Welcome everyone to the ninth edition of VSWC Blog Full-Length Collector Interviews! It has been a while since we published our last one, featuring friend of the blog Stephane Faucourt, but we have finally gotten our butts into gear to get these rolling along again. They really are the life-blood of the blog and are definitely the most enjoyable and fulfilling for me to put-together.
I’m pumped to welcome long-time collector and ‘Plastic Galaxy’ star Bobby Sharp onto the blog. I met Bobby at Celebration Anaheim, we exchanged swag and he was kind enough to take me up on my interview offer. Bet he didn’t think it would take over a year…But it’s finally happening and it is well-worth the wait. Not only is Bobby one of the most experienced and knowledgeable collectors in our hobby but he is also intelligent, articulate, helpful to other collectors and bloody funny.
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.
When the OSWCC Summer Social rolled around a few years ago, I thought it would be cool to assemble the thing and put it on display. Most folks had never actually seen it in person. I saw one years ago on display near the front of a local toy store, but my memories of it were fleeting. It was a big hit!
Right now it’s disassembled and stored in the upstairs of my garage. Next summer, I’m going to assemble it and install it in my yard so Elliott can use it. I know these things are few and far between, but I really can’t justify a swing set stored in my garage that I won’t allow my kid to play on. I can’t wait to see him in it!
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.
But as I mentioned before, the fan-generated souvenirs have really taken off since C2. I sort of thought my buttons were clever, but what I saw at Anaheim simply blew my mind. Blake and Flarida’s Kenner poster, Rob Amantea’s Micro Bacta pins, Amy Sjoberg’s cross-stitched Ewok buttons, Darren’s Helix Death Star medallion, the OSWCC Vader case patch set, the SARLAAC cups…I could go on and on. Incredible. It’s just amazing how much ownership the collecting base has taken in these conventions. That’s the way it should be.
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.
The coolest piece in the basement was one of the very rare Empire Strikes Back Special Offer display stands. According to this lady, it was given to her by a Kenner employee who was resetting the Star Wars aisle when she and her husband showed up and started loading up their cart with toys. She saw that they were interested in Star Wars got it out of her car and gave it to them. I kept it for about a month before I put it up for sale. It was neat, but I had some expenses coming up that took precedence.
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!