Collector Snapshot #20 – Todd Thornhill aka ‘LongPlayingTodd’

Welcome all to the twentieth episode of our collector snapshot, where a vintage collector answers 10 short questions. The same questions will be given to every collector appearing in this segment.

We’ve hit the big 20 episodes of these snapshots and I thought it was the perfect moment to finally invite Todd Thornhill onto the blog, who is one of my favourite collectors. I first came across Todd a few years ago on Rebelscum but since those days Todd and I have both been regulars in pretty much the same Facebook groups, where I’ve gotten to know him a lot better. There loads of things I love about Todd: he’s an absolute gentleman, his collecting is drama-free, he has a fantastic collection but is super modest and he contributes positively to the collecting community.

Todd is a Canadian collector, born in St. John’s Newfoundland, and for the past 29 years, he has lived in Toronto, Ontario. He has worked as a Software/Web Developer for 20 years, and is currently employed as a Manager of Software Development. His main collecting focus is vintage Star Wars, but he also collects 70s/80s toys and board games, as well as owning a huge collection of vintage / modern video game systems and games, from Atari 2600, up to current systems. (current tally: approx 2000 games and 25 systems).

Todd is 21 years ‘married’ with two beautiful kitties Vader and Naya (the latter of which also collect Star Wars…see pic). His username on forums is ‘LongPlayingTodd’ and he is heavily involved in the online community. He is currently one of the admins of the La Guerre des Etoiles (Star Wars) Collectors group on FB. Check it here:

La Guerre des Etoiles FB group

The GDE group focusses on French vintage Star Wars –  from Meccano, Kenner Canada, Tri-logo and anything else French and vintage Star Wars (and if you are not a member yet, please join!).

So let’s hear from Todd himself!

1. How long have you been collecting?

I’ve been collecting different things since I was a kid. I remember my collecting started with Six Million Dollar Man back then, (fully dependant on my parent’s pocketbook, mind you, but the thought of ‘having them all’ started there). Then when Star Wars came out, it was ALL about that. I was addicted. I was known as the kid with the Star Wars toys, and funny that people I grew up with still call me that to this day. I stopped and ‘grew out of it’ towards the latter end of the Empire line. I didn’t have anything from the Jedi line as a kid. I don’t actually remember how or why I don’t have my childhood collection anymore (they meant the world to me, so maybe I blocked it out?). I got back into Vintage Star Wars when I went to see Revenge of the Sith. A short while after seeing the movie, I was at a flea market and picked up a modern ROTS Vader figure, and that really got me thinking about the toys I had as a kid. One look on eBay, and bidding on and winning a boxed Falcon totally got me hooked again, so it was around late 2005 I really started focussing on vintage Star Wars.

VSWC: Evidence that he really did love Star Wars as a kid! 

2. What do you collect?

It’s changed a little bit since I started, but the common theme throughout has always been based on nostalgia, and wanting back what I had as a kid. I started with collecting a full loose collection, and at least one carded version of each figure released on any cardback, and boxed vehicles/playsets, regardless of COO. Then after about a year or so, I picked up my first Canadian carded figure, and quickly realized that it was Canadian that I really wanted. I knew my mother picked up my figures back in the day right when they were first released to stores, so I concentrated on a Canadian carded debut run. My focus now is strictly Canadian. Now that my debut run is winding down, I’m looking to expand my focus. Now it’s everything and anything Canadian. My ultimate dream would be to have a version of every Canadian MOC released, but obviously that would be an impossible feat, but we all need goals in life.

VSWC: Take a deep breath and check out Todd’s absolutely ripping collection! 

 

3. What’s your grail?

My grail would have to be a carded Canadian Vinyl Cape Jawa. I may go to the grave and still not find one of those, or eventually acquire one with only my fellow senile nursing home residents to share it with, but at least, along with my ‘every Canadian MOC’ goal, there won’t be a shortage of something to aim for, because I’m sure I’ll never achieve either goal.

VSWC: Let Todd know if you have one of these to sell him! Or even just to tease him with 🙂 

4. What collectors inspire you?

For me, collecting is an escape. An escape from real life, and a trip back in time to when I was a kid and didn’t have to deal with these adult trials and tribulations. For quite a few collectors, I believe this is the case, as a few of my collector friends have said the same thing to me. Not to get too personal, but some are dealing with issues that collecting allows them to get away from. Anyone that has, or on the path to, overcome their demons, whatever they may be, inspires me. I’ve met a few, and their success stories inspire me more so than anything. It keeps me going, really, and gives me hope for dealing with my own crap.

VSWC: Todd’s cat is pretty inspiring! 

5. What is your most embarrassing moment as a collector?

I can’t really recall an embarrassing moment as an adult collector, but as an 8-9 year old…. My mom would go grocery shopping every Friday and I would insist on going with her just to hang out in the Star Wars toy aisles in Woolco next door, while she was picking up groceries. Back then I was addicted to the guns and accessories that came with the figures.

I was so addicted that one Friday, in the Woolco aisle, I remember looking at all the figures on the pegs, and just craving to have the little guns in the bubbles. I wanted to take them out. Just the guns, not the figures. I wanted them all. So I began to carefully open as many bubbles as I could; only opening them enough to get at the guns, and proceeded to take out the guns. After a while, a Woolco employee wandered over, and questioned what I was doing. I opened my hand and showed her my handful of guns. I was so embarrassed not realizing what I was doing. I was blinded to the law by my love of Star Wars. In my eight year old mind, I wasn’t stealing because I just wanted the guns, not the figures. Makes sense right? She was very nice, I remember, and took back the guns I had in my hand, explaining it wasn’t the right thing to do, and let me go on my way. But she didn’t take the guns I realized I had in my pocket when I got home. Extra guns for me! Sorry to anyone who grew up in Newfoundland at the time, and got a carded partially resealed gunless figure that year for Christmas. It was my fault. Well…no…blame Star Wars.

6. What is your favourite Star Wars film?

Hmmmm…that’s a tough one. Star Wars started it all, and I remember my constant jaw-dropping when I saw it in the theatre with my Dad in ’77 (not so much Dad, who I specifically remember looking over to during one of my ‘What the hell did I just see’ moments, only to find him dozing off. Something I later realized he does regardless of the movie), but I remember the excitement I had as a kid when I saw Empire and it really blew me away even more. So I’d have to go with Empire, but it wins out by only a very small margin.

7. What would you change about the collecting community?

Drama and repros. It’s a pipe dream I’m sure to think of our collecting community free of drama, but I just wish we could all get along. There’s no real straight answer to it, which makes it more difficult to avoid, but just do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Cliché I know, but it’s true. We are a huge community with many different backgrounds and beliefs. Let’s try to keep Star Wars a happy place. It won’t happen I know, but nice to dream. I purposely have made an effort to stay away from drama, and quite happy our GDE group has very little of it, but I just wish everyone was mindful of others and not so quick to judge, be petty or jealous. I’m not talking about the scammers, douches, and plain ole idiots out there, cause there are a few of those, and they get what they deserve. I just don’t have time for pettiness. I don’t mean to give a world peace, beauty pageant type of answer, but don’t really want to have to come up with an escape plan for my escape plan. Let’s just try to make it a happy place. And for repros? Burn them all, I say. Burn…them…all!

8. Forums or Facebook groups?

They both have their place. I visit the forums less these days, unfortunately. I don’t think I’m alone with that. With forums, they are better organized. It’s just easier to find what you’re looking for. Also a lot easier for referencing historical data. How many times I’ve gone back to forums to gather info on old issues and collectibles are too many to count. Will we eventually get there with Facebook and for it to be the search source in the future? Possibly, unless another platform comes around. I don’t think it’s going to change as people are still to this day searching old newsgroups that were around before forums, so it will probably be just another platform to add to the search mix. FB groups on the other hand is just easier to use in general. It’s not a cumbersome interface at all. One thing I noticed quite quickly, on forums, I never really got to know collectors that well, and was a bit hard for me to break the ice. On FB, however, it was a hell of a lot easier to get in touch with, and get to know fellow collectors. Of course the platform itself is not conducive to hiding behind a pseudonym, and is a social platform, so it’s built that way, but it was only after I started speaking and making friends on FB did I then add them as friends on RS and other forums. And for someone that doesn’t get to go to many shows and conventions, and being mostly online, it was a welcome change. If FB can only nail down the organization side of things, and there not be so many groups, those are the only things that bother me. If there was a better way to organize things, it would make it a hell of a lot easier, instead of relying on FB search. Maybe using hashtags with search in some way, I don’t know the answer, but I do like to see some groups encouraging discussions with daily discussion threads, so it’s not all about FS, WTB, and limelights. That’s a welcome change. And Kudos to you Christian on the Tantive XI Forum. You and your fellow admins have done an amazing job there.

VSWC: Thanks Todd! I can’t take too much credit for Tantive’s success but thanks anyway! 

9. What Star Wars character do you most resemble?

Hmmm….I’m getting a bit chunky, wrinkly and grey in my older age, so I’d have to say a little bit of Jabba, The Emperor and Obi-Wan combined. Is that cheating combing three-in-one?

VSWC: Not cheating mate, I’ll accept your answer, even though it’s a bit harsh 🙂

10. Is there one thing that collectors may not know about you?

I currently work in Software Development, but before that, I was a wannabe artist and performed on stage for a while. I’ve been performing since I was a wee lad in elementary school, and moved here to Toronto from Newfoundland to pursue a singing / stage career. I’ve been in a number of shows here over the past 25 years and also through Second City, tried my hand in improv for a good five years. Life and career took precedence which led me to make the hard decision to focus on my career in Software and Web Development, but I can still belt out a good tune…and I love to make people laugh

VSWC: That is very cool Todd! Never too late to give it another go… Well thanks for coming on and I hope everyone enjoyed this interview as much as I did. 

Collector Interview #9: Bobby Sharp

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.
Enjoy!
Bobby

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.

Family

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….

SWSuit

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. 

IMG_5792

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

IMG_5757

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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. 

CloudCar

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. 

OSWCCSocial

The Command Tower swing set itself

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The Ohio Star Wars Collectors Club 1998 alumni

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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

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Robot Dancing with vintage Leia Bespin in Anaheim. This young girl’s costume even rivalled Dwayne’s vintage Hammerheard effort. 

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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

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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…

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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!

Top Ten comments not to post on someone’s sales thread!

Hi guys,

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.

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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:

Ten tips for dealing with other collectors on social networking sites

Also check out Mete Akin’s guest article:

Guest Collector – Mete Akin: Responsible and sound buying techniques

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.

Who said the vintage forums were dying? Welcome to Tantive XI!

Hello everyone!

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:

http://www.tantivexi.com/

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!

FB banner with sticker_zpskh9rpw59

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:

Facebook Page

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:

Tantive XI – This what we stand for.

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:

The Library

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:

The TXI Team

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!

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!!!!!! 

And the winner of the Cantina Alien Crew photo competition is……..

We recently ran a photo competition on our blog’s Facebook’s page. All you had to do to win these four Cantina Alien figures (pictured below) was to post a photo on the page of yourself as a child with a vintage Star Wars collectible.

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We had entries from all over the United States, Britain and Canada. Some seriously fantastic photos and I want to sincerely thank everyone for taking the time to share their  childhood memories. This really is what vintage Star Wars is all about and these photos took me back to my own time as a kid, especially Christmas, when it was certain I’d be getting Star Wars figures.

I know a lot collectors who entered have amazing collections so it was nice to see them enter. I’m posting all of the entries in this article so If anyone would like me to remove their photo, please let me know!

Now unfortunately only one entry could win the Cantina Alien Crew but of course that doesn’t mean there was only one winner. Every entry was special and will remain on the blog. My wife absolutely tore her hair out trying to choose a winner and that’s why it took her a few days. She changed her mind about the winner several times and at one point even said “How can I say no to a kid?” She’s right, when I was looking at the photos I was not thinking of the men you have all become, rather it was these cute little kids who had entered the competition and it is these kids we would have to turn down! She did eventually choose a winner. As it was such a tight decision I decided to award a second prize. But then my wife couldn’t split the runner up from four different photos! So I’m going to send each runner up a random figure from these four guys below. .

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HONOURABLE MENTIONS

First up let’s present the honourable mentions. Unfortunately no prizes for them but great photos all the same!

Abdul K. Hemani JrStuart GallagherShane Kelly              Patrick HeathHector RiosErik Wright   Chris Coney Chris Bernst

SECOND PRIZES

Jad Bean and his awesome Christmas pic! How stoked does he look to score that Ewok Village. Who wouldn’t be! But I bet it’s not MISB anymore….Well done Jad!

Jad Bean Carl Nordstrom and his ripping Millennium Falcon. It doesn’t get more iconic than that for us vintage collectors. And seriously Carl was ahead of his time with that cool get up – hipster specs and the suave turtle neck. Top stuff Carl!

Carl Nordstrom

Shane Sayers and his fantastic ‘then’ and ‘now’ photos. Just rad. How many of us can say that we still have their old SW toys from back in the day? Not many I’m guessing. Congratulations Shane!

Shane Sayers1

The final runner up is Craig Spivey. What a photo! It has everything – the Death Star, an x-wing and the old Christmas tree in the background. Love that Craig is all dressed up in a tie for Christmas day! Nice work Craig!

Craig Spivey

Can all the second place winners please contact me on the blog or the Facebook page and send through their addresses. I’ll send the figures off this week.

AND THE WINNER IS…………………

Okay this is the really difficult part…..Firstly I don’t want to further stoke the winner’s ego as it’s a little overinflated as it is. Secondly, we are actually friends so it may be perceived that I’m being biased.  Well that’s why I didn’t choose the winners myself.

So here it is! Alexander Magraw and his Gammorean Guard mask! It took me a while to realise he was actually wearing a mask of course….

In the background there’s also a boxed Taun Taun and a carded Bespin Guard. And to top things off there’s also Alex’s Luke Bespin, which he still has to this day. What makes this even more special is that Alex is pretty much the hobby’s number one expert on this figure so it was this day that kicked that passion off. Thanks Alex and an even bigger thank you from me for covering up your face in this photo. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

Alexander Magraw

Thanks again to everyone who got involved. There will be more competitions in the future so there’s always next time!

Competition Time! Win the Cantina Alien crew!

Competition time! I promised to run a competition to thank you all for the 1000 Facebook ‘likes’ so here it is finally.

Who would like a shot at winning this set of vintage Star Wars cantina aliens? All the gang are there – Snaggletooth (sorry not the Blue Snaggletooth!), Greedo, Walrus Man and Hammerhead.

All you have to do to win is post a photo on the relevant thread on our Facebook page of you as a kid with a Star Wars vintage collectible. It doesn’t have to be a figure, it can be any Star Wars item. Only one photo can be submitted per person so  choose carefully! As usual, my wife will choose the best photo.

For those who don’t have Facebook, please contact me on the blog to receive details on how to submit your photo.

To be eligible to win, you have to either like our Facebook page or subscribe to the webpage or Twitter account.

Entries close next Friday –  18th September at 9pm Amsterdam time.

May the best photo win!

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Echo Base UK Facebook Group leading the anti-scammer charge! Your group can join too!

Hi guys, just a report on a great initiative I’ve been following these past few months involving one of my favourite Facebook buying, selling and trading groups for vintage Star Wars – Echo Base UK Trading Vintage Star Wars 1977-1985. The UK based group was created almost two years and has now blown out to approximately 2000 members. Well done fellas! It is administered by Adam Pemberton, with the help of Paul Desykes, Paul Smith, Wayne Totty, Dean Keenan and John McDermott. I’ve seen all of these guys around the groups and they really are a good bunch of blokes. They do their best to ensure their group runs smoothly for  their members. And they have a great group banner too!

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About three months ago the Echo Base UK admin group introduced a fantastic scammer busting rule that sellers have to include a piece of paper with their name and the date in their sales advertisements. Admin John McDermott tells me that the rule came about after a ‘member’ attempted to scam members by using stolen eBay pictures in his sales ad. His scam attempt failed after the admins asked him to add a photo of his name and date written on a piece of paper to prove ownership. After that protection measure succeeded they decided to ask all members to follow this procedure. As John says, it’s very easy to steal pictures from the internet and we all know it only takes a matter of minutes for someone to get scammed.

I for one think this is a great idea and it really adds an extra layer of protection to what can already be a murky world of online vintage dealing. While John tells me that some groups have already followed their initiative, I think this would be a great rule for other Facebook groups to rally around. True it does take a little bit of extra time to post that extra information and yes some well-known collectors may feel their egos slightly deflated having to prove their sales items are actually theirs but isn’t this group effort worth knowing that our community is safer? Not only will it help against scammers but it will protect against those sellers who ‘flip’ before they have the item in hand (a real no no in our hobby – see Ross Barr’s great article for more info – http://vintagestarwarscollectors.com/guest-collector-ross-barr-and-the-ethics-of-flipping/). We all complain about scammers yet here we are being gifted with a practical solution to assist our fight against these scumbags.

We rallied around the anti u-grade and repro causes, why not conjure that same energy to rally around an anti-scammer initiative? Let’s do this! In the next week or so I will implement this rule in the small Luke Skywalker focus collectors group I admin (our first rule!) and will discuss the rule in the groups I co-admin.

Special thanks to John McDermott for his roving reporting 🙂

Collector Interview #6: Joe Yglesias – Bootleg Overlord

I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Mr Bootleg himself onto the blog. Yes that’s right, the one and only Joe Yglesias is joining us to share his thoughts on SW vintage collecting and also to give us a peek into his world. Massive thanks to him for sharing his time with us.
Joe is an absolutely legend of the Star Wars vintage collecting world and is arguably the most knowledgeable bootleg collector in the world. So you can understand how happy I am to have him on. Not only that, but he is a great guy. Everyone knows about my no ars*hole policy with the blog (yours truly being the one exception of course!). When I first joined Rebelscum, I kept hearing about this scary guy ‘Joseph Y’ who would smack down arrogant and ignorant collectors or wannabe scammers. Although I joke about Joe being a tough guy, he is actually very approachable and is always on hand to lend advice to other collectors or to help educate others to some of the dangers to our hobby (i.e. repros, scammers and u-grades). He is as vocal as they come and this interview is a testament to that.
Joe also tells me that he’s currently drafting a book about bootlegs, and that while it’s had some set backs it will be ready to hit the press by Celebration 8. A kickstarter will also be launched soon to help pay for the graphic design/photo editing and publication. Good luck and can’t wait to see the book!
  me
Now to the interview! 
1.    Joe I have to ask you straight off the bat – are you really as scary in person as you seem in your photos? 
 
Joe: I’m a fairly soft spoken, and easy to get along with person, if you’ve heard any of the earlier Chivecasts where I had a monthly bootleg segment (still not sure why they stopped having me do that, it was fun), my speaking voice certainly doesn’t match what you’d expect me to sound like. As for me being scary in photos?I can’t help having been born with this ruggedly handsome face(lol), and while I might have some fun messing with trolls online, that buy into me seeming “mean or scary” I’m just another collector, I can be the most helpful person in the hobby in the areas that I’ve knowledge in, or the biggest jerk, all depending on how one approaches me. But overall I’m a pretty mellow person.  I can get a bit aggressive when a piece I want comes up for sale, but that’s just the hyper competitiveness of the bootleg segment of the hobby kicking in. 
 
VSWC: I did hear your segment on the CHIVE Cast (see our past interview with the hosts Skye and Steve here – http://vintagestarwarscollectors.com/collector-interview-3-steve-danley-and-skye-paine-from-the-chive-cast/) a few times and I really enjoyed it. I have crossed paths with you quite a lot in the Star Wars collecting groups and can confirm that you are a very helpful collector and an easy-going guy, unless someone messes with you of course! 
 
2.    Before we get in to the collecting side of this interview, I’m sure our audience would love to know a bit about you. Where did you grow up? 
 
Joe: was born and raised in Cranston and Providence, Rhode Island. I currently live in Cranston RI. 
 
VSWC: What was it like living there? 
 
Joe: The neighborhood I grew up in was a working class neighborhood, I had my share of friends that were also into playing with Star Wars toys, reading comic books, riding BMX bikes, and a few years later playing video games like Atari 2600, and just the general things kids do. Because none of the kids on my street had “rich” parents, and no one had “everything” we’d usually merge our toys for bigger battles. Overall I’d say I enjoyed my childhood, still am on many levels.
 
VSWC: Sounds like a cool bunch of neighbourhood kids to hang out with. The kids in my street used to steal my toys lol! 
 
3.    When I interview collectors, I usually have to do quite a bit of background research to collate some info on the interviewee. We’re Facebook friends though and to be honest your non-Star Wars passions in life really shine through.  Am I correct in saying that you are a huge comic book fan and collector, involved in the tattoo and body piercing industry and play in a band?   
 
Joe: Comic books were part of my life since before Star Wars ever existed. I’ve been reading them since I was four or five years old. There was a news stand in the supermarket that my parents shopped at when I was a child. I have great memories, of my parents giving me .50 or .75 cents and me going thru every comic on the racks to decide what I wanted, and being able to get two or three comics just about every time we went there. As an adult collector, I’ve ebbed and flowed in my comic collecting over the years. Stopping for long times, then building right back up. I sold off my original collection at age 18 to buy a car, then bought a few collections from others after that and started to vend at comic shows while in college, and that’s actually when the adult Star Wars collecting began for me. I bought a loose collection of SW figs and vehicles along with a comic collection, and kept them….the rest is history. I also collect many other toys I either had or wanted but never got as a child. Such as Mego Super Hero figures, Six Million Dollar Man, Shogun Warriors, Evel Kneivel etc. But over the years Star Wars has won out every time. My other hobbies include collecting vintage BMX bikes, rare punk rock records, playing in my band and DJing. As for my involvement in the body piercing industry, I’ve been a professional piercer for over 23 years, owned my own shop(s) for the past 16 years. I pride myself on both the quality of jewelry that I sell and install, and the level of cleanliness used in my facility. I worked with my local department of health to write the regulations that RI uses for the licensing of piercing facilities and piercing technicians,and still operate at a standard higher than what they finally passed into law. My involvement in music stems from being an awkward teenager, and finding Punk Rock (with a little help from my brothers Ramones and Iggy Pop records), long before it could be just looked up on the internet or found in the local mall. Going to my first Punk rock show in 1985 changed my life. I found where I belonged and while I certainly enjoy many other forms of music, and have DJed many genres of music over the years (everything from Rockabilly, to 80s New Wave, to Gothrock, to Neo Folk and everything possible in between), Punk and Oi! music have always been what makes the most sense to me. My band ‘The Usual Suspects’, is just an extension of that. I try to write songs that I’d want to hear as a fan. 
VSWC: Joe just before hitting the stage to belt out a tune. 
Me just before we play
VSWC:  Wow you are a busy man but sounds like you are having a lot of fun. Funnily enough I’ve actually heard one of your band’s tracks – ‘Brick thru a window’. Skye and Steve used to play it on their podcast. Very cool song! Hope you don’t me sharing this link to you guys playing it live.
 
4.   What would you be up to on a typical Saturday night? 
Joe: Usually I’d be working on a typical Saturday, from noon til 10pm. After which more often than not I’d be tired and just go home, watch some TV, eat dinner and go to bed. But of course if there were a band playing that I wanted to see, I’d go do that after work (which doesn’t just apply to Sat night). On the Saturdays that my band is playing somewhere I typically have my other piercer cover the shop for me, and go have fun for the day. Sorry that this answer wasn’t “alcohol fueled benders” as many would likely presume. Don’t get me wrong….those happen too, once in a rare while, but that’s not a “typical” saturday night for me…lol
VSWC: Joe are you sure these benders don’t happen often? 
me double fisting drinks
5.    So how old were you when you first saw Star Wars? 
Joe: I was seven years old when Star Wars hit the theaters. Thanks to my father being a big SW fan himself, I got to see it quite a few times in the theater. He also spoiled me as much as the family budget would allow when it came to the toys.
 
6.    What’s your first memory of seeing a Star Wars figure? 
 
Joe: I got the EB (Early Bird) envelope, and a “Force Beam” or similar bootleg light saber as part of my Xmas present in 1977. While still waiting for the EB kit to arrive, Child World (a now defunct toy store chain) got figures in. Seeing the wall of them is my first memory of physically seeing SW figures as a child.  I believe my father bought me a Ben and Vader that day.

At one point a childhood friend got a wind up R2D2, I believe his family went to Niagra Falls on vacation and crossed into Canada, which knowing now what I know about the piece, makes sense, but anyway, my father saw this toy, and literally drove to every toy store, small and large that he could, trying to find a wind up R2. I’m not sure if he wanted it more for himself or me at some point. But that sticks out as a very vivid memory of my dad’s enjoyment of Star Wars. He kept at it looking everywhere for about a month then gave up once he realized it wasn’t going to be found. As an adult collector, when the chance to buy a carded Canadian wind up R2 came up, I jumped at it. I still have it, despite having sold most of my non US stuff, it would be the last piece that I’d part with if I ever sold up and got rid of everything, as it serves as a reminder of how much he was a part of why I got to enjoy the Star Wars toy line as much as I did as a child.
 
VSWC: Great story Joe! What a cool dad. So do you still have any of your childhood figures? 
Joe: No, sadly, all of my childhood figures went the way of being played with and lost. But had I been more careful with them, I likely wouldn’t have enjoyed them as much,and gotten as heavily back into collecting them as an adult, and we wouldn’t be having this interview.
 
7.   How long ago did you start collecting Star Wars figures in earnest and what did you first collect? 
 
Joe: I started collecting around 25 years ago, it started as most do, with nostalgia for the toys of my youth. I started with some loose figures that I picked up in a collection with some comics, then bought more loose figures to try and complete the loose “set” and then as time, and both my knowledge and income went up, I switched to carded, and boxed items. At the time non US items were selling for a fraction of what their US counterparts were fetching, so I often bought non US carded figures, partially because at the time they were cheaper, but also because the logos were cool looking in contrast to the US Kenner equivalent. 
 
VSWC: Now I know you’ve sold off a lot of your licenced figures but do you still have much of your carded collection left?
Joe: The only bits of my carded collection that I have left is my 12A set, my 20 and 21bks, my Takara 8″ figures, and my as mentioned above, carded Canadian wind up R2.
 
8.    Before we get to your love of bootlegs, do you mind giving our readers a brief rundown of what exactly defines a Star Wars collectible as a ‘bootleg’?
 
Joe: A bootleg is any mass produced (as in made in a factory) unlicensed item that directly is made to look like the character from whichever licensed toy line that it’s ripping off. Examples being, Uzay figures, Model Trem figures.
VSWC: An example of an Uzay, followed by a Model Trem. A tiny sample from Joe’s enormous bootleg collection of these lines. 
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VSWC: Oh and the rest of Joe’s Model Trems. Might as well…
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A knock off, is also a factory/company made item that’s made to closely resemble an item from a licensed toy line. Enough so that it reminds you of the character, but far enough away so as to avoid direct copyright infringement. Good examples being Arco Spacewar figures, or Tomland Star Raiders. 
VSWC: Here’s a couple of Arco Spacewar toys from Joe’s collection to give you a taste of what some of these knock-offs look like. 
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9.    So what’s the earliest known bootleg and at what point did bootlegs become ‘modern’ bootlegs?
 
Joe: Earliest known knock off items would be pieces like the Force Beam, and the dozens of other light saber toys that littered the shelves before Kenner product became available, I also believe that these little statues called Star Warts, were on the shelves before Kenner SW toys. Some of the Timmee toys space figures w. a SW like header card were out there and the Arco SpaceWar figures were VERY close in timing to the Kenner toys hitting the shelves. Earliest direct bootlegs would include some of the rarer Mexican pieces. The “Heritage” metal figure sets, and from what has been said, the Dutch/German bootlegs were available before Kenner items in Germany. As far as the cut off for what’s considered a vintage bootleg, that’s such a grey area, as the movies didn’t get “legally” shown in some countries until the mid to late 80s, so while Kenner stopped in 85, other countries bootleg lines ran well into the early 90s, with the vintage Mex/SA (semi-articulated) line was still being sold in Mexico in marketplaces to be used as toys, with different variants even after POTF2 came out, some even packaged w. POTF2 headers/backers. Modern bootlegs started the second that POF2 came out, heck likely even before, I’ve got some non vintage based pieces that may have been made in the years between vintage and POF2 era. Once again, as said before that early to late 90s line of what to classify where is very grey. That said, bootlegs made in the modern era, in many cases mirror their licensed counterparts very closely. The lines that stand out are few and far between. Still fun to collect, but with the current world, licensed items were likely in abundance in most of the places where these items were also available.
VSWC: Wow I feel ten times smarter after reading that rundown. I guess that’s why you are considered the go-to-man for bootlegs. I was always curious why some of the vintage bootlegs lines were producing bootlegs so late in the game but I guess that answers it. 
And here are some of Joe’s modern bootlegs. 
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10.    Now I know one of your bugbears relates to some collectors insisting that bootlegs and reproductions are essentially the same thing. What is the actual difference? 
 
Joe: Legally and in general terms, to someone outside of the hobby, or someone without much knowledge of the world during the vintage era, they could be considered the same, as both are unauthorized and both do/did breach copyright laws….. BUT….. intent and hobby accepted definitions make them FAR different. Vintage era bootlegs were made to be played with as toys by children that were in countries where the licensed items were either unable to be legally imported, such as, Hungary, Poland and Russia, which thanks to trade embargos, had no legal imported SW items, and the few items that were illegally imported, were inflated beyond belief. Or third world countries, where even if the licensed item were available they were beyond many peoples means to buy as toys for their children to play with, so bootlegs flourished as the worldwide influence of SW had everyone everywhere, wanting something from that galaxy far, far away… Repros are made for the collector market, made to fool people, and in many cases defraud them into believing that they are original weapons or carded figures, etc, and since collecting is a first world luxury, regardless of where you live, if you have the disposable income to collect vintage SW, you can save that disposable money, and buy the real thing. Even the stuff that’s marked as repro somewhere on it, unless the markings are huge, the marking can be obscured and sold as original to an unknowing buyer. Bluntly stated: In general repros are made for people too cheap to buy the real thing. IF the repro weapon makers started making their weapons in colors that Kenner never made them in, that would be a great solution for those that want to give beater vintage figs to their kids, and still have weapons for them to play with.
VSWC: Well said Joe. So do you think the recent coordinated action undertaken by various Facebook Star Wars vintage groups (see here – http://vintagestarwarscollectors.com/the-day-facebook-groups-united-under-the-same-banner/) will have any affect on the presence of repros in our hobby?
Joe: I think that it will hopefully educate people on the potential pitfalls of repro items, and make them think twice about what they want to collect. I will also put a nice dividing line up between people that collect vintage, and people that just want something that looks vintage.
 
11.    I’ve been looking forward to this next question since you first agreed to come onto the blog. How the hell did you get into bootlegs?
 
Joe:  It all started at a toy show in Auburn Mass. in 94/95, I was set up next to a collector named Paul Levesque (not the WWE wrestler) but Paul was an early contributor to the Archive, was active on the Usenet groups, and had his own site, which is long defunct called POF2.com which had comical situations w. figures, an idea stolen by Toy Fare magazine, and expanded on by Robot Chicken…. IMO…… Anyway, Paul had these odd looking figures, that piqued my interest. At that show I ended up buying my first four bootleg figures, a carded Hungarian Leia and Wicket, and two Polish unarticulated figures, Luke and Barada. The dealer across from us had two carded Uzay figures and one Polish first generation carded figure. They also caught my interest, but I didn’t have the $ to spare that show. The same venue the following month, from the same dealer, a known East Coast seller at the time, by the name of Art Liew, I purchased my first Uzay figure, a carded Imperial Gunner that day, and then at the next month’s show, I bought my carded Blue Stars and first generation Fett from him. From that point on, I was buying bootlegs as a part of my collecting, not my main focus as I was all over the place. I finished many goals in my time collecting licensed items. I finished a first 79 set all on premier cardback, a full set of POTF(85), a full set of Ledy 12″ dolls boxed, a full set of Trilogo carded, and a huge variety of non US licensed items, including at one point, a full set of Palitoy and Takara 12bks, and the majority of each 12bk set from around the world including Clipper, Harbert, and GDE/Canadian 12bks. 
While I was collecting all of these other licensed items, I was always buying bootlegs here and there, and my interest would ebb and flow, for a few months, I’d concentrate on my Trilogos, then I’d switch over and work on my non US 12bks, or another facet of my SW collection.
VSWC: A past limelight of  Joe’s production pieces at the time. Yep, he knows a bit more about vintage than simply bootlegs. 
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VSWC: Wow what a collection! Most collectors can only dream about obtaining these full sets. So at what point did it become your collecting focus? 
Joe: Bootlegs were slowly taking over my collecting time and money from the late 90s on, they became my main focus in the early 2000’s but as said, I also was still collecting licensed non US items and even modern prototypes.

While I was certainly more into my bootlegs than any other part of my collection, and was known as the bootleg guy already, I didn’t shift my focus entirely towards them until after May 22, 2006 when my piercing shop burned to the ground, my insurance screwed me and the restaurant that started the fires insurance money all went to the state (who also sued them), and the owners claimed bankruptcy, so I got nothing to make up for over $100k in jewelry and equipment,and about 30k a month in lost revenue. . I sold off a huge chunk of my comic collection as well as most of my record collection to get the new space ready to work in, and thanks to the fine folks at Industrial Strength body Jewelry, who sent me a care package of basics to get me up and running. It’s a shame that “crowd funding sites” didn’t exist then, I could have likely rebuilt w.o having to sell my stuff, but…anyway,  I’ve kept going. Unfortunately my income level has never gotten back to where it previously was, so I had to make decisions on what mattered most  and what I could part with as time went on, and when rare bootlegs came up, what I could sell to pay for them. The bootlegs have always won. I’ve since sold off most of my licensed collection,including most of my prototypes, and have only kept 77-79 items with the SW logo(first 21 carded, 12″ doll set, and vehicles/playsets etc), as those were the most important to me when it comes to licensed items, as they had the most nostalgia attached to them. There are less than a dozen licensed items that I currently  really want, all, other than 2 store displays, are easily available, but bootlegs are more important to me, so any expendable income gets socked away for the eventuality of a grail bootleg piece coming onto the marketplace.
VSWC: Terrible story and I’m really sorry about what happened to your store. But it’s kind of poetic in a sense though that your SW collection help fund your new enterprise. Must have been heartbreaking to sell them though. Can you give us some examples of the prototypes you had to sell off? 
Joe: For prototypes, I’ve sold off a nice vintage Klaatu Skiff hardcopy, unproduced Leia Arctic doll, some vintage signed sample pieces my (formerly my) unproduced Salacious Crumb plush proto (that one hurt the most to part with), and literally, dozens of modern HCs, over 100 first shots, the unproduced Power Sparks hard copy and test shot vehicles, I at one point had an entire room of prototypes….all gone.
 
13.    So any idea how many pieces you currently have in your collection? 
 
Joe: If we’re counting both vintage and modern bootleg toys, as well as unlicensed non toy items, easily over 10,000 pieces of unlicensed SW merchandise
 
VSWC: Here’s a large selection of photos of Joe’s collection that have not already been shown in the interview. Yes, wow! I have to add that these photos are not updated, his collection is even more awesome these days. 
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14.    What’s your favourite line of bootlegs? 
 
Joe: Overall Uzay, they’re simply the best made line of bootlegs out there. The card art is what got me addicted to bootlegs. While other lines may be harder to finish, the Uzay line is everything that’s fun about collecting bootlegs.
 
VSWC: Joe’s insane Uzay collection. 
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VSWC: The cardback art on the Uzays is fantastic! My favourite is the Imperial Gunner manning the calculator!
Here’s Joe’s example. 
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15.   What key bootlegs are you still chasing down? 
Joe: Well, there’s a loose black plastic first generation Polish Leia that I was screwed out of, and another example has yet to surface, that’d be a nice one to get. Of course any and all second and third generation Polish articulated figures on card, so I can eventually complete those sets too.  Other than that, the last couple of Mex/SA figures I’d need to have one of each character made, a couple of Uzay variants, both carded and loose. The last five Imai Star Command minis that I need to finish my set, the last two Arii Space Convoy R2s that I need, and a few other Japanese bootlegs that hopefully with time and patience will end up in my collection. Those as well as a few things I’m not going to mention, as it’d only get those that want to shut down the bootleg tractor beam to hunt for them harder.
16.   Do you think you’ll ever change your collecting focus?
Joe: Not unless I get out of the Star Wars hobby all together. The hunt for the bootlegs is still fun and exciting most of the time, and all of the other parts of the hobby that I have interest in are sewn up IMO. I could never get to the level I’d want to be at collecting other SW stuff that interests me at this stage in the game, the kingpins of those segments of the hobby are firmly entrenched, and I’d much rather rule in Hell than serve in Heaven.
 
17.   What would you say is the bootleg line most difficult to find? 
 
Joe:  Polish articulated on card, any generation. It took me nearly 17 years to put together a full set of carded Polish first generation articulated figures. That’s 20 figures…. I got to 11 of them, and it was like it’d hit a brick wall, I had been offering three and four times any previous known sale for them, none came up. Then all at once, between an auction for three that was at Morphys Auction house in PA, and my friend, James Gallo coming across some in a collection he bought, all of the ones I needed to finish my set were available. I scurried to sell off as much stuff as possible as fast as possible (which meant selling off items I normally would have kept) including my entire R2-D2 prototype collection (to Mike Ritter of course) and my loose Vlix, to Yehuda. Not to mention two of my best friends in the hobby, Mike Vogt, and Daren Wilde, letting me borrow some money, to make sure that there was no way on the face of the earth that I’d be leaving PA without my first generation set being complete. Still can’t thank them enough.
VSWC: Here’s Joe’s completed Polish first generation set, flanked by some second and third generation carded, including an ultra rare black Polish HothTrooper
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VSWC: Another cool story. Nice to see collectors helping each other out. Does this happen much in the bootleg world?
Joe: There are lots of times when real friends help one another out in the bootleg community, I’m at the point where I know who my real friends are, they’ve helped me many times, and I’ve tried to help them when I can. I also know who’s out to roadblock me every chance they get. Due to the rarity of many of the items, there’s also a certain level of hyper-competitiveness in the bootleg community as well.
 
18.   Do you have many pre-production bootleg items?
 
Joe: Yes, I have the steel injection molds that were used to make the Uzay figures. I have all but four of them. At one point I owned them all, but hit some financial hurdles last year, and regrettably sold off some of them to trusted friends, that I know would never use them to make repros.  I would eventually like to figure out a way to buy them back from those friends, to make my set complete again, time will tell. Other pre production items that I own include steel injection molds for two Polish figures (Leia and Hoth Stormtrooper), and two mock up cards, one with three HC figures in the packaging, for the Arco Spacewar line, the steel mold for the head of a 12″ Mexican Vader figure, a full set of Polish 2nd gen figures, on sprues, unassembled and unpainted, as well as an Uzay AT-AT Driver un assembled and unpainted. I also have the proofs and color separations for the Space Warriors puzzles from Colorforms, the figures in the puzzles are not SW in any way, but the font for the logo is unmistakably Star Wars.
VSWC: Check out the moulds for the Uzays.
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VSWC: Here’s an example of Joe’s Colorforms proofs. 
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19.   Considering how poorly some of these bootlegs are made, what’s to stop someone sourcing an old bootleg mould and then punching out their own? Could you tell the difference? Has it been attempted before?
 
Joe: There have been people that made fake lines of bootlegs, including a scumbag named Mario, aka FX master. He made these fake “Dutch” bootlegs, they still pop up on Ebay from time to time. They’re recast and repainted Kenner figures. Also another scammer named Pablo Artesi created an all white rubber set of bootlegs, as well as the PPL line which is attributed to him (he also made fake Top Toys protos and carded pieces, which were a licensed line). His worst fraud were a bunch of fake Model Trem figures, which in pictures can typically pass muster, but in person there are several tell tale signs that they are fakes.
Currently there is a batch of figures coming out of Mexico that are recasts of a very early bootleg line and need to be avoided, as they’re just being made to fool the collector market. There’s an articulated Greedo and Chewie in this line, and they have been seen in colors that almost match the vintage versions, as well as clear plastics. The tell tale signs of them being fake is obvious when next to an example of the real thing, as well as some other factors, which I don’t want to give to the fakers, so that they can make their product look closer. Also from the same sellers are fake static (solid figure, unarticulated) Gam. Guards and Jawas, in a variety of plastics.
 
VSWC: Gee that’s unfortunate. Actually I remember now that I read about Artesi on Rebelscum. Didn’t he allegedly die and then come back to life or something like that?
Joe: Yep like all “good” scammers, he faked his own death, only to come back a few months later using his wife’s Ebay account and selling more fake items.
 
20.   I’m a big bootleg fan myself and I know a few collectors who are into them but I’ve heard several people comment that they are not as popular as they used to be. Is there any truth to this? 
 
Joe: I think that all parts of the hobby ebb and flow when it comes to popularity. Proof cards will be hot for six mo’s then cool off, then it’ll go to POTF coins for a few months. Currently 12bks and non US licensed items are the hot spot. That’ll change and maybe displays will be next?  One factor in the cooling off of the bootleg segment of the hobby is lack of presence on forums. I’ve stopped posting for the most part on the two forums that I’m a member of (not intentionally, just been spending too much time on FB), and the third and largest forum, thanks to their owner and I having a disagreement to put it nicely, I can’t openly post on that forum, which I think definitely hinders the exposure that bootlegs get.
 
VSWC: I can tell you now that you are definitely missed on that forum! As I touched upon earlier, when I first joined up a couple of years ago I saw members openly lamenting you not being around anymore to keep troublemakers and scammers in line! 
 
21.   Who would you say are the other major bootleg collectors? 
 
Joe: I’d say that the closest to me in quantity and quality would be Daren Wilde, after him, Shuichi from Japan has a massive bootleg collection, Michael Vogt, Steven Weimer, Martijn Emmelot, Mete Akin,Trevor Wencl, Jason Edge, Wolff, Dylan Leong, Seth Delpha, Patsy Pedicini, Cristian Guana, Horacio, Jakub, and I’m sure I’m forgetting quite a few others that I haven’t talked to in a while as well as some up and coming collectors that I haven’t seen the spectrum of what they have well enough to tell. As well as some focus collectors that have massive amounts of bootlegs of just one character…..
VSWC: I’ve heard stories about collectors travelling to Eastern Europe back in the early days of bootleg collecting and bringing a massive amount of bootlegs back to North America. Were any of the above guys involved in those expeditions? 
Joe: None of the current bootleg collectors were involved in those expeditions. The two main people behind those trips were Lenny Lee (Lee’s AFN magazine) and Lev (owner of Toy Tokyo). Neither of them have anything left from their adventures, I got most of Lenny’s Uzays when he brokered them thru Tom Derby in the late 90s, and he just recently sold his last piece, a carded Polish first generation Fett, that I’d been working on getting for a while, to a friend of mine (Mike Vogt) that I passed the deal on to once my set was finished, as it was one of his grail pieces.
22.   Do collectors from a particular continent dominate bootleg collecting or are they spread around the globe?
Joe: Definitely spread around the globe, just in my list above, we have collectors from the US, Canada, Germany, UK, Japan, Mexico, Poland and The Netherlands. There are a few bootleg collectors in Australia, they have just as diverse of an audience location wise, as licensed items IMO. 
23.   In what ways are you involved in the social networking side of bootleg collectors? 
Joe: I run the bootleg and knock off collectors page on Facebook, I answer easily a dozen questions a week sent to me via PM and email about bootlegs, I also run a bootleg SW toy site (still being built but is live) www.theouterrealmsw.com. I need to make myself more visible again on TIG and SWFUK as they’re both great forums.
24.   Do you often get the chance to meet other collectors face to face? 
Joe: Not as often as I’d like. I have many friends in the hobby worldwide. I’ve traveled a lot to hang out with my collecting friends, bootleg and non bootleg collectors.  Just this past weekend, Yehuda K, a great friend, and collector in NY had a get together at his house, I drove part way, and met up with Micro Rob AKA Rob Amantea, and rode with him for the 2nd half of the drive. It was a great time, hanging out with friends from the NY and CT area, seeing how his display room looks, coveting some items that he has, getting display ideas for when I revamp “Mos Yglesias, the most wretched hive of product piracy” in a few months.
25.   I wouldn’t be carrying out due diligence if I didn’t ask you about the Action Figure Authority (AFA). I know you’ve had a lot to say about them in the past. What are your general ideas about their place in our hobby? 
Joe: My personal opinion of them is that I will never use them until they banish the U grade and add effective bubble protection to their cases. SW collecting is the only hobby that encourages people to remove an item from it’s original packaging, only to be repackaged in acrylic, creating an artificial collectable. Beyond that as mentioned before, I feel that they need to step things up on their bubble protection, for carded figures, as SW items age, the bubbles become more brittle, and we’re seeing more and more shipping damage with these bubbles not being secure or buffered.
26.   Do they have much of a role in relation to the grading and authentication of bootlegs?
Joe: Authentication is done by CIB, and when they have had bootleg related questions in the past, they’ve called me and I’ve gladly helped Tom out. As for grading bootlegs, personally I see no use for it.
27.   Do you think they should be liable for the Toy Toni’s they incorrectly authenticated? (read here for more info on the Toy Toni scandal – http://vintagestarwarscollectors.com/toy-toni-scandal-featured-on-bbc1-in-the-uk/)
Joe: While I don’t believe that they should be fully responsible, as they were fooled too, IMO they do have some level of culpability, after all they refer to themselves as an “authority”
28.   Did you personally get stung by the Toy Toni fiasco?
Joe: I had sold three figures that were TT (Toy Toni) pieces, years before, and when all the news came out, I found the emails of all three buyers on those pieces and offered to buy them back, and only one of the three replied, and said that he was fine with the piece as it was.  I got stuck with a TT Fett, which I sold with full disclosure, to someone I trust not to move it off w.o also disclosing. And recently, I was buying a collection to flip, and this guy hadn’t collected since the early 2000s had 2 TTs in his stuff. One I sold with full disclosure, the other I still have.
29.    I’ll finish off with a few random questions. Firstly, if you could change one thing about this hobby what would it be? 
Joe: Fewer bootleg collectors……..LOL Seriously….. collectors educating themselves on what to look for in real vs not real on items, and not just relying on third party grading to tell them that they have a nice item.
30.   What do you think will happen to the hobby once the current crop of collectors, the generation who actually collected the figures as kids, pass on? Will the hobby keep going or will it die out with us?
Joe: I think the hobby will continue, while the nay-sayers compare it to the Vintage GI Joe (12″) market as how there are tons of formerly rare pieces out there and selling for a fraction of what they did at their peak, I see Star Wars collecting maturing more along the lines of the comic book market. There may be lulls as it solidifies but overall I see a strong future for vintage SW items, as long as they don’t all break thru the bubbles in shipping….
31.    Will you be at Celebration Anaheim?
Joe: Yes I will be, I’ll be doing a panel  with Ron Salvatore, and John Alvarez on Worldwide SW collectable oddities (my segment will be mostly bootlegs).
VSWC: Now that is a presentation I will not be missing! Do you think you’ll set up a sales booth as well? 
Joe: No, I won’t be set up at a booth, I will however be bringing stuff to sell during the room sales that happen after convention hours. 
32.    You’re pretty active on both the forums and Facebook. Do you have a preference?
Joe: Currently Facebook, as when I don’t want to hear the same questions asked a million times, I can just hide in the specialized groups for international collecting and my bootleg group. If I feel like engaging a wider audience, I can go to the main vintage group.  But that said, I really need to get back to being on the forums more.
33.    Final question! So looking back on all the years you’ve collected and all the collectibles that have come and gone from your hands, do you think you can answer this timeless question – why the hell do you collect Star Wars vintage figures? 
Joe: It’s cheaper than drugs and whores. Serious answer: partially nostalgia (the licensed stuff) and partially due to the history and cheese factor of the bootleg toys, seeing just how far SW affected the world and how far the bootleggers would go to both make their money and give the children of these countries something SW to enjoy…. And lastly because the hunt for some of these pieces that I’m still missing keeps me awake at night. It’s truly an addiction on some levels.
VSWC: Well that’s the wrap. Thank you Joe for coming onto the blog and sharing your collecting adventures with us. I doubt there is a more colourful collector than you and I had a great time conducting this interview! Thanks for letting me pick your brain. See you in Anaheim!
 
 

 

Collector Snapshot #11 – Moises Rodriguez Curiel

Welcome to the eleventh installment of our regular segment, where a vintage collector is given 10 short questions to answer. The same questions will be given to the next collector appearing on the blog.

Today’s participant is Moises Rodriguez Curiel, who is 38 years old and lives in Mexico City, where he works at a government agency dedicated to anti-corruption. Moises is also the founder of the largest Star Wars Facebook group for Spanish speakers – Star Wars Collecionistas / Collectors. I often share my blog articles in this group and I have to thank everyone there for their positive feedback and for putting up with my spam! They all seem like a great bunch of guys and I hope they don’t have the same dramas we have in the English-speaking groups! Well done to Moises and to the other admins for their great work there.

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I’m lucky to have gotten to know Moises over the past six months or so and I’m impressed by his dedication to the hobby and to the collectors who make our hobby what it is. Not only that, but he has an outstanding collection! So thanks Moises for coming on and see you in Anaheim!

VSWC: And I’ll share an extra photo of Moises, for no other reason except that his wife is hot!

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To the interview!

1. How long have you been collecting?

Ten years now.

I’ve never really stopped buying items from the saga since I’ve made my own money, but until ten years ago, those were casual purchases, not as a collector.

2. What do you collect?

Vintage toys carded or boxed. I also like Kotobukiya ArtFX 1/10 statues… a lot.

VSWC: Some of Moises’ great collection. 

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3. What’s your grail?

In my collection? It’s a Lili Ledy Chief Chirpa carded with the back printed backwards, I mean heads down. It’s a printing error that some Mexican collectors remember, but there are no other examples at all. As far as I know, this Chirpa is the only one. I´ve heard there is one card around like that, but solely the card.

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Not in my collection? I don’t know… it would be some LL carded from ESB, maybe or if I had the toys from my own childhood. Sadly I lost them between moving house. I recently found a figure truly of mine since I was a kid, and it’s a treasure to me.

4. What collectors inspire you?

Many, especially the Mexican fellows, like Adolfo Martinez, Luis Galvez, Jose del Toro and others. To me, being a collector means that you have clear goals, you work to reach them, you are disciplined to search for them, you have to be financially organized, and so on. And to me, that speaks well of a person.

5. What is your most embarrassing moment as a collector?

When I lost an auction because I was waiting for the last moment to make the “winning offer”, and I did it, but my eBay account wasn’t opened so I lost the crucial seconds entering my user and password, and … you can guess. It was so foolish!

The item was a figure I’d been looking for a long time, still blaming myself hehe.

6. What is your favourite Star Wars film?

Besides ESB? hard to tell, I guess ROTJ and I also like Ep. III a lot.

7. What would you change about the collecting community?

Two things:

First, I see that for some guys, collecting is like a race against the others, and there is a lot of money involved. Maybe if we all search and go for the things that moves our real emotions, and not for the popular grails and rarities, maybe the Force would be more balanced.

Second, and I hope I don’t open a Pandora’s box or fall from the grace of others: I would change the total intolerance to repro items. Please keep reading! To me the problem is not the repro items themselves but HOW they are traded. Repro items sold as legit things is a detestable fraud. Repro items sold as “repro items” is a way to have items that you love but you can’t afford or that no longer exist. It’s like the art reproductions you can see in the Museums stores. So maybe the movement against Repro could change to a movement against fraud. Maybe I will start it in Mexico…

8. Forums or Facebook groups?

Since I’m founder and admin of a Facebook group, I would vote Facebook. But you learn a lot in forums. Maybe Facebook groups are better to make contacts and share information… actually that’s what Facebook is for, isn´t it? And forums are more organized by themes, like more specialized.

In the end both options are great. Speaking of which, you all are welcome to join Star Wars Coleccionistas / Collectors, the biggest SW collectors community in Spanish in the world.

9. What Star Wars character do you most resemble?

Maybe Anakin because of the struggle inside hehe.

Now seriously, I don’t know, I guess my wife could say better.

10. Is there one thing that collectors may not know about you?

Many. But related to collecting, I’m a fan of other things, like DC superheroes, GI Joe, MOTU, and watching sports (49ers fan, for example).

Thank you and MTFBWY!!