1: Hi Bobby and thanks for agreeing to this interview!
BOBBY: You got it! I’m happy to contribute to your blog.
2: It was great to meet you in Anaheim and I’m really excited to have you on the blog. You know that I go by the name ‘Bobby Bobs’ on some forums and in the Facebook groups, well I’ve actually been mistaken for you a couple of times funnily enough. So how does it feel to be the second best looking ‘Bobby’ in our hobby?
BOBBY: Well, I suppose everyone has their own burdens to bear. Just think about the poor sap who has to be the third best looking ‘Bobby’ in the hobby.
3: Haha! Well, now that we’ve dealt with the most pressing issue, I’m sure our readers would love to get to know a bit about you. So first off where are you based?
BOBBY: I live in Olmsted Falls which is a suburb of Cleveland in northeastern Ohio.
VSWC: Is that where you grew up?
BOBBY: Close. I grew up in a nearby suburb called North Olmsted. I’ve lived in a few other places over the years, but when it came time to put down real roots, I ended up pretty close to home.
VSWC: What was it like growing up there?
BOBBY: It was great. North Olmsted was a pretty typical American suburb. It’s basically a sprawling shopping mall with a bunch of 60s and 70s housing developments sprinkled around it. It was pretty safe, and for a kid there were plenty of things to do. Being located close to Cleveland, I was also in proximity to a larger city which certainly has its benefits.
4: I’ve seen a few photos of your beautiful family on Facebook. Can you tell us a little bit about them?
BOBBY: Thank you! My family consists of my 4-year-old son named Elliott, my girlfriend, Nika, and her son, Logan, who’s 10.
5: Are they Star Wars fans?
BOBBY: It depends. Elliott really isn’t into Star Wars all that much. He loves R2-D2 (he calls him Bee-Boop) and BB-8, but right now he’s way more into Hot Wheels, trains, and construction trucks. Nika likes Star Wars, but I’m not sure I’d call her a fan. At least, not in the sense that we mean it. Logan, however, is absolutely a Star Wars fan. He’s not so much into the action figure toys, but he likes Star Wars LEGO and a lot of the Star Wars reference books and materials. He’s also a big fan of the Clone Wars animated series, and we’ve had a great time watching Rebels.
6: Am I right that you’re a school teacher? What do you teach?
BOBBY: I teach 9th and 12th grade English in a town just outside of Cleveland called Garfield Heights. I’ve been doing this for 12 years, and I greatly enjoy it. It’s sort of difficult to imagine doing anything else.
7: You once posted a Facebook photo of yourself at work, dressed up in an awesome Star Wars outfit. Can you describe exactly what you were wearing that day?
BOBBY: Heh heh. I was wearing a full Star Wars suit. My mother made the tie, vest, and suit jacket. She made the tie and vest from vintage Star Wars curtains and she made the suit jacket from some modern Star Wars fabric. She’s still working on the pants so for school that day I wore some modern Star Wars pajama bottoms. The socks, underwear, and t-shirt were also Star Wars, but I’m not sure how many people outside of my immediate family knew that.
My mother is really good at sewing and making clothes, and she made me a lot of things growing up. I started asking her to make me a full Star Wars suit a few years ago. She sort of put it off for a while because she knew I’d actually wear it out in public. I don’t get embarrassed easily so she sort of gets embarrassed for me. Proxy embarrassment. When she finished the suit, she made me promise not to wear it to work or out with my girlfriend. I lied through my teeth and told her I wouldn’t. I did both.
I wore the suit on December 18th. It was the last day of school before winter break and, of course, The Force Awakens premiered that day. I’ll wear it next year before Rogue One premieres.
VSWC: What an awesome mum! No, have to say I definitely didn’t know you were wearing SW underwear that day….
VSWC: How did the students react?
BOBBY: I tell ya, kids are strange. Some kids thought it was awesome, some were genuinely puzzled, and some glanced at it without a second thought. I’m actually fairly conservative at work so I don’t think I’m pegged as being particularly eccentric by the student body or anything. I guess their minds were on things other than what I was wearing. It did help, however, to identify who the Star Wars fans were. Several kids came up to me excited to talk about the new movie. I had some good Star Wars talks when we returned from break.
VSWC: So other than the outfit, do you ever manage to squeeze Star Wars references into your lessons?
BOBBY: Yeah. It happens. My students are well aware that I’m a big fan and it does come up from time to time. I don’t actually have tons of Star Wars stuff in my room other than a couple posters and a few other small doo-dads. That being said, I just showed Star Wars for the first time as a teacher. I have a senior seminar class and I’m in the middle of a unit on Joseph Campbell. So, we watched A New Hope as an example of the hero’s journey.
8: Before we get to vintage Star Wars, I have to ask about your love of comics. Am I right that you used to collect?
BOBBY: I did. Like a lot of other folks, my collecting interests used to be a bit broader than they are now.
VSWC: What did you collect?
BOBBY: Mostly Marvel and Vertigo stuff. My favorite titles were The Punisher, Daredevil, The Fantastic Four, and the Silver Surfer. I enjoy all aspects of the Marvel Universe, but I’ve always been particularly drawn to the sort of gritty, street-level, NYC-centered stories of Punisher and Daredevil as well as the cosmic stuff that Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer explored. At one point I had a pretty respectable collection with some complete runs and a bunch of key issues, but most of that I sold off years ago. The only regret I have is selling my set of Fantastic Four 48, 49, and 50. I absolutely love those issues and they were in fantastic shape. I love Silver Surfer, they’re such key issues in the Marvel chronology, and the story is amazing.
VSWC: So you weren’t a DC fan then?
BOBBY: No, not really. Not the DC superhero universe, anyway. I love their Vertigo stuff. I mean, I’ve always liked Superman and Batman, but that might be because they’re such superhero icons. I have a lot of friends that read comic books and we’ve had many a late-night Marvel vs. DC beer session. Make mine Marvel!
VSWC: And what are your favourite comics now?
BOBBY: I still love comics, but these days I’m definitely a reader rather than a collector. I still love all the titles that I mentioned above and reread them on occasion. But my favorite titles are Transmetropolitan, Sandman, Astro City, Preacher (or anything Garth Ennis writes, really), and other Vertigo stuff like that. I’m currently reading Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga and gradually, slowly working through Claremont’s original X-Men run.
VSWC: Love all of those titles! Are you excited about the upcoming Preacher TV series?
BOBBY: Yeah. I’m looking forward to it. I mean, I’m trying to ready myself for the fact that it’s probably not going to follow the comic exactly. The trailer for the show already suggested as much. But if they remain loyal to the characters and the overall story and retain the comic’s marriage of intelligence and irreverence, then I think this could be a winner. In terms of how the show relates to the comics, I’m sort of hoping it takes the Daredevil model. I’m about halfway through the second season of Netflix’s Daredevil. I’m watching the show while rereading Frank Miller’s Daredevil run. A lot of the show views as a remix of Miller’s work. Some stuff is added, some stuff is omitted, and a lot is rearranged. And yet, I find that the show maintains the feels and spirit of Miller’s work. Nika and I were watching Daredevil a few nights ago and at one point I paused the program and told her that if Preacher takes the same approach, it’ll probably work.
VSWC: I notice that a lot of SW collectors also collect comics (myself included). What do you think is the common factor that draws some people to both of these hobbies?
BOBBY: I’m not sure I can speak for other folks, but I have a deep love and appreciation for stories. So, my interests have always leaned toward avenues that provide this: comics, movies, novels, role playing games, etc. Also, for those that grew up liking Star Wars, a lot of other fantasy stuff seemed also to fall under that umbrella – and that includes comic books. Wrap that up with the fact that some of us are just naturally drawn to collecting, and it starts to make a lot of sense. But yeah, I love a good story. A good story can be told to me in a book, on a screen, or by the guy sitting next to me at the bar. Doesn’t matter. A great story is a great story.
VSWC: The correct response is actually “we are all nerds” but I’ll accept your answer 🙂
BOBBY: Well, yes. There is that. Heh heh.
9: How did you feel when Marvel bought the rights to Star Wars comics?
BOBBY: I was thrilled to hear that Marvel reacquired the rights. I really never cared for what Dark Horse did with Star Wars. As both a Star Wars and comic book fan, one would think I’d be all over that stuff, but none of the stories really hooked me. I’ve read a few issues of Marvel’s Star Wars and the first couple issues of Darth Vader, but with all the stuff that Marvel has already published, I have some serious catching up to do.
10: Let’s talk a bit now about vintage. What was the first Star Wars movie you saw at the cinema?
BOBBY: My father took me to see The Empire Strikes Back when it premiered in 1980.
11: Was there a particular scene at the time that really stuck in your mind?
BOBBY: Not that I can remember. Though I remember really, really liking the movie. My father told me that I was riveted to my seat for the entire film: a pretty solid feat for an antsy 5-year-old kid. I do remember leaving the theatre after seeing it. The building is still there. It’s not a cinema anymore. It’s now a discount shoe store or something far less interesting.
12: And what about the toys? What’s your first ever memory of a vintage Star Wars toy?
BOBBY: Immediately after my father took me to see Empire Strikes Back, we walked down to the other end of the shopping plaza to a Kiddie City toy store where he bought me a Twin-Pod Cloud Car and a Darth Vader action figure. I don’t have the Vader figure anymore, but I still have the Cloud Car. I can still remember staring up at the aisle of Star Wars toys; amazed at the variety. The one thing I wish younger collectors could experience is staring at a full store aisle stuffed with vintage Star Wars toys. That Christmas, I got a Darth Vader action figure case, a few more figures, and a Millennium Falcon. I still have the Vader case. My original Falcon is pretty beat up, but it hangs from the ceiling in my collection room.
Bobby’s childhood falcon.
13: So at the moment what do you collect and how long have you been collecting?
BOBBY: I’ve been collecting for almost 25 years. For most of that time I’ve focused on the toys. The last few years have seen me increasingly interested in cast and crew stuff, movie production items, screen used props, and other “movie” collectibles.
14: Have you ever had a figure focus?
BOBBY: Nope. I’ve seen some really rad figure focuses, but I’ve never had one myself. My favorite vintage figure is Luke Jedi so I’ll live vicariously through Bill Wills’ and Shawn Kemple’s Luke Jedi focuses.
Bobby’s amazing collection room
15: What inspired you to collect?
BOBBY: It’s sort of hard for me to pin down when I started collecting Star Wars items. A lot of folks’ stories seem to have some “eureka” moment where they uncover a box of their old childhood toys, see some vintage figures in an antique or collectible shop, or see one of the recent Star Wars movies in the theatres. That didn’t really happen to me. Even after Star Wars sort of drifted out of popular culture, I continued to pick up the odd item at garage sales and flea markets and such: toys, games, puzzles – pretty much whatever I’d stumble across for a few bucks. My childhood Kenner toys never got packed away. I always had stuff on a shelf or something in my room or in a box in my closet, but I never banished them to deep storage. But still, I didn’t consider myself a Star Wars collector.
Like a lot of kids my age, I collected baseball cards and a bit later comic books. I bought Star Wars stuff, sometimes often, but I didn’t collect it. That changed in ‘92 when my folks bought me Steve Sansweet’s Star Wars: From Concept to Screen to Collectible (SW:FCSC). I’d seen Star Wars toys listed in cruddy paperback price guides and such, but this was the first time I’d seen these toys treated with such artistry and respect. I read that book from cover to cover, then reread it. The splash page featuring the 93 Star Wars figures blew my mind. I wasn’t paying much attention to Star Wars toys when Power of the Force was released so I had only a few vague, passing memories of them existing. And I had never seen figures such as Yak Face, Blue Snaggletooth, and the vinyl caped Jawa. I decided to assemble a complete set of loose Star Wars figures with their correct accessories: my first Star Wars collecting goal! Of all my collecting endeavors, this was the most fun and rewarding. The feeling I got when I finally finished the loose set and stepped back to admire my complete set of vintage Star Wars figures has yet to be matched by anything else I’ve acquired. I still revisit SW:FCSC from time to time. It’s still an incredibly great. My first copy started falling apart years ago, but it remains a valued part of my collection.
VSWC: Great story. I’m glad that you mentioned Sansweet’s book SW:FCSC because I think a lot of newer collectors don’t realise the impact it had back then.
16: So what would you say is your favourite piece in your collection?
BOBBY: I figured you’d ask this when you first approached me about doing an interview. It’s such a difficult question. My favorite piece would have to be that Twin-Pod Cloud Car that my father purchased for me after seeing Empire. So, I might be the only person out there who’s favorite item is that goofball ship that looks like a couple of yams stuck together.
VSWC: Beautiful! I wish I still had some of my childhood vintage.
17: Do you have a grail?
BOBBY: There are a few things on my radar right now. I’d love to nab one of the mid-size Death Star gun towers to complement the 1” and 15” examples that I have. I’d also love to get an acrylic cast and crew star. I had one years ago, but I gave it to a buddy when he got married. Others items that I’m looking for would be the Helix Death Star pencil sharpener and a nice example of the bootleg Princess Leia lamp.
18: I first came across you on the Rebelscum forum. Do you still go on there much?
BOBBY: Every so often, but not nearly as much as I used to. Sometimes I’ll log in once a day for a week. At other times, it’s weeks between visits.
19: Do you think the vintage forums can survive since Facebook groups have become so popular?
BOBBY: Yes, absolutely. But if they haven’t already, folks are going to have to get used to forums playing a much diminished role in the hobby. I like forums because they’re a bit more exclusive. Everyone has a Facebook account and it’s really easy to move in and out of the different groups without any sort of social investment. It’s pretty common for someone to casually join a group, cause some problems, be annoying, and bail. At least with forums, one has to find the website and register. So there’s a bit more of a buy-in. Not much, but maybe enough to make some folks not even bother.
But I really don’t care for the ability to remain anonymous on forums. It’s my pet peeve. It bugs me. I’m 40 years old. I want to converse with adults with real names, not with SuperStarWarsFettMeister or Endor_Luvr or 12BackAFAKing or some other such nonsense. People will say things and cause problems that they never normally would if their identities were out in the open. If you can’t say it with your name attached, don’t say it at all.
20: Well said. So do you get the chance to meet many collectors face to face? Are you member of any collecting clubs or do you get to many conventions?
BOBBY: Absolutely. Around 1997 or 1998 I found the Ohio Star Wars Collectors Club website and went to my first meeting shortly thereafter. That’s when I started meeting folks that were pretty deep and dedicated to this stuff. At that time, a lot of the guys that are still around lived in Ohio. Fawcett, Cable, McGinley…all those guys were local. I’m still a member of OSWCC. The roster is considerably different from when I first joined, but it’s still chock full of some great people.
Bobby and Dave Brown hanging out in Bobby’s Command Tower swing set at the 2013 Ohio Star Wars Collectors Club Summer Social.
The Command Tower swing set itself
The Ohio Star Wars Collectors Club 1998 alumni
BOBBY (continued): I get to conventions when my budget and schedule permit it. I attended Celebration 2 and Celebration Anaheim and I attended ICE in Seattle a couple of years back. Celebrations have historically been a bit difficult for me because they used to fall right at the beginning of the academic year and there was just no way I was able to take time off work during those first few days of school. I was elated when things were shifted to April. I don’t plan on missing many more.
VSWC: Is that Command Tower yours? So rad! How did you get your hands on it and where do you store it?
BOBBY: Thanks. I love that thing. I actually got it from a fella on Rebelscum a few years back who listed several of the Speeder Bike components for sale. I was interested in one of the swings but when we started talking, he mentioned having a complete, sealed Command Tower. We worked out a price pretty quickly. That was the easy part. It was located across the country so I had to do some work in finding a private shipper who could freight it for a reasonable rate. I was so stoked when it finally arrived.
21: What has been your favourite convention so far?
BOBBY: Celebration Anaheim was fantastic. It was great to see so many old friends and become better friends with folks that were formerly only acquaintances. It was also great to meet other folks that I formerly knew only through the Internet like you and Darren. In general, Star Wars collectors are good people: smart, approachable, and friendly. The vintage collectors also really have the do-it-yourself thing on lockdown. The amount of fan-generated stuff like the Archive Party and the swag trading going on alongside the more official stuff is impressive. The button/swag swapping was so much fun. I don’t buy too many things for my collection anymore. The chance to take home a slew of clever souvenirs made by people that I’m friends with beats another carded figure or boxed vehicle any day.
Bobby with his fellow Celebration Anaheim panelists Shane Turgeon and Chris Fawcett
Robot Dancing with vintage Leia Bespin in Anaheim. This young girl’s costume even rivalled Dwayne’s vintage Hammerheard effort.
VSWC: So how much has the Celebration scene changed since Celebration 2?
BOBBY: Well. I only really have those two Celebrations to compare with one another, but maybe that will lend itself to some perspective. There definitely seems to be a lot more costumes or cosplayers or whatever you’d call them at Anaheim than at Celebration 2. I’m not really into that scene, but it’s super cool and I love seeing all the people dressed up as troopers and characters and such. Thank god for limitless, digital photography.
22: Will you be in London this July?
BOBBY: Sadly, no. I’m taking my family to Disney World in June and I have a few other family trips scattered throughout the summer. A trip to London just isn’t in my budget. But I’ll be in Orlando for the 2017 Celebration and I’m sort of promising myself to attend the next European Celebration. It’s been years since I’ve hopped the pond and I’m sort of itching for a trip back to your neck of the woods.
23: Some of my readers may not know this, but you were actually a big part of the Plastic Galaxy documentary from Brian Stillman. How was it filming that?
BOBBY: Super fun! I was fairly active on the Rebelscum forums for a few years. At some point, Brian got in contact with me and asked if I had time to chat for a few moments about Star Wars collecting. Not one to pass on the chance to talk shop, we jawed for a while on the phone. He brought up the possibility of me being in Plastic Galaxy and I told him that I would be interested. A few months later we did the interview in my collection room. I’m not normally one of those people who really relishes the chance to be on camera, but I’m not the shyest guy either, so I had a good time being a part of this. The real weirdness came about a year or so later during ICE in Seattle. Brian was nearing the final edits to the documentary when he screened a 45-minute rough cut of the film in a local theatre prior to us watching Return of the Jedi. So yeah, here’s me watching myself in a movie about Star Wars toys at a real movie theatre before watching my favorite movie of all time while eating popcorn out of a vintage Star Wars popcorn bag surrounded by a few dozen other hardcore Star Wars collectors. Super bizarre. 8-year-old me was going absolutely apeshit.
Screenshot of Bobby’s part in Plastic Galaxy
24: The first time I saw you in person was during your presentation of the fantastic panel ‘Star Wars Pickers’ alongside Chris Fawcett and Shane Turgeon at Celebration Anaheim. Can you tell us what exactly a ‘pick’ is?
BOBBY: I’d define a “pick” as a deliberate acquisition of vintage or collectible items from original owners. Going to Target isn’t pickin’. Rummaging through a dusty attic or a dank basement looking through boxes is pickin’.
25: What has been your best ever ‘pick?’
BOBBY: Get ready for a long answer. I’ve always enjoyed buying and selling old toys stashes. I’ve done this for years and it’s really helped to fund my collection and establish a network of connections with other collectors. I used to work for a business in Cleveland called Big Fun. It’s an odd place: a mixture of an antique store, collectible toy shop, nostalgia and pop culture store, and tourist attraction. The place is a popular fixture in Cleveland and you wouldn’t believe the amount of old product that walks in the doors of that place. If people saw our basement or warehouse, they’d pass out.
I got a phone call from a woman one day who told me about tons of toys she had in her attic, basement, and garage. I’m ashamed to say that I blew her off at first. I had just gone through a spate of traveling to people’s houses only to find really beat-up garbage, Playmates Star Trek figures, or POTF2 and other modernish junk. Something about the way she spoke about this stuff sort of suggested to me that this was another one of those instances. Thankfully she called me back a couple weeks later and in our conversation she mentioned having a boxed 12” IG-88. The bait was in the water at that point so I stopped by her place. When she took me into her basement, I had to pinch myself. The entire basement was full of old toys. The whole basement. To the ceiling.
This lady and her husband went to see Star Wars when a local theatre brought the movie back for a one-year anniversary showing. They were hooked, and for the next several years they bought an incredible amount of stuff. They didn’t really purchase the stuff as an investment or even really as collectors. They bought it because they loved Star Wars (and science-fiction in general) and this was how they chose to express their fandom. It gave them something to do. It was insane. There was shelving built along the walls with stuff basically warehoused onto it. There were boxes stacked up everywhere. There were several dozen Kiddie City bags laying around full of stuff with the receipts dated from ‘79-’83 floating around in them. They just brought home bags of stuff and chucked them on top of the pile. And it went way beyond toys. There was a pallet stacked with boxes of comic books and 70’s and 80’s sports card wax boxes, a full run of both Playboy and Life magazines, slews of old Coca Cola displays, vintage 60’s model kits, etc. Just tons of stuff.
I did an inventory after all the product was relocated, but I can’t find it right now. There were over 500 carded figures, a couple hundred MISB vehicles, playsets, and accessories, and a few hundred other ancillary items like model kits, art sets, and anything else with the Star Wars logo on it. There were slews of other toys from the late 70’s and early 80’s like GI-Joe, Transformers, Knight Rider, Clash of the Titans, Flash Gordon, Space 1999, Voltron, Black Hole, Indiana Jones, Buck Rogers, and Star Trek. Everything.
I really scaled back my toy buying after my son was born. It was really fun and I did quite well with it. I found a lot of stuff! But it’s also a time sink and I just found myself short of hours. Incidentally, I still work for Big Fun. I don’t really hold hours there anymore, but I’m still involved with collection acquisitions, pricing, and such. I love that place.
VSWC: Amazing story! That really is every collector’s dream! So did you get to keep anything yourself or did it all go to your employer?
BOBBY: Nah. We split it all up. I got a few things, but not as much as you’d think. By the time I found this stuff, I had pretty much completed my collection of production Kenner toys. I already had a complete run of unused vehicles and playsets and I think I finished my MOC set a week or two before going into this basement. So it goes. Imagine that. I spend 15 years slowly assembling a carded set then stumble across 500 of the damn things in a basement. But there were a lot of oddball things that I kept.
Some of the booty from Bobby’s best picks. Yep…
26: Can you give a bit of advice to other collectors hoping to land a big vintage score?
BOBBY: Sure. You have to be willing to spend money on advertising. If you’re running ads on Craigslist, you might be disappointed with the results. At least, I was. My better scores have always come with running print ads in local and community newspapers. The right demographic reads those types of publications. Running paid ads can get expensive, but I’ve found it ultimately worthwhile. It might get tedious when you’re spending money every month to run them, but all it takes is once great score to make it all worth it. Another key component is targeting the right neighborhoods. The Cleveland area is home to a lot of older neighborhoods with families that are in the same houses they’ve been in for the last 40 years. That’s where the good stuff is.
You have to be honest. People are pretty savvy about things and are often a bit suspicious about folks trying to buy their old crap. With eBay and the Internet, it’s also super easy to do a quick value check. Be frank, fair, and be willing to spend a bit of money to get the stuff you want. If people feel like you’re being straight with them, chances are you’ll walk out with some stuff. If people get the sense that you’re trying to pull a fast one, you’ll often get nothing. And really, this is all supposed to be for fun.
27: The term ‘in the wild’ seems to be misused quite a lot in our hobby. What’s your definition?
BOBBY: To me, it means finding and purchasing stashes of old toys and collectible items from the original owners outside of any established marketplace. Finding a case of Star Wars figures for sale at a flea market, collectible store, or on eBay doesn’t count.
28: Great, sounds about right. So being from Ohio, did you ever get the chance to visit Kenner or any of the famous brick and mortar vintage stores in Cincinnati?
BOBBY: No. Cleveland is about a four-hour drive north of Cincinnati so it’s not exactly next door. A lot of my collector buddies made some pretty regular treks down there to meet with former Kenner employees and Steve Denny and such, but they were a bit older than me, had graduated university, and were in decent paying jobs with some disposable income. I was a broke college kid so I wasn’t able to get in on a lot of that. Still, it was a thrill getting to see what a lot of them brought back! I learned a ton and got to examine a lot of amazing pieces firsthand. But by this time I should have at least gotten down there to check out the old Kenner buildings. I’ve been to over 20 countries and have collected Star Wars toys for over 20 years, but I’ve never seen the Kenner locations in my home state. Total Star Wars fail.
29: I’ve got a few more general question to ask you about the state of the hobby before we finish up. If you could change one thing about the hobby as it stands today, what would it be?
BOBBY: I’m not really sure I’d change anything. I mean, I don’t like reproduction stuff or anything like that, but most of the time you can avoid being burned if you learn about the hobby and network with other knowledgeable collectors. That’s the fun part. I guess times there seems to be a certain amount of drama in the hobby or people get all wrapped up in whatever cause is the current hot topic, but I largely ignore most of that.
30: I think everyone agrees that prices are crazy right now. Why do you think this is the case and when do you think the bubble will burst?
BOBBY: The one thing that always comes up when I’m talking shop with my collector buddies is how much prices have risen over the last couple of years. It’s staggering, really. But it does, in a lot of ways, make sense. I think with the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm people have realized that Star Wars may be a forever property. Much like Disney characters and some of the more well-known superheroes, it would be fair to say that Star Wars is now an indelible part of entertainment culture. Interest in Star Wars might wax and wane, but I just don’t think it’ll go away completely – not in my lifetime, at least. I think prices will relax a bit after the next couple Star Wars movies premiere and the heady days of all this new hype dies down a bit, but probably not by much.
31: And finally, what is it about the hobby that has kept you collecting for all of these years?
BOBBY: I love Star Wars. I’m a huge fan of the brand. I watch the movies, read the novels, read a few of the comics here and there, fool around with the tabletop games, and collect the toys. The only thing I really don’t mess with are the video games because I’m just not that much of a video gamer in general. If that makes me a fanboy, so be it. I know some folks that collect the stuff but aren’t really all that big a fan of the franchise. That’s fine, but that’s not me. If I’m going to have a room of my house set aside for this crap, it’s gotta be attached to a property that I really like.
But none of this would be sustainable in a social vacuum. Like a lot of other folks have mentioned before, there are some great people in this hobby that I’m proud to call my friends. I wish I got to see a lot of them more often than I do, but I probably would have greatly scaled back my involvement in the hobby if it weren’t for my buddies.
VSWC: Well thank you so much for joining me today Bobby. It has been an immense pleasure and I’m sure my readers will enjoy reading your answers as much as I have!
BOBBY: Thanks! This was fun!
Quick update to thank all of the fellas at the Vintage Rebellion Podcast for having me on for an interview as part of episode 23. I was pretty excited to come on but I was also very nervous about the whole endeavour. Stu and Jez really did make me feel at home though and it was a great experience in the end, even though I do tend to drone on and on….Check the interview here:
We chatted mostly about the new forum Tantive XI, my blog and the Vintage Star Wars Luke Skywalker Focus Collectors Facebook group but we also discussed my Luke Skywalker focus and some of my childhood experiences with Star Wars. Have a listen if you get the chance and also do yourselves a favour and check out their other episodes.
I’m a huge fan of the podcast and have managed to listen to every issue, even back to when they were called the SWFUK Podcast. Thanks again to all the team and thank you for all the hard work you all out in every month to bring us this great show.
Here’s a review I posted of their very first episode, almost a couple of years ago now. A bit outdated now. They get better better every episode.
And we have previously interviewed Rich, one of the co-hosts. Enjoy!
I originally posted this on the Tantive XI vintage Star Wars forum but I thought I’d share it here as well. Here’s the original thread:
I recently was fortunate enough to attend the Dutch Comic Con. I had a cracker of a time! I was so excited to meet some comic book artists that I actually turned up at the event before it opened on the first day. Huge queue to get in but it was well managed. Actually the whole event ran really well and I was impressed with how much there was to do. Some excellent comic book artists and writers were there, a few Sci-Fi TV stars, and I couldn’t believe how many back issue comic vendors had set up shop. Crazy cheap too. Not too much vintage Star Wars but to be honest though I didn’t really focus on vintage as I collect comics and it was a comic con after all…. There were some great costumes and of course some very sexy Harley Quinns!
Some of the vintage SW for sale. The prices for these empty boxes were disgraceful. Then again at least they aren’t reproduction replicators or whatever the hell that dude calls his abominations….
A different vintage shop.
I chatted with Paul Blake (played Greedo in ANH) for a while and you really could have not have met a better bloke. Super easy-going and was happy to chat about Star Wars. I got a photo signed by him and also got him to pose with the Tantive Traveller (Tantive XI’s mascot), It actually cost 10 euros to get a posed photo with him but he did it for free. I was pretty embarrassed when I pulled out the Tantive Traveller but he was a great sport. Seems that Paul actually met the little fella at the Scarborough Sci-Fi con last year but not sure he remembered him…
I met Billy Dee Williams as well but to be honest I was a little disappointed. I was super pumped to meet him and get something signed but he really looked like he wanted to be anywhere but there. I was carrying on, thanking him for his role in SW blah blah, but he barely acknowledged me. When I went to shake his hand he looked at my hand with disgust and fist pumped me instead. He did do a panel later and that was kinda cool. He’s 78 years old so maybe I’m being too harsh…
Not the best photo. Billy Dee Williams appearing for a Q&A with the fans. Was a great turn out and most of the fans were pretty young which is good news for the franchise.
They had a special photo shoot set up for the upcoming Captain America Civil War movie. It’s hard to see but I’m holding the Tantive XI mascot. Yep I look pretty thrilled to be there.
Although it was cool meeting the SW guys and seeing some of the vintage, I was there pretty much mainly to see the comic book creators. I had comic books to get signed and one commission to request.
I pretty much ran through the entry doors straight to Tony Moore, co-creator of The Walking Dead and artist on the first six issues. I’m a massive fan of the WD comic so this was a big moment for me as a comic collector. Tony has also drawn a load for Deadpool, which I’m also a big fan of. I’m suprised he wasn’t mobbed but that’s the good thing about going to cons in places like Holland, Belgium and France; American or British creators aren’t as popular with the locals as European ones.
I had Tony sign about 15 comics and commissioned him to do a small sketch on one of my Deadpool comics. He ended up drawing a Zombie Deadpool. I loved it!
Hmmh how is it going to turn out?
I won’t share all the comics that Tony signed but I do love these covers in particular. Amazing work.
The sketch and the autographs were cool but it was even better just being able to chat with someone who has been so instrumental in creating the comics that bring me so much enjoyment. I talked with him for ages about the comics industry, The Walking Dead, Deadpool and his career in general. Even though he wasn’t really involved in The Walking Dead TV adaptation he loves the show and is really proud that he played a role in its creation. The comic is still going strong too.
He and his wife live in Cincinnati so of course I carried on about my passion for Kenner and vintage SW. They both love SW and said they knew people who used to go through dumpsters for prototypes and his wife used to be a regular at the famous ‘The Earth’ bricks and mortars shop there. They even talked about the Dewey Shumate auction (former Kenner employee) that was held last year.
I chatted also to well-known comic book artists Stephen Scott (Batman, X-Men Forever) and Mike Grell (mainly known for his work on the Green Arrow – his creations were the inspiration for some of the characters in the current TV show). Both great guys. I’d actually met them a few weeks earlier at a book signing at Henks comic shop in Amsterdam (my favourite comic store in The Netherlands). Steve kept calling me “Obi Wan,” which was pretty funny. I had a couple of pieces commissioned by them. Fantastic stuff. Steve actually made prints of the Batman sketch he did for me and told me they have been crazy popular. It was the first time he’d ever produced that sketch too so I was pretty chuffed to own such an original piece.
Here’s the Batman that Steve did.
And a classic Green Arrow from Mike.
A couple of weeks before this signing I actually went to another comic book artist signing at Henk’s. Steve was there again but this time Phil Jimenez was also in attendance. Both super chilled and friendly guys. Not to mention amazing artists. Steve did a free Batman sketch for me and I bought a special print of their European tour.
I was lucky enough to also meet Joe Hill and Chris Ryall at the Dutch Comic Con, the creator and editor respectively of another great comic – Locke and Key. We chatted about their work but they also gave me some great tips about writing novels and creating comics. Really blessed to get the chance to receive advice from such accomplished writers. It actually came out during one of the panels that Joe started using the pen name Joe Hill instead of his real name – Joe King – so that his work would get judged on his merits rather than on his father’s. Yep, his dad is Stephen King.
The guys were kind enough to sign a couple of versions of their most famous comic.
Okay well enough about writers, artists and SW, Here are a few of the cosplay photos and other random snaps I took.
This is my first blog article in a looooong time. I like putting together these top ten lists and I’ve been meaning to publish this one for a while.
Don’t be that guy who says something stupid to mess up a sales thread.
So why am I bothering with this list? Well this issue is actually one of the greatest bugbears in our hobby and some forums, such as Rebelscum, actually ban non-transactional comments on sales thread, which I agree with. Sales posts are sensitive; comments on them, often misinformed ones, can negatively affect the experience of both the seller and the buyer. As always, these articles simply reflect my opinions on certain aspects of our hobby. Calm down, I’m not telling you how to collect 🙂
I think it’s self-evident that comments regarding the authenticity of the item for sale do not count in this review.
This top ten list chimes in well with one of our earliest blog articles:
Also check out Mete Akin’s guest article:
Top ten, not ranked in any particular order:
1. “I would buy this if I had the money” aka “If only it was payday.” Okay this is probably the comment that bugs me most and they pop up more than most people would think. I mean, what really is the point? I know it might sound cruel to someone who can’t afford the listed item, but why bother with posting responses like these? You want to discuss it, then fine, but do it somewhere other than someone’s sales thread. I accept that you are complimenting the seller on their item (and even unintentionally bumping their thread) but it must also be annoying for the seller. We get hopeful when we receive a notification on our sales threads, so it is a bit disappointing to find out that the comment had nothing to do with the actual sale of the item.
2. “This is overpriced.” Okay sometimes the collectors posting these comments are spot on and they can warn others off an overpriced item. That said, people really should do some research before buying anything anyway. If I have the time to do it on every single occasion, then everyone should. There’s no rush, this is only a hobby 🙂
Even though the “overpriced” intervention can often be well intended, there are so many reasons a comment like this can be a disservice to everyone involved. What happens when the item isn’t actually overpriced but this comment is actually mis/disinformation?
3. “Great price.” Pretty much the same deal as point number two, could be well-intended but don’t risk spreading incorrect notions of pricing.
4. “You can get this cheaper on eBay.” Yep, true story. I”ve seen this comment more than just a few times. Leave the seller alone and let them go about their business in peace.
5. “How much is that in -insert currency-?” I seem to get this question a hell of a lot as I often sell in euros or GBP. It’s not a huge issue but really can be solved by simply going to xe.com for a currency conversion estimate.
6. “How much for the -insert name of item-?” I can’t count the amount of times I’ve seen someone ask how much an item is even though the seller has clearly stated the prices in their thread. Read the seller’s intro before asking any questions. It can be difficult managing a sales thread so unnecessary questions just make it harder.
7. “I’m not interested now. I thought you were based in -insert name of country-” I’ve had this a million times, especially because I live in The Netherlands and postage is more expensive to what the majority of collectors are used to in the U.S and the U.K. In my sales thread, I always state where I’m located and if you really don’t know, ask the seller where they are based or check their profile before you spend hours negotiating (yes this happens…)
8. “I can sell you one cheaper.” Trust me this happens. I’ve seen other sellers hijack someone else’s thread, offering the same item at a lower price. It’s just not cricket guys.
9. “What’s the price of fish in China?” You guys with me? Don’t post off-topic comments. It can threaten to derail the sales thread and takes attention away from the sales item(s).
10. “I bought the same one for xxxx dollars back in 2003” Yes we all know vintage SW was cheaper a few years ago, christ even one year ago. But someone’s sales thread is not the place to have that discussion!
So what do you guys think? Anything to add? Am I being too harsh? Feel free to let me know.
Welcome all to the eighteenth 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.
I’m a bit embarrassed that it has been four months since our last collector snapshot. Things have been busy but I’ve resolved to produce these interviews more regularly again. Anyone I’m making up for it with this cracker of an interview. I’m very excited to welcome Dwayne Smith onto the blog! Dwayne is born and raised in Northern California, married with four kids and works as a school maintenance supervisor.
Dwayne is actually responsible for the most popular photo ever posted by us – yes that’s right – he was the man inside that fantastic vintage Hammerhead costume at Celebration Anaheim. I was lucky enough to see Dwayne and his costume in action at the Chive Cast Party.
While the Hammerhead costume is great, you’ll see in this interview that Dwayne is not a one trick pony. He has an awesome Star Wars collection and is heavily involved in the Star Wars and vintage communities. He’s a life long Star Wars fan and is a member of the California Vintage Collectors Club, Stormtrooper Ranch and the 501st.
To the questions!
1. How long have you been collecting?
I’m part of the original generation of fans who got to see Star Wars in theaters in 1977. That following year I can remember being in Kindergarten when Kenner action figures starting showing up on the play ground. I recognized the Han Solo and the Stormtrooper my friends were playing with in the sand box. I was hooked right away and in no time I had my mom take me to K-Mart to get my own figures. So I started pretty young.
2. What do you collect?
Great memories, is the best way I can sum it up, I love all things Star Wars but the items I treasure most coincide with great memories of how they came to be part of my collection. When I look at my vintage figures I’m reminded of how I received them as gifts for birthdays, Christmas and being brave at the doctor’s office. Nostalgically I’m drawn to vintage era collectibles like The Kenner Action figures, Topps cards, Marvel comics, promotional items and 8 track cassette tapes. I enjoy the adventure of discovering items here and there and if I’m able to bring one home once and a while that’s great.
VSWC. We’ve had some outstanding collectors/individuals answer this question but this is hands down the best answer I’ve seen so far. The SW vintage community would be a much better place if we all focussed on collecting “great memories.”
Check out some of Dwayne’s collection. Damn……..
3. What’s your grail?
It’s so hard to narrow my wish list down to just one grail. I’d love to get myself a DT (Double Telescoping Saber) Vader action figure someday. Realistically and much more within my budget. I’m trying to track down a copy of the 1983 UK Return of the Jedi Weekly No. 28 comic book. The cover features Vader wearing a Santa Claus hat, it’s just so weird I love it
4. What collectors inspire you?
Doesn’t everybody answer with Steve Sansweet? I guess I will too. I’ve been friends with Steve Sansweet for a few years now. He’s been a mentor to many fans and collectors like me. I admire his passion for collecting and his vast knowledge of all things Star Wars. It’s also reassuring to know that I don’t have to collect everything. I can let Steve do all the work and I get to see the items when I visit the Rancho Obi-Wan Museum.
VSWC: The big fella in the centre of the photo below; book-ended by his friends and fellow 501st troops – Elton Hom, Jon Farmer, Steve Sansweet and Ed DaSilva. This great shot was from last October’s annual “Gallloween” gala event at Rancho Obi-Wan.
5. What is your most embarrassing moment as a collector?
I’m prone to sarcasm so I’m sure I’ve said something ridiculous at some point that someone in the community took seriously, no doubt embarrassing myself and being oblivious to it.
6. What is your favorite Star Wars film?
That’s tough. It’s definitely one of the original trilogy films. Some days it’s Star Wars because it was the first film to inspire my imagination, Some days its Empire Strikes Back because it’s has the best story (Dark Side wins and all) and some days it’s Return of the Jedi, because 10 year old me went absolutely nuts watching it in 1983.
7. What would you change about the collecting community?
I don’t know what I’d change about the community, I love it the way it is. I would however encourage other collectors to understand this is all supposed to be fun. If collecting stresses you out you’re doing it wrong. The world is full of problems, collecting and Star Wars fandom in general should be an outlet to just enjoy and have fun with.
8. Forums or Facebook groups?
They’re both great and have their pros and cons. Lately I prefer the Facebook groups. I guess scrolling is just too easy.
9. What Star Wars character do you most resemble?
Well, I’m 6’3″ and I have a pretty good Darth Vader costume. I troop as Darth Vader as a member the 501st, Golden Gate Garrison, so I guess I most resemble the dark lord. But I’ve also been known to resemble a certain cantina patron, who just happens to be my favorite obscure Star Wars character, Hammerhead.
VSWC: No caption needed to explain these….
10. Is there one thing that collectors may not know about you?
I’ve been a volunteer with Rancho Obi-Wan for a few years now. I’ve helped with various projects and events. And I have just recently become a volunteer docent / tour guide. It has been awesome to share Steve’s amazing collection with other fans.
VSWC. Great answers Dwayne! Very inspiring. Thank you so much for taking the time out to join us and please continue to do what you’re doing because you’re doing a fantastic job!
Hello everybody! Welcome to our eighth full-length collector interview, this time with my good friend French super collector Stephane Faucourt! I must admit that I’m cheating a little this time, as I actually first ran this interview on our new forum Tantive XI a couple of months ago. However our moderator team there were happy for me to re-post here for those who have not yet joined our new forum.
Here’s the original interview on Tantive:
I’m really excited to have Stephane on. I won’t give too much of his collecting profile away before the interview starts but it should be no surprise that he is one of the globe’s leading collectors of French Star Wars collectibles. He released his book ‘La French Touch: History of French Star Wars Merchandising 1977-1986’ in June 2013, which was a follow-up to his previous book – ‘Meccano to Trilogo’ in 2006. These have now been superseded by a 2016 edition – ‘La French Touch – The definitive guide to French Star Wars collectibles 1977-1987.
I have a copy of ‘La French Touch’ 2013 edition (photo below) and Stephane was even kind enough to sign it for me!
If you are interested in buying any of Stephane’s recent books, please follow these links:
French Touch 2016: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1517405017
Official GDE book: http://www.amazon.fr/Guerre-Etoiles-Sw-Vu-France/dp/2364803721/
I’ve gotten to know Stephane quite well in the past year or so and was stoked to meet him and his beautiful family in person at Celebration Anaheim. You’ll be pleased to know that Stephane is as nice in person as he seems online. Not only that, but he loves chatting about vintage Star Wars!
Well sit back, relax and I hope you enjoy our premier interview!
1. CC: Hi Stephane and welcome to the forum! As I said in the intro, the mod team and I are over the moon that you agreed to be interviewed. We’re only a brand new forum so we are blessed that such a well-known collector like yourself has agreed to come on and support us so early on. I hope the experience is not too harrowing! So let’s get the most important question out of the way first. Are you a supporter of Europe’s worst football (soccer for you Americans!) team Paris St. Germain (PSG)?
STEPHANE: Hi everyone, fellow collectors, and thank you as well Christian for proposing me to be your first victim; you set the expectations very high in your intro and I sincerely hope that I was kind enough with everyone I met at those events I guess there’s a few topics which could be sensitive, and football teams might be one of them… but sorry, no I’m not supporter of any football team.
2. CC: Well as long as you don’t support PSG I’m fine with that So before we explore your vintage collecting experiences and views, I’m sure our forum members would love to know a bit about Stephane Faucourt – the man behind the collector. So can you tell us, where did you grow up and where are you currently based?
STEPHANE: Well, I’m from the early 1970s, I was born and grew up in the Parisian suburbs, and I am still based in Paris where I now work as well.
3. CC: So what do you do for work these days?
STEPHANE: I’m an IT project manager for a major French company.
4. CC: Do you enjoy your work? Would you prefer to be working on something related to Star Wars full time or do you enjoy treating it mainly as a hobby?
STEPHANE: I guess we all have ups & downs, but yes I find my job interesting and challenging – working in a big company actually gives me great opportunities to work on various projects, find new positions, even in other areas. I would also be very excited to work on Star Wars or Sci-Fi related businesses but this is really far from my working experience and I think there are only few people who could actually make a worthy living out of it. So in the end, it’s very fun to do it as a hobby.
5. CC: Do you collect anything other than Star Wars?
STEPHANE: Not that I can think of. When I was a child, my main toys were Playmobile, Lego, and Big Jim until Star Wars toys came out; you know those Meccanos… From that point on, Star Wars was the main toy line I played with, but I admit I was a spoiled child and I also had some great times playing with the diecast Shogun Warriors, Ulysses 31, Captain Herlock and Captain Future just to name a few. Yes, I had possibly hundreds of toys. I used some of these toys as trade bait when I started to collect Star Wars vintage stuff.
6. CC: I was lucky enough to meet your beautiful wife and son at Celebration Anaheim. So are they Star Wars fans as well or did you force them into going to Anaheim?
STEPHANE: Well, thanks, your wife is very nice too, and she even speaks French, which was also cool for my wife.
My wife is not really into the toys, but she’s interested in some particular pieces like our Illusive Concepts life-size Yoda which she likes to disguise on multiple occasions, she can also be interested in funny stuff like displays, posters and food premiums. Sometimes I even have to restrain her or we would get into modern collecting. My son loves all the Star Wars movies like any kid I know, he has some toys but I always let him make his own decisions about the toys he wants and I try not to influence his choices because of my own collection.
Here’s a couple of photos of us hanging out with the Faucourt clan. Kevin Lentz is in there too.
And I love these photos of Stephane’s Yodas!
As we love going to the States and we had not been to California for quite a while, I said to my wife this was a good opportunity for a vacation as well, so I didn’t have to force them We took a nice trip after C7 going to places we like, and we added a little Star Wars with ROW, Lucas Film, and Seattle… They were very pleased with the things we saw. We ended the trip with a SARLAAC collectors club gathering in Seattle, which was an awesome experience.
Stephane hanging with the SARLAAC crew
7. CC: So can you tell us, what was your first ‘Star Wars’ memory of any kind?
STEPHANE: It was before even having the toys, Star Wars had been released in theaters, and I don’t think I saw it from the start, but some friends and family had seen it already, they were talking about the things which made the movie incredible at that time and they also explained to me about the characters and their role in the story; it was the best stuff I had ever heard.
8. CC: Was there something about the story that particularly affected a young Stephane?
STEPHANE: Not particularly – but something funny, when you consider that I am an early fan of the movies, is that I first heard about the Star Wars plot from some family members. I don’t recall if it was me as a child, or them, but the plot which I had been told about was a bit different than the actual one 😉
9. CC: When did you first start collecting vintage Star Wars?
STEPHANE: I started with all the toys from my childhood, I was very careful with my stuff and all my figures were still mint, most of the vehicles were still in their boxes and I had kept some of the cardbacks. I had pretty much everything that was released in France from 1978 to 1983. It was already sort of a collection because everything had been stored very cautiously.
I almost started collecting in the very early 1990s because of the stuff you could find in garage sales and even clearance stuff in supermarkets, but I passed, had “better things to do” at that time if you see what I mean. But that’s how I learned about all the stuff that was released after I quit.
I spent two years working in NYC around 1995 and I noticed the vintage/comics frenzy that was going on. That was the trigger somehow, I assumed there was a secondary market for those toys and that this was the opportunity to catch the cool stuff I had missed. Some will probably laugh at this, but the very first stores I ran into were Forbidden Planet, and Loves Saves the Day, both in Manhattan. The first figure I bought as a collector was a nice loose Hoth Stormtrooper for $26!
CC: Great story! My first purchase as an adult collector was also a Hoth Stormtrooper (carded). Unfortunately it turned out to be a Toy Toni!!!!
10. CC: You’ve told me some really cool stories about your early days of collecting. Do you have any examples of your best ‘finds’ back in the day?
STEPHANE: Well, I began refocusing my collection on Trilogos in the late 1990s/early 2000s. At that time, they were easy to find in Paris collectible stores and of course on eBay. Very few people would buy stuff from foreign sellers, so each time I found Trilogos, they were French Trilogos of course I would generally meet the sellers in person at cafes near subway stations and I would always ask if there was more, which of course there was frequently
I’ve done so many deals in various areas of Paris, that even nowadays, when we’re out for a walk, there’s always a place we come across where a deal was made 😉 I was also the first French collector to run my own website in France, so that gave me a few nice buying opportunities.
Now, let me tell you about two very nice finds I made back in the day.
The first one was in 2002. I was contacted by a collector who had square Meccano cards for trade. He was trying to finish his loose collection and I just had to trade several loose figures, a Rebo Band set and a few loose vehicles for… 12 Meccano ESB carded figures in opened but great condition!
In 2008, I was at a toy fair selling my books. A guy came up to me, he had a lot of 70 Trilogos figures which he had bought originally at a clearance sale in 1987. He had been trying to sell them for months but didn’t find any buyers interested (can you believe that???). I told him I would buy the lot; he had set the prices at half the market quote. I bought everything; dead mint Trilogos including Luke, Vader, Fett, etc… I kept all the variants I didn’t already have, and I upgraded almost 30 figures in my collection and I sold the rest at cost price (can’t believe I did that). That’s why you can see some major improvements on the conditions between “Meccano to Trilogo” and “La French Touch” on those cards.
I did incredible things to get some of my stuff, like contacting buyers from auctions I missed, rearrange the deal between seller and buyer to finally get the item 😉 I also drove hundreds of kilometers the very same day to be the first in the line ; “always ready” 😉
It takes some time to “do your homework” to find stuff and finds are generally just one or two items. But sometimes it’s not bad at all; this year alone, I found five Meccano ESB MOCSs from four different sources; beyond any of my expectations for a single year.
CC: Thanks for sharing those stories Stephane. Simply incredible! You really make a great point about the payoffs to be gained from doing your own research. I’m not hugely into ‘flipping’ but I think the guys who have enough knowledge to buy big figure lots and then re-sell them individually deserve every cent they get. You need to do your homework as you say to know where to find great stuff and whether or not to roll the dice on a big deal.
11. CC: So what is your collecting focus these days?
STEPHANE: The collection is mainly vintage production stuff like Meccano and Trilogo action figure toys (MIB/MOC) and related material (ads, catalogs, posters…), and some other French items such as posters, food premiums… I also like some very specific modern stuff like Celebration giveaways, some particular food premiums and related material (posters, napkins…). I keep in mind not to extend the size of the collection with modern items, so additions are very occasional. On the vintage side, I’m only seeking a few items and keeping a lookout for Trilogo packaging variants.
Some of Stephane’s awe inspiring collection. Cop that!
12. CC: ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ…. Oops sorry, just fainted there for a few seconds. What a collection! So what gaps are left for you to fill?
STEPHANE: The good thing is that I have pretty much everything I want by now: Meccano, Bilogo and Trilogo vehicles/playsets mint in their boxes, most still unassembled. A nearly complete set of Meccano carded figures from GDE (12/20-backs) to ESB – only a few to go, some ROTJs, and a complete set of Trilogos, including packaging variants of those released in France – some figures I have up to four versions of because of packaging variants for the same character.
13. CC: Wow Stephane that is truly impressive. But are you finding it difficult to collect now that prices on foreign collectibles have increased so much recently or do you find ways around it?
STEPHANE: I’d say it depends if you are referring to public sales or private deals. But I think that collecting needs also patience, networking, and other skills you need in everyday life. With patience it’s still possible to make good purchases even on public/online sales; which allows you to save money for the big piece which you know you can’t find around and that you’ll have to pay a premium for. But like any other collector, I can still manage to make local finds and buy at affordable prices. Those opportunities only show up once in a while, but they still exist.
14. CC: I love your buying philosophy Stephane. So Meccano carded prices seem to have really soared in the past couple of years. Do you think they will stabilise anytime soon?
STEPHANE: Meccano collecting is a tricky market, that’s a niche area of the hobby with only a few players and even if prices have really soared, they can also fluctuate because there’s less competition once the key players all have a same piece and most other collectors are not willing to top prices on Meccanos as they are often damaged.
On the other hand, AFA collecting has created a demand for mint items, which makes it even more difficult with Meccanos. So there’s a new market for high-range stuff and occasional buyers (not Meccano collectors) because it’s rare and cool. As this looks to be the hype these days, it looks like nice Meccano stuff has the potential to keep increasing. Until when, who knows? I might be wrong but collectors of vintage toys, even newcomers, are generally our age; I’m not sure 20 years from now these will have the same appeal to collectors…
15. CC: So what is the hardest to find carded Meccano at the moment?
STEPHANE: Wow, I’m not sure there’s an answer to that question As Meccano items are difficult to find, you never know what’s going to show up next. Until last year we presumed a ROTJ 45-back Leia existed but never found any cardback, and suddenly three dead-mint examples surfaced among 50 other cards… 10 years ago, Meccano 12-backs were a myth, and they’re always surfacing in near complete sets every two or three years… same for square cards… when you think you’ll never see a piece again, luckily another shows up… Even the rarest one, Luke X-Wing, has now a three or four carded count.
Of course, iconic characters will always gather much more interest, they are tough to find, but not always the hardest. I guess square carded Darth Vader and Boba Fett will always be the most sought after, they are the most iconic on French square cards.
16. CC: Is there much of a collecting scene in France?
STEPHANE: France has a strong fan base, but not really a collecting scene in my opinion. There are a lot of collectors though including some longtime collectors with great collections of any kind (vintage or modern toys, GG or sideshow kind of stuff…). Some of them are active on various forums or Facebook, but nothing comparable to the collecting scene in the U.S. or U.K.
17. CC: Is there a Parisian collecting club?
STEPHANE: There’s no Parisian Collecting Club, but there are a few collectors living in or around Paris and we gather from time to time, going to some SW related events, or simply getting some drinks and dinner.
18. CC: It was great seeing you at Celebration Anaheim. Did you get the chance to meet many collectors there?
STEPHANE: Of course! I discovered international events with FACTs in Belgium, then Celebration Europe 2007. I recommend attending such events to anyone who can make it. It’s a way to meet pals, and even some you have known for a very long time by mail, FB or whatever but you actually never met, and make new friends in the hobby!
The best thing is to hang out in the hotel lobbies or local bars, talk about our hobby and the things we like, continue to hang out at various events, without forgetting to mention all the swag we had all made for others to collect and trade.
I had a truly fantastic time at all those events, nothing can beat that! So many good memories (and pictures).
A random selection of some of Stephane’s favourite convention moments. You might recognise some budding vintage collectors in there
19. CC: What did you think of the convention in general?
STEPHANE: The convention was great, so many things to see and so many booths of all kinds; with licensees showcasing their upcoming products, vintage toy dealers, fan clubs from various places…The collectors’ gathering (Archive Party, Room Sales…) and collecting panels were also top notch. I also liked the autograph section and the conference hall starring key people/actors of the saga. On the drawbacks side I thought it was way too crowded at some point, and we had to wait too long in line for the main activities. Even the convention store was a three hour experience!
20. CC: Did you make any vintage purchases?
STEPHANE: I was prepared to, but didn’t find anything special apart from two Meccano 12-backs which I already had, but I was surprised to see such Meccano items at a U.S. convention.
21. CC: I was really disappointed to miss your presentation at the Collecting Track. I heard it was killer. Can you give us a quick summary of what it was about?
STEPHANE: The presentation was featured in the collector’s social room. It was a review of the various product categories marketed in France between 1977 and 1987, following the French Touch book outline. In addition to the toys of course, there was a quick press review, miscellaneous toys, French Ewoks stuff, professional’s material, catalogs & ads, consumer goods, and movie related stuff.
Stephane strutting his stuff on the presenting stage.
As you may recall, I also offered a “French Touch” pin, and a flyer for the upcoming book – I’ve had great feedback on the pin and it’s even worn here in France among collectors and some of my own colleagues.
CC: Well I do recall! The pin is absolutely beautiful and was definitely one of my favourite C7 pins. A lot of work and money must have gone into them.
Here’s a taste of the giveaway goodies
22. CC: Now to your wonderful book ‘‘La French Touch.’ What’s it all about?
STEPHANE: La French Touch is a multi-purpose book if I could say so; a book to look at, but also to read. I tried to make it of interest to any Star Wars fan, whether you’re a collector, interested in general merchandise, or the history of the franchise and its marketing strategies.
It covers products marketed in France during the original era, from 1977 to 1987. Firstly, it reviews the entire range of products from the various categories like toys, games, magazines, posters, food premiums, books, records, video etc… with individual photography.
It also reviews the way those products were promoted and advertised through many public and professional material. The first chapter covers the response the original movies received in France with a wide press/magazine review.
It is important to note that this book is the result of a collaboration of many collectors who provided the items from their collection in order to make it the most complete possible.
In the end, that’s 270 color pages, the equivalent of 70+ pages of text to be read (not just short notes) and 1500+ color pictures / document scans.
The book was originally released in 2013 shortly before Celebration Europe 2, and I announced a new 2016 Definitive Edition at Celebration 7.
This Definitive edition is now available on Amazon with an awesome new cover from my friend Yann Leroux which gives a glimpse of the content.
Stephane signing one of his books during the C7 room sales.
Here are some sample scans from various editions of French Touch. What a cracker.
CC: Rather than extoll the virtues of your book here, I’ll paste in a past review I did over at VSWC Blog:
23. CC: I know it has been hugely popular and I’m a big fan myself but are you happy with how it was received by the collecting community?
STEPHANE: You bet I am Meccano to Trilogo was widely acclaimed back in 2006 because it introduced the French and European toys to many collectors. But I had to make something different for the next book. With “La French Touch” I wanted to reach a broader audience, cover the various products categories retailed in France to give a better understanding of the French market and its associated history.
“La French Touch” has been a great success, same as “Meccano to Trilogo.” I think it has opened a new field of collecting for many collectors, on the toys of course because it’s much more detailed than “M2T,” but also on all the other French stuff you can collect. The new social networks have opened new ways of collecting and all sorts of focuses, so knowing what’s out there is the key.
24. CC: Looking back now, is there anything that you would change about the book?
STEPHANE: Well, yes; and it’s already done as we speak.
As with any other publication, such a book sets a common base for collectors to share the stuff they have referenced, and naturally it allows identifying new items.
The 2013 edition was already very complete, covering possibly 95% of the stuff released in France, but with time, we identified some additional interesting pieces in almost every product category. I wanted to make this definitive edition to go as far as we could, and improve a few things, so hopefully we are now covering 98% of the French product base.
We also had to rework the cover. I was very pleased with the original grey cover which perfectly matched the serious aspect of the book. But I realized that many collectors didn’t catch the book also covered the toys, in a much better and complete way than “M2T”. So we designed this new cover showing merchandise to clearly set the tone.
25. CC: Any plans for a follow-up?
STEPHANE: Not really a follow up, but I do have some plans though We’ll keep that for a future discussion, I would prefer avoiding too many expectations and will deliver once the work is done.
But I am also particularly proud to be part of the Official French book “La Guerre des Etoiles – la saga vue de France” (literally “The Star Wars saga seen from France”). It’s an OFFICIAL book for a general audience which will be released late October in France. We achieved two major things doing it – it is the first time a book is released in France without being a translation of a previously available U.S. book, and also the first time in 20 years that Lucasfilm allows usage of the original French Star Wars pyramidal shaped logo on an official product.
CC: Wow well done! What a great achievement!
Here a shot of the book itself
26. CC: Well Stephane, it has been a pleasure as always. You sincerely are one of the brightest lights of this hobby and a true gentleman. Everyone who has dealt with you will confirm that’s not just lip service on my part. So before we tune out, do you have any advice to all of the budding collectors out there?
STEPHANE: Thanks Christian. Well, I’d say “be cool,” keep the fun of collecting while doing it for your own enjoyment, and don’t hesitate to socialize with other collectors. It is also important to show interest in the collectibles and their history, and not just add stuff on the shelves; there are plenty of online resources and great books to help
CC: Well they are definitely words to collect by. Thanks again and see you soon. Hopefully even in Paris one day soon!
STEPHANE: Sure. I’m always more than happy to meet foreign collectors/fans visiting Paris, I’m always up for a drink or even sightseeing if I can make it
Hey guys I’m sure a lot of you have already seen this, and may have already contributed to Joe’s Kickstarter campaign to help fund his new book on vintage Star Wars bootlegs.
If for some reason you don’t know who Joe is, then check out his previous full-length interview with yours truly. Joe is an absolute legend in vintage collecting and is arguably the world’s most knowledgeable vintage Star Wars bootleg collector. Check the photos in the interview if you don’t believe me!
Watch this short video if you want to learn more about Joe’s project.
And here’s Joe’s Kickstarter campaign link itself. It details more about the book and shows some of the great incentives you will receive if you support the campaign.
The link also covers some examples of pages that the book will include. It looks great so far. Of course this photo was my favourite; me being a Luke collector and all…
So far a generous U.S$10,000 has been committed to Joe’s campaign by 95 backers but he still needs to hit the 25,000 mark within the next 40 days if he is to receive any of the funds. This really is an amazing project and something that I’m very excited about. If anyone has the right to publish a book on bootlegs it is Joe!
If you love bootlegs or just vintage SW in general then you really need to get into action and support this great project!
I’m proud to announce that last week we finally launched our brand new vintage Star Wars forum – Tantive XI! Your initial thoughts may be – aren’t the forums dying? Hasn’t Facebook taken over? Aren’t there already enough forums and FB groups? Well the simple answer is no, no and no!
If you’d like to join up without reading on, then click this link:
The forums are struggling but they are not dying. We are adamant that there is still plenty of space in the vintage social networking landscape for new forums or similar ventures. New collectors are joining our hobby every day; our hobby is expanding massively. Not everyone is a fan of Facebook and if you are anything like me then you’ll be on all the forums, a million Facebook groups, Gemr, Twitter and even Instagram! I wish I was joking!
So how did this all come about?
A while back a bunch of us had a vision for a brand new forum, which not only took full advantage of some of the technologies and usability options employed by Facebook but also a place where experienced collectors would find sufficient intellectual stimulation yet newer collectors would not be embarrassed or berated for asking ‘stupid’ questions.
After many months of hard work, we transformed that vision into a reality and on December 16th we finally went live! So far the feedback from members and special ‘previewers’ has been extremely positive. We have to emphasize though that the site is a work In progress, and that we are now in a stage heavily dependent on the input of new crew members to progress further. So if you miss a certain aspect of the hobby and would like to see it here, simply tell us and we can make it happen, together with you.
What’s our mission?
Our mission is to bring quality contributions to all of the different aspects of our hobby (MOC, MIB, oddballs, loose variants, bootlegs, and many more vintage collectibles) and to stimulate open discussions around the collectibles that we all love so much. Moreover, we hope that our forum will provide a ‘A New Hope’ in these dark times, within which the fora have lost their impact and previous high traffic due to the increased popularity of Facebook. However we do acknowledge the strength of Facebook and do not oppose it. It has its place in the collecting world and we hope that our platforms can complement each other. Tantive will combine the best of both worlds and serve as a bridge between FB and traditional forum activity. Our Facebook Page will serve as a Bridgehead:
We do not perceive ourselves in opposition to the existing forums or FB groups, we want to work together to bring all collectors the best possible collecting experience. We welcome other forum moderators and FB group admins to join us and you are of course welcome to advertise your pages and groups on Tantive XI!
Our mission can be read in more detail right here:
How will we bridge the gap between Facebook and the forums?
Tantive XI is supported by a heavily modified platform allowing for modern functionality, which – we hope – will provide a unique and pleasant “look and feel” experience for our crew. Just to give you an idea – right now members can ‘tag’ each other in posts, get instant notifications, and attach photos directly from smartphones or PCs via TXI’s Tractor Beam. I must say we are blessed to have some mechanics onboard who are absolutely top of the IT game. We are only going to get stronger as they continue to un-weave the hidden technological magic that forums offer.
We have a large team of 12 passionate moderators who will be working ceaselessly to update the forum and to keep things running smoothly. We will also be working closely with our members to improve the forum.
What else do we offer other than a traditional forum place to hang out?
Well this brings us to one of our real strengths. We’re in the process of creating an extensive reference database for the community. At the launch of Tantive XI this database already included a basic and advanced COO guide and also a comprehensive figure guide. Check it out yourselves:
We would love to expand the Library with the help of members who will actually be working with us to present their own research and projects on the site; with the aim of developing the community’s knowledge and appreciation of vintage Star Wars collecting.
We will also be interviewing members and I’ll be reposting all of my interviews from here onto Tantive XI. So stay tuned!
Who is behind Tantive XI?
Our team contains some of the globe’s most well-known and experienced vintage collectors; coming from the UK, the U.S, Canada, Spain, Mexico, Denmark,The Netherlands and Australia.
Other than myself, the team is: Alexander, Chris, Clint, James, Jay, Javier, Kenneth, Marco, Ozio, Patrick and Steve. Click the link below to learn more about us:
I hope you can all join us in our little adventure. And if you can’t, well no worries – I’ll see you all around on Facebook and the other forums!
Watch this space for details on a competition we are running for our members. First prize is a Burgundy Cape Lili Ledy Squid Head!