Guest Collector – Mete Akin: Responsible and sound buying techniques

Hi guys,

I’m very happy to present yet another guest blogger onto VSWC: my friend Mete Akin (aka ‘Turkdlit’ on the forums); well-known in the collecting world for his awesome Uzay collection and for his love of bootlegs and prototypes.
Mete has written a set of excellent guidelines to buying responsibly in today’s market; an article that hopefully will not only encourage collectors to stay honest and respectful but also to get the most out of their vintage SW buying and selling experiences. I’m honoured that Mete chose to publish this article exclusively on VSWC blog.
Mete was actually the very first participant in the blog’s ‘collector snapshot’ segment so it is quite fitting. Rather than re-introduce the author, check out his quick-fire interview below:

Collector snapshot #1: Mete Akin aka ‘Turkdlit’

If you like bootlegs, follow the link to Mete’s great website focussing on Uzays:

www.uzaystarwars.com

One thing that is obvious about Mete is that he highly values ethics, dignity and respect in collecting; particularly when he comes to collector interactions in the marketplace. For those who were on Rebelscum, don’t forget that it was Mete who hounded Erik (aka ‘Bobafett34’) a couple of years ago (Erik was infamous for his incredibly poor buying and selling ethics) until he was FINALLY banned from Rebelscum after a string of offences. This thread (started by Rob) was memorable and was the main impetus towards Erik’s banning:

Erik called out – Rebelscum

Here’s the author with his childhood Bluestars

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Mete is the perfect person to write an article on responsible trading.

We recommend that his article be read in conjunction with the previous VSWC publications on collecting ethics:

Guest Collector – Ross Barr and the ethics of flipping

Guest collector – Ian Cowley: The Hazards of Reproductions on Vintage Collecting

Ethics and business – are they reconcilable?

Just don’t buy it! How you can deflate the vintage Star Wars market

So here it is….. Enjoy!

RESPONSIBLE AND SOUND BUYING TECHNIQUES or HOW TO GET PASSAGE INTO ALDERAAN
With the recent introduction of thousands of new vintage Star Wars collectors, we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of transactions on both the vintage forums and in the Facebook groups. Not only has the volume of sales increased, but the value of these transactions has increased dramatically. For better or worse, we sometimes see the same item change hands rapidly, and often times at increasing cost with each exchange.
This has also led to an uptake in the number of “faux” collectors (not to be confused with “faux-cus” collectors). These are transient beings in the vintage world. As Phidias Barrios recently said about “faux” collectors – “they’re short timers that leave a destructive wake of inflated price bubbles that the collecting community has to deal with once they exit the hobby.” I couldn’t agree more.
It is no surprise then that many collectors, particularly newer ones, inquire what a fair market value is on something they are interested in. How does one know what fair market value is when the price of something jumps 50% from where it was just a few weeks ago? What if there are no recent sales of a particular item to gauge modern values?
There is no easy answer. Given current prices, today’s vintage SW market is new territory for everyone, and opinions on value are purely a speculative at times. There is one factor though which can help buyers make good decisions when completing a transaction – sound negotiating techniques. A good negotiator will work within budget limits, follow a few simple guidelines, and in the end the true value of an item becomes somewhat a moot point. We all know that euphoric feeling of getting a much needed piece at a good/fair price. The secondary, and perhaps more significant benefit, is that it helps keep the market in check.
Here are some observations I’ve made over the years as a buyer.
Disclaimer, these are just my opinions. I am by no means a dealer, I am a collector. My experience comes from spending countless summers in Turkey’s Bazaars, markets, and other areas where sellers view you as prey.
Step one – THINK
We all know the feeling of seeing something we like pop up for sale. Particularly on Facebook, you feel like you may have only 30 seconds to make a decision and pull the trigger on something that you want. This is where I think the majority of cases of buyer’s regret and overpaying comes from. Rash and poorly calculated decisions by a buyer can often lead to them backing out, leaving an unhappy seller and an over-inflated perception of market value.
Think for a moment how badly you want the piece. Think about what you can afford. Think about what you may think a fair price is….then take a moment to search the forums and eBay for old prices. Not only will you have reassurance that you’re not getting hosed, but you also avoid the disservice of stringing the seller along on a deal you may not second thoughts about later.
Be honest with yourself
This has served me very well when determining how much I want to spend. Ask yourself what your true intentions are if the item was to become your own. Is it going to be the centerpiece of your main focus for all of eternity? Or is it simply a well-priced piece that you will probably sell three months down the line to make a few bucks? If it’s the former, then negotiating should be the last thing on your mind, and you should be jumping on it with little thought. But if it’s just a good deal, or something you feel lukewarm about, then throwing out lower offers to see if the seller bites makes much more sense. Always consider that a piece you don’t care much for could be someone else’s grail – so don’t be a douche and snatch up everything that is just a “good price”. This contributes heavily to market inflation and leaves your collecting brothers disappointed.
Don’t be a smarty pants      
         
Acting like you’re the end-all be-all expert for a particular item you’re interested in has several detrimental effects:
  • First and most obviously – it makes you look conceited. Unless you’re Bill McBride or Joe Yglesias, there will always be someone out there more knowledgeable than you in a certain area of the hobby. Don’t cite AFA population reports or talk down someone else’s items beyond physical flaws. You should assume the seller has done their homework, and suggesting otherwise by offering up coercive information will be more likely to irritate than convince; and
  • Secondly, humans are much less likely to take advantage of someone who appears to be “inferior” or in doubt. Don’t get into a pissing match with your seller by trying to convince them you know better. People appreciate humility – use it to your advantage.
Ask specifics
Knowing details about condition goes beyond simply assessing the value of an item. Use defects to your advantage. Undisclosed spider veins, small bubble dents etc. may prove to be valuable ammunition for when you actually start negotiating on price. Obviously, you don’t want to talk the piece down too much and insult the seller; but invariably when they start listing the merits of the piece, you will at least have some negatives to counter and make a case for a better price.
Be friendly
How many of you have had a high-end piece for sale and a potential buyer sends you an offer – and nothing but the offer. The message simply consists of a dollar amount with a question mark. I find this is extremely irritating. If you want to buy something that is valuable, special and coveted, don’t dehumanize the process by making it a cold transaction made of numbers. I personally gravitate my sales to those who are genuinely respectful.
The Buyer’s Golden Rule – You can always walk away
The buyer’s golden rule was first introduced to me by my father when I was seven years old. I was feeling brave enough to negotiate for a backgammon set at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. He gave me a small amount of money and it was my goal to get what I wanted with just that amount. Before spending three hours at countless merchants trying to negotiate a reasonable price, he reminded me – you must always be willing to walk away. Buyers have a distinct advantage because they have the power to walk away at any moment. The moment you forget about this, or if you’re dealing with a true grail item that you must have at any cost, is the moment a seller has the upper hand.
Do your research, get the details, set your max willingness to pay, be courteous, and be ready to walk away at any moment. If you appreciate this sequence, you simply cannot lose.
The Seller’s Golden Rule – Never ever back out of a deal
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Seller’s Golden Rule – never back out once the handshake is done. Interestingly this is much more applicable to sellers than buyers. We’ve all been the victim of a buyer backing out of a deal, but there is much less sympathy for sellers who do this. Remember this is a relatively small community….wait, scratch that, a relatively small community which is extremely gossipy. The golden rule of negotiating as a seller is to always honor your deals – the alternative is to miss out on countless dollars in the long run, and be viewed negatively by the community.

Darth Vader collector Bill McBride features on ABC TV

Are you guys sick of seeing Darth Vader super collector and DT fountain of wisdom Bill McBride’s face in the media recently? Well here he is again, but this time on video on ABC!

Bill McBride on ABC TV

Bill

Really happy to see Bill getting so much attention as he really is a collector to look up to; both in the positive manner in which he contributes to the hobby but also for putting together such an amazing figure focus.

Bill has been a regular feature in the media since he was interviewed by yours truly on VSWC Blog in July 2014. You read between the lines….

Bill McBride VSWC Interview

Jokes aside, huge congratulations from us to Bill!

 

Collector Snapshot #16 – Cesar Alejandro V. Jacquez

I’m thrilled as usual to present the sixteenth 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.
This round’s victim is 37 year old Mexican collector Cesar Alejandro V. Jacquez, known on Rebelscum as “Chewvazquez.” He was born in Juarez City, the famous Mexican border city near El Paso, Texas but now resides within the Texas-Mexican border in a small town called Zapata in Texas and in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Cesar tells me that he has lived in 17 different places for the past 12 years due to school, work and “just because.” He always finds it difficult to respond when people ask where he is actually from!
Not only is Cesar an accomplished collector but he is also successful in his personal, academic and professional life. He has a PhD in Philosophy, a major in universal literature and is currently working as an interpreter in classified operations offshore.
VSWC: Cesar on Force Friday
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VSWC: He does love Star Wars but back in the days Cesar was also a huge MOTU fan! 
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 To the questions!
1. How long have you been collecting?
I’ve been seriously collecting for the last 16 years. It all started in in a stop I made in a department store during one of my trips through The States in some town up in the mountains of Colorado. I was on my way to the snacks section and suddenly ran into a full shelf covered with POTF2 (leftover figures I believe) and thought it could be cool to have a Vader figure standing next to my T.V. in the living room or sitting somewhere around my bedroom. I did some collecting before then while living in Tampico, Mexico, gathering snack promotional figurines and ships dispensed in chip bags and cookie boxes. I also used to ask for any Star Wars store header about to be thrown away once the publicity was over. I still have a few of these at home looking just as if they had been been freshly removed from the top of the shelves.
2. What do you collect?
I´ve come down a bit with the collecting habit, yet I keep my eyes out for any foreign Fetts or rarities (if the price is right), pre-production items or vintage SW store displays. I am just a few foreign Fetts away from completing a vintage carded and boxed Boba Fett collection as such; including vehicles, diecast and 13s. Until recently, I was kind of obsessed with the idea of getting them all at some point or at least to get one or two more but everything changed a few days ago when I walked into a cafe with my wife and some friends and there was this sign hanging on one of the walls that reads: “Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.” I took that as a sign LOL.
I also collect key characters and have incomplete runs of 12, 21 backs, a few Tri-Logos, Harberts and Meccanos. The Jawa is another character with that very tiny special touch that I love having.
I like Star Wars LEGOs A LOT! But mostly any set related to the original trilogy. I like Hot Toys and Sideshows figures also, Movie Props. I have several Fett errors, variants, convention exclusives and mock ups all the way from POTF2 to the Black Series line. Besides Star Wars, I also collect autographed items by Sci Fi celebrities starting with figures and any type of memorabilia. Marvel Legends, MOTU, Transformers, Alien, Star Trek, posters, watches, movie related items, etc. I will remain conservative with the interview so I am presenting only some of my favorites vintage Fetts here.
VSWC: Here’s some of Cesar’s mind-blowing collection. Did someone say Boba?
Boba Fett 21 Back- A, B and C (not in precise order)
Boba
Boba Fett Palitoy 41-C, Speeder Bike Collection, Tri-Logo / Palitoy, and Droids unpainted right leg error.
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Canadian Run – Boba Fett ROTJ 77 back, transition (only two known to exist), 41 back B and 21 Back.
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Revenge Boba Fett Proof Card
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Cesar proudly displaying this absolute beauty. Nice t-shirt!!!!
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Pre-production photography taken on set. This photo was distributed to toy and book companies as a reference for merchandise production. Cesar tells me that he assumes Fett was not famous enough at the time so the guys at Lucas Films chose to highlight the jet-pack (as shown in the text written on the back of the photo). There is a Lucas Films stamp on the bottom right/back. The two black lines on the front of the photo were commonly used as watermarks today for copyright purposes.
boba3 boba4
3. What’s your grail?
Well, I know some “diehard collectors” will hate me for saying this but I found the new Sphero BB8 to be the coolest Star Wars toy ever made throughout the entire Star Wars toy history (kidding you not I am!) I hope EVII does not make me hate it at the end LOL.
VSWC: Cesar declaring his love for BB8
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VSWC: The whole family can’t get enough of BB8!
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4. What collectors inspire you?
My Dad (R.I.P.) He used to collect military antiques, diecast vehicles and vinyl records from time to time. I was constantly curious as a kid wondering what kind of motivation was behind his passion for buying things that he was just going to put away in displays without ever touching them or playing with them but well, happily enough that question has been FULLY answered now. I had the opportunity to meet with Stéphane Faucourt last year in Paris. It was a fun experience. We spent an entire day talking Star Wars, eating, talking Star Wars, drinking, talking Star Wars, eating again, talking Star Wars and so on… Most of the things he owns are jaw dropping items starting with that full set of square card Meccanos. His Tri-logo rarities are also very impressive and last but not least, his French Fetts. I hold a lot of respect for him as a person and I´m grateful to see all his contributions to the collecting community here and there.
Check out our earlier review of Stephane’s awesome book:
VSWC: Cesar and Stephane hanging out in Paris 
Steph and Cesar
I also hold admiration for guys who I have not personally met yet like Ron Salvatore, his contributions to the hobby are priceless too and he seems to be a very humble and down to earth guy. I like Bill McBride´s endless Vader collection (VSWC: check our feature interview with Bill here – http://vintagestarwarscollectors.com/collector-interview-2-bill-mcbride-dark-lord-of-the-sith/), I wish someday my Boba Fett collection looks like his Vader vault (quit dreaming I know). I have met a lot of great collectors and fans along the way in conventions here in Mexico and in the States. Here in Mexico, Luis Villagomez is another guy I haven´t met but for what I´ve seen his attitude towards the collecting community is always cool and reserved, I respect that besides his collection is always a treat to watch. Collector Alonso Vilches is another dude with impressive stuff, his poster collection is one of the coolest Star Wars collection worth seeing in this country (not everything has to be toys) if I am not mistaking, he owes me a tour through his poster valley to see them all someday. Diehard fans like Armando Barrera in Mexico City and Rodolfo Rodriguez from Monterrey who I recently met are two other guys I like a lot within the Star wars community in this country.
5. What is your most embarrassing moment as a collector?
Hmmmm difficult to answer this question. Nothing pops out of my head as an embarrassing moment to this point but sure we all have some. in the end, no-one knows everything and there is so much yet to be discovered in the hobby.
6. What is your favorite Star Wars film?
Probably A New Hope; I love EV and VI of course (I´m not going any further) but even when the scripts for the sequels were already in place, it was the success of ANH which allowed the other two films to be what they are now. There was not much variety in ANH as there is in its sequels but yet again, it was the success of ANH that allowed: cool gangsters, bounty hunters, a city in the clouds, giant walking dogs and flying motorcycles to make the films even more fun for an audience already attracted to the films thanks to ANH. Besides all the sweet and cutting edge special effects, the magic of the music in the film is something worth mentioning and to at least give half of the credit for its success.
7. What would you change about the collecting community?
Well, although the interactions in the groups (VSWC: Facebook groups) seem to go along just fine, there are a few things I believe that need to be changed and I would like to start with intolerance. Some people find collecting as a competition instead of a fun habit we all love sharing. There is no collection better than any other; everyone loves to death what they own because of their passion for the saga. I also think we need to grow stronger as a community, especially now that the easy access to new technologies has increased the order things are being faked. The number of people with no scruples attempting to rip off the not so experienced collectors has dramatically increased in the past few years. This is something we need to shield against as a group.
8. Forums or Facebook groups?
I like both but I must admit I go onto FB more frequently now.
9. What Star Wars character do you most resemble?
Well… I must say Dengar If I may step off from the films and after reading “Tales of the Bounty Hunters” by Bantam Books. His story was really cool and mirroring to me in the books.
10. Is there one thing that collectors may not know about you?
I like poetry, painting, independent films, art, traveling, Jazz and playing the sax. I am against animal cruelty of any kind. It is funny to see how some people who do not share our love for Star Wars tag us as geeks or nerds thinking we have no other passions or habits in life besides this.
VSWC: Thank you so much for sharing your passions with us Cesar! I can’t agree more with so many of your thoughts on the hobby. Although remind to never introduce you to my wife. You’re handsome, friendly, you have a doctorate in Philosophy and you play the saxophone. Not to mention your great Fett focus! How the bloody hell can I compete with that!!!!!! 

Collector Snapshot #13 – Jake Stevens

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

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

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

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

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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! 

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

VSWC: Here’s Jake with Steve Sansweet and his co-hosts of the Galaxy of Toys Podcast at a 35mm screening of Return of the Jedi in 2013From left to right – Tom Berges (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).

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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. 

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.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

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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:

http://vintagestarwarscollectors.com/collector-interview-2-bill-mcbride-dark-lord-of-the-sith/

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

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Jake giving it all he’s got in ROTJ

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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. 

New action figure grader in town?

Well not really.

But I did have a unique COA issued to me recently by one of my collector friends – Alex Magraw. Check his interview out and you might get some insight into the type of mind that would create such a COA:

http://vintagestarwarscollectors.com/collector-interview-1-alexander-magraw-the-beard-behind-that-luke-bespin-limelight/

It was actually this interview that sparked the events leading to this post. In the interview Alex flagged the “Dark Ginger” Bespin Luke as one of the hardest to find variants of this figure. I have almost 20 of these variants and I was pretty sure one of them was the elusive dark rangas (non-Aussies can google that), oops I mean dark gingers. I emailed Alex a photo but he couldn’t quite tell from the pic so he offered to examine it in person. I sent it to him and a few weeks later, much to my pleasant surprise, I received a nice little package from the big man. I was even more surprised when I found this one of a kind COA:

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And here is the little fella standing proudly with his brothers, no longer is he conflicted by the existential angst of not knowing what variant he really is.

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I’m not necessarily against AFA, except for their u-grading antics, but this really highlights that we don’t always need their assistance to identify hard to find variants and I’m pretty sure this same logic can be applied to the AFA’s identification of repros, reseals and other surreptitious methods of ripping off collectors. Let’s help each other out once in a while and strengthen the bonds that tie our community together. It shouldn’t all be about money or having the best collection. That said, I recognise that all collectors aren’t lucky enough to have friends in the collecting community that can help them out. Then again, Bill McBride, Darth Vader collector extraordinaire (see his interview with us here – http://vintagestarwarscollectors.com/collector-interview-2-bill-mcbride-dark-lord-of-the-sith/) issues COAs for double telescoping saber, for which he charges a very small fee. He used to do it pro bono but I guess getting 100 requests a week can take some of your time! If Bill and Alex can do it, then I’m sure other experienced collectors can do it.

Thanks again Alex and thanks all for reading!

Bill McBride sets a record for the largest Darth Vader collection in the world!

I’d like to quickly offer Bill McBride a belated congratulations on being recognised by the World Record Academy for his amazing collection of Darth Vader memorabilia!

http://www.worldrecordacademy.com/collections/largest_collection_of_Darth_Vader_memorabilia_Bill_McBride_breaks_Guinness_World_Records_record_215200.html

Photo below of some of Bill’s collection. Simply amazing. 

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Not only does Bill have an amazing collection but he is also one of the friendliest and most approachable collectors doing the rounds. Bill kicks it with some of the world’s most well-known collectors but then will equally give up his time to newer collectors like myself who have no idea what they are talking about! Rather than extolling Bill’s most obvious virtues and drowning you in superlatives, I’ll let you decide for yourselves. Here is his previous interview with us:

http://vintagestarwarscollectors.com/collector-interview-2-bill-mcbride-dark-lord-of-the-sith/

He has received quite a lot of press recently, all well deserved, and we like to think it was his interview with us that kicked it all off. Well maybe not. It may possibly have had something to do with Bill’s indomitable stash of Darth Vader contraband…

Once again, congratulations Bill and hoping to catch up with you at Celebration Anaheim!

Collector Interview #2: Bill McBride – Dark Lord of the Sith

Hi all,

Yet again I’m very excited to present another special guest on the blog – Mr Bill McBride! I know I always say I’m excited but that’s the simple truth – vintage Star Wars pumps me up! I am though a pretty excitable bloke in general I must admit. Anyway… I was thrilled when Bill agreed to appear on the blog, not only is he one of the biggest names in the industry but he is also someone who embodies everything I love about collecting – he is stark raving mad about vintage SW and takes his collecting seriously but he is also able to have a laugh and does everything he can to contribute to the collecting community. Anyone who is a member of the Rebelscum forum or the Facebook groups can attest to that.

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If you haven’t seen it yet, check out Bill’s great webpage:

http://www.sithtoys.com

So let’s find out a little bit about Bill!

VSWC: Hi Bill! Thanks so much for joining my readers and I on the blog. When I first decided to interview collectors, you were one of the first names that popped into that pea brain of mine. You have an amazing collection and you are second to none when it comes to sharing your expertise with other collectors, even relatively newer collectors like myself. It’s a great example you set. 

Let’s get to the questions.

1. I always like to get the most important and controversial questions out of the way as soon as possible. I recently watched ‘Plastic Galaxy’ (read our review at http://vintagestarwarscollectors.com/documentary-review-plastic-galaxy-the-story-of-star-wars-toys/), which you were filmed and interviewed for, and I came away thinking – what the hell is going on with Bill’s humongous biceps? So do you work out or did you get  implants? 

BM – Thank you ! I’m glad to be here. I’ve received a fair amount of questions regarding that since the movie premiered; I like to work out (a lot) … and it helps when I have to lift all those cases of Vader goodies 🙂

2. Ha ha I bet they do! Now can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from and what do you do with your time when you are not playing with your Darth Vader figures?

BM – I am from the eastern part of the US, born, bred and educated. I am currently working on publishing my own Darth Vader project, based wholly off my personal collection. That has been consuming the majority of my time lately. I very much enjoy traveling, and spending time with my family and my beautiful German Shepherds.

VSWC – Who doesn’t love travelling! Do you get to take many collecting related trips?

BM – Not as many as I would like 🙂 I’m a collector at heart, so any time I’m traveling I *always* keep an eye open for Vader items (so in that context you could say I’m always taking collecting trips 🙂 ). I usually hit a few major shows every year, and more lately the local toy&comic shows. SW Celebration, San Diego and New York Comic Cons are also my usual show destinations. I also take massive satisfaction in the fact that I (think) have nearly all my friends and family trained to be on the hunt for SW/Vader items. I’ll get emails, texts, FB messages all the time from people finding cool pieces in their travels.(which is a large part of my plans for global Vader domination 🙂 )

VSWC – Now be honest with us, you’re not going to try and say you’ve never dressed your dogs up as Darth Vader are you? Not even once? 

BM – LOL – as much as I would like to, they just don’t make the animal sized Vader costumes big enough for my pups (although, if I could find some large enough, I would do it for  Halloween in a heartbeat 🙂 Something about dressing up my German Shepherds in matching Vader costumes appeals to my Inner Dark Lord’s sense of humor).

3. I know you are a regular on Rebelscum but you also use the main Facebook groups a lot. What do you think of the Facebook groups?

BM – I think with the spread of social media, we now have more choices about who/what/where/how to interact with people. It really comes down to personal choice for most of us. Personally, I’ve found outlets such as Facebook to be a superior means of mass communication with people from all walks of life, and every country you care to think of. It also gives you a more direct means of control over the scope of the information that we receive and go through each day. I can say that you really have to pick and choose how you interface with the community as a whole. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up with the forums, ebay, FB, etc. There is no right or wrong, it’s simply what works best for you, your comfort level, with the amount of time you have available.

4. So what are your favourite groups then?

BM – All the groups that cater to my respective interests 😉 (I am a huge fan of the German Shepherd owner groups, which is where I find myself spending more time reading and learning.) However, there are many great FB groups to look into, from the official Star Wars page, to nearly every niche bit of fandom available. On a personal level, it is an absolute gift to have direct access to some of my favorite artists. I am a huge fan and collector, and to have that opportunity to see their work, and feel an active part of that is just amazing.

5. Other than social networking sites, do you get the chance to meet up face to face with other collectors?

BM – I do from time to time, and most recently had a chance to spend time with people at JediCon WV. That’s one of my favorite parts of the hobby really; just the opportunity to spend time with collecting friends, catch up and talk shop. 

VSWC – How about collecting clubs? Are you a member of one in your region?

BM – I live in Washington DC, so I’m a member of the DCSWCC (DC area Star Wars Collecting Club -http://www.dcswcc.org/). They are a great group of people, and it’s always a treat to get to get together with them to talk shop from time to time.  I would *strongly* recommend that if you don’t belong to your area SW club, definitely look into it or in the event there isn’t  one, start a club yourself!! I can’t think of too many places in the world that doesn’t have regional club offerings.

6. How long have you been collecting and how did you get into it?

BM – I’ve been actively collecting Darth Vader memorabilia for well over 20 years now. Vader has always been my favorite SW character, and I am a collector by nature. Once I decided to actively pursue SW as an adult, I found myself naturally focused on Darth Vader items. There certainly wasn’t a lack of appreciation for other types of items and characters, but when it came time to obtain items for my collection, I found that I was voting with my wallet – Vader was the only choice

Some of Bill’s amazing Vader pieces:

VintagePropCase

7. So what pieces exactly do you collect? Just the vintage figures? What about other Darth Vader collectibles or even modern?

BM – The short answer is that I collect the pieces that I like. When I see something that I really like, or think is cool. I’ll get it. My collection has quite a range of items, both vintage up through to brand new items that I’ve already placed on pre-order. However, it always defaults back to my single collecting rule: I only collect the items that I truly like.

Here are some great photos of Bill’s SW room. 

WA_room_4WA_room_1WA_room_2

VSWC – I don’t want you to give up your sources but can you at least hint where you source your harder to find items? I mean do you simply search eBay, forums etc etc or do you find them through your personal connections with other collectors? 

BM – Hmmm …………. Yes!  🙂  (All of the above actually.) I tell people that they should use every resource they can think of. Don’t restrict yourself to one potential source, location, group, selling site etc. I think that’s one of the most puzzling things I hear from other collectors; they establish some sort of self-imposed buying restriction for whatever justification they have concocted. As a rule, I never discuss my sources but I can say that quite a few of my significant finds have come from “tip of the iceberg” scenarios. This is where you find yourself looking to  purchase a single item or small group of items, and once you engage the seller you find that this was only a fraction of what they really have available.

However, I am, and will always be infinitely grateful for the help and generosity of my fellow collectors. I can absolutely say that my collection would not be what it is today if I didn’t have help from people over the years. I can’t tell you how many times someone has come to me and said “Hey, I found this ______ for you, I thought you might appreciate it”. It’s massively humbling to have someone give you that kind of consideration simply because they are being kind, and genuinely want to help. Those are the items for me that take on a nearly spiritual level of significance. Not only are they great pieces, but he/she allowed me to add this to my collection. It is hands down the best part of our hobby for me.

8. What Vader pieces are you still chasing?

BM – Believe it or not, quite a few items are still very much on my radar. What those items actually are is a top hobby secret 😉

9. What do your family and friends that you grew up say when they see your Star Wars room?

BM – I think it’s a bit of a shock to some people, but I’ve always had an overwhelmingly positive response to both the hobby, and when they have the opportunity to see my collection first hand. I consider my displayed collection and the curation of my pieces as significant to me as every other aspect of the hobby, if not a primary concern actually. I am always mindful of the items in my collection, and try to give them the respect they deserve while they are displayed.

Some more photos of Bill’s collection:

WA_room_3Office2013

10. Do you ever stand in your display room, look around at all your Vaders and even for a split second say to yourself “What the hell am I doing?”

BM – No, to me it’s massively satisfying and more of a statement of my passion, and personal enjoyment of the hobby. (more sometimes something along the lines of “wow … did you really need every variation of the Vader watch ? Why yes … yes I did 🙂 ) 

VSWC – Haha I feel the same way, as do most collectors I guess. I do though look at my collection sometimes and think ‘What the hell am I going to do if I someday lose my passion for Luke Skywalker figures??? But I guess we can only work with how we feel right now. You’ve been going for a long time so I think if you were going to lose your interest that it would have happened already. 

11. Have you ever collected other Star Wars figures?

BM –  I haven’t … I only have room in my heart for the Dark Lord 🙂

12. You’re also known pretty much as the go-to-guy for double telescoping sabers (DTs). Did this interest come about as part of your Vader collecting or is it something you’ve always been interested in?

BM – When I started collecting as an adult, I tended to gravitate towards items that were rare, or that I knew were supposed to exist, but never saw at any shows. In the realm of Vader, the obvious first, tough piece was the Double Telescoping figure. It was legendary even back then, and I found that people rarely found a single example, let alone were in a position to authenticate one. I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about them, and it eventually led me into my main collecting sub-focus, DT sabers and prototypes.

A bunch of Bill’s DT Vaders below. Now pick your jaws off the ground!

DTVaderGroup1a

13. Have you ever had a DT in hand that you couldn’t determine as repro or not? 

BM – At this point, if I have an example in hand I can absolutely determine the authenticity of any given example. The only examples that I ever had in hand that I couldn’t authenticate were the Circle DT saber Lukes. They were unlike anything I had ever seen, and so obviously different that I wouldn’t authenticate them at first. ** Fortunately, a prototype Vader figure surfaced, and it was remarked to have a “prototype DT saber”. Once I was able to add it to my collection and examine the saber, I realized what it was and established a direct link back to Kenner. Once I documented the Circle sabers as authentic, I was able to help people with similar examples.

VSWC – Definitely a great job with the circles variant. I was reading one of the old threads on TIG just the other day where collectors, including yourself, were first discussing this variant. Really shows that there is still more to find out there. Do you think there are many more Vader pieces out there that may not be documented?

BM – I think as a whole, there are many “new” vintages items that have slipped through the cracks waiting to be discovered. The line is over 35 years old at this point, and the quantity of items that were produced is simply mind boggling. Once you change gears, and make that intellectual, tangential shift to consider non-toy items or things that were produced outside of the USit should nearly be an expectation at this point, rather an exceptionIn a broader sense, we know the main branches of the tree so exploring some of the various smaller branches is where a lot of us are at now. This idea can easily be applied within the context of a single character, especially Darth Vader. From the beginning, he was always one of the main characters in the limelight, so you are going to find a vast range of Vader items that were available over the years, from all over the world. If anything, I think people would be shocked at how little time or effort it takes once you start digging to find a previously undocumented item, or something that we’ve never seen before.  I’ve been working on fleshing out two significant non-US/foreign lines that are massively significant, but also a bit shocking that they haven’t been documented before. I think that’s just remarkable that you can make big finds after 20+ years in the hobby. I would hope that it also gives newer people inspiration in their collecting journeys

14. I know you get a lot of questions from collectors, including from myself, regarding  the authenticity of their DTs. How often do you get questions like this?

BM – I get a few every week. Most are from people that are digging up old childhood collections due to the Eps.7 popularity and resurgence of SW, or looking for a 2nd opinion on an example they are considering for purchase.

15. Does it get annoying at any point? 

BM – Not at all. If I can help someone to obtain or ID an authentic example, then I certainly don’t mind. The market prices on DT Vader and Bens is well north of $4,000usd, and that’s a considerable investment. It’s even more considerable if someone purchases a fake. If by some extension of my work, the hobby is a better and safer place, then it’s all worth it.

16. Do you think repro DTs are an increasing danger to our hobby or are they on the wane?

BM – I think they are absolutely a danger to the hobby. Hands down, they always rank in collector’s “Top 10” most wanted items, and with the massive influx of new collectors, we are seeing a massive rise in the demand for these types of items. No collectible based hobby is immune from people seeking to exploit this type of situation, or high end pieces, and we are no different.

VSWC – How about other repro items? Are there any specific reproduction items that you think are a particularly concern to newer collectors? 

BM – I have always preached to newer collectors the importance of doing your “hobby homework” and educating yourself. This couldn’t be more of an issue today with the flood of new people coming into the hobby. I know some people are devotees of the various 3rd party grading companies, but the fatal flaw with this practice is that it’s not time sensitive. There is a considerable window for turn-around or just information, and 99% of the time in this market you aren’t going to have the luxury of such an expansive window for an acquisition. Quality items are being snapped up before they hit the open market, and we are the text-book definition of a “seller’s market” right now.  As I mentioned before, with any collectible based hobby you are going to have fakes and reproductions. This changes exponentially with the levels of collector population and relative values. (A fair quantity of higher value items available, combined with a higher amount of new collectors is just a dream scenario for scam artists.)

The biggest changes/issues I’ve seen recently regarding fakes/repros:
~ The original line of 12-backs, and high end POTF figures;
~ Double Telescoping Sabers; and
~ Prototypes.

These used to be infrequent, or bi-monthly issues, now I’m seeing fake carded figures every day. DT sabers are usually the most high profile, and potentially accessible rare items out there, and it’s simply a function of supply and demand. Just because I have 10 new people a day demanding a DT Obi Wan doesn’t mean you can turn around and find one right away. I know people that have spent 10+ years tracking down a single item. Unfortunately, in a near frenzy level of demand, scam artists are more than willing to fill that void. If you don’t know what you are looking at, you are going to get burned. Prototypes are another area that’s just exploding. I think most collectors are eventually drawn to pre-production items simply due to the rarity/cool factor. The problem here is that vintage pre-production material isn’t readily available. The vast majority of vintage prototype items are locked up in private collections. This is why any time a piece comes up for open sale, the prices just go crazy. The reality of the situation is that most of these pieces aren’t going anywhere, any time soon, so the demand and prices are just going to continue to grow. The biggest issue I’m seeing lately isn’t necessarily fakes or repros, it’s from the collectors themselves. There is such a high demand for these types of items, that any paint error, mold flaw, or general weirdness is now being called a “prototype” or some kind of significant production item. This is where the hobby education really comes into play. Once the realization sets in that nearly 3/4 of a BILLION toys where made, it’s far easier to be objective and pragmatic about these types of items.

17. So where do you see your collecting activities in the future? Will you ever change your focus or are you a Darth Vader man until the end of time?

BM – Perhaps the End Rule of my collecting is simple – I will collect as long as it makes me happy. If I ever lose my passion for collecting, it will be the final days of my career.

So you see yourself still collecting SW vintage 20 years down the track?

BM – Absolutely! If anything has changed over the years, I’m more passionate than when I started. The more I learn and discover, the more I want to collect.

Well thank you so much for joining us Bill! I know you are a busy man so I appreciate you giving up your time to share your collecting thoughts and insights. Not to mention the brilliant photos of some of your collection. Hopefully you’ll join us back on the blog in some other shape or form in the future.  Here is one last photo to remind you all how fricking awesome Bill’s collection is!

Vader_room_pano

Readers stay tuned for our next monthly collector interview!