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.

homer-simpson-doh-400x288

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 #12 – Jay Williams

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

Next up is my friend Jay Williams (Psybertech on most Star Wars forums), a 42 year old (he tells me he feels 52! Don’t we all!) from northern New Jersey, U.S. I met Jay (and his weird Scandinavian roommate) at Celebration Anaheim last month and I’m happy to report that he’s as easygoing and friendly as his online persona. I regret not hanging out more. Well there is always London 2016 🙂

Jay works on the technical side for an imaging and medical company and his job is to create web applications to connect different systems together for their field engineers and customers. He tells me that he doesn’t really have a fancy title other than simply being a jack of all trades and that he considers himself fortunate to do what he likes for a living.

This link might give away Jay’s answer to question two, but check out more about him and his focus at his great website:

 http://leia.bespin.info/.

I love this page and it’s easy to see both Jay’s love for Bespin Leia and his IT skills shine through. Well done Jay!

To the questions!

1. How long have you been collecting?

I recently got into collecting as an adult in Dec. 2012 after my father dug up a decent set of 20 or so figures from the first 12 & next nine and some ESBs from my childhood in my grandparent’s basement. They were all near mint, like new, and I wanted to complete the first 12 immediately. Before I knew it I was out to complete the next nine and then ESB, ROTJ and POTF. My goals have been evolving and a constant moving target ever since. I never thought I’d be a collector and it all came at me completely out of the blue!

2. What do you collect?

At the moment it is hard to say really. Last year I completed the full Kenner run, but the biggest thing for me is a focus I have on Leia Bespin. I took to her at first for the very obvious variations of crew and turtle necks but quickly spiraled down the path of mould pairs, factories involved, licensees, packaging, and well, everything and anything I could research. All of that research has helped me get a better handle on the hobby as a whole. I now see variants of everything, everywhere!!!!

I also am digging my latest run called the “Gross MOC Run” which is the first 12 figures each on 1 of the various 12 major US card back releases (12, 20, 21, 31, 32, 41, 45, 47, 48, 65, 77 & 79). It is cool thing and has so many possible combinations that will help this run evolve over time.

VSWC: Ok here’s some eye candy, first up is Jay’s main display. She’s a beauty.

main display

VSWC: Next batter up is a photo of Jay’s loose run. 

loose run

VSWC: Jay calls this his “Duo Display”

duo display

VSWC: And here’s the “Gross Run” he was talking about

gross moc run

3. What’s your grail?

I’ve got three grails so far and on the hunt for more. I own three Leia Bespin proofs; a 31B, 45A Hand-Cut and a Revenge. Plus a very cool and unique SW-A Leia Bespin baggie. That’s right… an ESB figure in a SW baggie!

Beyond those, I am looking out for any true pre-production Leia Bespin pieces like a first shot or carded mock-up. They are all up there for my top wanted grails. But any cool pre-production piece, Leia Bespin or otherwise, will be awesome to add. 🙂

VSWC: Jay’s grails: (31B Proof, 45A Hand Cut Proof, Revenge 48 Proof & a SW-A Baggie (1 of 2 known)

leia bespin 3 proofs and baggies

VSWC: One of Jay’s favorite pieces to finish off the photo gallery –  Takara Transforming X-Wing

takara

4. What collectors inspire you?

A lot actually, but there are two that started me down my research path/rabbit hole. Alex (General Khan) and Wolff (wbobafett). When I first saw two massively different Leia Bespins in my hands, I was trying to find information on her and stumbled across Alex’s Luke Bespin Limelight and Research topic on The Imperial Gunnery forums and my jaw dropped. What the hell was all this???? He documented not just hair and paint, but COO stamps, company origins, blaster and lightsaber variants, what accessory could be confirmed with a specific Luke, cardbacks, MOCS, baggies and man, that was more than my brain could handle at that time!!!

My OCD finally met its match and puked!

Next, I quickly found Wolff’s site and my jaw proceeded to punch a hole through my floor! This was widely spread through the figures and I had to know (and OWN) more!

My collecting had just found a direction!

Thanks Alex and Wolff!!! Who knows if I would have stuck with collecting if I wasn’t inspired like I was.

Same goes to every other variant collector who helps the hobby with discussion and documentation! (Kenneth, Lee, Marco, Patrick and so many more!)

Thank you all!

VSWC: Check our full length interview with Alex here: 

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

And with Wollf here:

http://vintagestarwarscollectors.com/collector-interview-4-wolff-aka-wbobafett/

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

All of my early posts. 🙁 I had the same questions you see on every forum out there. YUK.

Is this a real DT? Is this rare? Why is the COO like this? I think I discovered something!! Jeesh… so many posts that make me cringe when I was very green. Shit, I still make some boneheaded comments. :/

6. What is your favourite Star Wars film?

The Empire Strikes Back!!! Bad guys winning, Boba Fett, incest and the Skywalker’s plot thickening… man, such a great movie!

7. What would you change about the collecting community?

That is a tough one. I guess two things come to mind….

I’d encourage folks on Facebook that aren’t on forums to sign up and start posting on forums more. Forums are like an encyclopedia of sorts and so much more manageable for searching long term.

I’d also love if there was some Artificial Intelligence involved in posts to automatically get rid of dickheads.

8. Forums or Facebook groups?

See #7…. but………. Forums, forums, forums. Forums for anything serious. That said, I just really started getting involved with Facebook and while it can be fun, it is total chaos and unsearchable mostly. It has it’s place to help expose the masses to some things, but I would love for the serious FB’ers to join up on the forums and get involved. There is just so much blatantly wrong information floating around. Get your feet wet on FB and if you’re serious, we’ll see ya on the forums at some point I hope. No offense to full time FB’ers! I get it. People like FB. I like it too for some things for sure. But at the end of the day, meat and potatoes are what forums are. The hobby would benefit greatly if more people could contribute to the hobby in this manner.

9. What Star Wars character do you most resemble?

In ROTJ at the Emperor’s arrival, the Stormtrooper in the 4th row, 6th to the right. 😛

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

Let’s see… I love drinking beer! Wait!…  people know this already. I love hockey and the NY Rangers. Wait, people know this too. I like RC cars and crawlers. Damn, I’ve said that before. I’m a PC techie…. damn, I’ve mentioned that before. Damn, I guess I share too much. 😛 Wait, I have a soft spot for Yoda… crap… said that before too! hahaha

OK… one thing I guess, I am a HUGE Forza Motorsport fan! I love running laps over and over and over and over and…….. Name a car and a track and a lap time and I will destroy you!

VSWC: Well thanks Jay for joining us on the VSWC blog. As always it has been an absolute pleasure!

Collector Snapshot #6 – Krille Söderlund (aka ‘yeahsus007’)

Welcome to the sixth episode 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 segment.

Next up to bat is Krille Söderlund. He is 38 years old and was born and raised in Sweden where he lives with his girlfriend and their daughter.

VSWC: Here’s Krille relaxing after a tough day playing with his Star Wars toys. 

photo

If you’ve ever come across Krille on Facebook or the forums (he is yeahsus007 on Rebelscum and Yeah-sus on SWFUK), more than likely you’ve noticed what a positive collector he is and that not only does he have a beautiful collection but he it always willing to contribute to vintage discussions. Krille is also very modest so a lot may be surprised to see how comprehensive his collection is.Yes that’s right, Krille is another example of how annoying Scandinavians can be – they all seem to be good looking, self-confident, friendly and intelligent.

Here we go!

1. How long have you been collecting?

I started with my childhood collection back in 2006 after a double date with a couple my girlfriend knows. He showed me his toys and when I pulled out mine from the box in my parent’s garage I was hooked and have never looked back.

2. What do you collect?

I started with collecting loose ships and figures,variants,boxed ships and now I’m mainly collecting carded figures. During the years I’ve been able to pick up oddballs, posters and some paperwork. My ‘goal’ is one MIB of every ship and figure released by Kenner. I also have a soft spot for Playmix/Scanditoys marked toys and everything relating to Star Wars in Sweden.

VSWC: Check out Krille’s collection. Not only is it filled with fantastic pieces but the set-up is as stylish as you’ll get. Even the Persian rug is all class! 

232221   20k1118 19k12k13     k15k17k8   k9k7k6   k5k10k4   k2 k3 25

3. What’s your grail?

I’m one of those lucky bastards with my grail already in my collection. A 12-back Palitoy Darth Vader MOC with a Swedish price sticker.

VSWC: Photo of Krille’s grail below. Yep he’s definitely one lucky bastard!

k1

4. What collectors inspire you?

I’ve been inspired by collectors with great knowledge and who help out in the community. I will take the time to thank my Swedish mentors who always watch my back: Mattias Rendahl, Daniel Bornheim, Johan Sydling, Fredrik Juthberg, Rasmus Hult , POTF Micke and of course the rest of the gang in SSWC (Swedish Star Wars Collectors). 

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

I don’t have any shame in my body so until now nothing.

6. What is your favorite Star Wars film?

As a kid Return of the Jedi but as an adult Empire Strikes Back.

7. What would you change about the collecting community?

In a perfect world we would all be friends, be happy for the collections of others and their scores. I hope someday everybody understands we are collecting toys and it’s meant to be fun.

8. Forums or Facebook groups?

I love forums for the knowledge and all of the info that is easy to reach but Facebook is great for superfast answers and is the easy way to publish photos

9. What Star Wars character do you most resemble?

I see myself as Yoda but I think my friends think of me more as Han Solo; loud but kind.

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

I’m a hoarder and hate to let go of things. My motto is “Buy it so you have it.”

VSWC: Well thank you so much for joining us Krille. I know you’re a busy man so I appreciate your time. Keep collecting and stay cool! 

Check out my interview on the TIG forum!

Hey guys just a quick shout out to the awesome guys at The Imperial Gunnery Forum (TIG) for having me on their forum for a quick interview. It was a lot of fun doing it and to be honest the interviewer’s edits were a hell of lot funnier and more interesting than my answers. I love TIG and I’m always astounded at how smooth their forum runs; no dramas barely any scammers and zero love for hobby damaging practices. Those guys run a tight ship. If you love SW vintage then you should all join up!

Anyway here is my interview. Please no comments on my hair style that day…..The majority of my Luke focus is there as well but I will be posting a detailed limelight here in a couple of months.

Enjoy!

http://www.imperialgunneryforum.com/t4436p360-fx-7-member-probe-10-points-of-articulation-10-questions-we-will-probe-you#127023

The Imperial Gunnery Forum (TIG) reproduction guide – get on it!

Newer collectors on Facebook and the forums often ask how to spot a reproduction figure, accessories etc etc. Well The Imperial Gunnery Forum (TIG) is really a one stop shop for all your repro questions and you can compare your items with their database of both real and repro. This is a massive effort from those guys, especially from the owner John Paul RAGUSA, and it’s easy to forget that TIG is a non-profit page.

There are more and more repros coming onto the market lately so you better educate yourselves before you wreck yourselves!

http://www.imperialgunnery.com/reproductionfigures.htm

 

 

Collector Snapshot #2: Adolfo Martinez aka ‘Merlin(72)’

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

The current victim is Adolfo Martinez, known as Merlin(72) on the forums. If anyone has crossed paths with Adolfo they will know that not only is his collection outstanding but that he is equally humble and a very down to earth and friendly collector.

Here’s a photo of the handsome Adolfo with his awesome collection.

Adolfo

Adolfo is 41 and for the last 25 years he has lived in Cancun, Mexico (tough life huh), where he works as a travel agent. He is currently one of the admins of the largest SW FB groups in Spanish named Star Wars Collecionistas / Collectors. This forum has over 6500 members and was founded in 2010 by Adolfo’s good friend Moises Rodriguez. Adolfo is proud to say that he was the second member of that forum.

I’m a little bit disappointed by having Adolfo appear in this segment. Not that he isn’t interesting, quite the opposite – in fact he is too interesting to simply appear for 10 quick questions! I think we’ll try to get him back on the blog in the future in some capacity.

Anyway let’s get to the questions! Let’s go Adolfo!

1. How long have you been collecting?

I’ve been collecting since the early 2000s.

2. What do you collect?

I’m generally known for collecting Lili Ledy MOCs (and all the entire Kenner set before that) but recently I started collecting pre-production items. Some of my favourite pieces are: my Lili Ledy Mock up, (only seven Lili Ledy mock ups are known to exist and they are the grails of the LL line), Blond Luke Bespin with Lili Ledy Han Bespin blaster and LL lightsaber (Imperio Contraataca action figure production) on a “Retorno de Jedi” 12 Back (No guarantee inside or sticker, and a Yoda Master Jedi Variant) inside a hand glued Imperio Contraataca Bubble.

3. What’s your grail?

My Holy Grail would be any Lili ledy “Imperio Contraataca” MOC.

4. What collectors inspire you?

My good friend Oscar Didier (known as Oscar cases) inspired me to collect Lili Ledy MOCs

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

It has to be every time that someone asks me about modern SW items (90s to present days) because I don’t have a clue what they are talking about lol!

6. What is your favourite Star Wars film?

ESB! Is there another one?

7. What would you change about the collecting community?

I would like collectors to take more time to research the SW collectibles they plan to buy.

8. Forums or Facebook groups?

Both are great, everyone needs to learn to get the most out of them. Facebook groups let me put faces to names and I’ve seen more interesting things in the Facebook groups than on the forums. But forums are the encyclopedias of SW, they maintain a lot of important information about collectibles, such as reference guides.

9. What Star Wars character do you most resemble?

Han Solo – because I’m a scummer like him!

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

I’m also an avid coin collector and I really enjoy what I do for a living!

Thanks for the opportunity to share this info with my fellow SW collectors in this extraordinary place.

Five things Facebook Star Wars groups can learn from the forums

As an avid user of vintage Star Wars forums and a regular on Facebook groups, I have noticed several key differences between these two social networking formats. I like Facebook and I have a lot of fun in the groups; meeting other collectors, buying and selling vintage figs and having a laugh at some the hilariously creative memes. However, I feel the groups still have a long way to come before they challenge the collecting experience gained on the forums.

I may not be right and I know the forums are far from being perfect, but these are the top five things that I think the groups can learn from the forums:

1. Ban members for aggressive behaviour. I’m shocked daily by how group members treat each other on Facebook. While aggression doesn’t always immediately equal a banning on the forums, I know that the mods on forums like Rebelscum have little patience for this type of behaviour and are quick to issue warnings when things get a little bit too heated.

2. Don’t allow non-transactional comments on sale threads (To be fair this practice seems to be limited to Rebel Scum).

I get it, some comments are fine – such as ‘oh wow great piece, ‘I’d buy this if I had the money’. But some clearly aren’t, like – ‘I got mine for half the price’. I mean really, respect someone’s right to sell in peace without disparaging their sales.

I actually heard recently that other members will often hijack sales threads with a sales pitch for their own items. I mean really???

3. Encourage experienced collectors to get involved in discussions. These guys are quite active on the forums but don’t seem to be so much on Facebook, particularly in the larger groups. I can’t speak for them but it seems that the lack of respect for experience in the groups may be a telling factor. I’ve seen many an old school collector try to kindly contribute their knowledge to a thread, only to be abused, often by newer collectors. Why would they bother again if they are going to be treated like that?

I guess another factor may be that discussions on Facebook seem to be less technical than on the forums and experienced collectors are probably tired of reading posts like “How much is this worth?” or “What does COO mean?” etc etc. That said, these questions do have a place but I can understand why they wouldn’t be so attractive for a collector with 20 years of experience behind them.

4. Only buy vintage from trusted sources! Facebook is absolutely rife with scammers, yet people continue to deal with individuals they don’t know without undertaking any level of background checks. While scamming does occur on the forums, it is extremely difficult for a brand new member to pop up and suddenly start selling the blue Snaggies or VCJs they found in their parent’s loft. Forum members are quick to shoot down any obvious scammers and they don’t survive long. That said, of course there have been cases where known and trusted sellers have failed to resist the powers of the dark side.

5. Don’t post modern toys on vintage groups! This is absolutely frowned upon on the forums and rarely happens. Facebook on the other hand is a non-stop circus of modern posts on vintages; some are innocent but often it is intentionally done to antagonise  so called ‘vintage snobs’. The thing is, a lot of vintage collectors don’t mind modern toys but they are members of vintage groups to see vintage! I once saw four posts in a row about modern toys. There are so many modern groups out there or great groups like ‘Batteries Not Included’ that allow both vintage and modern, why not go there! This whole issue is probable worthy of an entire post so I won’t elaborate too much here.

Well that’s my top five. Happy to hear if you think I’ve got any of them wrong or if I’ve missed out on something significant.

Thanks for reading.

Collector Interview #1: Alexander Magraw – The beard behind THAT Luke Bespin limelight

Hi there everyone, I’m extremely excited about this post as I’ve been promising collector interviews for a while now and the moment is finally here! I’m a huge fan of Alex’s research on Luke Bespin variants and an even bigger fan of him as a bloke – perfect mix for my first victim. I am a collector of Lukes so maybe I’m being a touch biased with this interview but that’s the great thing about writing your own blog – there are no annoying board members to please!
Firstly, if you haven’t seen it, here is the link to Alex’s Luke Bespin research page, check it out:
http://www.imperialgunneryforum.com/t5449-my-bespin-luke-limelight-research?highlight=bespin+kahn+research
I was planning to keep this blog profanity free but Alex (aka ‘General Kahn’ on TIG) promptly blew that fanciful notion right out of the water. I usually swear like a trooper myself (I’m Australian after all) so it has been tough keeping it clean. I guess I can live vicariously through Alex for at least the duration of this interview.
Grab yourself a beer, sit back and soak up a bit of the great general himself.
INTERVIEW
Vintage Star Wars Collectors (VSWC): Hi Alex, Thank you so much for joining me. You and I have crossed paths many times on The Imperial Gunnery Forum (TIG) and I can honestly say it was always a pleasure. I’m looking forward to dismantling your Luke Bespin focus piece by piece – three down, about a thousand more to go! Your Luke Bespin research and subsequent limelight is absolute Star Wars geek gold and I can’t even begin to count the amount of hours I’ve spent studying it in order to categorise my own collection. I may be wrong, but I haven’t seen research of this scale conducted on one single loose figure alone. A big part of this interview is to find out a bit more about this research but I’m sure my followers would also love to hear about the man himself.
Me 2
Just in case the photo above scares you, this shot of Alex as a kid and his early collection might coax you away from cowering in the corner. Actually you know what? A little kid wearing a scary Gammy Guard mask freaks the hell out of me.
If you closely at the second picture, little Luke Bespin’s legs are popping out.
Baby Me 1Baby Me 2
Okay so to the questions.
1. Alex you have a magnificent beard! How long did it take you to grow it? Is there a specific philosophy behind it?
I was never any good at shaving and generally hated the practise, so one day I just thought ‘Fuck it!’ That was about 12 years ago. Mine stopped growing a long while ago, every beard has its ‘terminal length’ unfortunately. I was hoping for some ZZ Top, bollock length thing, but it just wasn’t meant to be 🙁 As for a philosophy, it’s simple, if you are a generally hairy person (chest, back, shoulders etc.) then you will almost certainly be able to grow a huge beard, there is a heavy price for this though, and an ironic one at that, you will almost certainly be going or have already gone bald on top! It’s true! I’ve seen it time and time again, all over body hair, great beard, bald as a coot! I ain’t hairy and have a lovely head of hair, and this is my beard downfall.
2. Before we did this interview, I actually stalked your Facebook profile (we weren’t Facebook friends at the time) to check out some photos of you. How does that make you feel?
I’d prefer it if you were a hot chick stalking my FB page, but I guess any attention is good attention right??? Anyway, there are only two types of people who haven’t ever stalked someone on facebook, 1. People who aren’t on facebook and 2. Fucking liars!
3. Okay now that the most important questions are out of the way, let’s find out a little bit about you. Where abouts in Britain do you live?
I live in North Yorkshire in England’s first seaside resort…. Scarborough or as Luke would put it ‘if there is a bright spot in this Country then I live furthest from it!’
VSWC: Nice, I actually once watched a documentary about Scarborough and its role as a seaside resort. It actually seemed pretty cool, at least you have beaches!
Pretty cool??? Sure it was the right one, there are like 17 world wide or something 🙂
4. So do you get the chance to connect with other vintage collectors?
I have made a lot of very good friends in the hobby and am in regular contact with several of them.
5. What do you think is the stereotype of the vintage Star Wars collector? Is there much truth in this image?
I assumed the geeky uber nerd was the general stereotype for a Star Wars collector and I always assumed I was the odd exception 🙂 That was until I eventually became part of the Star Wars collecting community, at which point I realised that half of them are tattoo covered, long hair crazy rockers or some shit. There really is a bit of everything in this hobby, and I have still not managed to find one single geeky uber nerd stereotype guy.
6. Other than Star Wars, what interests do you have? You’ve mentioned a couple of times to me \that you were on your way to see live music. What music are you into? Are you in a band yourself?
I’m a big music fan and I play guitar and piano. I have played in several bands over the years, nothing successful, just local bands. I am currently not in a band, but it is something I would love to do again and me and a friend of mine jam together and are ultimately hoping to put a new band together at some point.
I love music of all kinds (apart from your manufactured pop shit). Anything from classical right through to death metal, but my true love and goal for the band will always be hard rock/metal stuff 🙂 The louder and noisier the better…. it helps cover up my shit playing!
7. So how long have you been collecting, what got you into it and what do you focus on?
There really is no simple and fast way to tell this story. My collecting is essentially down to a fine tuning of somewhat random events, deep breath…. and go!
I have been collecting as an adult properly know for about 16 years. I collected as a child and like most people my age, my childhood collection was the victim of the carboot sale boom of the early 90s. Well almost. All my stuff went to a friend of the family’s second hand brick-a-brack shop and was apparently lost forever. Skip forward a few years and one day I saw something on t.v. about how valuable Star Wars stuff had become and I used to hassle my mum about it big time, as I had always been highly reluctant to let it all go. Over the years I reminded my mum of this on numerous occasions and her response was always the same “I didn’t sell it, it’s in the attic somewhere.” Each time this came up it was followed by an attic search, but nothing was ever found. Now my childhood collection (shared with a brother) wasn’t something you could hide in a corner, it was pretty big, almost all the figures, numerous doubles and lots of vehicles including most of the big ones.
Anyway one day in 1996 I was home alone and bored and I guess the Star Wars thing was playing on my mind. I couldn’t help but think, why would my mum so adamantly keep saying the same thing, there must be some truth in it, Jesus my mum was as honest as they come, so I did an extensive search, and sure enough, tucked away in a black sack between some insulation was my childhood Star Wars collection… well not quite, a bunch of figures – 54 in total, mostly beaters and unarmed. Turns out that the guy had sold most of the stuff and returned the left overs that hadn’t sold, better than nothing I guess and this also included eight of the last 17, from this EV-9D9 and Lumat still exist in my current collection as they were both perfect. This was in some respects when I started collecting, as I would add the odd beater here and there if I found one.
VSWC: That’s fantastic, what a story! You are really lucky. Every single one my figures (except for a Hoth Leia – whose head my dog had chewed off) was stolen outside of my classroom. My mum still swears blind the thief (Nhi Hi I know it was you!) was sexist. 
Well that’s the first part down. Now as kids my friend and I used to make home made videos in our spare time with my friend’s video camera, little five minute horror flicks and stuff. Anyway, completely unrelated to that a friend of my brother’s was a bit of a Sci-Fi geek and used to always buy the newest technology that came out and when he got bored of what ever it was he would try and palm it off on my brother. One day my brother brought home a video camera that his mate had lent him hoping he would buy it, now my brother wasn’t into that sort of shit so it just sat around at home for a while. I on the other hand was all over it, as I had never owned a camera. One day I was off work and bored to tears and everyone else was at work so I decided to make a short film, which is very hard when you’re on your own, camera man/actor all at the same time! So instead I made a short film using my childhood Star Wars figures. It was hilarious and when I showed my mate we decided to both have a go and make it better, so we did. We only managed two scenes but it started something that became almost cult in our local town. The short film we made, gave us the idea to remake all three Star Wars film but with a ‘silly’ story line (mostly revolving around drugs :). The camera had been returned by this point, but everyone would always ask us when the film was gonna be made. One problem….. cast! We only had a handful of characters and no vehicles, so it remained an idea only.
Anyway a couple of months later the guy who lent us the camera found out his wife was pregnant again, they already had twins from IVF treatment and had tried again for another child with IVF and ended up with a second set of twins which is apparently quite rare, they even went on morning t.v. about it (trust me starting to collect is complex stuff!) Anyway, because of the imminent arrival of another two kids, they needed to free up some house space, so he had to clear out his man cave with all his gadgets and his Star Wars and Star Trek collection, turns out he had been buying all the modern Star Wars stuff since its first release up until then (which was early ’98). Now he had obviously seen the little film we had made on the camera when he got it back so he knew I had Star Wars stuff and also that I wanted to do the full films, so he asked me if I wanted to buy his collection. I said yes and suddenly had hundreds of modern figures, loads of characters and vehicles for the film!I had just left college at this point and started full time work and loads of money kicking around, so I carried on his modern collection constantly with the film in mind.
VSWC: So did you ever make that film?
Well that was a bit of an anti climax, the film never happened and last year I sold all the modern Star Wars stuff. The thing is though it started me collecting, and in 1998 a little shop which specialised in vintage Star Wars opened in Scarborough, they also sold modern stuff so I would go in and buy for the collection. They had loads of vintage beaters in the shop for £1 each so one day I came up with the idea of  trying to complete my childhood beater collection and having a full set of beaters, so I would buy a few here and there. The nostalgic buzz I got from buying the vintage figures far outweighed the buzz I got from getting the modern stuff.
VSWC: Did you manage to snag any Bespin Lukes from that store?
Well one day I walked into the shop and sitting on the shelf were two mint condition and complete Bespin Lukes, a blonde and a brown, I couldn’t resist so I bought them and from that point on beaters were not gonna be enough, it had to be mint and complete. This was not only the exact point when I started seriously collecting vintage Star Wars, but also basically the start of my Bespin Luke focus I guess.
Sorry for that book length answers! But there is no short way of explaining it!
VSWC: No worries, it really is a great story. I love hearing how people got back into collecting. So I have to ask – do you still have the famous video? I’d love to see it!
Unfortunately not 🙁 Back then it wasn’t as easy as just transferring files, you needed leads and all sorts. The film was never transferred to VHS and went back with the camera. It pains me greatly as it was funny.
We did make a brief film using Star Wars figures again to keep us busy, it was a parody of a T.V. show we have here called Countdown, I still have this. At some point I will get it onto a file and let you know.
8. Why did you choose to focus so intensely on Luke Bespin?
Luke Bespin has never been one of my favourite figures, Han was always my favourite character so I got Hans and my brother got Lukes, there were a couple of exceptions and Luke Bespin was one of them. I played with him a lot as a kid but he was never a full favourite and still isn’t. After I bought the two mint ones from that shop I thought I had Bespin Luke covered for variations, back then I only knew about the obvious ones you see in books. I can’t remember exactly when it fully started, but I saw a picture online of a Luke with dark ginger hair, it was so blatantly different. I began the search and it took a long time… years! By the time I finally found one, I’d come across so many other variations along the way, then there was the discovery of the COOs and before I knew it, I had nearly 60 of them!
VSWC: Wow 60! That’s amazing. I have about 20 and everyone who visits the house, including my wife, thinks I’m a freak. I guess we are in a certain way. 
Bah, what do women know… go buy some shoes or some shit!
9. So why not collect the MOCs as well?
In a word… money. I ain’t got much of it 🙁 I’m hoping to set up my own buisness in the next year and if it takes off then MOCs will inevitably be on the cards. I do actually have two Bespin Luke MOCs, a ESB 47A (massive thanks to Jay Psybertech for that) and a beater Tri-Logo which I bagged on ebay for 17 quid 🙂
VSWC: Nice, they are two pretty good cards. I’m still hunting that trilogo, When are you going to sell me that one as well?
Never! Funny thing is, I won it on ebay for £17.75 just 10 minutes after I sold you a Caramel Boots Luke for £17.50. The figure in the bubble is a Caramel Boots Luke! Funny how things happen sometimes 🙂 The Caramel Boots is definately one of the harder ones to track down as well.
VSWC: It’s kind of ironic that I helped fund your purchase of an MOC I’m chasing. I guess it was my unconscious way of thanking you for all your research!
10. You are a mainstay on the TIG forum but I haven’t seen you on the other forums. Have you ever given them a go?
I am on all the main forums that I know of, but TIG was the first and will always be home to me. TIG is the most educational of all the forums and the most friendly 🙂
11. I don’t post often on TIG but I am a long time lurker and I absolutely love it there. There is a massive camaraderie and the sharing of technical knowledge is outstanding. I’ve rarely seen an argument there. What is the secret ingredient to this atmosphere?
Good people, I’ve met some really great people through TIG, people I actually consider as genuine good friends, people I hope to meet in person one day.
VSWC: No doubt the people there are great. But Rebelscum for example has some of the nicest people in the business yet there are frequent blow-ups there, although things have calmed down a bit lately. So what is the key difference with TIG? Is it that you guys are all pretty similar in your views or that respect is paid to differing stances?
Hard to say really, that was one of the reasons RS never took off for me, no matter what, every thread desended into chaos and arguments, that just drained me. Plus, if so much as a mouse farts on RS the thread or comment gets taken down.
TIG is a lot more laid back and a lot more focused on the hobby for me, if I want to find out about Lili Ledy, Poch, Droids, Glasslite etc. there is a dedicated thread for it, with extensive detail and research.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the other forums and do visit them, but TIG is home for me 🙂
12. Do you ever get the chance to meet the guys from TIG face to face?
Not yet, but I would certainly like to and I don’t doubt that at some point I will.
13. I’ve seen on TIG that someone once made a custom figure of you? Can you elaborate a bit on this?
There are two custom figures of me, one which I made to satisfy my unquenchable ego and the other was made by James (ourchickenshack) probably because I’m his hero or something, infact I’m pretty sure that’s the reason 🙂
14. How realistic is it?
It’s very realistic, it has long hair, a beard and looks like a double hard bastard, that’s pretty accurate I guess.
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VSWC: Wow, they’re great! Maybe Hasbro should have used James to do the POTF modern sculpts then…
No, they are just way too butch!
15. What do you think of the vintage star wars Facebook groups?
I’m a member on several, but they just really drain me to be fair. The forums are different. Any old Tom, Dick and Harry doesn’t just join the forums, they are all serious collectors. Facebook is huge and just about everybody is on, they see ‘Star Wars’ and think, oh I like that sign me up, several of the groups seem more bothered about how many members they have, even if half of them are total idiots who don’t even collect or collect the ‘wrong’ Star Wars stuff. That said, it is often good entertainment.
Joe’s bootleg site is by far the best, even though I only really have Bespin Luke bootlegs so I don’t post often, but its full of bootleg collectors and no idiots so it runs smooth and serves the purpose that it’s meant to serve. Hats off to Joe 🙂
VSWC: Yeah I agree that Joe has done a great job there, he really runs a tight ship. I’m a member under my real name but he’s yet to approve membership for my pseudonym – ‘Bobby Bobs’. He has mentioned before that he won’t allow people in the group using obvious pseudonyms so I guess I can only blame myself. Really shows though that he cares about quality over quantity. 
Definately, and that’s how it should be, Joe’s a top bloke.
VSWC: If our readers don’t know about Joe Y’s page, here is the link: 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1417072721874235/
16. Is there any way these Facebook groups can improve?
Kick out all the idiots, but that’s unlikely to happen as the numbers seem more important. Facebook is an angry place in general.
17. Okay I’ve been itching to ask you some questions about your Luke Bespin research. How long did it take you to collect, collate, analyse and present your research?
Well the research started with a lightsaber. I was curious to find out where one of the lightsaber variation originated and was forever trying to find out. Then one day I thought, wait a minute, forget the lightsaber, where the hell did all these variations originate and so I began finding out. The general research has been slowly accumulating over the many years of collecting Luke, but has only really taken shape and been presented in the last few years. It’s been a long time since I’ve updated my Limelight and Research page and several things need adding to, changing and just generally updating, but it’s finding the time, but it is on my ‘to do’ list.
18. The photography in your limelight is stunning. Did you take the photos? I spent about two hours the other day with my wife trying to take one decent shot of my first 12 action display stand and we ended up with nada. We used blankets, pillows, books and even a large mirror. In case you’re wondering, yes I’m still talking about photography…We need some tips desperately! And again, yes I’m talking about photography…
Haha, it’s easy. The true key for me is natural light although I am planning on experimenting with a light tent. It doesn’t have to be outright sunlight either. You can get a half decent picture on even the shitiest day weather wise, which is good as England’s weather is so utterly shit most of the time. I simply sit in my bay window and put a bit of  a blue card on a little table and stand the figures on it and snap away, that’s it! The picture below is of how I do it and the other picture is the exact picture I took in that shot 🙂
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VSWC: Fantastic, thanks for the tips. I need to start putting my own limelight together. 
19.  So how many Bespin variations have you found so far?
My total number of unique variations for Bespin Luke is 23.
Gee that really is something. I’ve only found 16, those last few are really painful to find aren’t they. 
20. Are there possibly more?
I would say, probably not, but then again I said that at 21 and 22, so I guess anything is possible 🙂
21. How did you find so many variations of the one figure? Did you just buy them randomly and hope for the best?
A lot came from my search for the illusive dark ginger Luke, but once I gained a better understanding of the COO families it became easier to focus the variation hunt and figure out what was out there.
22. What in your mind is the hardest to find variation?
The Poch variations are pretty hard to find, and the Lili Ledy variations are not common, but to me the hardest and rarest Bespin Luke to find is the dak ginger haired variation (Small Hong Kong COO – COO I in Wolff’s guide).
23. Can you tell us a bit about the dark ginger haired variant? You’ve mentioned it to me before but I don’t think it’s such a well-known variant at the moment. Did you discover it?
This figure is what started off my focus quest really after seeing a picture of a Luke that cleary had dark ginger hair. It took many years to finally find one, funnily enough it was by accident. I had bid on a Luke that looked in good shape and appeared to have real weapons, the picture was pretty poor and taken from his feet looking up so you could barely even see his hair and the camera had focused on the sticking out lightsaber, making his head blurry. I won him for 99p, when he arrived it was the one! I was so pleased, probably my greatest purchase buzz to date… the weapons were real as well 🙂 At that point, I had to have his COO counterpart, it was another three years or so before that happened and a couple of years later I found another which I gifted to Wolff as I knew he needed one and has helped me greatly over the years.
In total I have only seen four for sale that were absolute definites in all the years I’ve collected Lukes. I should point out also that I search eBay on pretty much a daily basis for Luke Bespins and have done so for years. During this whole time, any other figure that you can think of that is a known and accepted rare variation I can pretty much guarantee I’ve seen more of them turn up. Hell, I’ve even seen three carded DT Bens go up for sale within this time. The other thing here is… all these other rare figures, I haven’t been actively searching for so I’ve probably missed loads as well.
I genuinely believe that this figure is a rare variation not just as a rare Luke Bespin variation but as a figure in general.
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I have seen two carded examples of this figure, both on ESB 41 D cards. The ESB 41 backs where  the change from yellow hair to brown hair was made. Unlike Luke FB where yellow and brown hair can be found all the way from SW to ROTJ cards, this was not the case with Bespin Luke, he started with yellow hair and when the 41 Backs arrived the change was made to brown. Yellow haired Lukes can be found post 41 Back, but they are not common and are most likely a result of overstock being used.
It’s my belief that the dark ginger Luke is a kind of transitional figure between the yellow and brown. A decision was obviously made to change the hair colour, was the dark ginger the new colour but very quickly discredited as also being inaccurate, and then changed again? Who knows, but that’s what I think was the likely scenario.
VSWC: Wow that’s fascinating, particularly for a variant collector. I don’t think people realise how hard it is to work out what variant came on what card. Thanks for all of your hard work on this. 
It’s my pleasure, do I get paid now? 🙂
VSWC: You’ll get paid when I get paid for doing this blog!
24. Have you ever made any custom Bespin figures yourself?
Yes, I made a custom Bespin Luke a while back with a removable hand and a more accurate paint job. I recently took him to pieces though so I could make a better attempt. I’m currently working on two, an upgraded Bespin Luke and a Dagobah Luke. They only exist as a few parts at the moment though. I did make a Sith Luke from a Luke Bespin a well.
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25. You have recently started thinning down your focus? Is this the end of the love story between you and Luke Bespin?
No, I doubt it, I am still hunting down cardbacks and hopefully one day I will go for an MOC run. In terms of the loose run though it’s slowing down a bit now and has been for a while. I’m mainly wanting bootlegs, factory errors and upgrades now.
The thinning down was basically me deciding that I didn’t need every variation with every COO combination, the COO#3 MIHK has nine potential COO combinations for every variation that has the stamp, that’s all the Ledys (Blonde & Brown) all the six different dark boots Lukes and one Poch!!! Seriously!!! That will not only never happen in terms of cash, but also in terms of actually finding all nine for each, you could spend a lifetime buying just one of those figures and still never find all nine.The other thing is, although having nine blonde Lili Ledy Lukes would look impressive, it would also be very selfish and essentially deprive eight other people of a rare and desirable figure. So I settled for one of each. After that, I decided to do the same with the other two COO families. It was quite liberating to be honest.
VSWC: Well up until reading that answer I was still planning to collect all of the variations. I guess I should give up now!
It’s not that bad when you stick to the basics like I have now done, here’s the current collections: 
VSWC note: Please contact me if anyone would like further details of each variant in the below photos. The final thumbnail is actually Alex’s childhood Bespin. 

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26. Before we sign off, I’m sure everyone would like to know what is next for General Kahn in collecting?
Hard to say really, I just keep picking away at variations in general, but this year is more about setting up my business, which will hopefully put me in a better financial situation to further extend my collecting 🙂
Well that’s it, thank you so much for giving up your time to us Alex. I feel that I know you a bit better after that and I hope our readers do as well. I look forward to seeing you again on TIG and I hope to continue buying pieces of your famous limelight. Hopefully you’ll be back on the blog in some capacity. Keep up the great work and keep doing what you’re doing.