Interesting question. In many ways I now see it completely the other way round. As a kid I would indeed rip open the packages, of course I did, I was a child. I loved my few ships and always wanted an AT-AT, but as an adult, figures aside, I don't actually think that many of the toys themselves are as good as we all view them to be with our rose tinted sentimentality... Don't get me wrong here, I don't think they're bad toys, they're really not! They're bloody brilliant... but they're all essentially monochrome (mainly grey) chunks of plastic and on display they do nothing, they're lifeless. My point is that generally speaking, the boxes are better, they bring the toys to life, they help me relive the nostalgia.
The packaging is to my eye at least a work of art. I say that across all manufacturers too. The Kenner and Palitoy Kids of the early lines through to the Kim Simmonds photography, its all just unbeatable. The beauty of the OT line's toys was its simplicity, on the box were the toys, photographed to show what you got inside and nothing more... because nothing more was needed.
Look at today's packaging for toys, its all terribly designed and littered with unnecessary effects and 'over design'; see the TFA packaging as a prime example of how not to make toys look good (by all means buy that rubbish (its all on sale anyway) and rip it out, the contents is actually ok)), or its some pastiche of vintage like the truly terrible 40th Anniversary attempt.
I do have a loose run of figures and they are deeply treasured, they are stunning pieces of art in themselves, but to me as a collector they look even better mint on card and the vehicles are pretty much all better in a box in my opinion.