'THE Force' was certainly with an elderly Stourbridge couple - after a set of Star Wars toys they almost threw away fetched more than £250,000 at an auction.

The unnamed husband and wife, who the News understands live close to the town centre, were left the items in a dead neighbour's will.

Such was the volume of toys - more than 500 - they were bequeathed, the couple had arranged for skips to get rid of many of them.

Fortunately, their son intervened, asking Dudley-based Aston Auctioneers to go through the items - with auctioneer Chris Aston astounded at what he found.

"The first day I was there I found a rare Batman figure," he told the BBC.

"As soon as I found that, I thought, well if that is in there, there could be loads of gems, so I instructed them to cancel the skips."

One of the lots - a collection of five sealed vintage Star Wars figures on Empire Strikes Back cards - was sold for a whopping £25,000.

Chris said one of the figures, the Star Destroyer Commander was 'incredibly rare', adding: "We can't find any record of another existing on this card."

In addition, a Jawa figure with a rare vinyl cape went for £22,000.

Chris said it was one of the rarest carded Star Wars figures in existence on this card variation, with fewer than ten known to exist worldwide.

"It's our most exciting toy find in 15 years' trading as toy auctioneers," he added.

The toys were all in fantastic condition with Chris speculating they had been sitting in a bin bag since being bought in the 1970s.

Altogether, the auction yielded sales of £410,000 - a record total for the auctioneers in their final sale before selling up to new owners.

A dip in business caused by the coronavirus pandemic convinced Chris to sell up the business, which he set up with now-retired dad Phil in 2004.

It has been bought by Special Auction Services, of Newbury, whose director is Thomas Forrester, an auctioneer featured on television series Bargain Hunt.

The Aston's biggest ever individual sale was the pocket watch from Only Fools and Horses that made Del and Rodney Trotter millionaires.

That went for £28,000 in 2018 - much like the Stourbridge couple, it was, in the show at least, an heirloom that the lead characters only found by chance in their garage.