Collector Snapshot #15 – Gary Haygood

Welcome to the fifteenth episode of our collector snapshot, where a vintage collector answers 10 short questions. The same questions will be given to every collector appearing in this segment.

Up this episode is 45 year old collector Gary Haygood (aka “mrUTman” on Rebelscum), who works in the information technology field in Surprise, Arizona. Anyone who has crossed paths with Gary on the forums or on Facebook knows him to be one of the warmest and friendliest collectors out there. He is also extremely community conscious and is very knowledgeable about the vintage collectibles we all love so much. I hung out quite a bit with Gary and his lovely wife Tara at Celebration Anaheim and know them to be as friendly in real life as they are in the cyber-world.

Gary and Tara are also involved in charity work for breast cancer research and they run online events which they call “Buns 4 Boobs.” For 20 dollars (which they donate to charity) they will restore the hair (into beautiful buns) of vintage 12 inch Princess Leias. Great idea for a noble cause! I was lucky enough to snag one of their “Buns 4 Boob” pins at C7.

VSWC: The artwork for these great pins. 


VSWC: Some examples of their restored Leia buns.


If you are on Facebook, why not check out the great group that Gary helps admin – Batteries Not Included – Star Wars Collectors Group Inc. It’s an easygoing group set up to discuss both vintage and modern Star Wars collectibles and the community they have built there is a credit to the admins and their members.

Gary also runs a great Facebook page – Vintage Star Wars Collectors Recommended Groups. This page provides a list of SW collecting groups that “support collecting with passion and respect.” Great job Gary!

Now to the questions!

1. How long have you been collecting?

As long as I can remember I’ve been collecting various Star Wars Items. However I have been “seriously” collecting for about 11 years or so, when I found the community on

2. What do you collect?

My first love is Star Wars toys and art, I focus on Princess Leia items, I also collect other toys from pop culture I grew up on (i.e. Megos, Monsters, and Evel…)

VSWC: Gary and some of his great collection. Great t-shirt! I hope Gary didn’t blow his knee out crouching down like that. We’re not so young anymore us vintage SW collectors…


VSWC: And the pride of Gary’s collection – a Gentle Giant life size Leia monument.


3. Whats your Grail?

The necklace worn by Princess Leia in the ceremony scene of “A New Hope.”

4. What collectors inspire you?

Folks that share knowledge and help others out for me this is the way we sustain the hobby. Mike Scards22 is someone I look to as a mentor and really helped me with learning the ropes and meeting everyone back in the forum days. I also credit my education to reading post by folks like John Alvarez, Joseph Yglesias and Bill McBride as well as many others over the years.

VSWC: See our full-length interviews with Joe and Bill here:

5. What’s your most embarrassing moment as a collector?

Realizing how much I enjoy being friends with ‘Tiefighterboy’ (Todd Osborn) 🙂

6. What’s your favourite Star Wars film?

Return of The Jedi, I love the redemption of Vader and it always has been my favourite part of the films.

7. What would you change about the collecting community?

I think we all could be a little easier on the newbies to the community, and the newbies should be more receptive to the knowledge they can receive from listening to the old timers. 

8. Forums or Facebook groups?

Forums will always be great but I think Facebook has opened a whole new world to collectors and mixed together several great forum communities.

9. What Star Wars character do you most resemble?

Who else Princess Leia 😉

VSWC: The resemblance is uncanny!

leia 2

10. Is there one thing collectors may not know about you?

I was in personal security in my younger years and was a bouncer and bodyguard before I settled down as an IT Guy 🙂

VSWC: Thanks so much for joining us Gary! It has been great getting to know a bit more about you and your collecting habits. See you on the forums and Facebook! 

Collector Snapshot #14 – Darren Mcaleese

Welcome to the fourteenth issue of our regular segment, where a vintage collector is given 10 short questions to answer. The same questions will also be given to the next collector appearing on the blog.

I’m pumped to present Rebelscum old timer and Facebook newbie Darren Mcaleese to the blog. Darren is a musician from Belfast and has been collecting for a hell of a long time. Anyone who has been on Rebelscum knows him to be not only one of the most entertaining individuals in the hobby but also to be an extremely informed and helpful collector. Forums like Rebelscum aren’t as busy as they used to be but it’s true believers like Darren who continue to give them their heart and soul.

While I chose to interview Darren based on what I knew of him as a contributor to Rebelscum, you will see clearly by the photos below that he also has one hell of a vintage collection!


To the questions!

1. How long have you been collecting?

I’ve been collecting again for the last 15 years……but in truth I never really stopped….Dormant….??…Sure….but as a first generation child of the OT did any of us really quit??..When we all got too old to play with our toys, grew up, started families and began careers, I’m pretty sure vintage SW was the last thing we all thought about.

A chance meeting with a childhood SW friend after 10 years changed all that. My Star Wars brother-in-arms – Andy, got me “in” to the hobby again by selling me a modern loose collection in 2000……and online around the time of the demise of the old newsgroups. He also egged me on when I bought my first MOC 12-back (Han Solo) Andy was one of the real pioneers. Like Gus (Lopez) and (Steve) Sansweet, he was collecting during the SW dark ages (buying Bend-ems and Model kits). He also predicted the rise of SW lego (who knew??).

2. What do you collect?

Oh dear…..

Dear oh dear…!! (deep breath).

I currently have nearly all my runs intact. 12-backs, 20-backs, ESB on ESB, full ROTJ run of all characters (79) with CLEAR bubbles (well 95%) and my beloved TRILOGO run. I’ve also dabbled in foreign (Takara, Harbert,Top Toys) and have every vehicle, playset, mini-rig etc either graded or MISB….80% of my MOC are graded too. I also have a loose collection with all the big variants….oh and a stack of TRI miscards!!!…..the odd proof…..

I have every production item released since POTF2 in the 3.75 inch scale….and all the new 6 inch scaled items.

Oh and lots of SW LEGO…..lots…..

VSWC: Okay brace your badselves for some photos…..

Darren1 'fh fhdfhdfh Darren3 '' lll b a kjhkh h


 l; llll ljkljkl hgfjfgj jfgjdg gfjhdjfgj gjgjfgjg jhfgjfg f Darren4

3. Whats your Grail?

It’s a difficult question…..because I have most of the things I “need”.

White caped Bib (Bib Fortuna) on Walrus Man MOC??
Bald headed Emperor??
Toltoys VCJ (Vinyl Caped Jawa) on ESB???

All these items, whilst incredibly cool, don’t have the “nostalgia” element I think I need to “quest” for that “Grail Piece”… me they are really rare big ticket “bragging rights” pieces out of reach to most collectors.

I recently landed a piece I’ve been “sort of” semi-seriously pursuing for five years. The special offer DV tie Fighter Hanger….that’s a great piece (or it will be when it arrives….I’m looking at you Bobby Sharp!!!!). 

4. What collectors inspire you?

There’s a few…..Tim Eckholdt’s 2D run is just ridonkulous. My buddy Andy Davies has some great graded stuff…seriously top end stuff!!!…….Dave Tree….for giving so much to the hobby….and all those U.S. guys that were dumpster diving back in the day….for having the insight and slight clairvoyance to save the historical significance of our beloved toyline for future generations.

5. What’s your most embarrassing moment as a collector?

I was trying to come up with a witty anecdote to this….but as somebody kinda self-assured and usually unflappable….I was about to draw a blank….However… Celebration (Anaheim)  I was sitting next to Tom (igrewupstarwars) Berges. I had no idea who the guy was (in person/real life) and blissfully made polite small talk throughout dinner (even though I knew all about his website etc.) It wasn’t until weeks later I put the puzzle together with a total D’OH!!! moment. IDIOT!!!

VSWC: Here’s photographic proof of the magic moment where Darren completely disrespected poor Tom, who looks just a little bit peeved…Poor Tom. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Lentz)


Oh and I almost deafened poor Chris G (Georgoulias) and Ron S (Salvatore) in the lobby bar at C7 (I really underestimated my volume!!….I can be quite loud sometimes….as my wife is ALWAYS telling me…..) sorry boys!!

VSWC: Darren hanging out with a deafened Chris and Mattias Rendhal at C7. How excited does he look to have picked up a copy of Mattias’ ‘A New Proof’! 


6. What’s your favourite Star Wars film?

Sorry to be a cliche….ESB….the cliffhanger ending….the baddies being badass. Bounty hunters???….so much WIN.

7. What would you change about the collecting community?

The good guys are generally awesome. I’ve met some great people thanks to SW. From all walks of life, from all over the world.

But the crooks….I hate those guys. Having been “rooked” on both sides of the Atlantic by douchebag inc. Decadetoys Shaun and his UK equivalent rat bag Richard “twatface” Torres I feel qualified in my battled scarred veteran status (having been conned by both). 

8. Forums or Facebook groups?

I’ve been on Facebook five mins. RS (Rebelscum) since 2002.

But I genuinely feel connected now that I’m doing FB as well.

And it’s a bit more personal on FB (methinks). 

Both have their virtues….but forums such as RS are a civil, info based platform. FB more about quick thrills and staying in touch.

9. What Star Wars character do I most resemble?

Just asked the wife….she replied “Chewbacca……cos you are so hairy”.

…..Im gonna have to take that…

10. Is there one thing collectors may not know about you?

Lol. Most know already. But for the uninitiated…..

I’m kinda a local celebrity/singer in Northern Ireland. I’ve been singing professionally for 25 years……

Don’t laugh…it’s my job!!!

VSWC:  Wow very cool Darren! Great song! I did google you before the interview and I found two people with your name on One of them was a ‘Steel Erector’ in the UK, which I thought sounded a little bit naughty (we already know of one male gigolo on Rebelscum) and the other was a musician from Belfast. Well whether you are a pornstar or a musician they are both pretty cool jobs and are further examples of how eclectic our collecting community is and how untrue the stereotype is about nerdy vintage Star Wars collectors (well not completely untrue….). Jokes aside I have seen your music clips on RS before and was impressed. Thanks for coming onto the blog and thanks for continuing to entertain us with your unique take on the hobby!

Collector Snapshot #13 – Jake Stevens

I’m happy to present the thirteenth issue of our regular segment, where a vintage collector is given 10 short questions to answer. The same questions will also be given to the next collector appearing on the blog.

Next up is my friend Jake Stevens, a 38 years young Middle School History Teacher from Seattle, with former lives working for Disney Cruise Lines as an Entertainer and as an Analyst for Merrill Lynch. Or so he tells me…

I’ve been ‘online’ friends with Jake for over a year now so it was an absolute pleasure for my wife and I to finally meet him in person at the Archive Party at Celebration Anaheim last April. He definitely is as cool in person as he is online.

VSWC: Here’s Jake looking soulful. Or utterly bored. You guys choose….


VSWC: And this is us hanging out at C7. I swear Jake sent me this unsolicited when I asked for photos for this interview! I’m not trying to barge in on his moment! 


Jake is a very busy man when it comes to the hobby we love. Not only does he collect both vintage and modern Star Wars but he is also heavily involved in the community networking side. I’m sure a lot of you have heard of the fantastic podcast, which he co-hosts alongside Tom Berges, Jason Luttrull, Chris Bortz and Ryan BeiseThe Galaxy of Toys Podcast discusses Star Wars toys past, present and future. I’ve listened to a few episodes (the ones focussed on vintage) and sincerely the show is hilarious and the guys really know there stuff. I’m surprised this podcast doesn’t received more exposure in the vintage community. Get out there and start downloading it! Jake also hosts a show all about Star Wars comics called “Star Wars Spinner Rack”. I’m sure it’s just as awesome. 

VSWC: Here’s Jake with Steve Sansweet and his co-hosts of the Galaxy of Toys Podcast at a 35mm screening of Return of the Jedi in 2013From left to right – Tom Berges (, Steve Sansweet (Rancho Obi-Wan), Jason Luttrull (Galaxy of Toys Podcast), Jake, Chris Bortz ( and Ryan Beise (Star Wars: Collecting Cosmos Podcast).


If you thought the podcasts kept Jake busy, well he also is the founder of the website – This site is devoted exclusively to Star Wars action figures both vintage and modern. It is designed to be a place where collectors can find action figure resources, reviews, information, checklists, calendars, news, speculation, event coverage, photography, and more. Jake tells me that the site was borne of his passion for the hobby and wanting to do more with it a few years back when the action figure lines were really scaled back. It’s a one-man show yet he says he is lucky from time to time to have guest bloggers, reviewers, designers, interviewers and photo-novelist contribute. I myself am incredibly grateful that Jake’s site was one of the first to mention yours truly (in the collector resource section). Thanks again Jake! 

To the questions!

1. How long have you been collecting?

I’m a lifelong collector. As a kid I was pretty spoiled even though we weren’t rich in any shape of the word but I still amassed a good 70% of my vintage collection as a kid. Like many, as Star Wars faded from the spotlight I became distracted with GI Joe, Transformers and other iconic 80s lines and didn’t dive fully back in until the early 90s. But since then it’s been steady.

2. What do you collect?

Like the majority of the readers of this fine blog, I collect vintage Star Wars action figures and toys. Now as someone who identifies as being a toy collector, I tend to focus on just collecting one of every loose figure and item from the actual toy line and do not dip into prototypes, first shots, hard copies or proofs. Now where I stand apart from many collectors here is that I also collect every modern Hasbro Star Wars action figure and accessory. I know it’s insane but I love collecting Star Wars action figures both vintage and modern and I think 10-year-old Jakey would be happy I was still in the game today

.VSWC: A vintage corner of Jake’s current collection. 


.VSWC: A couple of photos from 1984 when Jake entered his collection in the local fair. This guy has some serious form as a vintage collector! Both photos provided by



3. What’s your grail?

I have the great luxury of living in Seattle and being involved in the collecting community here which has some of the most amazing vintage collectors in the world. A by-product of this is that just about every prototype, concept design, rocket-firing, canceled second wave, Glasslite exclusive, etc. can be seen monthly at various get-togethers. This allows me to live vicariously through my fellow collectors and thus fulfilling that Holy Grail hole.

4. What collectors inspire you?

Again living in Seattle provides all kinds of inspiration. My friends Gus Lopez, Vic Weirtz & Lisa Stevens do the most incredible things with the actual cases, wall mounts and displays they use to highlight their pieces. Others, like my friends and co-hosts, Tom Berges and Jason Luttrull have vintage collections that are very clean and accented by other vintage Star Wars lines and collectibles.

5. What is your most embarrassing moment as a collector?

A few years back, I was fascinated while listening to this collector’s story of an amazing find they had at an obscure collectible shop and attempted to ask him to tell his story for my site. I was sure collectors would love to hear about this Darth Vader themed discovery. I even wondered if this guy named Bill knows how cool this story really is. And then another fellow collector pointed out that this Bill goes by the surname of McBride and is the same Bill who is the proud owner of – The Darth Vader Toy Museum. Thankfully he’s such a top-notch guy he didn’t (nor would he ever to anyone) call me out on my ignorance.

VSWC: Check out Bill McBrides interview with us here:

6. What is your favourite Star Wars film?

The Empire Strikes Back! Which is probably why Bespin Luke is my all time favorite figure.

7. What would you change about the collecting community?

There can be a lot of negativity toward those who are either new to the hobby or do not share the same collecting focus. As someone who has a deep passion for this hobby it’s always difficult to see, hear or read comments that polarize, scrutinize and criticize collectors who like us all, just desire to collect movie toys and memorabilia. It may be the educator in me but I prefer to educate and inform those in the hobby over sullying it with antagonism. To this end, in addition to starting an action figure website, I and others from my collecting group have begun hosting panels at local comic cons about action figure collecting and the hobby in general.

8. Forums or Facebook groups?

Ten years ago, I spent loads of time in the forums of Rebelscum, and SirStevesGuide but today with two little kids, an involved teaching career, a website to run and a supportive wife I like to spend time with, I have found social media to be more conducive to my current pace of life.

9. What Star Wars character do you most resemble?

I would like to say I’m a cross between the wisdom of Old Ben and the wit and good looks of Han Solo but in reality I’m probably a beardless General Madine taking care of business in the cut scene.

General Madine presenting at the Emerald City Comicon


Jake giving it all he’s got in ROTJ


10. Is there one thing that collectors may not know about you?

Despite having somewhere in the vicinity of 3,500 Star Wars action figures and another couple thousand or so from other lines, I do not nor ever have used eBay. I enjoy playing the long game, networking with collectors, going on toy runs, perusing antique and collectible shops and inheriting other’s collections over time.

VSWC: Well thanks for joining us Jake and as always it was as absolute pleasure! Thank you for that big shot of positivity and a reminder of why we all love this hobby. 

Collector Snapshot #12 – Jay Williams

I’m happy to present the twelfth issue of our regular segment, where a vintage collector is given 10 short questions to answer. The same questions will also be given to the next collector appearing on the blog.

Next up is my friend Jay Williams (Psybertech on most Star Wars forums), a 42 year old (he tells me he feels 52! Don’t we all!) from northern New Jersey, U.S. I met Jay (and his weird Scandinavian roommate) at Celebration Anaheim last month and I’m happy to report that he’s as easygoing and friendly as his online persona. I regret not hanging out more. Well there is always London 2016 🙂

Jay works on the technical side for an imaging and medical company and his job is to create web applications to connect different systems together for their field engineers and customers. He tells me that he doesn’t really have a fancy title other than simply being a jack of all trades and that he considers himself fortunate to do what he likes for a living.

This link might give away Jay’s answer to question two, but check out more about him and his focus at his great website:

I love this page and it’s easy to see both Jay’s love for Bespin Leia and his IT skills shine through. Well done Jay!

To the questions!

1. How long have you been collecting?

I recently got into collecting as an adult in Dec. 2012 after my father dug up a decent set of 20 or so figures from the first 12 & next nine and some ESBs from my childhood in my grandparent’s basement. They were all near mint, like new, and I wanted to complete the first 12 immediately. Before I knew it I was out to complete the next nine and then ESB, ROTJ and POTF. My goals have been evolving and a constant moving target ever since. I never thought I’d be a collector and it all came at me completely out of the blue!

2. What do you collect?

At the moment it is hard to say really. Last year I completed the full Kenner run, but the biggest thing for me is a focus I have on Leia Bespin. I took to her at first for the very obvious variations of crew and turtle necks but quickly spiraled down the path of mould pairs, factories involved, licensees, packaging, and well, everything and anything I could research. All of that research has helped me get a better handle on the hobby as a whole. I now see variants of everything, everywhere!!!!

I also am digging my latest run called the “Gross MOC Run” which is the first 12 figures each on 1 of the various 12 major US card back releases (12, 20, 21, 31, 32, 41, 45, 47, 48, 65, 77 & 79). It is cool thing and has so many possible combinations that will help this run evolve over time.

VSWC: Ok here’s some eye candy, first up is Jay’s main display. She’s a beauty.

main display

VSWC: Next batter up is a photo of Jay’s loose run. 

loose run

VSWC: Jay calls this his “Duo Display”

duo display

VSWC: And here’s the “Gross Run” he was talking about

gross moc run

3. What’s your grail?

I’ve got three grails so far and on the hunt for more. I own three Leia Bespin proofs; a 31B, 45A Hand-Cut and a Revenge. Plus a very cool and unique SW-A Leia Bespin baggie. That’s right… an ESB figure in a SW baggie!

Beyond those, I am looking out for any true pre-production Leia Bespin pieces like a first shot or carded mock-up. They are all up there for my top wanted grails. But any cool pre-production piece, Leia Bespin or otherwise, will be awesome to add. 🙂

VSWC: Jay’s grails: (31B Proof, 45A Hand Cut Proof, Revenge 48 Proof & a SW-A Baggie (1 of 2 known)

leia bespin 3 proofs and baggies

VSWC: One of Jay’s favorite pieces to finish off the photo gallery –  Takara Transforming X-Wing


4. What collectors inspire you?

A lot actually, but there are two that started me down my research path/rabbit hole. Alex (General Khan) and Wolff (wbobafett). When I first saw two massively different Leia Bespins in my hands, I was trying to find information on her and stumbled across Alex’s Luke Bespin Limelight and Research topic on The Imperial Gunnery forums and my jaw dropped. What the hell was all this???? He documented not just hair and paint, but COO stamps, company origins, blaster and lightsaber variants, what accessory could be confirmed with a specific Luke, cardbacks, MOCS, baggies and man, that was more than my brain could handle at that time!!!

My OCD finally met its match and puked!

Next, I quickly found Wolff’s site and my jaw proceeded to punch a hole through my floor! This was widely spread through the figures and I had to know (and OWN) more!

My collecting had just found a direction!

Thanks Alex and Wolff!!! Who knows if I would have stuck with collecting if I wasn’t inspired like I was.

Same goes to every other variant collector who helps the hobby with discussion and documentation! (Kenneth, Lee, Marco, Patrick and so many more!)

Thank you all!

VSWC: Check our full length interview with Alex here:

And with Wollf here:

5. What is your most embarrassing moment as a collector?

All of my early posts. 🙁 I had the same questions you see on every forum out there. YUK.

Is this a real DT? Is this rare? Why is the COO like this? I think I discovered something!! Jeesh… so many posts that make me cringe when I was very green. Shit, I still make some boneheaded comments. :/

6. What is your favourite Star Wars film?

The Empire Strikes Back!!! Bad guys winning, Boba Fett, incest and the Skywalker’s plot thickening… man, such a great movie!

7. What would you change about the collecting community?

That is a tough one. I guess two things come to mind….

I’d encourage folks on Facebook that aren’t on forums to sign up and start posting on forums more. Forums are like an encyclopedia of sorts and so much more manageable for searching long term.

I’d also love if there was some Artificial Intelligence involved in posts to automatically get rid of dickheads.

8. Forums or Facebook groups?

See #7…. but………. Forums, forums, forums. Forums for anything serious. That said, I just really started getting involved with Facebook and while it can be fun, it is total chaos and unsearchable mostly. It has it’s place to help expose the masses to some things, but I would love for the serious FB’ers to join up on the forums and get involved. There is just so much blatantly wrong information floating around. Get your feet wet on FB and if you’re serious, we’ll see ya on the forums at some point I hope. No offense to full time FB’ers! I get it. People like FB. I like it too for some things for sure. But at the end of the day, meat and potatoes are what forums are. The hobby would benefit greatly if more people could contribute to the hobby in this manner.

9. What Star Wars character do you most resemble?

In ROTJ at the Emperor’s arrival, the Stormtrooper in the 4th row, 6th to the right. 😛

10. Is there one thing that collectors may not know about you?

Let’s see… I love drinking beer! Wait!…  people know this already. I love hockey and the NY Rangers. Wait, people know this too. I like RC cars and crawlers. Damn, I’ve said that before. I’m a PC techie…. damn, I’ve mentioned that before. Damn, I guess I share too much. 😛 Wait, I have a soft spot for Yoda… crap… said that before too! hahaha

OK… one thing I guess, I am a HUGE Forza Motorsport fan! I love running laps over and over and over and over and…….. Name a car and a track and a lap time and I will destroy you!

VSWC: Well thanks Jay for joining us on the VSWC blog. As always it has been an absolute pleasure!

Collector Interview #6: Joe Yglesias – Bootleg Overlord

I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Mr Bootleg himself onto the blog. Yes that’s right, the one and only Joe Yglesias is joining us to share his thoughts on SW vintage collecting and also to give us a peek into his world. Massive thanks to him for sharing his time with us.
Joe is an absolutely legend of the Star Wars vintage collecting world and is arguably the most knowledgeable bootleg collector in the world. So you can understand how happy I am to have him on. Not only that, but he is a great guy. Everyone knows about my no ars*hole policy with the blog (yours truly being the one exception of course!). When I first joined Rebelscum, I kept hearing about this scary guy ‘Joseph Y’ who would smack down arrogant and ignorant collectors or wannabe scammers. Although I joke about Joe being a tough guy, he is actually very approachable and is always on hand to lend advice to other collectors or to help educate others to some of the dangers to our hobby (i.e. repros, scammers and u-grades). He is as vocal as they come and this interview is a testament to that.
Joe also tells me that he’s currently drafting a book about bootlegs, and that while it’s had some set backs it will be ready to hit the press by Celebration 8. A kickstarter will also be launched soon to help pay for the graphic design/photo editing and publication. Good luck and can’t wait to see the book!
Now to the interview! 
1.    Joe I have to ask you straight off the bat – are you really as scary in person as you seem in your photos? 
Joe: I’m a fairly soft spoken, and easy to get along with person, if you’ve heard any of the earlier Chivecasts where I had a monthly bootleg segment (still not sure why they stopped having me do that, it was fun), my speaking voice certainly doesn’t match what you’d expect me to sound like. As for me being scary in photos?I can’t help having been born with this ruggedly handsome face(lol), and while I might have some fun messing with trolls online, that buy into me seeming “mean or scary” I’m just another collector, I can be the most helpful person in the hobby in the areas that I’ve knowledge in, or the biggest jerk, all depending on how one approaches me. But overall I’m a pretty mellow person.  I can get a bit aggressive when a piece I want comes up for sale, but that’s just the hyper competitiveness of the bootleg segment of the hobby kicking in. 
VSWC: I did hear your segment on the CHIVE Cast (see our past interview with the hosts Skye and Steve here – a few times and I really enjoyed it. I have crossed paths with you quite a lot in the Star Wars collecting groups and can confirm that you are a very helpful collector and an easy-going guy, unless someone messes with you of course! 
2.    Before we get in to the collecting side of this interview, I’m sure our audience would love to know a bit about you. Where did you grow up? 
Joe: was born and raised in Cranston and Providence, Rhode Island. I currently live in Cranston RI. 
VSWC: What was it like living there? 
Joe: The neighborhood I grew up in was a working class neighborhood, I had my share of friends that were also into playing with Star Wars toys, reading comic books, riding BMX bikes, and a few years later playing video games like Atari 2600, and just the general things kids do. Because none of the kids on my street had “rich” parents, and no one had “everything” we’d usually merge our toys for bigger battles. Overall I’d say I enjoyed my childhood, still am on many levels.
VSWC: Sounds like a cool bunch of neighbourhood kids to hang out with. The kids in my street used to steal my toys lol! 
3.    When I interview collectors, I usually have to do quite a bit of background research to collate some info on the interviewee. We’re Facebook friends though and to be honest your non-Star Wars passions in life really shine through.  Am I correct in saying that you are a huge comic book fan and collector, involved in the tattoo and body piercing industry and play in a band?   
Joe: Comic books were part of my life since before Star Wars ever existed. I’ve been reading them since I was four or five years old. There was a news stand in the supermarket that my parents shopped at when I was a child. I have great memories, of my parents giving me .50 or .75 cents and me going thru every comic on the racks to decide what I wanted, and being able to get two or three comics just about every time we went there. As an adult collector, I’ve ebbed and flowed in my comic collecting over the years. Stopping for long times, then building right back up. I sold off my original collection at age 18 to buy a car, then bought a few collections from others after that and started to vend at comic shows while in college, and that’s actually when the adult Star Wars collecting began for me. I bought a loose collection of SW figs and vehicles along with a comic collection, and kept them….the rest is history. I also collect many other toys I either had or wanted but never got as a child. Such as Mego Super Hero figures, Six Million Dollar Man, Shogun Warriors, Evel Kneivel etc. But over the years Star Wars has won out every time. My other hobbies include collecting vintage BMX bikes, rare punk rock records, playing in my band and DJing. As for my involvement in the body piercing industry, I’ve been a professional piercer for over 23 years, owned my own shop(s) for the past 16 years. I pride myself on both the quality of jewelry that I sell and install, and the level of cleanliness used in my facility. I worked with my local department of health to write the regulations that RI uses for the licensing of piercing facilities and piercing technicians,and still operate at a standard higher than what they finally passed into law. My involvement in music stems from being an awkward teenager, and finding Punk Rock (with a little help from my brothers Ramones and Iggy Pop records), long before it could be just looked up on the internet or found in the local mall. Going to my first Punk rock show in 1985 changed my life. I found where I belonged and while I certainly enjoy many other forms of music, and have DJed many genres of music over the years (everything from Rockabilly, to 80s New Wave, to Gothrock, to Neo Folk and everything possible in between), Punk and Oi! music have always been what makes the most sense to me. My band ‘The Usual Suspects’, is just an extension of that. I try to write songs that I’d want to hear as a fan. 
VSWC: Joe just before hitting the stage to belt out a tune. 
Me just before we play
VSWC:  Wow you are a busy man but sounds like you are having a lot of fun. Funnily enough I’ve actually heard one of your band’s tracks – ‘Brick thru a window’. Skye and Steve used to play it on their podcast. Very cool song! Hope you don’t me sharing this link to you guys playing it live.
4.   What would you be up to on a typical Saturday night? 
Joe: Usually I’d be working on a typical Saturday, from noon til 10pm. After which more often than not I’d be tired and just go home, watch some TV, eat dinner and go to bed. But of course if there were a band playing that I wanted to see, I’d go do that after work (which doesn’t just apply to Sat night). On the Saturdays that my band is playing somewhere I typically have my other piercer cover the shop for me, and go have fun for the day. Sorry that this answer wasn’t “alcohol fueled benders” as many would likely presume. Don’t get me wrong….those happen too, once in a rare while, but that’s not a “typical” saturday night for me…lol
VSWC: Joe are you sure these benders don’t happen often? 
me double fisting drinks
5.    So how old were you when you first saw Star Wars? 
Joe: I was seven years old when Star Wars hit the theaters. Thanks to my father being a big SW fan himself, I got to see it quite a few times in the theater. He also spoiled me as much as the family budget would allow when it came to the toys.
6.    What’s your first memory of seeing a Star Wars figure? 
Joe: I got the EB (Early Bird) envelope, and a “Force Beam” or similar bootleg light saber as part of my Xmas present in 1977. While still waiting for the EB kit to arrive, Child World (a now defunct toy store chain) got figures in. Seeing the wall of them is my first memory of physically seeing SW figures as a child.  I believe my father bought me a Ben and Vader that day.

At one point a childhood friend got a wind up R2D2, I believe his family went to Niagra Falls on vacation and crossed into Canada, which knowing now what I know about the piece, makes sense, but anyway, my father saw this toy, and literally drove to every toy store, small and large that he could, trying to find a wind up R2. I’m not sure if he wanted it more for himself or me at some point. But that sticks out as a very vivid memory of my dad’s enjoyment of Star Wars. He kept at it looking everywhere for about a month then gave up once he realized it wasn’t going to be found. As an adult collector, when the chance to buy a carded Canadian wind up R2 came up, I jumped at it. I still have it, despite having sold most of my non US stuff, it would be the last piece that I’d part with if I ever sold up and got rid of everything, as it serves as a reminder of how much he was a part of why I got to enjoy the Star Wars toy line as much as I did as a child.
VSWC: Great story Joe! What a cool dad. So do you still have any of your childhood figures? 
Joe: No, sadly, all of my childhood figures went the way of being played with and lost. But had I been more careful with them, I likely wouldn’t have enjoyed them as much,and gotten as heavily back into collecting them as an adult, and we wouldn’t be having this interview.
7.   How long ago did you start collecting Star Wars figures in earnest and what did you first collect? 
Joe: I started collecting around 25 years ago, it started as most do, with nostalgia for the toys of my youth. I started with some loose figures that I picked up in a collection with some comics, then bought more loose figures to try and complete the loose “set” and then as time, and both my knowledge and income went up, I switched to carded, and boxed items. At the time non US items were selling for a fraction of what their US counterparts were fetching, so I often bought non US carded figures, partially because at the time they were cheaper, but also because the logos were cool looking in contrast to the US Kenner equivalent. 
VSWC: Now I know you’ve sold off a lot of your licenced figures but do you still have much of your carded collection left?
Joe: The only bits of my carded collection that I have left is my 12A set, my 20 and 21bks, my Takara 8″ figures, and my as mentioned above, carded Canadian wind up R2.
8.    Before we get to your love of bootlegs, do you mind giving our readers a brief rundown of what exactly defines a Star Wars collectible as a ‘bootleg’?
Joe: A bootleg is any mass produced (as in made in a factory) unlicensed item that directly is made to look like the character from whichever licensed toy line that it’s ripping off. Examples being, Uzay figures, Model Trem figures.
VSWC: An example of an Uzay, followed by a Model Trem. A tiny sample from Joe’s enormous bootleg collection of these lines. 
VSWC: Oh and the rest of Joe’s Model Trems. Might as well…
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A knock off, is also a factory/company made item that’s made to closely resemble an item from a licensed toy line. Enough so that it reminds you of the character, but far enough away so as to avoid direct copyright infringement. Good examples being Arco Spacewar figures, or Tomland Star Raiders. 
VSWC: Here’s a couple of Arco Spacewar toys from Joe’s collection to give you a taste of what some of these knock-offs look like. 
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9.    So what’s the earliest known bootleg and at what point did bootlegs become ‘modern’ bootlegs?
Joe: Earliest known knock off items would be pieces like the Force Beam, and the dozens of other light saber toys that littered the shelves before Kenner product became available, I also believe that these little statues called Star Warts, were on the shelves before Kenner SW toys. Some of the Timmee toys space figures w. a SW like header card were out there and the Arco SpaceWar figures were VERY close in timing to the Kenner toys hitting the shelves. Earliest direct bootlegs would include some of the rarer Mexican pieces. The “Heritage” metal figure sets, and from what has been said, the Dutch/German bootlegs were available before Kenner items in Germany. As far as the cut off for what’s considered a vintage bootleg, that’s such a grey area, as the movies didn’t get “legally” shown in some countries until the mid to late 80s, so while Kenner stopped in 85, other countries bootleg lines ran well into the early 90s, with the vintage Mex/SA (semi-articulated) line was still being sold in Mexico in marketplaces to be used as toys, with different variants even after POTF2 came out, some even packaged w. POTF2 headers/backers. Modern bootlegs started the second that POF2 came out, heck likely even before, I’ve got some non vintage based pieces that may have been made in the years between vintage and POF2 era. Once again, as said before that early to late 90s line of what to classify where is very grey. That said, bootlegs made in the modern era, in many cases mirror their licensed counterparts very closely. The lines that stand out are few and far between. Still fun to collect, but with the current world, licensed items were likely in abundance in most of the places where these items were also available.
VSWC: Wow I feel ten times smarter after reading that rundown. I guess that’s why you are considered the go-to-man for bootlegs. I was always curious why some of the vintage bootlegs lines were producing bootlegs so late in the game but I guess that answers it. 
And here are some of Joe’s modern bootlegs. 
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10.    Now I know one of your bugbears relates to some collectors insisting that bootlegs and reproductions are essentially the same thing. What is the actual difference? 
Joe: Legally and in general terms, to someone outside of the hobby, or someone without much knowledge of the world during the vintage era, they could be considered the same, as both are unauthorized and both do/did breach copyright laws….. BUT….. intent and hobby accepted definitions make them FAR different. Vintage era bootlegs were made to be played with as toys by children that were in countries where the licensed items were either unable to be legally imported, such as, Hungary, Poland and Russia, which thanks to trade embargos, had no legal imported SW items, and the few items that were illegally imported, were inflated beyond belief. Or third world countries, where even if the licensed item were available they were beyond many peoples means to buy as toys for their children to play with, so bootlegs flourished as the worldwide influence of SW had everyone everywhere, wanting something from that galaxy far, far away… Repros are made for the collector market, made to fool people, and in many cases defraud them into believing that they are original weapons or carded figures, etc, and since collecting is a first world luxury, regardless of where you live, if you have the disposable income to collect vintage SW, you can save that disposable money, and buy the real thing. Even the stuff that’s marked as repro somewhere on it, unless the markings are huge, the marking can be obscured and sold as original to an unknowing buyer. Bluntly stated: In general repros are made for people too cheap to buy the real thing. IF the repro weapon makers started making their weapons in colors that Kenner never made them in, that would be a great solution for those that want to give beater vintage figs to their kids, and still have weapons for them to play with.
VSWC: Well said Joe. So do you think the recent coordinated action undertaken by various Facebook Star Wars vintage groups (see here – will have any affect on the presence of repros in our hobby?
Joe: I think that it will hopefully educate people on the potential pitfalls of repro items, and make them think twice about what they want to collect. I will also put a nice dividing line up between people that collect vintage, and people that just want something that looks vintage.
11.    I’ve been looking forward to this next question since you first agreed to come onto the blog. How the hell did you get into bootlegs?
Joe:  It all started at a toy show in Auburn Mass. in 94/95, I was set up next to a collector named Paul Levesque (not the WWE wrestler) but Paul was an early contributor to the Archive, was active on the Usenet groups, and had his own site, which is long defunct called which had comical situations w. figures, an idea stolen by Toy Fare magazine, and expanded on by Robot Chicken…. IMO…… Anyway, Paul had these odd looking figures, that piqued my interest. At that show I ended up buying my first four bootleg figures, a carded Hungarian Leia and Wicket, and two Polish unarticulated figures, Luke and Barada. The dealer across from us had two carded Uzay figures and one Polish first generation carded figure. They also caught my interest, but I didn’t have the $ to spare that show. The same venue the following month, from the same dealer, a known East Coast seller at the time, by the name of Art Liew, I purchased my first Uzay figure, a carded Imperial Gunner that day, and then at the next month’s show, I bought my carded Blue Stars and first generation Fett from him. From that point on, I was buying bootlegs as a part of my collecting, not my main focus as I was all over the place. I finished many goals in my time collecting licensed items. I finished a first 79 set all on premier cardback, a full set of POTF(85), a full set of Ledy 12″ dolls boxed, a full set of Trilogo carded, and a huge variety of non US licensed items, including at one point, a full set of Palitoy and Takara 12bks, and the majority of each 12bk set from around the world including Clipper, Harbert, and GDE/Canadian 12bks. 
While I was collecting all of these other licensed items, I was always buying bootlegs here and there, and my interest would ebb and flow, for a few months, I’d concentrate on my Trilogos, then I’d switch over and work on my non US 12bks, or another facet of my SW collection.
VSWC: A past limelight of  Joe’s production pieces at the time. Yep, he knows a bit more about vintage than simply bootlegs. 
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VSWC: Wow what a collection! Most collectors can only dream about obtaining these full sets. So at what point did it become your collecting focus? 
Joe: Bootlegs were slowly taking over my collecting time and money from the late 90s on, they became my main focus in the early 2000’s but as said, I also was still collecting licensed non US items and even modern prototypes.

While I was certainly more into my bootlegs than any other part of my collection, and was known as the bootleg guy already, I didn’t shift my focus entirely towards them until after May 22, 2006 when my piercing shop burned to the ground, my insurance screwed me and the restaurant that started the fires insurance money all went to the state (who also sued them), and the owners claimed bankruptcy, so I got nothing to make up for over $100k in jewelry and equipment,and about 30k a month in lost revenue. . I sold off a huge chunk of my comic collection as well as most of my record collection to get the new space ready to work in, and thanks to the fine folks at Industrial Strength body Jewelry, who sent me a care package of basics to get me up and running. It’s a shame that “crowd funding sites” didn’t exist then, I could have likely rebuilt w.o having to sell my stuff, but…anyway,  I’ve kept going. Unfortunately my income level has never gotten back to where it previously was, so I had to make decisions on what mattered most  and what I could part with as time went on, and when rare bootlegs came up, what I could sell to pay for them. The bootlegs have always won. I’ve since sold off most of my licensed collection,including most of my prototypes, and have only kept 77-79 items with the SW logo(first 21 carded, 12″ doll set, and vehicles/playsets etc), as those were the most important to me when it comes to licensed items, as they had the most nostalgia attached to them. There are less than a dozen licensed items that I currently  really want, all, other than 2 store displays, are easily available, but bootlegs are more important to me, so any expendable income gets socked away for the eventuality of a grail bootleg piece coming onto the marketplace.
VSWC: Terrible story and I’m really sorry about what happened to your store. But it’s kind of poetic in a sense though that your SW collection help fund your new enterprise. Must have been heartbreaking to sell them though. Can you give us some examples of the prototypes you had to sell off? 
Joe: For prototypes, I’ve sold off a nice vintage Klaatu Skiff hardcopy, unproduced Leia Arctic doll, some vintage signed sample pieces my (formerly my) unproduced Salacious Crumb plush proto (that one hurt the most to part with), and literally, dozens of modern HCs, over 100 first shots, the unproduced Power Sparks hard copy and test shot vehicles, I at one point had an entire room of prototypes….all gone.
13.    So any idea how many pieces you currently have in your collection? 
Joe: If we’re counting both vintage and modern bootleg toys, as well as unlicensed non toy items, easily over 10,000 pieces of unlicensed SW merchandise
VSWC: Here’s a large selection of photos of Joe’s collection that have not already been shown in the interview. Yes, wow! I have to add that these photos are not updated, his collection is even more awesome these days. 
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14.    What’s your favourite line of bootlegs? 
Joe: Overall Uzay, they’re simply the best made line of bootlegs out there. The card art is what got me addicted to bootlegs. While other lines may be harder to finish, the Uzay line is everything that’s fun about collecting bootlegs.
VSWC: Joe’s insane Uzay collection. 
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VSWC: The cardback art on the Uzays is fantastic! My favourite is the Imperial Gunner manning the calculator!
Here’s Joe’s example. 
15.   What key bootlegs are you still chasing down? 
Joe: Well, there’s a loose black plastic first generation Polish Leia that I was screwed out of, and another example has yet to surface, that’d be a nice one to get. Of course any and all second and third generation Polish articulated figures on card, so I can eventually complete those sets too.  Other than that, the last couple of Mex/SA figures I’d need to have one of each character made, a couple of Uzay variants, both carded and loose. The last five Imai Star Command minis that I need to finish my set, the last two Arii Space Convoy R2s that I need, and a few other Japanese bootlegs that hopefully with time and patience will end up in my collection. Those as well as a few things I’m not going to mention, as it’d only get those that want to shut down the bootleg tractor beam to hunt for them harder.
16.   Do you think you’ll ever change your collecting focus?
Joe: Not unless I get out of the Star Wars hobby all together. The hunt for the bootlegs is still fun and exciting most of the time, and all of the other parts of the hobby that I have interest in are sewn up IMO. I could never get to the level I’d want to be at collecting other SW stuff that interests me at this stage in the game, the kingpins of those segments of the hobby are firmly entrenched, and I’d much rather rule in Hell than serve in Heaven.
17.   What would you say is the bootleg line most difficult to find? 
Joe:  Polish articulated on card, any generation. It took me nearly 17 years to put together a full set of carded Polish first generation articulated figures. That’s 20 figures…. I got to 11 of them, and it was like it’d hit a brick wall, I had been offering three and four times any previous known sale for them, none came up. Then all at once, between an auction for three that was at Morphys Auction house in PA, and my friend, James Gallo coming across some in a collection he bought, all of the ones I needed to finish my set were available. I scurried to sell off as much stuff as possible as fast as possible (which meant selling off items I normally would have kept) including my entire R2-D2 prototype collection (to Mike Ritter of course) and my loose Vlix, to Yehuda. Not to mention two of my best friends in the hobby, Mike Vogt, and Daren Wilde, letting me borrow some money, to make sure that there was no way on the face of the earth that I’d be leaving PA without my first generation set being complete. Still can’t thank them enough.
VSWC: Here’s Joe’s completed Polish first generation set, flanked by some second and third generation carded, including an ultra rare black Polish HothTrooper
VSWC: Another cool story. Nice to see collectors helping each other out. Does this happen much in the bootleg world?
Joe: There are lots of times when real friends help one another out in the bootleg community, I’m at the point where I know who my real friends are, they’ve helped me many times, and I’ve tried to help them when I can. I also know who’s out to roadblock me every chance they get. Due to the rarity of many of the items, there’s also a certain level of hyper-competitiveness in the bootleg community as well.
18.   Do you have many pre-production bootleg items?
Joe: Yes, I have the steel injection molds that were used to make the Uzay figures. I have all but four of them. At one point I owned them all, but hit some financial hurdles last year, and regrettably sold off some of them to trusted friends, that I know would never use them to make repros.  I would eventually like to figure out a way to buy them back from those friends, to make my set complete again, time will tell. Other pre production items that I own include steel injection molds for two Polish figures (Leia and Hoth Stormtrooper), and two mock up cards, one with three HC figures in the packaging, for the Arco Spacewar line, the steel mold for the head of a 12″ Mexican Vader figure, a full set of Polish 2nd gen figures, on sprues, unassembled and unpainted, as well as an Uzay AT-AT Driver un assembled and unpainted. I also have the proofs and color separations for the Space Warriors puzzles from Colorforms, the figures in the puzzles are not SW in any way, but the font for the logo is unmistakably Star Wars.
VSWC: Check out the moulds for the Uzays.
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VSWC: Here’s an example of Joe’s Colorforms proofs. 
19.   Considering how poorly some of these bootlegs are made, what’s to stop someone sourcing an old bootleg mould and then punching out their own? Could you tell the difference? Has it been attempted before?
Joe: There have been people that made fake lines of bootlegs, including a scumbag named Mario, aka FX master. He made these fake “Dutch” bootlegs, they still pop up on Ebay from time to time. They’re recast and repainted Kenner figures. Also another scammer named Pablo Artesi created an all white rubber set of bootlegs, as well as the PPL line which is attributed to him (he also made fake Top Toys protos and carded pieces, which were a licensed line). His worst fraud were a bunch of fake Model Trem figures, which in pictures can typically pass muster, but in person there are several tell tale signs that they are fakes.
Currently there is a batch of figures coming out of Mexico that are recasts of a very early bootleg line and need to be avoided, as they’re just being made to fool the collector market. There’s an articulated Greedo and Chewie in this line, and they have been seen in colors that almost match the vintage versions, as well as clear plastics. The tell tale signs of them being fake is obvious when next to an example of the real thing, as well as some other factors, which I don’t want to give to the fakers, so that they can make their product look closer. Also from the same sellers are fake static (solid figure, unarticulated) Gam. Guards and Jawas, in a variety of plastics.
VSWC: Gee that’s unfortunate. Actually I remember now that I read about Artesi on Rebelscum. Didn’t he allegedly die and then come back to life or something like that?
Joe: Yep like all “good” scammers, he faked his own death, only to come back a few months later using his wife’s Ebay account and selling more fake items.
20.   I’m a big bootleg fan myself and I know a few collectors who are into them but I’ve heard several people comment that they are not as popular as they used to be. Is there any truth to this? 
Joe: I think that all parts of the hobby ebb and flow when it comes to popularity. Proof cards will be hot for six mo’s then cool off, then it’ll go to POTF coins for a few months. Currently 12bks and non US licensed items are the hot spot. That’ll change and maybe displays will be next?  One factor in the cooling off of the bootleg segment of the hobby is lack of presence on forums. I’ve stopped posting for the most part on the two forums that I’m a member of (not intentionally, just been spending too much time on FB), and the third and largest forum, thanks to their owner and I having a disagreement to put it nicely, I can’t openly post on that forum, which I think definitely hinders the exposure that bootlegs get.
VSWC: I can tell you now that you are definitely missed on that forum! As I touched upon earlier, when I first joined up a couple of years ago I saw members openly lamenting you not being around anymore to keep troublemakers and scammers in line! 
21.   Who would you say are the other major bootleg collectors? 
Joe: I’d say that the closest to me in quantity and quality would be Daren Wilde, after him, Shuichi from Japan has a massive bootleg collection, Michael Vogt, Steven Weimer, Martijn Emmelot, Mete Akin,Trevor Wencl, Jason Edge, Wolff, Dylan Leong, Seth Delpha, Patsy Pedicini, Cristian Guana, Horacio, Jakub, and I’m sure I’m forgetting quite a few others that I haven’t talked to in a while as well as some up and coming collectors that I haven’t seen the spectrum of what they have well enough to tell. As well as some focus collectors that have massive amounts of bootlegs of just one character…..
VSWC: I’ve heard stories about collectors travelling to Eastern Europe back in the early days of bootleg collecting and bringing a massive amount of bootlegs back to North America. Were any of the above guys involved in those expeditions? 
Joe: None of the current bootleg collectors were involved in those expeditions. The two main people behind those trips were Lenny Lee (Lee’s AFN magazine) and Lev (owner of Toy Tokyo). Neither of them have anything left from their adventures, I got most of Lenny’s Uzays when he brokered them thru Tom Derby in the late 90s, and he just recently sold his last piece, a carded Polish first generation Fett, that I’d been working on getting for a while, to a friend of mine (Mike Vogt) that I passed the deal on to once my set was finished, as it was one of his grail pieces.
22.   Do collectors from a particular continent dominate bootleg collecting or are they spread around the globe?
Joe: Definitely spread around the globe, just in my list above, we have collectors from the US, Canada, Germany, UK, Japan, Mexico, Poland and The Netherlands. There are a few bootleg collectors in Australia, they have just as diverse of an audience location wise, as licensed items IMO. 
23.   In what ways are you involved in the social networking side of bootleg collectors? 
Joe: I run the bootleg and knock off collectors page on Facebook, I answer easily a dozen questions a week sent to me via PM and email about bootlegs, I also run a bootleg SW toy site (still being built but is live) I need to make myself more visible again on TIG and SWFUK as they’re both great forums.
24.   Do you often get the chance to meet other collectors face to face? 
Joe: Not as often as I’d like. I have many friends in the hobby worldwide. I’ve traveled a lot to hang out with my collecting friends, bootleg and non bootleg collectors.  Just this past weekend, Yehuda K, a great friend, and collector in NY had a get together at his house, I drove part way, and met up with Micro Rob AKA Rob Amantea, and rode with him for the 2nd half of the drive. It was a great time, hanging out with friends from the NY and CT area, seeing how his display room looks, coveting some items that he has, getting display ideas for when I revamp “Mos Yglesias, the most wretched hive of product piracy” in a few months.
25.   I wouldn’t be carrying out due diligence if I didn’t ask you about the Action Figure Authority (AFA). I know you’ve had a lot to say about them in the past. What are your general ideas about their place in our hobby? 
Joe: My personal opinion of them is that I will never use them until they banish the U grade and add effective bubble protection to their cases. SW collecting is the only hobby that encourages people to remove an item from it’s original packaging, only to be repackaged in acrylic, creating an artificial collectable. Beyond that as mentioned before, I feel that they need to step things up on their bubble protection, for carded figures, as SW items age, the bubbles become more brittle, and we’re seeing more and more shipping damage with these bubbles not being secure or buffered.
26.   Do they have much of a role in relation to the grading and authentication of bootlegs?
Joe: Authentication is done by CIB, and when they have had bootleg related questions in the past, they’ve called me and I’ve gladly helped Tom out. As for grading bootlegs, personally I see no use for it.
27.   Do you think they should be liable for the Toy Toni’s they incorrectly authenticated? (read here for more info on the Toy Toni scandal –
Joe: While I don’t believe that they should be fully responsible, as they were fooled too, IMO they do have some level of culpability, after all they refer to themselves as an “authority”
28.   Did you personally get stung by the Toy Toni fiasco?
Joe: I had sold three figures that were TT (Toy Toni) pieces, years before, and when all the news came out, I found the emails of all three buyers on those pieces and offered to buy them back, and only one of the three replied, and said that he was fine with the piece as it was.  I got stuck with a TT Fett, which I sold with full disclosure, to someone I trust not to move it off w.o also disclosing. And recently, I was buying a collection to flip, and this guy hadn’t collected since the early 2000s had 2 TTs in his stuff. One I sold with full disclosure, the other I still have.
29.    I’ll finish off with a few random questions. Firstly, if you could change one thing about this hobby what would it be? 
Joe: Fewer bootleg collectors……..LOL Seriously….. collectors educating themselves on what to look for in real vs not real on items, and not just relying on third party grading to tell them that they have a nice item.
30.   What do you think will happen to the hobby once the current crop of collectors, the generation who actually collected the figures as kids, pass on? Will the hobby keep going or will it die out with us?
Joe: I think the hobby will continue, while the nay-sayers compare it to the Vintage GI Joe (12″) market as how there are tons of formerly rare pieces out there and selling for a fraction of what they did at their peak, I see Star Wars collecting maturing more along the lines of the comic book market. There may be lulls as it solidifies but overall I see a strong future for vintage SW items, as long as they don’t all break thru the bubbles in shipping….
31.    Will you be at Celebration Anaheim?
Joe: Yes I will be, I’ll be doing a panel  with Ron Salvatore, and John Alvarez on Worldwide SW collectable oddities (my segment will be mostly bootlegs).
VSWC: Now that is a presentation I will not be missing! Do you think you’ll set up a sales booth as well? 
Joe: No, I won’t be set up at a booth, I will however be bringing stuff to sell during the room sales that happen after convention hours. 
32.    You’re pretty active on both the forums and Facebook. Do you have a preference?
Joe: Currently Facebook, as when I don’t want to hear the same questions asked a million times, I can just hide in the specialized groups for international collecting and my bootleg group. If I feel like engaging a wider audience, I can go to the main vintage group.  But that said, I really need to get back to being on the forums more.
33.    Final question! So looking back on all the years you’ve collected and all the collectibles that have come and gone from your hands, do you think you can answer this timeless question – why the hell do you collect Star Wars vintage figures? 
Joe: It’s cheaper than drugs and whores. Serious answer: partially nostalgia (the licensed stuff) and partially due to the history and cheese factor of the bootleg toys, seeing just how far SW affected the world and how far the bootleggers would go to both make their money and give the children of these countries something SW to enjoy…. And lastly because the hunt for some of these pieces that I’m still missing keeps me awake at night. It’s truly an addiction on some levels.
VSWC: Well that’s the wrap. Thank you Joe for coming onto the blog and sharing your collecting adventures with us. I doubt there is a more colourful collector than you and I had a great time conducting this interview! Thanks for letting me pick your brain. See you in Anaheim!


Collector Snapshot #11 – Moises Rodriguez Curiel

Welcome to the eleventh installment of our regular segment, where a vintage collector is given 10 short questions to answer. The same questions will be given to the next collector appearing on the blog.

Today’s participant is Moises Rodriguez Curiel, who is 38 years old and lives in Mexico City, where he works at a government agency dedicated to anti-corruption. Moises is also the founder of the largest Star Wars Facebook group for Spanish speakers – Star Wars Collecionistas / Collectors. I often share my blog articles in this group and I have to thank everyone there for their positive feedback and for putting up with my spam! They all seem like a great bunch of guys and I hope they don’t have the same dramas we have in the English-speaking groups! Well done to Moises and to the other admins for their great work there.


I’m lucky to have gotten to know Moises over the past six months or so and I’m impressed by his dedication to the hobby and to the collectors who make our hobby what it is. Not only that, but he has an outstanding collection! So thanks Moises for coming on and see you in Anaheim!

VSWC: And I’ll share an extra photo of Moises, for no other reason except that his wife is hot!


To the interview!

1. How long have you been collecting?

Ten years now.

I’ve never really stopped buying items from the saga since I’ve made my own money, but until ten years ago, those were casual purchases, not as a collector.

2. What do you collect?

Vintage toys carded or boxed. I also like Kotobukiya ArtFX 1/10 statues… a lot.

VSWC: Some of Moises’ great collection. 

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3. What’s your grail?

In my collection? It’s a Lili Ledy Chief Chirpa carded with the back printed backwards, I mean heads down. It’s a printing error that some Mexican collectors remember, but there are no other examples at all. As far as I know, this Chirpa is the only one. I´ve heard there is one card around like that, but solely the card.


Not in my collection? I don’t know… it would be some LL carded from ESB, maybe or if I had the toys from my own childhood. Sadly I lost them between moving house. I recently found a figure truly of mine since I was a kid, and it’s a treasure to me.

4. What collectors inspire you?

Many, especially the Mexican fellows, like Adolfo Martinez, Luis Galvez, Jose del Toro and others. To me, being a collector means that you have clear goals, you work to reach them, you are disciplined to search for them, you have to be financially organized, and so on. And to me, that speaks well of a person.

5. What is your most embarrassing moment as a collector?

When I lost an auction because I was waiting for the last moment to make the “winning offer”, and I did it, but my eBay account wasn’t opened so I lost the crucial seconds entering my user and password, and … you can guess. It was so foolish!

The item was a figure I’d been looking for a long time, still blaming myself hehe.

6. What is your favourite Star Wars film?

Besides ESB? hard to tell, I guess ROTJ and I also like Ep. III a lot.

7. What would you change about the collecting community?

Two things:

First, I see that for some guys, collecting is like a race against the others, and there is a lot of money involved. Maybe if we all search and go for the things that moves our real emotions, and not for the popular grails and rarities, maybe the Force would be more balanced.

Second, and I hope I don’t open a Pandora’s box or fall from the grace of others: I would change the total intolerance to repro items. Please keep reading! To me the problem is not the repro items themselves but HOW they are traded. Repro items sold as legit things is a detestable fraud. Repro items sold as “repro items” is a way to have items that you love but you can’t afford or that no longer exist. It’s like the art reproductions you can see in the Museums stores. So maybe the movement against Repro could change to a movement against fraud. Maybe I will start it in Mexico…

8. Forums or Facebook groups?

Since I’m founder and admin of a Facebook group, I would vote Facebook. But you learn a lot in forums. Maybe Facebook groups are better to make contacts and share information… actually that’s what Facebook is for, isn´t it? And forums are more organized by themes, like more specialized.

In the end both options are great. Speaking of which, you all are welcome to join Star Wars Coleccionistas / Collectors, the biggest SW collectors community in Spanish in the world.

9. What Star Wars character do you most resemble?

Maybe Anakin because of the struggle inside hehe.

Now seriously, I don’t know, I guess my wife could say better.

10. Is there one thing that collectors may not know about you?

Many. But related to collecting, I’m a fan of other things, like DC superheroes, GI Joe, MOTU, and watching sports (49ers fan, for example).

Thank you and MTFBWY!!

Collector Snapshot #10 – Thomas Quinn

Hello readers!

We’ve finally hit the big ten episodes of our ‘collector snapshot’ segment and what better way to celebrate than by welcoming Thomas Quinn onto the blog! I know I always say our participants are great guys and girls but seriously do collectors get any friendlier and easygoing than Thomas? I first met Thomas last year, when I sold him a Luke Farmboy cardback. I couldn’t believe how appreciative he was for selling him the cardback when I myself was happy to move it on from my collection (I don’t collect cardbacks). True reflection of the kind of collector he is. Since then I’ve got to know him better and I love seeing the effort he, along with Jason Thomas and Mike Boniface, puts into heading up the Empire State Star Wars Collectors Club. For the most part, their meetings are located in upstate New York, but they continue to recruit members from as far away as Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Western New York.The goal of their Star Wars collecting group is to both educate and create a community for their members. Thomas tells me that they embrace new and old collectors alike and that he is always fascinated to see what other people collect, and how they collect it.     11073444_10204776888396665_1743773145_n

Ok to the questions!

1. How long have you been collecting?

I have been collecting Star Wars since 1977, but that really doesn’t tell the story. I saw Star Wars as a seven year old and in 1977 I made my parents go to see it over and over again in the theaters. Of course, being that age, I couldn’t wait for Star Wars toys to come out. My father cut out an article about Kenner making Star Wars toys, but they weren’t going to be ready for Christmas of 1977. I finally got my first Star Wars toys for Easter 1978. I was hooked. Although I stopped collecting in 1981, I saved my toys in the basement. In the mid 90s when interest was renewed for Star Wars, I pulled them out of the basement. I began to research them on the new technology known as the ‘Internet’. Once eBay came along, I bought my first new figure: Hoth Princess Leia. I was hooked…again.

2. What do you collect?

I primarily collect loose figures in great condition, but I also keep quite a few beaters lying around to play around with. There’s something special about a well-loved toy.  I also collect cardbacks and vehicles complete with their boxes. I have some carded figures but don’t consider myself a carded collector.

VSCW: Check out these pics of Thomas’ fantastic collection. Really is a great mix of loose, MIB, MOC and other vintage goodies. 

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3. What’s your grail?

Being a loose collector, I’ve been fortunate to be able to find most of what I look for at a reasonably affordable cost. However, the item I am looking for right now is a Palitoy Death Star. It is one of those things that I never knew it existed until I became an adult collector. When you’re a collector I guess you never truly stop looking for items.

4. What collectors inspire you?

The two collections that have blown me away are the ones owned by Mike Boniface and Yehuda. Mike is a loose collector like me. He has the patience of Job in searching eBay and finding great deals on unique items. Yehuda’s collection just blew me away when I got to recently see it. I love how he displays it, what he collects, and his willingness to open his home to show it off. You meet some pretty terrific guys in our hobby and we have some great guys in the Empire State Club.

5. What is your most embarrassing moment as a collector?

My dumb, naive, young collector moment was when someone asked me to do a trade and I got ripped off because I never got the items that were promised me. So, the “trade” turned into a one-way ticket.  I blame it on my youth and lack of knowledge.  Live and learn.

6. What is your favourite Star Wars film?

I would have to say my favorite Star Wars film is the first one, not because it is superior to the Empire Strikes Back, but because it drew me in to both the world of science fiction and collecting.

7. What would you change about the collecting community?

The one thing I think is over-emphasized in our collecting community is the grading process. I don’t get my toys graded. If I think they’re beautiful, that’s all that really counts.

8. Forums or Facebook groups? 

When I began collecting, I was on Rebelscum every day.  Now, I find myself on the Facebook pages. Facebook has become important to me for the Empire State Club, as it offers another way for me to connect with other people in our area interested in the hobby. I do think that both are great methods to communicate with other collectors.

9. What Star Wars character do you most resemble? 

These days, I probably look more like Uncle Owen, but in my heart I will always be the farm boy looking to the stars.

10. Is there one thing that collectors may not know about you?

Most people have no idea, that in addition to my passion for Star Wars, I have an equal passion for Major League Baseball. I have been to 36 major league ballparks, and most of the spring training complexes. On my upcoming trip to Celebration Anaheim, I am able to visit three major league ballparks. Strangely enough, I bought game tickets, then later found out that 2 of the 3 games fall on the one Star Wars Night at the ballparks! I’m excited to combine my two passions into one trip.

VSCW: Thanks for coming on Thomas and see you in Anaheim!

Collector Snapshot #9 – Josh Blake

Welcome to our ninth segment of ‘Collector Snapshot’ where a vintage collector is given 10 short questions to answer. The same questions will be given to the next collector appearing on the blog. Next up is Josh Blake, a 35 year old from Cincinnati, Ohio. He owns a freelance graphic design studio where he creates marketing products for commercial businesses and individual personalised designs. It is these skills that Josh used to great effect during the recent SW vintage Facebook group anti-repro and u-grade combined initiative (check out our article here – Not only did Josh, with some inspiration from Ross Barr, design the fantastic anti u-grade logo but he also worked hard to cobble together the banners of a number of groups, including two of the groups I admin. Here’s an example of one of the banners:


Fantastic stuff huh! Josh is a pretty modest guy and I was surprised when Ross told me that Josh actually runs the main Star Wars Micro Collection group on Facebook and that he is one of the hobby’s go to guys when it comes to this line of collectibles. Check out his Facebook group here:
He also appeared in the Micro Collection section in Brian Stillman’s Plastic Galaxy! Very impressive. I love Plastic Galaxy and I urge anyone even vaguely interested in Star Wars vintage to rush out now and buy the DVD (or at least just click a few times and buy it online…). We actually reviewed the DVD in the earliest days of this blog:
Well I’d like to thank Josh one last time for his dedication to the wellbeing of our hobby and I’m happy to finally welcome him onto the blog!
To the questions!
1. How long have you been collecting?

I began rebuilding my childhood vintage Star Wars collection in December of 1993.

2. What do you collect?

I am known for collecting preproduction items relating to the Micro Collection 1982 line. My goal is to simply acquire items I find interesting – both vintage Star Wars and non-SW. My interest in prototypes occurred some time around 2002 when I began researching product plans for toys that never went into production. This was the milestone moment that ignited my collecting passion. I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and was one of the lucky collectors that got to see incredible items and spend weekends at those famous local flea markets.

VSWC: Josh and a taste of his micro collection. 


3. What’s your grail?

My grails include three of the unproduced Micro Collection Playsets: Hoth Bacta Chamber, Bespin Torture Chamber and Jabbas Palace.

4. What collectors inspire you?

Alex Sleder was the first preproduction collector I met that helped guide me in the right direction, Bill Wills helped maintain a good balance between passion and priorities, Tracey Hamilton was the friend who always kept me encouraged when I considered throwing in the towel, Rob Amantea has helped facilitate the majority of my large purchases and Bill Byers consistently has my back and has more than once rejuvenated my passion for collecting.

5. What is your most embarrassing moment as a collector?

I generally don’t get embarrassed easily, although I do find myself having to ask some of the newer collectors what all of these online collecting acronyms stand for. Other moments may involve alcohol and past Celebration events.

6. What is your favourite Star Wars film?

The Empire Strikes Back.

7. What would you change about the collecting community?

It is my hope that we never lose perspective and always value friendships over the items we collect.

8. Forums or Facebook groups? 

I have never been a huge fan of anything beyond a toy show and a phone call. When I started collecting there was no online community to speak of. I see the arguments for both camps and respect their positions. It shouldn’t be any surprise that the hobby has evolved into the Facebook format, so instead of fighting it I have adapted to that trend. This is why I felt so strongly about starting a Facebook group devoted to my specific collecting niche. I wanted all of the best guys under one roof! As for the debate of whether it’s good or bad for the community as a whole, my personal feelings fall somewhere in the middle.

9. What Star Wars character do you most resemble? 

I would like to think that I resemble Chewbacca – a faithful companion and friend.

10. Is there one thing that collectors may not know about you?

I have been a percussionist for over 20 years and have performed in both professional and garage band settings. I have served as an ensemble instructor, taught private lessons and have composed dozens of scores.

Collector Snapshot #8 – Julio Zary (aka ‘Julioviper’)

Welcome to our eighth segment of ‘Collector Snapshot’ where a vintage collector is given 10 short questions to answer using only a sentence or two. The same questions will be given to the next collector appearing on the blog. Next up is 38 year old Brazilian Julio Zary, who is a military man and hails from Rio De Janeiro.
I’ve come across Juilo many times on Rebelscum where he is known as ‘Julioviper’. He has posted cool photos of his Model Trem collection and is also often selling Model Trems and Glasslite figures. I love to hearing his stories about being being a kid in Brazil when these figures were on sale there. He also actually runs a blog about Model Trems so go and check it out. All the cool collectors have blogs….
I have a couple of Model Trems myself and am surprised these bootlegs are not more popular. For those who don’t know much about them, check out this great write-up by the undisputed bootleg king himself – Joe Y.
Now to the ten questions. Take it away Julio and thanks for appearing on the blog!
1. How long have you been collecting?
I have been collecting since 1986, stopped for a while from 2009 to 2013, and now I am back lol. 

2. What do you collect?
I collect Model Trem Star Wars figures, Glasslite Star Wars figures, vintage Kenner and newer figures from episodes IV to VI.
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3. What’s your grail?
My grail is a Model Trem Bib Fortuna all complete, with staff, cape and box in mint condition.

4. What collectors inspire you?
Patsy Pedicini and Martjin Emmelot (VSCW: both Model Trem collectors).

5. What is your most embarrassing moment as a collector?
I had to cry to buy the very last Model Trem from the shop, because it was forbidden after 1988, when Glasslite brought the first and unique wave to Brazil. And it worked, as I got a 2-1B.

6. What is your favourite Star Wars film?
Episode V, I think.

7. What would you change about the collecting community?
Change the thinking of some guys that collecting is a death race.

8. Forums or Facebook groups? 
Forums, because I don’t have a Facebook account, hahaha. Forums are easier to find the info you need.

9. What Star Wars character do you most resemble? 
Han Solo, I think.

10. Is there one thing that collectors may not know about you?
I like GI Joe too, haha.

Collector Interview #5: Carl, Gary and Ross from ‘Star Wars 12 Backs, 20/21 Backs, and Early Vintage Collectors Group’

I’m stoked to finally present Carl, Gary (Gaz) Edson and Ross Barr from the Facebook Group ‘Star Wars 12 Backs, 20/21 Backs, and Early Vintage Collectors Group’. Those who know this group may be surprised to see that I’m only interviewing three of the admins, when there are actually four. Well we actually set about conducting this interview months ago, when there were only three admins and I decided to restrict this interview to the first three founders as adding a fourth would make this interview even more massive than it already is.
I did though speak to the lads and they mentioned that former admin Jeff Walters did an absolutely fantastic job as an admin until he had to resign due to his increasingly busy work and personal commitments. Jeff is still an active member of the group though and both his attitude to collecting and his collection itself are credits to the hobby.
Steve Dwyer (aka ‘The Dark Artist’ on Rebelscum) is the latest addition to the admin team and what an addition he is! Steve is one of the most knowledgeable collectors around (particularly in regards to first 12 figure vintage prototypes  – his 3D prototype focus has to be seen to be believed). Not only that but Steve is committed to improving the hobby and is also one of the loveliest blokes in the hobby. I hope one day to host both he and Jeff on the blog.
While I still prefer the collecting forums over the Facebook groups, this group is one of my absolute favourites. That’s not just lip service, I really do enjoy it and it seems to be growing into an influential group. And sincerely these guys are some of the friendliest blokes in the collecting world and they epitomise why I love vintage collecting – it’s as much about the people as it is about the toys themselves. Not only is this is a great group but it is also is a perfect example of collectors from all over the globe coming together to create a community for individuals to get together and share their joy of collecting.
Although there are still some teething problems with the use of Facebook to connect us to fellow collectors, it seems this format will play an important role in the future. For example, one of the main groups (created by British collector Jason Smith) actually has more than 14,000 members, which really is outstanding and highlights that vintage collecting is a growing and thriving hobby. That said, there is still a lot of debate going on in the collecting world about the value of these Facebook groups, more recently revolving around the issue that they may be causing fragmentation among Star Wars collectors – check out more about this in our previous article –
Now to the interview! 
1.    Before we discuss the Facebook group, it would be great to learn more about you guys. Ross you and I came up through Rebelscum together so I know you pretty well but Gaz and Carl I only really started to connect with you blokes through Facebook. Ross you are from the States (or ‘AMERICA’ as us non-Americans like to say) and Gaz and Carl you guys are British but where did you guys grow up? Are you all married with kids or are you footloose and fancy free?
Ross:  Christian, I have always liked what you said in your posts on RS, and I am glad we have gotten to know each other even better on FB.  As for my personal life, I have been married since August 2008, have a five year old son named Eli (my collecting partner – seriously, he can point out all flaws in a MOC in under 10 seconds), three year old daughter named Lana, and a one year old daughter named Sadie.
VSWC: Ross and the gang.
ross fami
Carl: I started my early collecting days on a forum called SWCC (Star Wars Collectors Cantina). I was a mod on there in the early days and got to meet some great people, since then I browse RS for the sales but our Facebook page is the main one for me. I’m in a great relationship with Lisa , and have two kids of my own and two step kids.
VSWC: Carl and his family. 
carl famil
Gaz: I live in a small mining village called Shirebrook (near Mansfield) in the UK. I’m still there as of now. I’m 42 so a good age for collecting SW so they say. I live with my partner but I’m not married but I don’t think it will be to long thou. I have three kids as well – 24, 15 and 13 years old and all GIRLS (yes hard work). I’m going to be a granddad soon holy shit!!
VSWC: Gaz and his girls!
VSWC: Gaz and his wife looking sexy and dangerous. 
2. So do you ever get teased about your collecting?
Ross: I do get teased occasionally, but even my friends that tease me do think it’s cool.  I think there is still a misconception that all collectors and lovers of SW are nerds, but I am quick to tell those people that I have met some of the coolest and funniest guys I have ever met through SW collecting.
Carl: Do I ever get teased ? I’ve had the piss taken out of me a few times by my mates, that’s because I’m a massive wind up, and they know I would deffo do the same 🙂
When I first joined the Facebook pages, I didn’t realise pages weren’t private so I was posting my 12 backs etc and of course they were appearing on my Facebook feed. Then on a night out with the lads, about five of them started making chewie noises and taking the piss. I had to take it on the chin, because I would have done the same 🙂
Gaz: Do I get teased mmm well come on I do live with three girls lol! Seriously thou yes I did when I first got back into collecting, but now my close friends and family see the values involved in buying and selling they just leave me in my own little world which I’m more than happy about.
3. How long have you all been collecting, how did you catch the bug and what do you collect exactly?
Ross:  I have been a lifetime owner of the toys and collector since I was a child, but started collecting again in earnest a few years ago when I dug out my loose figures, some carded stuff, and other random stuff.  Having a son that was just as into it as me really gave me the fuel to collect again, and we went from there.  My primary focus is my full run of 96 figures on their first “movie” card, but not necessarily needs debut card back – just the front.  The first 12 must be on 12 backs (again, don’t care about A v. B v. C really), the next 9 on 20/21, all ESB characters on ESB card fronts, ROTJ on ROTJ, etc.  I have a full loose collection in C9 ungraded condition, and have a few MIB vehicles and playsets that I like.  I am also working on an “original” Han Solo (not Han Hoth, Han Bespin, etc. – just “original” Han) focus, with the goal of getting him on every card front and back that he has ever appeared on.  Finally, I am working on a full set of the 12 inch figures MISB, and have “just” one (Boba Fett) until that is done.
VSWC: Ross and his growing Han Solo focus. 
ross coll
VSWC: Three of Ross’ favourite pieces. Vader is a production double telescoping saber (DT), while Ben is a hand painted first shot  with mushroom tip DT saber and Luke is an engineering pilot with a production DT saber. Amazing pieces! 
Carl: I’ve been collecting for about seven years, I have changed focus many times over that period, but now my focus is 12/20/21 backs and all early stuff. I got the bug seven years ago when I brought some loose vintage figures for my son. There were about 10 in total and when they arrived they were that mint that I couldn’t let him ruin them. So they went on my shelf and my collection grew from there.
I’ve also recently started collecting and an ESB/ROTJ run with clear bubbles.
VSWC: Carl standing guard over his stellar collection. 
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Gaz: I’ve only really been back into collecting for the last four years, yes I did have it all as a kid but like most people got rid of it all in my early teens. I got the bug back really just by looking up Star Wars on eBay and it carried on from there.
I remember my first figure was a loose Chewbacca with a repro weapon lol, then like Carl I’ve changed my focus a million times, just finished my 21 back run (all 12 Backs are A cards) and I have a few of the rare pieces. I also just started on the ESB line. I love the cartoon droids and ewoks so maybe I’ll collect them at a later date.
VSWC: Some of Gaz’s awesome collection. 
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4. Do you ever meet face to face with other collectors?
Ross: Since I have joined RS and the Facebook groups, I have met more and more collectors face to face.  I am part of an Ohio collectors group and have done a few events, meet friends on comic con events and toy shows, and have had friends I have met on RS and FB stay at my place or have met them out for beers and brought them back to share my collection.  Having someone over to see the collection is a real treat.
Carl: Had a great time at Memorabilia in Birmingham and met up for the first time with some great lads Steve UKG, Adam Pemberton, Marcus Schroeder, Klause Dorscher (Marcus), Sheldon Wagstaffe, Gaz Edson, Paul Smith, Rich McLean, Marc Walsh, James Martin and Graham Hughes and had a few beers and a curry afterwards. Great night! Dean Keenan and Chris Hyden  both live a few miles away so we also meet up for a beer and a chat . Also me and Gaz Edson meet up regularly. One day I would love to travel the pond to meet my USA bro Ross lol.
VSWC: The lads hanging out in Birmingham.
gaz and carl 2 carl, gaz
Gaz: I’ve only had a trip down to Carl’s to do a couple of SW deals over a beer, more on the horizon 🙂
VSWC: Gaz and Carl (left to right) hanging out recently. 
gaz carl
5. Are there any good conventions coming up? Will you be going?
Ross: I attended an amazing toy show last month in Cincinnati, OH, the home of Kenner, and got to catch up with many old friends and meet many new ones.  I don’t remember having that much fun locked in a room with a bunch of dudes.  Well, I do remember, but I will keep this interview PG-13. Hahahah.  As for conventions coming up, right now I am looking forward to attending Celebration 7 in California next April.
Carl: Just Memorabilia for me in the UK in November, more than likely I’ll go. I’m also thinking of going to Jedi Con in Germany. I had a great time meeting up with my two friends Marcus Schroder and Klaus Dorscher at this years Mem show so would love to do Celeration Anaheim in April and meet all the friends I have made from these groups, but I don’t think I will be able to have the time off.
Gaz: I’ve never been to one but would love to, so it’s something that’s going to happen.
6. What are you all into other than vintage star wars collecting? Is there time for much else?
Ross: When I first got into collecting as an adult a few years back, I was buying childhood collections and other items on eBay – mostly GI Joe and Masters of the Universe (He-Man).  I needed to take a step back and focus on one thing with everything else going on in my life, so I am slowing selling off everything other than Star Wars stuff.
Carl: I have my own building firm that keeps me pretty busy and of course the Mrs and the kids lol. My other passion is football (soccer). I have a season ticket for Wolverhampton Wanderers and have followed them since I can remember. We also have three Bedlington Terriers, and enjoy nothing more than taking them walks on evenings and weekends.
Gaz: Not really, most of my spare time goes into SW, it’s hard for much more with work and family. I do love football and support Sheffield Wednesday I go to see them whenever I can.
7. Gaz I notice that you always seem to have top pieces for sale at decent prices and that you have a steady influx coming into your collection? How do you do it? Where do you find this stuff?
Gaz: I think I’ve just been lucky with spending hours and hours on eBay, sending messages asking if they had more for sale and doing deals away from eBay for better prices, so able to sell I bit cheaper and find some nice bits for my collection, but it’s getting harder and dryer out there.
8. So do you have any advice for newer collectors who are trying to find quality items at decent prices?

Gaz: Patience, believe it or not. Good deals do still come up from time to time and do your homework so you know what’s fake and what’s genuine, this way when good deals do become available you can hit ‘buy it now’ in confidence knowing it’s the real deal. Snooze and you lose in this game.

9. Carl what do you think about the current market at the moment? What is driving the current situation, where prices seem to be soaring?
Carl: Without a doubt the current market is on the up, which is a real shame, as this has put a lot of the items out of reach to a lot of collectors 🙁 My opinion is since the news of the new Star Wars movies, the prices of MOCs etc have started to soar , and as the film gets closer there’s a chance they could get even higher. Since I started collecting 7-8 years ago , prices have trebled to what they are now.
VSWC: 12 backs do seem particularly affected. I bought my 12 Back B Luke (AFA 80) for 500 pounds just before Christmas (admittedly a great deal) and now the same piece is selling for more than double. So do you think the Disney films will further effect this trend?
Carl: Definitely. In the last six months prices are creeping up, but the new films next December have definitely had an impact. I  also I think that, because the original cast are back in (ie Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie , C3PO and R2) 12 backs could increase further …….
11. So are you dudes excited about the new movies? Can JJ do it for the fans or will it be the prequels all over again?
Ross: Great question. From what I have seen to date, there is a movement to use more props, less CGI, and overall be truer to the OT (original trilogy), all of which I hope and think will lead to a great product. Disney paid a ton for the SW franchise, and has to get it right.  With that said, Star Wars is like sex to me.  Even when it’s bad, it’s good!
Carl: Can’t wait mainly because the original cast are back in it after 30 years, let’s face it the new films can’t be any worse than the last three and with the addition of the Stormies \, Falcon , x-wings etc from the original trilogy. I can’t wait ….
Gaz: I’m buzzing about the new films even more so knowing we have some of the original actors in there 🙂 It’s going to be a BIG HIT !
12. Ross I noticed that you changed your Rebelscum name from Darth Roscoe to Ross_Barr (is this correct?), pretty much in line with what the old guard did a while back. Are you too good for us now? Did you get enacted into the inner circle without letting your mates know?
Ross: Lol Christian!  If anything, I am worse off for having dropped my cool Darth Roscoe moniker…  Seriously though, consistent with point (4), as I met more people face to face it was frustrating to explain that I was “Darth Roscoe” on RS, so I made things simpler and went with my real name.  And I did join the inner circle – they have beer and cheap women!!!!!!
VSWC: Yep ‘Darth Roscoe’ is a pretty cool dude…
13. In all seriousness, you’ve only been collecting for just about three years yet you’ve amassed an enormous collection and I think you’ve almost finished your MOC run  How the hell did you do it so quickly?
Ross: Thanks for noticing, Christian. I need just a fewmoreMOCs to complete my full 96 carded run. And to answer your questions, yes they are all US Kenner. I have some foreign pieces that are part of my Han Solo focus, but that’s it. I have done it relatively quickly through some hustle, networking and very little off eBay. All in all, I havecomeout of pocket to the tune of around 55% oftheactual current market value of my collection through a lot of buying in bulk (large collection purchases, etc.) and selling off pieces that don’t fit my focus for againin an effort to subsidize my collection, and buying items that are otherwise way belowtheiractual market value. But of course I have also laid out a lotofmy own money, and importantly it was all through extra savings and other money that my family doesn’t necessarily need and likely won’t miss.

VSWC: Yeah I remember the huge haul you scored where you had to cross the border into Canada. How did this deal come about? 
Ross: Great that you rememberthathaul. That was one of four large purchases like the ones I described above that have allowed me to finance my collection. The seller was getting rid of his whole collection of Canadian and US carded figures (41 in all),MIB vehiclesandplaysets (35-40 of those) and lots of other memorabilia. He posted them all for sale at once on the big SW vintage Facebook group.Unlikeall of the vultures that gave him lowball offers and ridiculed him, I was nice to him, gave a reasonable offer, and since he lived an hour or so drive from, offered to come with cash in hand and pick the stuff up so he didn’t have to deal with shipping it all. We corresponded for a few days and agreed on a price. Needless to say from the pic, it was a ton of stuff, and I sold off enough within a few days to get my money back (and then some) and keep, free of charge, among other things, a Canadian 20 backSWBobaFett (ended up grading AFA 80), Canadian 12 Back VinylCapeJawa (I believe only two others are out there, and I have since traded it toaJawa focus collector), ESB 45backBobaFett, several other MOC figures, afewMIB items, and various other odds and ends.  It was the deal of a lifetime for sure.

You should have seen the face of the US border patrol officer when I drove to the US border with a car filled with vintage SW collectibles!!!!!  He thought I was INSANE!!!!
VSWC: The famous ‘thumbs up’ photo of Ross and his plastic contraband. 
14. One last question before we get to your group. Carl you have been pretty vocal about reproductions recently, particularly repro boxes. Do you think this is one of the greatest threat to this awesome hobby of ours? 
Carl: I don’t like reproductions. I despise them !!! Definitely going to affect the hobby in time, not so much the older collectors who can spot the signs, colour etc, but some of the newer and less educated collectors coming in could get stung. Some of these boxes that are being reproduced are superb, with just a small tab with reproduction written on them, that is NOT enough. These could easily be cut off so no one would know they are fake. Give some of these repro boxes 4-5 years of getting a bit of wearand tear and it will be very hard to spot. It wouldn’t be so bad if from the front it looked like the original, for display, but on the back it had ‘REPRODUCTION’ written in big letters or a totally different colour to the original. That way there would be no way of cutting that off or of anyone getting scammed. This is just my view, but I’d rather save up a bit more and get the original in not so perfect condition than these cheap fakes that are flooding the market …. This one does make my blood boil ……
15. So to your group now. Gaz can you briefly summarise what it’s all about?
Gaz: Our groups focus is from the first film Star Wars, which is by far the best film ever released (my view!). We see the group as a place to gather collecting knowledge,  to help others spot fakes etc and as a forum to display all of these amazing collectibles.

It’s also a place to have a good chit chat and laugh between us all while discussing SW (we are all on the same wave length). As soon as I mention SW in my house everyone’s ears shut down and I end put talking to myself!

VSWC: So why did you choose to focus on these particular parameters?

Gaz:  It was all Carl’s idea. I met him through the main vintage SW Facebook page and we got talking though there, then I received a message from him asking if I’d like to start a SW page just dedicated to the 12/20/21 backs and the early stuff (mailers etc) and as I said, Star Wars was by far the best film out of the three, so I thought why not 🙂

So I’d just like to thank Carl for involving me, cheers bro 🙂

17. Gaz do you all have specific roles within the functioning of the group?
Gaz: Not really. If there’s any decisions to be made we just have a three way vote, well four now as Jeff’s on board 🙂

But we all tend to agree and it generally runs fine. Ross is the one who mainly writes the important posts up (clever lad as) he’s very good at wording things. My spelling and wording of things is terrible which is why I’m the last to respond to this interview. Carl and Ross said it was a breeze,  yeah right I wish!

VSWC: Haha no worries Gaz! It generally takes a while for people to get back to me with their answers. I’m just stoked that people are willing to give up their time to the blog.

18. Ross, I might be a bit biased but to me the group seems to run much smoother than a lot of similar groups on Facebook. It really is a tight ship. Why do you think that is?
Ross:  Facebook is kind of the wild west of SW collecting.  It is certainly instantly gratifying when compared with some of the chat forums like RS and SWFUK, but there is so much less respect paid from one collector to another on Facebook, and zero moderation on most of the groups. Once Carl proposed the group to Garry and I, we discussed a few light rules that we had seen on RS that worked there and could provide a little organization to our group and encourage people to respect one another. The three of us (now four, with the addition of Steve Dwyer as an admin).
So how many members do you have now? Is the sky the limit in regards to membership?
Ross: As of today, we have just around 3,500 members.  When Carl first proposed doing the group, I thought maybe it would be cool if we could get our friends from the forums and a few other random members together and some day have 500 or so members that enjoyed the early vintage as much as we do.  It blows my mind that just over seven months later we already have 3,500.

As far as whether the sky is the limit, you always want to have more members naturally as it is more people to connect with, more interesting posts that will be made, and just better content.  However, I have no desire to get so big that we have internet “trolling,” off topic posts, and disrespectful members running rampant. This group, in my mind, was always supposed to be a bunch of like minded collectors in a niche group.  I hope we never lose that.
19. Carl there seems to be a recent flood of niche vintage collecting groups on Facebook. Do you think there are too many?
Carl: I really enjoy these niche groups but I am biased, if your focus is ANH, ESB, ROTJ, POTF , pre production, Lili Ledy  etc  there is a group for you out there. Plus the multiple general Star Wars pages, I don’t think there are too many but saying that, I turn notifications off on a lot of them, and just read the three or four I want to 🙂
VSWC: So what are your favourite groups then?
Carl: Of course my favourite page is the 12/21 back page without a doubt 🙂 I also enjoy checking out Echo base UK and Empire/ ROTJ pages. I’m also fascinated by the pre production pages, to see where all the toys we collect started and the different stages. There is so much to learn from that page . Matt (Matthieu Barthelemy) also does a great job on his La Guerre Des Etoiles page. I love seeing the Meccano and other designs for the foreign cardbacks.
21. What other niches are yet to be filled?
Carl: What other niche groups? Ask Ross lol! He will probably be helping with them!
VSWC: Haha you’re right! I should have asked Ross that one. I do like to call him the ‘King of the internet.’
22. So with you guys being so active on Facebook, do you still have much time for the forums?
Ross: I certainly have less time for RS as I used to, but I make an effort to go on there still as much as I can, and still would say I am active. It is still in my view the best place for information, and has the best classified section. It is well run and organized, and is an overall great site. As I said in my first RS post about the 12 back group, I think RS is the steak of the SW forums, and our niche 12 back and early vintage group is the red wine that compliments the steak.
Carl: Unfortunately I don’t really have the time for forums, with the two pages I help run plus everything else. Lisa would definitely not be with me if I spent anymore time on Star Wars  than I already do 🙂 I look on RS and SWFUK and TIG when I can, as there’s so much information stored on these pages, but it’s more limited than I would like.
Gaz: I always like to log onto RS and SWFUK and have a quick look, although I use RS mainly for WTB threads for the bits I’m after which usually works.
VSWC: So what would you guys say is your favourite forum?
Ross: RS, hands down. In fairness to the others, I haven’t spent much time on SWFUK and TIG other than on SWFUK when the Toy Toni stuff came out and TIG to confirm my weapons’ authenticity.
Carl: My favourite forum, I guess, it’s got to be RS nowadays followed closely by SWFUK.
Gaz: RS.
24. On to my final question, which is – to grade or not to grade?
Ross: For me it is a mixed bag. For my MOC figures, while I rarely buy an already graded figure (because, among other things, they are almost always too expensive), I buy near mint to mint pieces and almost always have them graded. I like the look and protection of the figure and card in acrylic, and the costs of the graded piece is really just another $30 or so more than it would be for the acrylic case itself. And the sad fact remains that if that grading turns out to produce an AFA 80 or 85, it results in an increase in the value of that figure in the market place, so it is money well spent in my view. I also like the ability to track my pieces by serial number, and have seen the AFA serial number come into play and be helpful in stopping thieves and scammers.
Carl: In my collection I have both graded and ungraded pieces , I have nothing against the grading , it protects the pieces and I love how they look. Luckily for me I bought most of mine before the prices really shot up and if I was collecting all the 12/20 backs now I would definitely be buying ungraded.

I think, like everything, AFA has its good points and bad points. Bad being: inconsistency with grades and u grading (well don’t get me started on that). It’s a shame prices go so high after grading but I guess for some it’s worth the price just to know what they’re getting and that their piece is authentic. So for me to grade or not to grade –  I’m both ……
Gaz: I’m easy as most of my 12 backs are graded except for a couple, my other nine of the 21 backs are mainly ungraded (three are graded) but they are all displayed in AFA style cases as they display better and protected. I’ll probably be getting them graded when I get around to it.

Well thanks so much for your time guys and keep up the great work with the group. I definitely feel that I know you all better after that and I hope our audience feels the same way.  I’m sure we will catch up sometime, somewhere for a beer.