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 Beise. The 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 2013. From left to right – Tom Berges (igrewupstarwars.com), Steve Sansweet (Rancho Obi-Wan), Jason Luttrull (Galaxy of Toys Podcast), Jake, Chris Bortz (JediBusiness.com) 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 – From4-LOMtoZuckuss.com. 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 IGrewUpStarWars.com
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 Sithtoys.com – 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, StarWars.com 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.