Welcome all to the twentieth 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.
We’ve hit the big 20 episodes of these snapshots and I thought it was the perfect moment to finally invite Todd Thornhill onto the blog, who is one of my favourite collectors. I first came across Todd a few years ago on Rebelscum but since those days Todd and I have both been regulars in pretty much the same Facebook groups, where I’ve gotten to know him a lot better. There loads of things I love about Todd: he’s an absolute gentleman, his collecting is drama-free, he has a fantastic collection but is super modest and he contributes positively to the collecting community.
Todd is a Canadian collector, born in St. John’s Newfoundland, and for the past 29 years, he has lived in Toronto, Ontario. He has worked as a Software/Web Developer for 20 years, and is currently employed as a Manager of Software Development. His main collecting focus is vintage Star Wars, but he also collects 70s/80s toys and board games, as well as owning a huge collection of vintage / modern video game systems and games, from Atari 2600, up to current systems. (current tally: approx 2000 games and 25 systems).
Todd is 21 years ‘married’ with two beautiful kitties Vader and Naya (the latter of which also collect Star Wars…see pic). His username on forums is ‘LongPlayingTodd’ and he is heavily involved in the online community. He is currently one of the admins of the La Guerre des Etoiles (Star Wars) Collectors group on FB. Check it here:
The GDE group focusses on French vintage Star Wars – from Meccano, Kenner Canada, Tri-logo and anything else French and vintage Star Wars (and if you are not a member yet, please join!).
So let’s hear from Todd himself!
1. How long have you been collecting?
I’ve been collecting different things since I was a kid. I remember my collecting started with Six Million Dollar Man back then, (fully dependant on my parent’s pocketbook, mind you, but the thought of ‘having them all’ started there). Then when Star Wars came out, it was ALL about that. I was addicted. I was known as the kid with the Star Wars toys, and funny that people I grew up with still call me that to this day. I stopped and ‘grew out of it’ towards the latter end of the Empire line. I didn’t have anything from the Jedi line as a kid. I don’t actually remember how or why I don’t have my childhood collection anymore (they meant the world to me, so maybe I blocked it out?). I got back into Vintage Star Wars when I went to see Revenge of the Sith. A short while after seeing the movie, I was at a flea market and picked up a modern ROTS Vader figure, and that really got me thinking about the toys I had as a kid. One look on eBay, and bidding on and winning a boxed Falcon totally got me hooked again, so it was around late 2005 I really started focussing on vintage Star Wars.
VSWC: Evidence that he really did love Star Wars as a kid!
2. What do you collect?
It’s changed a little bit since I started, but the common theme throughout has always been based on nostalgia, and wanting back what I had as a kid. I started with collecting a full loose collection, and at least one carded version of each figure released on any cardback, and boxed vehicles/playsets, regardless of COO. Then after about a year or so, I picked up my first Canadian carded figure, and quickly realized that it was Canadian that I really wanted. I knew my mother picked up my figures back in the day right when they were first released to stores, so I concentrated on a Canadian carded debut run. My focus now is strictly Canadian. Now that my debut run is winding down, I’m looking to expand my focus. Now it’s everything and anything Canadian. My ultimate dream would be to have a version of every Canadian MOC released, but obviously that would be an impossible feat, but we all need goals in life.
VSWC: Take a deep breath and check out Todd’s absolutely ripping collection!
3. What’s your grail?
My grail would have to be a carded Canadian Vinyl Cape Jawa. I may go to the grave and still not find one of those, or eventually acquire one with only my fellow senile nursing home residents to share it with, but at least, along with my ‘every Canadian MOC’ goal, there won’t be a shortage of something to aim for, because I’m sure I’ll never achieve either goal.
VSWC: Let Todd know if you have one of these to sell him! Or even just to tease him with 🙂
4. What collectors inspire you?
For me, collecting is an escape. An escape from real life, and a trip back in time to when I was a kid and didn’t have to deal with these adult trials and tribulations. For quite a few collectors, I believe this is the case, as a few of my collector friends have said the same thing to me. Not to get too personal, but some are dealing with issues that collecting allows them to get away from. Anyone that has, or on the path to, overcome their demons, whatever they may be, inspires me. I’ve met a few, and their success stories inspire me more so than anything. It keeps me going, really, and gives me hope for dealing with my own crap.
VSWC: Todd’s cat is pretty inspiring!
5. What is your most embarrassing moment as a collector?
I can’t really recall an embarrassing moment as an adult collector, but as an 8-9 year old…. My mom would go grocery shopping every Friday and I would insist on going with her just to hang out in the Star Wars toy aisles in Woolco next door, while she was picking up groceries. Back then I was addicted to the guns and accessories that came with the figures.
I was so addicted that one Friday, in the Woolco aisle, I remember looking at all the figures on the pegs, and just craving to have the little guns in the bubbles. I wanted to take them out. Just the guns, not the figures. I wanted them all. So I began to carefully open as many bubbles as I could; only opening them enough to get at the guns, and proceeded to take out the guns. After a while, a Woolco employee wandered over, and questioned what I was doing. I opened my hand and showed her my handful of guns. I was so embarrassed not realizing what I was doing. I was blinded to the law by my love of Star Wars. In my eight year old mind, I wasn’t stealing because I just wanted the guns, not the figures. Makes sense right? She was very nice, I remember, and took back the guns I had in my hand, explaining it wasn’t the right thing to do, and let me go on my way. But she didn’t take the guns I realized I had in my pocket when I got home. Extra guns for me! Sorry to anyone who grew up in Newfoundland at the time, and got a carded partially resealed gunless figure that year for Christmas. It was my fault. Well…no…blame Star Wars.
6. What is your favourite Star Wars film?
Hmmmm…that’s a tough one. Star Wars started it all, and I remember my constant jaw-dropping when I saw it in the theatre with my Dad in ’77 (not so much Dad, who I specifically remember looking over to during one of my ‘What the hell did I just see’ moments, only to find him dozing off. Something I later realized he does regardless of the movie), but I remember the excitement I had as a kid when I saw Empire and it really blew me away even more. So I’d have to go with Empire, but it wins out by only a very small margin.
7. What would you change about the collecting community?
Drama and repros. It’s a pipe dream I’m sure to think of our collecting community free of drama, but I just wish we could all get along. There’s no real straight answer to it, which makes it more difficult to avoid, but just do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Cliché I know, but it’s true. We are a huge community with many different backgrounds and beliefs. Let’s try to keep Star Wars a happy place. It won’t happen I know, but nice to dream. I purposely have made an effort to stay away from drama, and quite happy our GDE group has very little of it, but I just wish everyone was mindful of others and not so quick to judge, be petty or jealous. I’m not talking about the scammers, douches, and plain ole idiots out there, cause there are a few of those, and they get what they deserve. I just don’t have time for pettiness. I don’t mean to give a world peace, beauty pageant type of answer, but don’t really want to have to come up with an escape plan for my escape plan. Let’s just try to make it a happy place. And for repros? Burn them all, I say. Burn…them…all!
8. Forums or Facebook groups?
They both have their place. I visit the forums less these days, unfortunately. I don’t think I’m alone with that. With forums, they are better organized. It’s just easier to find what you’re looking for. Also a lot easier for referencing historical data. How many times I’ve gone back to forums to gather info on old issues and collectibles are too many to count. Will we eventually get there with Facebook and for it to be the search source in the future? Possibly, unless another platform comes around. I don’t think it’s going to change as people are still to this day searching old newsgroups that were around before forums, so it will probably be just another platform to add to the search mix. FB groups on the other hand is just easier to use in general. It’s not a cumbersome interface at all. One thing I noticed quite quickly, on forums, I never really got to know collectors that well, and was a bit hard for me to break the ice. On FB, however, it was a hell of a lot easier to get in touch with, and get to know fellow collectors. Of course the platform itself is not conducive to hiding behind a pseudonym, and is a social platform, so it’s built that way, but it was only after I started speaking and making friends on FB did I then add them as friends on RS and other forums. And for someone that doesn’t get to go to many shows and conventions, and being mostly online, it was a welcome change. If FB can only nail down the organization side of things, and there not be so many groups, those are the only things that bother me. If there was a better way to organize things, it would make it a hell of a lot easier, instead of relying on FB search. Maybe using hashtags with search in some way, I don’t know the answer, but I do like to see some groups encouraging discussions with daily discussion threads, so it’s not all about FS, WTB, and limelights. That’s a welcome change. And Kudos to you Christian on the Tantive XI Forum. You and your fellow admins have done an amazing job there.
VSWC: Thanks Todd! I can’t take too much credit for Tantive’s success but thanks anyway!
9. What Star Wars character do you most resemble?
Hmmm….I’m getting a bit chunky, wrinkly and grey in my older age, so I’d have to say a little bit of Jabba, The Emperor and Obi-Wan combined. Is that cheating combing three-in-one?
VSWC: Not cheating mate, I’ll accept your answer, even though it’s a bit harsh 🙂
10. Is there one thing that collectors may not know about you?
I currently work in Software Development, but before that, I was a wannabe artist and performed on stage for a while. I’ve been performing since I was a wee lad in elementary school, and moved here to Toronto from Newfoundland to pursue a singing / stage career. I’ve been in a number of shows here over the past 25 years and also through Second City, tried my hand in improv for a good five years. Life and career took precedence which led me to make the hard decision to focus on my career in Software and Web Development, but I can still belt out a good tune…and I love to make people laugh
VSWC: That is very cool Todd! Never too late to give it another go… Well thanks for coming on and I hope everyone enjoyed this interview as much as I did.