mr Moss, who is from Somerset, said: "I'm slightly disappointed but it's still an amazing thing to have.

Image caption The men had an anxious wait as the machine scanned the box

"A box that's never been opened and I do know what's in it. To me it's priceless. It's the centrepiece of my Star Wars collection."

Both men had hoped the box contained a special rocket-firing Boba Fett, a much loved Star Wars character, which can sell for thousands of pounds.

Image copyright University of Nottingham
Image caption The university's scanner is usually used to create images of plant roots

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