Vintage Star Wars Moderator Roundtable: Forums and the Future

Welcome all to this monster-sized round table discussion with some of the owners/moderators of the four main English speaking vintage Star Wars forums. Why are we bothering to have this discussion? When I first started collecting four years ago, forums were pretty much the main source of social networking with other collectors. There was a Facebook group (yes yes Jason Smith we know you were the first…) but the traffic there was minor compared to the forums. Well Jason’s group now has almost 18.000 members and hundreds of spin-off groups have popped up since. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that Facebook is now the heaviest social networking hitter in the vintage Star Wars world.

What has Facebook got to do with the forums? Considering the immense traffic that the Facebook groups experience, there’s no doubt that the forums are feeling the effects. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve heard someone on Facebook say “The forums are dead.” But has their time really passed? Can the forums and Facebook walk hand-in-hand into the future or will another platform pop up and skittle the current setup? Well these are the questions that I’ll be asking two forum owners and two moderators today.

As always, we’d love to hear our readers’ views as well.

Let’s introduce each participant:

Edd Grant – owner/moderator of Star Wars Forum UK (SWFUK) – SWFUK

JohnPaul Ragusa – owner/moderator of The Imperial Gunnery (TIG) – TIG

Ian Cowley – joint owner/moderator of Tantive XI – Tantive XI

Thomas Garvey – moderator on Rebelscum (RS) – RS

VSWC: Welcome Edd, JohnPaul, Ian and Tommy and thank you all very much for taking the time to join us for this interview. Let’s get straight into the questions! 

1.HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN COLLECTING VINTAGE STAR WARS AND WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU COLLECT?

Edd (SWFUK)I first started collecting again in 1994. My interest in Star Wars was rekindled by the release of the Digitally Remastered Star Wars VHS collection. I really enjoyed seeing the films again for the first time in years, and that of course made me think about my old toys. Now I mainly focus on Tri-logo carded figures and boxed vehicles but also collect video games, loose figures, baggies and other MOCs

JohnPaul (TIG): I’ve been collecting for about 12 years. I fell in love with foreign released figures (to my wallets’ dismay) and look to collect at least one example of each non US style released in each country.

Tommy (RS): I started collecting in ’93 or ’94, when I was about 12.  I collect pre-production material, focusing on Kea Moll, Luke Poncho, Micro Collection and Micro Machines items.  I’ll buy whatever I find cool or interesting though, I never feel hemmed in by a focus.

Ian (TXI): I was there from the start in 1978, and retained my childhood collection.  In 1995, just before POTF2 was announced, I saw a collectible show in a local mall, and discovered some figures I not only didn’t have as a child, but some I didn’t know existed. Some figures, especially POTF figures, I had an easier time locating carded, but couldn’t stand the thought of opening them, so an initial aim to have a loose run turned into loose and carded.  I also collect everything else 3 ¾” related, and have a full run of loose 12”.  I do pick up odds and ends here and there, but mostly, I’m just an average Kenner production collector.

2.CAN YOU GIVE US A BRIEF HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE FORUM YOU OWN/MODERATE?

Edd (SWFUK)starwarsforum.co.uk started in December 2005. I had been a member of Rebel Scum for a few years, but at the time it was very ‘American’ so there were few UK sales threads or discussion about Palitoy & Meccano toys etc. I was doing a degree in computing at the time and had just learned how to make websites, so I decided to start a forum that was open to everybody but leaned towards UK collecting.

JohnPaul (TIG): The Imperial Gunnery forum (known as TIG) and the weapons site were founded in 2009. The weapons site was created to give collectors a very refreshed look at the repro market plus breakdown of various mold variations on authentic weapons. The forum was created to offer a discussion platform and meeting place for collectors!

Tommy (RS): I am a moderator of the Rebelscum forums, which is one of the oldest SW collecting forums around.  It’s been around in one form or another since 1996.

Ian (TXI): Tantive XI is a much more recent forum, officially opening its doors in late 2015, but we are far from inexperienced.  A group of collectors banded together to create a forum which embraced advances in social technology, in an attempt to blend the typical forum with the features that have made social media popular today (ex. tagging people in posts, direct photo uploads from mobile devices, etc.).  We also aim to have a comprehensive library of anything related to vintage collecting, including but not exclusive to the toys, with awareness and education of vintage issues being a top priority. Unlike most of the forums, our site doesn’t have one single owner, we are all equal . The moderation team works as a group, with all important site developments being a result of a “majority rule” system.  Having a team that features moderators from multiple countries from around the world, and with the majority having previous moderator experience elsewhere previous to our forum’s existence, the hope is that every move we make appeals to the largest demographic possible.

3.HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PERSONALLY INVOLVED?

Edd (SWFUK)11 years, since it started.

JohnPaul (TIG): I joined up in 2009 as a member and was asked to be a moderator in 2010. From there I took on various roles (global mod, admin) until purchasing the site in 2012. Since then I’ve been honored to work with various collectors in varied roles. My current team (in alphabetical order) Bryan, James, Matt, Paul and Stefan are the reason for the sites success.

Tommy (RS): I joined the forums in 2003 after lurking for a couple of years, and became a mod in early 2006, if I recall correctly.

Ian (TXI): I joined the site just before it went live publicly, on November 30, 2015. While being promoted to a “developer” position January 13, 2016, I assumed full moderator status July 13, 2016. So, I’ve been involved as part of the core team for about eight of the 15 months the site has been open.

4.WHAT IS YOUR DAY TO DAY ROLE IN FORUM ACTIVITIES?

Edd (SWFUK)I really see myself as a user of the forum above anything else, I’m not a heavy handed moderator. I spend a few minutes a day moving posts in wrong sections, deleting duplicates, removing spammers etc but 90% of my time spent on the forum is spent the same as everyone else, reading and posting. I think it’s extremely important for mods/admins to remain engaged with their forum.

JohnPaul (TIG): I pretty much eat Cracker Jacks while those guy work lol. We all contribute in various ways and help each other out. I don’t do anything unique and candidly while my home life has been very hectic the team has stepped up and made it incredibly easy to not worry about the day to day.

Tommy (RS): Our forums have been around for a while, so most of our members understand the rules.  As such, aside from occasionally moving threads to the correct sub-forum or breaking up an argument before it spirals out of control, our day-to-day activities are pretty simple.  Most of the credit for keeping the nuts and bolts of the community functioning smoothly belongs to my fellow moderator Mike Mensinger, who really goes above and beyond to keep things orderly.

Ian (TXI): Every team member has the same expectations.  In addition to keeping an eye on the forums, it is hoped that everyone contributes to building the library when possible, and to try to continue to come up with new ideas that will maintain interest from the membership.

5.HOW INVOLVED ARE THE OTHER MODERATORS IN EVERYDAY FORUM DISCUSSIONS?

Edd (SWFUK): It varies, all have a history of being very active as that’s how they became mods in the first place, but over time people lose interest in collecting or start their own groups etc so not all are as active as they used to be. That’s fine though – you need mods to be quite impartial so it’s important for them to be level-headed and reserved.

JohnPaul (TIG): I think there is an ebb and flow. We make no bones about how FB’s ease of access is hard to compete with and we’re all victims to its lure from time to time. I think if something grabs our attention we’re engaged and we do make an effort to try and bring things into the forum to keep everyone interested. We have good success with interactive games, raffle/giveaways, etc.

Tommy (RS): Generally, we all try to be around to answer questions or help people find the information they’re looking for.  But like I said, it’s a great community so most of the time by the time I see a question, one of our members has already answered it.

Ian (TXI): We have some moderators that are the most involved people on the site, and some who keep a very low profile.  Everyone’s personal situation is different, but for the most part, we have very active moderators.

6.APPROXIMATELY HOW MANY MEMBERS DO YOU HAVE?

Edd (SWFUK)Right now it’s a shade under 5000, but every year I prune all the inactive accounts and members who haven’t posted. If I had never done that it would be tens of thousands, but I want quality over quantity.

JohnPaul (TIG): The forum currently has 2790 members but admittedly it’s a not a reflection of activity. I see FB pages with 17,000 members but the same 50 people posting. It’s a tough thing to reconcile. The weapons site (Imperialgunnery.com) doesn’t require signup but we have had 671,877 visitors.

Tommy (RS): On all of Rebelscum?  I believe it’s like 32,000 registered users.  Most of those aren’t part of the vintage collecting forum though, obviously.  But we probably have at least a couple hundred regular posters there.  Sometimes more, depending on when you check and what’s going on in the hobby.

Ian (TXI): We are just about to hit 300 members, which isn’t bad for a band new forum barely over a year old in this era of declining forum activity in our hobby.

7.HOW HAS MEMBERSHIP BEEN GOING THIS PAST YEAR?

Edd (SWFUK)Contrary to popular belief that forums are dying, mine is still growing steadily. It has grown year on year since it started 11 years ago.

JohnPaul (TIG): Just jumping from the last question, it’s not a true reflection of the sites use. We had 373 signups from March 2016-Feb 2017 but without data mining I’m not sure if that translated into active members. It does show me that the interest is there though.

Tommy (RS): I have no idea, I’m just a mod not an admin.  🙂  I think it’s doing pretty well though.  Or it seems to be, anyway.

Ian (TXI): Membership has been steadily growing since we opened the doors.  We are fortunate to have ChristianC (aka Bobby Bobs), who puts a lot of his time into recruiting new members, and his hard work has been paying off.

8.AND WHAT ABOUT GENERAL DAY TO DAY TRAFFIC OVER THE LAST YEAR?

Edd (SWFUK)Again it has been steady, I’m happy to say Facebook and other forums have not really detracted from SWFUK’s popularity.

JohnPaul (TIG): We get about 350-450 visitors per day and approx. 3600 “sessions”. The majority of the traffic is generated by users doing a quick scan. I think we have an average stay time around four minutes. I think it shows people do value the forums and look for ways to be engaged if there is a reason.

Tommy (RS): I think it’s gotten better over the last six months or so.  We’ve had some very interesting conversations and quite a few new members or members who are returning to collecting after a long absence.  We’ve definitely seen an uptick, which is understandable given the new movies and the fact Celebration is right around the corner.

Ian (TXI): We have a steady group of regulars who browse the forum daily.  Page views are not a problem.  The trick is to keep the members involved and actively participating on a regular basis.

9.HOW HEAVILY ARE YOU INVOLVED IN THE VINTAGE STAR WARS FACEBOOK GROUPS?

Edd (SWFUK)I spend a lot of time on Facebook and am a member of about ten groups. I do not sign up to all of them as I simply don’t have time to follow them all, so I have just chosen a few favourites. I tend to prefer smaller groups focused on specific aspects of collecting to the larger general groups.

JohnPaul (TIG): I’m a member of several groups but take no active role in any beyond being a member. I think someone added me as a mod to one but I don’t actively do anything. Obviously we maintain a FB page but a decision was made to put content there that would mostly funnel to the forum.

Tommy (RS): I’m a member of most of them and am an admin of a couple (the Return of the Jedi action figures group and the Dark Times group).

Ian (TXI): Personally, I resisted social media groups for a long time.  While I belong to over 50 groups, it was rare I posted in them.  I grew up in the hobby with forums, and have been critical of some aspects of Facebook.  The past couple of years, though, my participation in Facebook groups has begun to grow.  That generally applies to general discussion, educational, and similar types of posts though, as I’m not a very active buyer/seller, and tend to stay away from the various limelight discussions.

10.HOW HAVE THESE FACEBOOK GROUPS AFFECTED YOUR FORUM?

Edd (SWFUK)They have certainly generated a lot of discussion, both positive and negative. Due to the format of Facebook it is very difficult for people to give feedback, so they often turn to the forum for this.

Being honest the sales section of the forum has slowed down a bit since Facebook, but there’s still plenty for sale and other forums have suffered more.

JohnPaul (TIG): I think Facebook has affected most, if not all, forums. It goes well beyond vintage Star Wars too. It’s affected the cadence of conversations to the actual collecting landscape. Instant “likes” and replies to instant collections. It makes the forums seem like it’s in slow motion. I sell a fair amount and FB selling is insanely quick. If I post there first, then TIG, I might everything sold before I can even finish the posting. I rarely even put a FS on other forums anymore.

Tommy (RS): I think Facebook has had a big impact on all forum conversations, no doubt.  We saw a big dip in activity over the last couple years.  It seems to be leveling out again now, but for awhile there, it seemed like all forums were empty, not just ours.  But thankfully, things are better now.

Ian (TXI): Considering how new we are, that’s a question that is difficult to answer.  While I am sure we’d have more membership and/or participation if Facebook didn’t dominate, at the same time, Facebook has been a key to gaining exposure to our forum.  As with everything Facebook related, there are pros and cons.

11.WHAT CAN THESE GROUPS LEARN FROM THE FORUMS?

Edd (SWFUK)I think the important thing to remember is that Facebook and forums complement each other. They cannot compete against each other because they are completely different formats. I encourage Facebook groups to point their members to forums for research and information as they are so much better than Facebook for this. Whenever somebody creates a “should I join Facebook?” thread on the forum, I am always quick to suggest they do.

JohnPaul (TIG): I think the FB pages have bred new collectors. I don’t think a lot of them would have been happy as forums members. To loosely use SW allegory, the forums were what I imagine a Jedi Temple was (I never read the Extended Universe stuff so forgive me if there is info on what it is). The forums had knowledge, discussion, discovery and a respect for members who’d brought the hobby to where it was. I think the FB community brought forth a myriad of pages, mods, admins, and egos. People can jump in, say whatever they want, and then jump to another page. I think the forums brought a sense of order to things. I’m not sure FB can provide that. If I had to hope for something, it would be that people learn the rich history of the hobby, not just open their wallet.

Tommy (RS): I think forums have a much better sense of community than the groups do.  With a forum, you instantly know who you can probably trust and who knows what they’re talking about, just by looking at post numbers or post history or just the way other members treat a certain person.  Its semi-permanence means that the record is all there and you can see who’s done shady stuff in the past.  It’s a more stable community, filled with known individuals.  As such, there’s also less disinformation being disseminated.  It’s a much more “circle of friends” kind of feel, so if you say something that’s wrong, someone is going to correct you.  And then perhaps a debate will erupt, all in the same thread for everyone to see.  With a group, on the other hand, many of the people replying to a particular post have no idea what they’re talking about.  They haven’t even read the previous replies, because in most cases, it’s not a real conversation, it’s just them staying random things to the original poster.  You might not even ever see that poster reply to anything else in the future.  So, there’s all kinds of nonsense being regurgitated and most of the time, no one corrects it.  I think groups that can create a better feeling of community and common ownership will succeed.  That’s definitely something I always strive for in groups I help admin.  I want them to be a real source of information, not just casual entertainment.  Ultimately, I want to embrace the “circle of friends” kind of atmosphere, since I think most people respond well to that.

Ian (TXI): The single biggest thing forums have in the way of an advantage is the ability to be a better organized resource for those looking to learn about the hobby.  Facebook moves at a very fast pace, and discussions get buried very quickly, while in forums accessing information is far more convenient and permanent.  

12.WHAT CAN THE FORUMS LEARN FROM THE FACEBOOK GROUPS?

Edd (SWFUK)One lesson I took recently was that photography has become a much bigger part of collecting, so I improved the photo upload capability to make it easier for people to post photos. I think one area some other forums fall down on badly is mobile compatibility as most people use the internet on their phone these days, but SWFUK has been mobile friendly for quite a few years now.

JohnPaul (TIG): I think the forums (and really the software that makes the forums) need to see that mobile access is key. I don’t think people want to abandon forums but we need to adapt. Notifications on a device, ease of photo uploads, PMs, all need to be made faster and better on a mobile.

Tommy (RS): I think the groups are growing in popularity simply because they’re easy to use.  You can post pics and get instant feedback.  People like that.  You don’t have to remember to check back to the website to see if anyone posted anything cool or to see if anyone replied to your thread.  FB does all of that for you, and there’s always someone active.  It’s instant gratification.  People want those “likes.”  With a lot of groups, they’d rather have 100 likes than a real conversation about a piece.  They don’t want to be informed what their piece is or why it’s not what they thought it was, they just want a “Awesome piece, dude!” comment and to feel special for a brief moment of time.  That’s the nature of social media.  It’s quick and easy.  So forums need to be easier to use in order to compete.  Posting pictures needs to be easier and there needs to be better social media connectivity.  Making it easier for people to post on the forum means that people will post on the forum more.

Ian (TXI): Many forums learned the hard way that maintaining a status quo just doesn’t work in today’s fast paced environment.  Facebook took advantage of a superior method of sharing images, and even in sharing items of interest to specific fellow members quickly and directly.  Simply put, today’s average collector wants convenience and simplicity, and Facebook has been better at providing that.

13.HOW CAN FORUMS AND THE FACEBOOK GROUPS WORK TOGETHER TO IMPROVE OUR ONLINE COLLECTING EXPERIENCE?

Edd (SWFUK)Respecting each other and being aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Facebook can do things that forums can’t, and vice versa. Forums didn’t tell people to stop reading books, Facebook groups shouldn’t tell people to stop reading forums.

JohnPaul (TIG): That’s a complex thing to answer. I think the forums are a more solid foundation for history, cataloging and preservation of the hobby. The FB pages are extremely interactive but all diluted with there being so many. While it would be great to just split the duties (make forums the repository, FB the interaction) the fact is that FB groups are free to run, maintain, and also mimic. The time and money invested in the forum is far more of a chore and it would be hard to justify pouring money and time into them if the role is relegated to being a repository.

Tommy (RS): Personally, I think limelights and quick questions about a piece are best suited for groups, and in-depth discussion is much better suited for a forum environment.

I’ll always prefer a forum based system, since it’s much easier to search and archive than a FB group.  You can literally find online conversation about Star Wars going all the way back to 1981. Think about that.  Fans having discussions about Star Wars before ROTJ was even released.  And all of that is still around, available for you to read today, free of charge.  But with FB groups (and to some extent, forums), all of the information is now one button press from being deleted forever.  And even if it is still somehow available, it’s troublesome to search and the content you’re after is rarely easy to find.  To me, that’s worrisome, because I believe in the longevity of this hobby.  I think in the future, people will want to know what we were talking about now.  And I seriously doubt the FB groups will still exist in their current form.  I think they’ll long since have been purged by FB, erasing all of that information.  People 30 years from now aren’t going to be able to look back on our conversations the way we can look back on the collectors 30 years before us.  And that’s a problem, in my opinion.

As such, I think the solution is for people to be part of both communities.  If you discover something interesting, mirror your posts in both communities.  If someone is scamming in a group, let the forums know and vise versa.  Use the groups for the stuff they’re best at and use the forums for the rest.

I don’t think it has to be an either-or type of situation, I think there’s more than enough room for both types of community.  It’s up to the admins and moderators of both to be responsible leaders for the hobby and create the kinds of communities that meet the needs of their members.

Ian (TXI): This is a goal we have.  Trying to take the best aspects from both, and integrate them.  You can directly register for our forum right from the Facebook page.  We took the convenient ways Facebook deals with photos and tagging people, and found a way to incorporate them onto our board.  The only way for either platform to survive long term is to embrace the strengths each has to offer and create a hybrid.

14.DO YOU HAVE A STRATEGY IN PLACE FOR MAINTAINING YOUR FORUM’S MEMBERSHIP LEVELS?

Edd (SWFUK): I work in digital media so have known for a very long time that content is king. I see other forums and Facebook groups try all kinds of different gimmicks to try and grow their membership like t-shirts, giveaways, competitions etc, but without good content they are wasting their time. That’s why as above I spend more time contributing to the forum than I do moderating it, growth then comes naturally.

JohnPaul (TIG): We do have desire to keep them active. Our strategy is to try and engage people on various topics and get involved in various projects/games/etc. We understand that we face a challenge in the “instant gratification” movement. There is no way the forums can compete with that, so we need to show the value of the forums in the tighter community it breeds, the ease of getting information and the fact that forums have value in their slower pace.

Tommy (RS): I just try to post interesting topics, the logistics of maintaining membership is the responsibility of the site’s owners and administrators.  But members always stick around if there’s something interesting to talk about.

Ian (TXI): Yes, by continuing to integrate technological advances into our forum, the hope is we can remain relevant in the face of continuing change.  Also, by trying to put a focus on member participation, even in helping to develop the site, we’re hoping people feel more personally connected and stick around.

15.WHAT DOES YOUR FORUM OFFER THAT CANNOT BE FOUND ON THE OTHER FORUMS OR IN THE FACEBOOK GROUPS?

Edd (SWFUK)The forum has been running longer than Facebook and most other forums, so its legacy is one thing that cannot be taken away. I also think SWFUK has the best collection of members anywhere so I am very grateful for that. There is a good balance of knowledge, tolerance and humour – the latter two often lacking from other forums/groups.

JohnPaul (TIG): For weapon authentication and identification we are second to none. I’m very proud of the fact we are considered the global resource for that. It’s been a long journey, spanning from Jay and Wolff to the current caretakers of information. I also feel that the finite amount of larger forums makes information far more accessible. Every FB page admin feels they are the “best on FB” but the average collector probably belongs to 20, 30 or more pages. So finding something can be troublesome. Add in that a few posts or angry people can shut a page down if they chose I think the forums offer a certain stability.

Tommy (RS): Our forum has been around a long time.  And many of its members go back even further than that, back to the days of newsgroups.  There is a TON of knowledge there and access to the combined experiences of hundreds of collectors, many of whom haven’t made the switch over to FB groups.  If you want to have an honest, in-depth discussion about something or research something obscure, there’s no place better than the forums.  And all of that history is catalogued and easily searchable by anyone.  Since posting takes a few seconds longer than it does on FB, there also isn’t generally as much nonsense.  If people are talking, it’s usually about something, rather than just a quest to get the most likes or to waste a few moments while they wait for their train.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some very good FB groups (I admin a couple of them), but there are also some *really* bad ones.  Not recognizing the difference can be very dangerous to collectors.

Forums are very egalitarian.  They require no real approval to join and they’re visible to everyone.  Many of the best FB groups are invite only and aren’t as open to newer collectors.  Which is strange, since I don’t know anyone who knows everyone in a FB group.  They’re generally strangers (even though members use their real names), sharing a common interest.  I think most members of a forum are at least familiar enough with their community to remember something about most of the people who regularly post there.  They’re usually friends/adversaries, or at the very least “work friends.”  But I don’t think that’s the case with most of the groups.  I would post stuff to RS that I’d never post to a FB group, or at least not to a FB group I didn’t really trust.

As for why Rebelscum over the other forums, I think most collectors would agree that RS has been the dominant community for vintage conversation for the last 15 years or so.  Don’t get me wrong, there are other forums that are also *very* good and which I’m a member of, but RS has been #1 for a long, long time.  I like to think there’s a reason for that.

Ian (TXI): The simple answer here is what I have already mentioned several times.  A user experience that blends traditional forum style with the conveniences of social media.

16.ARE THERE ANY NEW TECHNOLOGIES THAT YOUR FORUM PLANS TO EXPLOIT?

Edd (SWFUK)The forum software platform (phpBB) recently had a major upgrade, so in the next year I will look to install that. The problem is upgrading the software to a new major version requires creating a new theme and people hate change, so I’m in no rush to change it again!

JohnPaul (TIG): We are always at the mercy of the software platform. We have seen attachments become easier, notification bars offer a summary view of what’s happened and other things move us slowly into the mobile arena. I think I’d like to see more of a tie-in with mobile devices.

Tommy (RS): I have no idea, that’s not my department, thankfully.  🙂

Ian (TXI): I think we have done a good job so far in trying to stay on top of technological advances.  As they continue to appear in the hobby, we will continue to try and find a way to embrace them.

17.WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE NEXT PHASE IN THE EVOLUTION OF SOCIAL NETWORKING FOR VINTAGE STAR WARS COLLECTORS?

Edd (SWFUK): I think some Facebook groups are now getting too big, the single page system simply does not work when you have 10,000+ members. So I think Facebook is going to have to adapt to avoid becoming too diluted. Perhaps they will implement a category system like forums have, or the ability to pin more than one post.

JohnPaul (TIG): That’s an interesting question. I think we’ll eventually get into VR. Maybe not now, but 5yrs from now. You’ll see people being able to walk through Rancho Obi-Wan or even my modest collection using some VR technology. I can see us uploading 3D scans of our favorite MOCs and figures and a user being able to pick up and rotate the figures virtually to see every side and feel like it’s in hand. I also see video events becoming more prevalent. A virtual event where a host interacts with the user base, like I’ve done on some FB pages.

Tommy (RS): I think the community itself is going to become central to collecting, if that makes any sense.  We’re seeing it already, with the rise of fan-made collectibles and swag trading.  If you plot out the course of the hobby, you’ll see it in action.  Star Wars collectors split off from the larger Star Wars fan base.  Then vintage collectors split off from modern collectors, etc.  Each step gets more and more specialized, but it also becomes more and more serious about what it’s doing.  Collecting is its own thing now.  The hobby has become a club, in a way, with its own values and customs.  A huge part of that is the social aspect, which gets more popular every year.  There are many collectors who don’t actually collect, they’re just here to hang out with the people.  To me, that’s where the hobby is headed.  Collecting will no longer be a solitary experience, but one which is shared to ever greater degrees.

I think in years to come, we’re going to see social media become an even bigger part of collecting.  I think the FB groups are kinda ‘Survival of the Fittest’ at the moment, but sooner or later, the strongest ones will take over and they’ll be able to drive the community to new places.  The way FB works, new people will be exposed to the hobby, who might ordinarily have never even thought about collecting, but because they see collecting related posts in their feed, they might pick it up.  There’s a normalization there.  And it’s bringing in more diversity, which is very healthy for the long-term health of the community.  Those new collectors then discover forums, posting material that reinvigorates those established communities, starting the entire process over again.

In a way, I think collecting is outgrowing fandom.  It’s creating its own identity.  A Star Wars collector is his/her own animal now, more than a collector in any other pop culture field I can think of.  And social media is really helping that along.

Ian (TXI): The last few years has seen a dramatic shift from forums to social media.  Not all forums are affected, but in general, it’s been a steady decline.  However, it is becoming apparent that there is a growing sentiment expressing a desire to return to some of the strengths of forums that Facebook has struggled with.  I think that with the honeymoon phase of social media coming to an end, the next stage will see the biggest success go to platforms that are best able to appeal to today’s fast paced world, while maintaining a backbone of easily retrievable informational and photographic references that have been key to forums in the past.

18.CAN THE FORUMS REMAIN RELEVANT IN THE VINTAGE COLLECTING LANDSCAPE OF TOMORROW?

Edd (SWFUK)Absolutely! Facebook is a long way off from competing with the content capabilities of forums so until that changes forums will remain very much essential to any collector.

JohnPaul (TIG): Can FB?

Tommy (RS): I think so, yes.  If you look at the history of online discussion, you’ll see that as new and easier technologies appear, they generally take over and supplant what came before.  But I think forums are in the unique position of being generally easy to use and much better at facilitating actual discussion than a FB group is, for the most part. 

To put it another way, imagine that I have a question about… I don’t know… Yupi figures.  Now, I can post that on a FB group, but if an expert like Yehuda isn’t online that day, there’s a very good chance that my question will be bumped further and further down.  The way FB’s algorithm works, no one might see it in their feed at all, unless they physically go to the actual group page, which few people do.  Thus, my question will go unanswered.  But if I post the same question on a forum, my question will remain there forever, essentially.  And every single person who logs on will see it in the list of topics, highlighted if it’s new to them.  Thus, my chances of getting an answer to my question is exponentially higher and whatever reply I get is liable to be much longer and more in-depth anyway, given the differences in replies in a forum vs FB group.

I think forums are relevant as long as the community is still a good one.  The hobby is a herd sometimes.  It’s important to attract members but it’s even more important to keep the members you have.  If you can provide a place that is a useful tool for people to use in their collecting lives, as well as somewhere they can meet some really cool people, that’s never going to be irrelevant.

Ian (TXI): Absolutely.  As long as you adapt to the times and do not become stagnant, forums should stay relevant for some time to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out my interview on The Vintage Rebellion Podcast!

Quick update to thank all of the fellas at the Vintage Rebellion Podcast for having me on for an interview as part of episode 23. I was pretty excited to come on but I was also very nervous about the whole endeavour. Stu and Jez really did make me feel at home though and it was a great experience in the end, even though I do tend to drone on and on….Check the interview here:

STAR WARS The Vintage Rebellion Podcast

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We chatted mostly about the new forum Tantive XI, my blog and the Vintage Star Wars Luke Skywalker Focus Collectors Facebook group but we also discussed my Luke Skywalker focus and some of my childhood experiences with Star Wars. Have a listen if you get the chance and also do yourselves a favour and check out their other episodes.

I’m a huge fan of the podcast and have managed to listen to every issue, even back to when they were called the SWFUK Podcast. Thanks again to all the team and thank you for all the hard work you all out in every month to bring us this great show.

Here’s a review I posted of their very first episode, almost a couple of years ago now. A bit outdated now. They get better better every episode.

Review: SWFUK Podcast

And we have previously interviewed Rich, one of the co-hosts. Enjoy!

Richard Hutchinson Collector Snapshot

The day Facebook groups united under the same banner!

Anyone who is a member of a Star Wars vintage Facebook group would have witnessed a remarkable event recently. At 5pm (Amsterdam time) on Monday 2nd February 2015, a huge number of groups changed their banner photos to a universal one adorned with an anti-repro logo on one side, an anti-ugrade on the other but with their original group banner sitting proudly in the middle of these two guardians of honourable and community minded collecting.

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It was a beautiful moment watching my Facebook feed blow up with these coordinated banner changes and I was proud to have the groups I admin be a part of this. Here are the banners for the three groups I admin. Huge thanks to Swedish super collector Mattias Rendahl for the repro logo and to Josh Blake, admin of the micro Star Wars group, for the u-grade banner and also for weaving his photoshop magic to make the banners for my Luke focus and Australian groups.

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So what was the origin of this Facebook group wide offensive? Well it was actually the brainchild of Jason Smith (aka ‘Mr Palitoy’ and the founder of the largest vintage Star Wars group on Facebook – check out our past article in relation to Jason and Toy Toni – http://vintagestarwarscollectors.com/toy-toni-scandal-featured-on-bbc1-in-the-uk/). Credit though has to also go to Ross Barr (check out his interview with us here – http://vintagestarwarscollectors.com/collector-interview-5-carl-gary-and-ross-from-star-wars-12-backs-2021-backs-and-early-vintage-collectors-group/), who admins about three thousand Facebook groups the last time I counted, who really picked up the ball and ran with it to the in-goal. He used his boundless energy and drive to coordinate the project, source the creation of the logos and to write up a great spiel (below) that many of the groups posted along with the banner changes:

Today, the admins of many vintage SW collecting groups have posted banners in each of their groups incorporating the same logos renouncing reproduction items and the butchering of toys encouraged by the U grade designation given by AFA. While each of the various Facebook groups operates a bit differently than the others, we are all firmly united against reproduction items and U grades.

As a sign of solidarity against repros and U grades, in this group we plan to keep this banner in place for the most part (subject to the posting of certain COTW items here and there as our banner) from now until the end of Celebration 7.

We encourage discussion about the harms repros and U grades cause to our hobby. If you have any questions about that issue, feel free to contact one of the admins. Otherwise, please check out these articles discussing those harms:

Repros: http://vintagestarwarscollectors.com/guest-collector-ian-c…/

U grades: http://powerofthetoys.com/afa/

Many thanks to the creators of the repro logo (Mattias Rendahl) and the U grade logo Josh Blake) for letting us use their images to make this. statement.

This anti-repro and u-grade movement is quite timely considering that the place of Facebook in Star Wars vintage collecting is often questioned, admittedly even by myself. It does get tiresome in these groups to repeatedly debate the danger of repros and the damage that u-grading causes to the current population of carded figures. But this mass convergence in countering these hobby pollutants has reinvigorated my belief that Facebook groups can work alongside the forums and positively impact this great hobby of ours. That said, I’m still a Rebelscum guy at heart!

Although I’m absolutely vibing on the positivity spread by this offensive and am vehemently against repros and the u-grade, I’m a little concerned what the negative fallout may be when it comes to those who do not share the majority opinion about these issues. While I’m all for ostracising those who manufacture repros and the u-grade and sell them, particularly without declaring them as such, there are also collectors who may have one or two repro accessories in their collection or people who may not own repros or u-graded toys but argue that they have a place in our hobby. These collectors should not be vilified for holding an opinion contrary to the majority and I personally would not remove them from the groups I admin. I’d prefer to use logic and informed arguments to sway these critics of our movement, rather than abuse them or remove them from our community. So please don’t bash the guy who has a repro saber on display, there are other more civil and intelligent ways to win an argument. That said, all of the groups I admin, including this blog, do not allow for the sale or even display of repro or u-graded collectibles. And don’t forget our past article:

http://vintagestarwarscollectors.com/ten-tips-for-dealing-with-other-collectors-on-social-networking-sites/

If you admin a Facebook group, or would like to lobby your admins, and are keen to get involved, please contact me and I’ll let you know how to be part of it. I know the SWFUK and TIG forums have gotten onboard and I’m really hoping the Rebelscum forum joins the show, even though the owner Phillip Wise has publicly distanced himself from the movement. There’s nothing to lose but everything to win. I’m definitely going to get a banner made up for this blog!

Thanks for reading.

Collector Interview #5: Carl, Gary and Ross from ‘Star Wars 12 Backs, 20/21 Backs, and Early Vintage Collectors Group’

I’m stoked to finally present Carl, Gary (Gaz) Edson and Ross Barr from the Facebook Group ‘Star Wars 12 Backs, 20/21 Backs, and Early Vintage Collectors Group’. Those who know this group may be surprised to see that I’m only interviewing three of the admins, when there are actually four. Well we actually set about conducting this interview months ago, when there were only three admins and I decided to restrict this interview to the first three founders as adding a fourth would make this interview even more massive than it already is.
I did though speak to the lads and they mentioned that former admin Jeff Walters did an absolutely fantastic job as an admin until he had to resign due to his increasingly busy work and personal commitments. Jeff is still an active member of the group though and both his attitude to collecting and his collection itself are credits to the hobby.
Steve Dwyer (aka ‘The Dark Artist’ on Rebelscum) is the latest addition to the admin team and what an addition he is! Steve is one of the most knowledgeable collectors around (particularly in regards to first 12 figure vintage prototypes  – his 3D prototype focus has to be seen to be believed). Not only that but Steve is committed to improving the hobby and is also one of the loveliest blokes in the hobby. I hope one day to host both he and Jeff on the blog.
While I still prefer the collecting forums over the Facebook groups, this group is one of my absolute favourites. That’s not just lip service, I really do enjoy it and it seems to be growing into an influential group. And sincerely these guys are some of the friendliest blokes in the collecting world and they epitomise why I love vintage collecting – it’s as much about the people as it is about the toys themselves. Not only is this is a great group but it is also is a perfect example of collectors from all over the globe coming together to create a community for individuals to get together and share their joy of collecting.
 
Although there are still some teething problems with the use of Facebook to connect us to fellow collectors, it seems this format will play an important role in the future. For example, one of the main groups (created by British collector Jason Smith) actually has more than 14,000 members, which really is outstanding and highlights that vintage collecting is a growing and thriving hobby. That said, there is still a lot of debate going on in the collecting world about the value of these Facebook groups, more recently revolving around the issue that they may be causing fragmentation among Star Wars collectors – check out more about this in our previous article – http://vintagestarwarscollectors.com/forum-thread-of-the-month-september-2014-fragmentation-of-vintage-collecting-chat-via-rebelscum/
Now to the interview! 
1.    Before we discuss the Facebook group, it would be great to learn more about you guys. Ross you and I came up through Rebelscum together so I know you pretty well but Gaz and Carl I only really started to connect with you blokes through Facebook. Ross you are from the States (or ‘AMERICA’ as us non-Americans like to say) and Gaz and Carl you guys are British but where did you guys grow up? Are you all married with kids or are you footloose and fancy free?
Ross:  Christian, I have always liked what you said in your posts on RS, and I am glad we have gotten to know each other even better on FB.  As for my personal life, I have been married since August 2008, have a five year old son named Eli (my collecting partner – seriously, he can point out all flaws in a MOC in under 10 seconds), three year old daughter named Lana, and a one year old daughter named Sadie.
VSWC: Ross and the gang.
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Carl: I started my early collecting days on a forum called SWCC (Star Wars Collectors Cantina). I was a mod on there in the early days and got to meet some great people, since then I browse RS for the sales but our Facebook page is the main one for me. I’m in a great relationship with Lisa , and have two kids of my own and two step kids.
VSWC: Carl and his family. 
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Gaz: I live in a small mining village called Shirebrook (near Mansfield) in the UK. I’m still there as of now. I’m 42 so a good age for collecting SW so they say. I live with my partner but I’m not married but I don’t think it will be to long thou. I have three kids as well – 24, 15 and 13 years old and all GIRLS (yes hard work). I’m going to be a granddad soon holy shit!!
VSWC: Gaz and his girls!
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VSWC: Gaz and his wife looking sexy and dangerous. 
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2. So do you ever get teased about your collecting?
Ross: I do get teased occasionally, but even my friends that tease me do think it’s cool.  I think there is still a misconception that all collectors and lovers of SW are nerds, but I am quick to tell those people that I have met some of the coolest and funniest guys I have ever met through SW collecting.
Carl: Do I ever get teased ? I’ve had the piss taken out of me a few times by my mates, that’s because I’m a massive wind up, and they know I would deffo do the same 🙂
When I first joined the Facebook pages, I didn’t realise pages weren’t private so I was posting my 12 backs etc and of course they were appearing on my Facebook feed. Then on a night out with the lads, about five of them started making chewie noises and taking the piss. I had to take it on the chin, because I would have done the same 🙂
Gaz: Do I get teased mmm well come on I do live with three girls lol! Seriously thou yes I did when I first got back into collecting, but now my close friends and family see the values involved in buying and selling they just leave me in my own little world which I’m more than happy about.
 
3. How long have you all been collecting, how did you catch the bug and what do you collect exactly?
Ross:  I have been a lifetime owner of the toys and collector since I was a child, but started collecting again in earnest a few years ago when I dug out my loose figures, some carded stuff, and other random stuff.  Having a son that was just as into it as me really gave me the fuel to collect again, and we went from there.  My primary focus is my full run of 96 figures on their first “movie” card, but not necessarily needs debut card back – just the front.  The first 12 must be on 12 backs (again, don’t care about A v. B v. C really), the next 9 on 20/21, all ESB characters on ESB card fronts, ROTJ on ROTJ, etc.  I have a full loose collection in C9 ungraded condition, and have a few MIB vehicles and playsets that I like.  I am also working on an “original” Han Solo (not Han Hoth, Han Bespin, etc. – just “original” Han) focus, with the goal of getting him on every card front and back that he has ever appeared on.  Finally, I am working on a full set of the 12 inch figures MISB, and have “just” one (Boba Fett) until that is done.
VSWC: Ross and his growing Han Solo focus. 
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VSWC: Three of Ross’ favourite pieces. Vader is a production double telescoping saber (DT), while Ben is a hand painted first shot  with mushroom tip DT saber and Luke is an engineering pilot with a production DT saber. Amazing pieces! 
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Carl: I’ve been collecting for about seven years, I have changed focus many times over that period, but now my focus is 12/20/21 backs and all early stuff. I got the bug seven years ago when I brought some loose vintage figures for my son. There were about 10 in total and when they arrived they were that mint that I couldn’t let him ruin them. So they went on my shelf and my collection grew from there.
I’ve also recently started collecting and an ESB/ROTJ run with clear bubbles.
VSWC: Carl standing guard over his stellar collection. 
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Gaz: I’ve only really been back into collecting for the last four years, yes I did have it all as a kid but like most people got rid of it all in my early teens. I got the bug back really just by looking up Star Wars on eBay and it carried on from there.
I remember my first figure was a loose Chewbacca with a repro weapon lol, then like Carl I’ve changed my focus a million times, just finished my 21 back run (all 12 Backs are A cards) and I have a few of the rare pieces. I also just started on the ESB line. I love the cartoon droids and ewoks so maybe I’ll collect them at a later date.
VSWC: Some of Gaz’s awesome collection. 
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4. Do you ever meet face to face with other collectors?
Ross: Since I have joined RS and the Facebook groups, I have met more and more collectors face to face.  I am part of an Ohio collectors group and have done a few events, meet friends on comic con events and toy shows, and have had friends I have met on RS and FB stay at my place or have met them out for beers and brought them back to share my collection.  Having someone over to see the collection is a real treat.
Carl: Had a great time at Memorabilia in Birmingham and met up for the first time with some great lads Steve UKG, Adam Pemberton, Marcus Schroeder, Klause Dorscher (Marcus), Sheldon Wagstaffe, Gaz Edson, Paul Smith, Rich McLean, Marc Walsh, James Martin and Graham Hughes and had a few beers and a curry afterwards. Great night! Dean Keenan and Chris Hyden  both live a few miles away so we also meet up for a beer and a chat . Also me and Gaz Edson meet up regularly. One day I would love to travel the pond to meet my USA bro Ross lol.
VSWC: The lads hanging out in Birmingham.
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Gaz: I’ve only had a trip down to Carl’s to do a couple of SW deals over a beer, more on the horizon 🙂
VSWC: Gaz and Carl (left to right) hanging out recently. 
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5. Are there any good conventions coming up? Will you be going?
Ross: I attended an amazing toy show last month in Cincinnati, OH, the home of Kenner, and got to catch up with many old friends and meet many new ones.  I don’t remember having that much fun locked in a room with a bunch of dudes.  Well, I do remember, but I will keep this interview PG-13. Hahahah.  As for conventions coming up, right now I am looking forward to attending Celebration 7 in California next April.
Carl: Just Memorabilia for me in the UK in November, more than likely I’ll go. I’m also thinking of going to Jedi Con in Germany. I had a great time meeting up with my two friends Marcus Schroder and Klaus Dorscher at this years Mem show so would love to do Celeration Anaheim in April and meet all the friends I have made from these groups, but I don’t think I will be able to have the time off.
Gaz: I’ve never been to one but would love to, so it’s something that’s going to happen.
 
6. What are you all into other than vintage star wars collecting? Is there time for much else?
Ross: When I first got into collecting as an adult a few years back, I was buying childhood collections and other items on eBay – mostly GI Joe and Masters of the Universe (He-Man).  I needed to take a step back and focus on one thing with everything else going on in my life, so I am slowing selling off everything other than Star Wars stuff.
Carl: I have my own building firm that keeps me pretty busy and of course the Mrs and the kids lol. My other passion is football (soccer). I have a season ticket for Wolverhampton Wanderers and have followed them since I can remember. We also have three Bedlington Terriers, and enjoy nothing more than taking them walks on evenings and weekends.
Gaz: Not really, most of my spare time goes into SW, it’s hard for much more with work and family. I do love football and support Sheffield Wednesday I go to see them whenever I can.
 
7. Gaz I notice that you always seem to have top pieces for sale at decent prices and that you have a steady influx coming into your collection? How do you do it? Where do you find this stuff?
Gaz: I think I’ve just been lucky with spending hours and hours on eBay, sending messages asking if they had more for sale and doing deals away from eBay for better prices, so able to sell I bit cheaper and find some nice bits for my collection, but it’s getting harder and dryer out there.
 
8. So do you have any advice for newer collectors who are trying to find quality items at decent prices?

Gaz: Patience, believe it or not. Good deals do still come up from time to time and do your homework so you know what’s fake and what’s genuine, this way when good deals do become available you can hit ‘buy it now’ in confidence knowing it’s the real deal. Snooze and you lose in this game.

9. Carl what do you think about the current market at the moment? What is driving the current situation, where prices seem to be soaring?
Carl: Without a doubt the current market is on the up, which is a real shame, as this has put a lot of the items out of reach to a lot of collectors 🙁 My opinion is since the news of the new Star Wars movies, the prices of MOCs etc have started to soar , and as the film gets closer there’s a chance they could get even higher. Since I started collecting 7-8 years ago , prices have trebled to what they are now.
VSWC: 12 backs do seem particularly affected. I bought my 12 Back B Luke (AFA 80) for 500 pounds just before Christmas (admittedly a great deal) and now the same piece is selling for more than double. So do you think the Disney films will further effect this trend?
Carl: Definitely. In the last six months prices are creeping up, but the new films next December have definitely had an impact. I  also I think that, because the original cast are back in (ie Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie , C3PO and R2) 12 backs could increase further …….
 
11. So are you dudes excited about the new movies? Can JJ do it for the fans or will it be the prequels all over again?
Ross: Great question. From what I have seen to date, there is a movement to use more props, less CGI, and overall be truer to the OT (original trilogy), all of which I hope and think will lead to a great product. Disney paid a ton for the SW franchise, and has to get it right.  With that said, Star Wars is like sex to me.  Even when it’s bad, it’s good!
Carl: Can’t wait mainly because the original cast are back in it after 30 years, let’s face it the new films can’t be any worse than the last three and with the addition of the Stormies \, Falcon , x-wings etc from the original trilogy. I can’t wait ….
Gaz: I’m buzzing about the new films even more so knowing we have some of the original actors in there 🙂 It’s going to be a BIG HIT !
 
12. Ross I noticed that you changed your Rebelscum name from Darth Roscoe to Ross_Barr (is this correct?), pretty much in line with what the old guard did a while back. Are you too good for us now? Did you get enacted into the inner circle without letting your mates know?
Ross: Lol Christian!  If anything, I am worse off for having dropped my cool Darth Roscoe moniker…  Seriously though, consistent with point (4), as I met more people face to face it was frustrating to explain that I was “Darth Roscoe” on RS, so I made things simpler and went with my real name.  And I did join the inner circle – they have beer and cheap women!!!!!!
VSWC: Yep ‘Darth Roscoe’ is a pretty cool dude…
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13. In all seriousness, you’ve only been collecting for just about three years yet you’ve amassed an enormous collection and I think you’ve almost finished your MOC run  How the hell did you do it so quickly?
Ross: Thanks for noticing, Christian. I need just a fewmoreMOCs to complete my full 96 carded run. And to answer your questions, yes they are all US Kenner. I have some foreign pieces that are part of my Han Solo focus, but that’s it. I have done it relatively quickly through some hustle, networking and very little off eBay. All in all, I havecomeout of pocket to the tune of around 55% oftheactual current market value of my collection through a lot of buying in bulk (large collection purchases, etc.) and selling off pieces that don’t fit my focus for againin an effort to subsidize my collection, and buying items that are otherwise way belowtheiractual market value. But of course I have also laid out a lotofmy own money, and importantly it was all through extra savings and other money that my family doesn’t necessarily need and likely won’t miss.

VSWC: Yeah I remember the huge haul you scored where you had to cross the border into Canada. How did this deal come about? 
Ross: Great that you rememberthathaul. That was one of four large purchases like the ones I described above that have allowed me to finance my collection. The seller was getting rid of his whole collection of Canadian and US carded figures (41 in all),MIB vehiclesandplaysets (35-40 of those) and lots of other memorabilia. He posted them all for sale at once on the big SW vintage Facebook group.Unlikeall of the vultures that gave him lowball offers and ridiculed him, I was nice to him, gave a reasonable offer, and since he lived an hour or so drive from, offered to come with cash in hand and pick the stuff up so he didn’t have to deal with shipping it all. We corresponded for a few days and agreed on a price. Needless to say from the pic, it was a ton of stuff, and I sold off enough within a few days to get my money back (and then some) and keep, free of charge, among other things, a Canadian 20 backSWBobaFett (ended up grading AFA 80), Canadian 12 Back VinylCapeJawa (I believe only two others are out there, and I have since traded it toaJawa focus collector), ESB 45backBobaFett, several other MOC figures, afewMIB items, and various other odds and ends.  It was the deal of a lifetime for sure.

You should have seen the face of the US border patrol officer when I drove to the US border with a car filled with vintage SW collectibles!!!!!  He thought I was INSANE!!!!
VSWC: The famous ‘thumbs up’ photo of Ross and his plastic contraband. 
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14. One last question before we get to your group. Carl you have been pretty vocal about reproductions recently, particularly repro boxes. Do you think this is one of the greatest threat to this awesome hobby of ours? 
Carl: I don’t like reproductions. I despise them !!! Definitely going to affect the hobby in time, not so much the older collectors who can spot the signs, colour etc, but some of the newer and less educated collectors coming in could get stung. Some of these boxes that are being reproduced are superb, with just a small tab with reproduction written on them, that is NOT enough. These could easily be cut off so no one would know they are fake. Give some of these repro boxes 4-5 years of getting a bit of wearand tear and it will be very hard to spot. It wouldn’t be so bad if from the front it looked like the original, for display, but on the back it had ‘REPRODUCTION’ written in big letters or a totally different colour to the original. That way there would be no way of cutting that off or of anyone getting scammed. This is just my view, but I’d rather save up a bit more and get the original in not so perfect condition than these cheap fakes that are flooding the market …. This one does make my blood boil ……
 
15. So to your group now. Gaz can you briefly summarise what it’s all about?
Gaz: Our groups focus is from the first film Star Wars, which is by far the best film ever released (my view!). We see the group as a place to gather collecting knowledge,  to help others spot fakes etc and as a forum to display all of these amazing collectibles.

It’s also a place to have a good chit chat and laugh between us all while discussing SW (we are all on the same wave length). As soon as I mention SW in my house everyone’s ears shut down and I end put talking to myself!

VSWC: So why did you choose to focus on these particular parameters?

Gaz:  It was all Carl’s idea. I met him through the main vintage SW Facebook page and we got talking though there, then I received a message from him asking if I’d like to start a SW page just dedicated to the 12/20/21 backs and the early stuff (mailers etc) and as I said, Star Wars was by far the best film out of the three, so I thought why not 🙂

So I’d just like to thank Carl for involving me, cheers bro 🙂

17. Gaz do you all have specific roles within the functioning of the group?
Gaz: Not really. If there’s any decisions to be made we just have a three way vote, well four now as Jeff’s on board 🙂

But we all tend to agree and it generally runs fine. Ross is the one who mainly writes the important posts up (clever lad as) he’s very good at wording things. My spelling and wording of things is terrible which is why I’m the last to respond to this interview. Carl and Ross said it was a breeze,  yeah right I wish!

VSWC: Haha no worries Gaz! It generally takes a while for people to get back to me with their answers. I’m just stoked that people are willing to give up their time to the blog.

18. Ross, I might be a bit biased but to me the group seems to run much smoother than a lot of similar groups on Facebook. It really is a tight ship. Why do you think that is?
Ross:  Facebook is kind of the wild west of SW collecting.  It is certainly instantly gratifying when compared with some of the chat forums like RS and SWFUK, but there is so much less respect paid from one collector to another on Facebook, and zero moderation on most of the groups. Once Carl proposed the group to Garry and I, we discussed a few light rules that we had seen on RS that worked there and could provide a little organization to our group and encourage people to respect one another. The three of us (now four, with the addition of Steve Dwyer as an admin).
 
So how many members do you have now? Is the sky the limit in regards to membership?
Ross: As of today, we have just around 3,500 members.  When Carl first proposed doing the group, I thought maybe it would be cool if we could get our friends from the forums and a few other random members together and some day have 500 or so members that enjoyed the early vintage as much as we do.  It blows my mind that just over seven months later we already have 3,500.

As far as whether the sky is the limit, you always want to have more members naturally as it is more people to connect with, more interesting posts that will be made, and just better content.  However, I have no desire to get so big that we have internet “trolling,” off topic posts, and disrespectful members running rampant. This group, in my mind, was always supposed to be a bunch of like minded collectors in a niche group.  I hope we never lose that.
 
19. Carl there seems to be a recent flood of niche vintage collecting groups on Facebook. Do you think there are too many?
Carl: I really enjoy these niche groups but I am biased, if your focus is ANH, ESB, ROTJ, POTF , pre production, Lili Ledy  etc  there is a group for you out there. Plus the multiple general Star Wars pages, I don’t think there are too many but saying that, I turn notifications off on a lot of them, and just read the three or four I want to 🙂
 
VSWC: So what are your favourite groups then?
Carl: Of course my favourite page is the 12/21 back page without a doubt 🙂 I also enjoy checking out Echo base UK and Empire/ ROTJ pages. I’m also fascinated by the pre production pages, to see where all the toys we collect started and the different stages. There is so much to learn from that page . Matt (Matthieu Barthelemy) also does a great job on his La Guerre Des Etoiles page. I love seeing the Meccano and other designs for the foreign cardbacks.
 
21. What other niches are yet to be filled?
Carl: What other niche groups? Ask Ross lol! He will probably be helping with them!
VSWC: Haha you’re right! I should have asked Ross that one. I do like to call him the ‘King of the internet.’
 
22. So with you guys being so active on Facebook, do you still have much time for the forums?
Ross: I certainly have less time for RS as I used to, but I make an effort to go on there still as much as I can, and still would say I am active. It is still in my view the best place for information, and has the best classified section. It is well run and organized, and is an overall great site. As I said in my first RS post about the 12 back group, I think RS is the steak of the SW forums, and our niche 12 back and early vintage group is the red wine that compliments the steak.
Carl: Unfortunately I don’t really have the time for forums, with the two pages I help run plus everything else. Lisa would definitely not be with me if I spent anymore time on Star Wars  than I already do 🙂 I look on RS and SWFUK and TIG when I can, as there’s so much information stored on these pages, but it’s more limited than I would like.
Gaz: I always like to log onto RS and SWFUK and have a quick look, although I use RS mainly for WTB threads for the bits I’m after which usually works.
VSWC: So what would you guys say is your favourite forum?
Ross: RS, hands down. In fairness to the others, I haven’t spent much time on SWFUK and TIG other than on SWFUK when the Toy Toni stuff came out and TIG to confirm my weapons’ authenticity.
Carl: My favourite forum, I guess, it’s got to be RS nowadays followed closely by SWFUK.
Gaz: RS.
 
24. On to my final question, which is – to grade or not to grade?
Ross: For me it is a mixed bag. For my MOC figures, while I rarely buy an already graded figure (because, among other things, they are almost always too expensive), I buy near mint to mint pieces and almost always have them graded. I like the look and protection of the figure and card in acrylic, and the costs of the graded piece is really just another $30 or so more than it would be for the acrylic case itself. And the sad fact remains that if that grading turns out to produce an AFA 80 or 85, it results in an increase in the value of that figure in the market place, so it is money well spent in my view. I also like the ability to track my pieces by serial number, and have seen the AFA serial number come into play and be helpful in stopping thieves and scammers.
Carl: In my collection I have both graded and ungraded pieces , I have nothing against the grading , it protects the pieces and I love how they look. Luckily for me I bought most of mine before the prices really shot up and if I was collecting all the 12/20 backs now I would definitely be buying ungraded.

I think, like everything, AFA has its good points and bad points. Bad being: inconsistency with grades and u grading (well don’t get me started on that). It’s a shame prices go so high after grading but I guess for some it’s worth the price just to know what they’re getting and that their piece is authentic. So for me to grade or not to grade –  I’m both ……
Gaz: I’m easy as most of my 12 backs are graded except for a couple, my other nine of the 21 backs are mainly ungraded (three are graded) but they are all displayed in AFA style cases as they display better and protected. I’ll probably be getting them graded when I get around to it.

Well thanks so much for your time guys and keep up the great work with the group. I definitely feel that I know you all better after that and I hope our audience feels the same way.  I’m sure we will catch up sometime, somewhere for a beer.

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! 

Forum thread of the month – September 2014: Fragmentation of vintage collecting chat (via Rebelscum)

Hi guys,

This month we’re introducing another new segment – ‘Forum thread of the month. We plan to scan the three main English speaking forums, Rebelscum, The Imperial Gunnery (TIG) and Star Wars Forum UK (SWFUK) to pick out the most interesting collector related thread for the month. It will be tough as some months are busy as hell with a multitude of fascinating threads, while some months are a bit quiet. The reasoning behind this new series is to expose vintage collecting forums to collectors who love their vintage but aren’t on the forums. For example I know there are a huge amount of people on the SW vintage Facebook groups who aren’t forum members; some consider the forums “snobby”, some find them too cumbersome to navigate, while others simply aren’t aware of their existence. While there is some truth to these views, I’m adamant the advantages far outweigh any negatives and I encourage every Star Wars vintage fan to sign up.

The thread that will kick of this series is from the forum that I consider my home – Rebelscum. This thread has actually had quite a bit exposure already on Facebook and was discussed almost exhaustively on Rebelscum so I’m not expecting this post to really generate much discussion on the blog or on our Facebook page. But the fact is that this was by far the most engaging thread of last month so I’ve chosen it to keep the spirit of this series intact.

On 9th September 2014, Chris Georgoulias  (a well known collector and major contributor to theswca.com) posted his opinion that the Facebook vintage Star Wars collector groups are driving collectors away from forum and scattering and diluting vintage discussions. I found Chris’ post extremely thought provoking and while I am a huge user of Facebook, I agreed with a lot of his sentiment. There were some really fantastic responses, both in support of and in opposition to Chris’ thesis. I’m not going to summarise these but will let you guys read them yourself at this thread:

http://forum.rebelscum.com/t1113598/

And here’s Chris’ full post. Enjoy!

I hope Chris doesn’t mind me reposting his thread…

So I didn’t want to derail the Wealthy thread, but the FB comments urged me to talk about something I’ve been dealing with for awhile. As much as people love FB groups (and creating them for so many sub-genres of collecting) I grow to despise them day by day. Yes, it’s easier to post images get instant responses, but at what cost?

13k people might be on one group, but the quality of much of the commentary is worthless. Lots of one-liner replies and people giving answers who should be in learn mode, not speak mode. How many people “View Previous Comments” before they write? And often even when you expand it’s pages of commentary that often never needed to be stated. It’s noise. Unlike forums, there’s no threading and every single post piles on top of other posts. Everything is a culmination of every day’s talk and it’s absolutely not searchable. You are doomed to repeat the same topics over and over. It’s Groundhog Day.

FB makes it too easy for people to create a little world to discuss things, but it spreads things out very thinly. And it’s so easily wiped out if the creator chooses to delete it. FB wasn’t intended to be a resource for organized thoughts, it’s a way to share your day to day musings with friends. Joke of the day? Video of the day? Post some photo of your food? Sure, nobody cares a week later. But with a collecting forum you need to be able go to back and see what’s been discussed, to be able to link to discussions and, for the love of Pete, ORGANIZE it.

When the USENET discussions migrated to Web forums like this one we lost the legacy of searching. We gained threading rather than creating separate groups so that was a plus, and certainly hyperlinks are incredibly helpful. Searching this site is difficult and Philip himself wiped out years of old discussions years back that was never archived. The SWCA forums wiped out a lot of good discussion. All of that was good info wasted and wasted info is missing history and experience. The search functions are critical for that to work and without a good way to search, it still makes it a bit difficult to find what you want. But hey, at least you CAN search a forum like this. You can’t do that with a FB group.

I just fear that FB groups will drive people away from organized forums and continue to scatter and dilute the discussions. I thought it was hard enough when SWF UK and TIG started growing, but at least they’re just 2 more searchable and threaded places to keep up with. But with so many FB groups, you can’t keep up with them all and there’s no way to have great discussions that go on for pages. It’s all based around the mobile here and now. Snap a photo, use your thumbs to scribble out a comment and move on. But what is the result?

As this continues we’ll move into an era where the chatter has to be repeated time and again on a near weekly basis. We should be using those groups to drive people to places where they can learn from experienced collectors and see the benefit of creating searchable history. Being so decentralized and “day to day” doesn’t help promote a long term bond with the hobby IMO. You need to have places where the beginner can come to learn, not be thrust into a spot where they can’t figure out how to interact or take the time to learn.

I see a lot of participation in FB groups by people who could be just as active on this forum. It’s hard not to sound like the old man who doesn’t want change, but making things faster and more accessible will come at a price.

-chris

SWFUK Podcast episode # 5 is live!

Well have you all had a chance to listen to this great podcast from some of the lads over at the Star Wars Forum UK? Check our previous review if you haven’t heard of it.

http://vintagestarwarscollectors.com/review-swfuk-podcast/

swfuk

I just finished listening to Episode #4, headlined by a great interview with Jedi Luke Shawn Kemple, one of my favourite collectors.

I’m also halfway through Episode #5, which came out on 20 September. So far it’s a cracking episode and I loved the interview with Tim Veekhoven.

I’m not going to review these episodes, rather I just want to congratulate the boys on the great job they are doing with the podcast. I liked it from the first episode but it really is getting better episode by episode. After their huge first episode I was unsure whether they would be able to continue to record top notch content at such a fast pace but they still keep punching these episodes out like there’s no tomorrow. Keep up the good work!

We were also lucky recently to have podcast member Richard Hutchinson come onto the blog and share some of his collecting experiences:

http://vintagestarwarscollectors.com/collector-snapshot-4-richard-hutchinson-aka-cc4rhu/

Check out all of their podcasts here:

http://swfukpodcast.podbean.com/

Their Facebook page is here:

https://www.facebook.com/starwarsforumukpodcast

Enjoy!

Collector Interview #4 : Wolff aka ‘Wbobafett’

I’m pumped to present an interview with a collector who I sincerely look up to – Wolff aka ‘Wbobafett on Rebelscum, The Imperial Gunnery and Star Wars Forum UK. Wolff is one of the hobby’s leading variant collectors and when I decided to create this blog, he was one of the first people that popped into my mind as potential interviewees. The work he has undertaken on the COO guide is phenomenal, so good in fact that I voted him as one of the Scummers of the year of 2013 (the entire Rebelscum thread is here – http://forum.rebelscum.com/t1105235/). Not only is this outstanding work but he also seems to me to be very modest about it. I’m a variant collector myself so obviously I appreciate the work he has done and hopefully will continue into the distant future

If you haven’t seen Wolff’s COO guide or his amazing website, don’t wait one second longer!

COO Guide 3.0

Now to the questions!

1. Hi Wolff. Welcome to the blog and thanks for joining us. I know you’re a busy man, especially these days, so I appreciate your time. So you’re German right? Germany is one of my favourite places in the world. Where are you from exactly?

W: Yes I am from Germany. I come from “Baden-Württemberg” and was born near Stuttgart. I still live near  Stuttgart…well at least kind of 😀

 2. Is there much of a collecting community there?

W: Oh… sadly not. I guess you have much better chances of finding collecting buddies in the far north of Germany. In the far south of Germany the collectors seem to be more shy and do collect more “off the radar”. Some are on the forums but never post, most are just out there…staying unknown. I met a handful of those collectors in Stuttgart once. All of them mostly collect MOC stuff, AFA and have their loose set but no-one has what “we” call the “variant bug”…hahahaha….pity though.

 The internet is my (only) way to talk to persons with the very same interest :D. So actually only one of the “variant guys” out there  has seen my collection in person: Kenneth_B.

3. Did you get the chance to go to CE2 (Star Wars Celebration Europe 2)?

W: Yes I was at CE2. Only for one day, but it was worth it. I think because I rarely see collectors in person I was a bit too shy to talk to everyone that was there. I just couldn’t do it: Hey Gus Lopez…I am Wbobafett (Wolff) the variant “idiot” from Germany….nahh…that wasn’t really my thing, but I stood next to a lot of the famous guys and listened to them talking to other scummers….great fun though 😀

4.What do you do for work? 

I am an art restorer, mainly paintings and sculptures. I am a freelancer, so I am often on the road. I still don’t have “internet” when I am away from home…no smartphone etc. I can assure you that makes people go crazy….”How can you bid on ebay stuff, read the forums, etc. ???….well it is simple: I just miss it! All the time! LOL!

5. I’ve seen photos of the star wars dioramas that you made. They really are a sight to behold and I don’t think I’ve seen a better collection set up. Is this is a skill you’ve acquired during your professional career or did you just learn as you went along? 

W: Thanks for the kudos. 😀

I would say it is kind of both reasons. I am of course not bad with my hands, otherwise I wouldn’t have studied restoration of art. On the other hand I was never shy to try things and I love to “solve problems” (manual problems of course). I built lots of stuff as a kid and my father built great stuff for me too…always. So it’s kind of a tradition. We both have very messy hobby rooms with lots of stuff laying around that should be repaired, built or just is exploited.

VSWC: Some of Wolff’s amazing dioramas. Take a deep breath before you open these thumbnails!

tat2DSDS2   DS3DS4Hoth1   Hoth2larslars2   jutl jut2 tat

W (continued): I really hope that one day every diorama is finished like I want them to be. But it is very similar to my collection. You are always close…but never finished. My current project is building the Khetanna (Jabba’s Sailbarge) for 3 3/4″ of course. I really got this going on but then I was missing some spare time and it was laying around for …hmm…nine months or so. I am now back trying to finish this project….sometimes frustrating but mostly lots of fun and a real challenge.

6. You also seem to be a master at identifying paint discolouration, issues with plastic degradation etc on vintage figures. Where did you pick up this skill?

W: Uhmm…wow…okay….I think master is a bit too much. I do my best!

In general it is a mixture of common sense and decades of experience. I grew up in a family of collectors. I’ve been going to flea markets and  toy markets almost every weekend since I was born. I am very familiar with every kind of damage to tin toys, celluloid dolls, wind-ups toys, trains, action figures, comics etc.

I also started collecting “Kinder-Ferrero” figures when I was a kid. There were lots of high priced accessories that were nearly perfectly faked in the 90s. People started to use the UV light for those already in the 90s.

And of course it is again my profession that helps me a lot. You need to know every chemical process on colors, adhesives and other materials before you start restoring a painting. I am very good with colors on paintings therefore, but most of the theoretical and chemical reactions can be transferred on the figures’ paint as well.

8. Do you get much time for other hobbies?

Other hobbies?? I don’t have other hobbies. Well I have my own family now and I like to watch movies and television series. All my spare time I have I spend with my daughter right now….and sometimes sneak out to quickly check what’s going on in the SW-universe 😀

9. You are the one of a handful of people that really are active on the three main forums – RS, TIG and SWFUK. Do you have a favourite? 

W: Aren’t there more people active on all three forums?? If I think this through you might be right. Well there are some “issues” between TIG and SWFUK so most people choose only one of those….just a guess though.

I personally do not have a favorite and when I do have one it can change any time.

TIG is known for its variant guys and experts on loose weapons. Rebelscum just has gathered the largest wisdom on all stuff surrounding the SW vintage collecting. SWFUK is the most “honest” forum out there. You can meet nice people and friends in all three forums so why not be a member on all three….and honestly I am member on quite a few other forums… 😉

VSWC: You’re right. There are many other forums, I should have said ‘English speaking forums.’ From what I know there is a pretty popular German SW forum and also a big Spanish one, not sure about languages. I would have also mentioned Joe’s fantastic forum Trilogo.info but this is more of a niche forum. 

I’ve always been curious why there is so much discussion about variants on TIG. Is there a reason why so many variant collectors are so active on that forum? I mean why not on RS for example? 

W: The discussions on RS were pretty much “useless” when it came to variants. It mostly got out of hand and the majority of the variant hunters didn’t post anything anymore. The newly formed and published TIG was a kind of a collecting pond for frustrated variant hunters I think?

10.  I haven’t seen you around the Facebook groups though? Have you given them a try?

 W: I am not on Facebook…not even private. I quit Facebook eight years ago or so for several reasons. I have no interest at all joining it again. It might be fun but from what I am hearing it is even worse with all the hassle and stuff?!?!?

VSWC: I can’t argue about there being a lot of dramas on Facebook. Something definitely has to be done to improve the experience but I guess these groups are all quite nascent so hopefully they will improve over time. Facebook is a great way to meet other collectors though. Maybe we’ll see you back one day 🙂

11. I have a few questions about your variant collecting now. How long have you been doing it and how did you get so utterly deep into it in the first place?

W: That is a good question. I have been asked this a lot of times and the answer can’t be given exactly.

I am way too young so I actually only had one figure from the stores: Klaatu. The rest of my childhood figures came from my father who bought them at flea markets and gifted me one from time to time, you know…for washing the bicycle or dusting his collection etc.

When I was older I started to recognize variants on those. I had a Trilogo Fett and I was able to buy a vinyl cape Jawa at the flea market myself. So I was always looking for Stormtroopers and variants.

I started to collect online around 2000. I already had a big collection with about 200 figures and several ships from flea markets. First mistake: I bought repro weapons to complete my childhood collection…..just to burn them all five years later….Dooooohhhhh.

From then on I collected on ebay, always looking for variants. I browsed webshots for pictures to learn about variants. In 2008 I joined RS and from then on I really learned a lot and it took me to a much higher level.

So over all you can say:

1986-1999: Trying to build a complete set (only missing Blue Snag and Luke Stromtrooper)

2000-2008:  Buying main variants and foreign variants (GL, TT, LL)

2008-today:  Research research, research. Trying to bring light to several collecting areas: weapons, coos, Lili Ledy, PBP, Poch etc

12. So how many variants do you actually own then? 

W: Hahaha…good I just updated my Excel-file! 😀

But the answer isn’t that simple after all. Coo-research is done for me. I am trying to downsize and I am sorting out many figures, back to the roots if you will. I am trying to build a variant collection again with the bonus of what I have learned by doing the coo research. What is left is making those final Coo-sheets. Some are done…some not. So being in the middle of a change I have exactly 1003 figures plus 55 bootlegs and of course fodder box and spares. Most of them are complete. I am guessing that 250-300 figures will need to go….though. The more interesting question is what is really left??

VSWC: Wow that is amazing! You have a couple more variants than me…So can you make a guestimate about how many are left for you to find?

W:  There will be always figures I urgently need to upgrade, but really missing is only one figure at the moment. 😀 Well maybe five or six more minor ones but mainly one. What is missing mostly here is some of the rare accessories I really would like to add, i.e. my second pair of LL CCP (Cloud Car Pilot) accessories and a lot of PBP weapons. And of course I am still missing a few grail pieces bootleg wise….if I only could find that Polish Leia.

VSWC: Some of Wolff’s breathtaking collection!

shelf_display_09shelf_display_08shelf_display_16   shelf_display_15shelf_display_14shelf_display_13   shelf_display_12 shelf_display_11 shelf_display_10

13. To your mind what is the hardest to find variant?

 W: Depends what you call a variant 😉

Coo-wise and variant wise it should be the scarred out PBP Luke Farmboy. There are lots of figures out there that are extremely rare but to be honest 99 percent are just mass produced. Some are rare but can always be found, most are just common. But as said: some you have one chance in your lifetime to get them….better be there 😉

VSWC: How many scarred out PBP Luke Farmboys are confirmed to actually be out there?  

W: Difficult question because rumours and people claiming to have one are out there from time to time! Uncracked with original PBP saber – there is only one IMO and it is mine. But there must be more in collections still in the dark. I have seen pictures of three loose ones in collections. There are many more MOC figures especially because this variant is a) very unknown and b) seemed to have appeared on several cardbacks (PBP, German and Palitoy) but thanks to TT (Toy Toni) we will never know for sure….

To make it short: I have seen three confirmed loose ones and I have seen about 10 MOCs (only two are PBP MOCs)….the figures are confirmed whereas the seals (some are “ironed”) are not….sadly

14. I know that variant prices have dropped in the last couple of years. In your opinion will this trend continue?

W: This is not completely true in my opinion. It always depends on what you are looking for.

PBP, POCH and Lili Ledy went down. Some more, some less. Common variants also went down, maybe because they are really common?? Glasslite and TopToys took a huge step upwards in the last few years. Similarly for bootlegs – Mexican and Polish went down, Uzay and Polish originals went up. It is and will always be the “taste of the month”. I can see why many people are a bit fed up with the things that went down. Many, many important people turned their back on variant collecting. Very new ones are filling these gaps. In my opinion there is a lot of information that was lost between these two generations. There are a few guides and webshots albums that are not known these days, this information is lost forever if you will. Newer collectors are confused because of that lack of information. I can see that especially with Spanish figures: the overall view and the developments made since 2008 can’t be seen…which is kind of sad.

But on the other hand I cannot see why some of the PBP figures that are clearly different have dropped that much. Seems like most collectors do not appreciate those figures that much anymore. Kind of sad, because I would have killed (nearly.. 😉 ) for some of those a few years back.

15. Thanks for that market analysis Wolff! Very informative. So now to your COO guide. When did you first start working on it?

 W: Must have been in the early part of 2008. I noticed that combining my finds with Rog’s guide was already huge and wondered what more would be out there.

16. Is the COO Guide 3.0 finished yet? 

 W: It isn’t finished yet…sadly. For me personally it is very boring to do those COO sheets. I have examined COOs for nearly a decade and I know them all. The first guide was a journey, and with the help of fellow collectors there were lots of new things that were discovered. The COO guide 3.0 is simply writing down what’s in my collection and head. But never say never…..especially Patrick (pattejan) and Alex (General Kahn) could find a few minor variants I didn’t know about. So especially ANH was great fun to finish.

VSWC: Do you think you’ll continue producing these guides? I hope so, as I’ve pretty much learnt most of what I know about COO variants from your site.

W: I am not sure if I will make further guides. With the COO guide 2.0 I just wanted too much. It should include 1) COO variants 2) side by side comparison 3) mold comparison 4) color comparisons etc. I simply gave up, especially because the templates were horrible to change if something new popped up. I can see now a few guides that are in the making I always wanted to do, and I think they are in good hands.

I always made guides for my own fun, not to manifest an investment. With my family growing and me being finished with my collection (nearly) I think I won’t start new guides in future. the younger ones are faster anyway 😀 😉

17. Do you feel that your work on the guide is appreciated in the collecting world?

W: Depends. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I get lots of positive feedback, mostly in private via PM. On RS I always missed the support from the “inner circle”. On TIG I was never asked to be in the Dev Team ….etc. I know I have my outs here and there and I won’t complain…..but I would have wished for more support from time to time. I cannot thank enough Shawn_K for the possibility he gave me. Also Joe_O and Chris_B always supported me, even though none of them has the variant bug or collect COOs. A few of the guides wouldn’t have been possible without them!

18. You are arguably one of the variant collecting masters, which I’m sure you’re too modest to admit but who are the other big variant collectors out there? 

W: Hahahaha…oh well. First of all: I am not the only variant collector out there. There are lots of great collections out there and by far better ones as well. I personally love focus collectors, they do know their stuff much better. So General_Kahn (Luke Bespin), psybertech (Leia Bespin), cocofstar (Yoda), M4K3R1 (Vader) and many more have great collections!

Some of the variant guy’s collections are known (mostly), like Kenneth_B, Mike_Skywalker and some stay unknown, but I can assure you “just wow” like Lee_M, Ilseeker (Carlos) or Javiswspain and Sergio.  I am sure there are many people out there with incredible collections…..not sure how many grails DrDengar and Walkie already have hoarded…though.

I personally think HWR (Henrik) is going the best way. He is patient….god is he patient…..he only collects true and significant variants (whatever that means)…is slowly building and never gets tired! I like this way of collecting….he takes his time….whilst all the new guys always seem to be in a rush….and you never know when someone is selling it all again looking for new goals…..Henrik will keep his collection forever I am guessing…..so will I hopefully!!

19. Before we finish I have to congratulate you on your latest hard to find variant. Do you want to tell us a bit about that?

Oooooohhhh…..you must mean my little babygirl…not that Palitoy three-legged R2 I just found….. 😀 😀 😀

Kidding aside, she is the love of my life! It is great to be a dad, and especially a girl I am guessing. I never understood other parents reporting every little step their kids do, but I do understand now….”WOHOOO….she turned around the first time!!! “..”Wohooo….finally the diapers are…..” well… guess you do not wanna hear this, but it is correct: You are happy with every little step your miracle does. It never gets boring!

VSWC: Well thanks Wolff for joining us. Has been great to pick your brain a bit and to learn more about you, your collection and your views on the hobby. 

W: It was a pleasure and an honour Christian. I have to thank you for giving me this opportunity. Thank you and thanks for reading everyone.

Review: SWFUK Podcast

Hi guys,

Well we finally have another SW vintage podcast! I’m a huge fan of the CHIVE Cast but it just wasn’t enough for me. As good as it is I need more SW vintage chat!

swfuk

I was following the initial thread on SWFUK where the idea of this podcast was floated and I have to say that it is impressive how quickly this idea developed into action. What an effort.

The podcast was released last month and features forum regulars Stuart Skinner (Boba Skinner), Grant Criddle (Maulster79), CC4rhu (Richard Hutchinson). Ben Coomber (Mr-Shifter) and Peter Davis (Naughty Jedi). It was immediately obvious these guys were all good mates and the recording seemed like a bunch of friends sitting around talking about vintage, which translated to a comfortable and intimate experience for the listener. There was definitely chemistry between them and what was also attractive is that they all seemed modest, not one of them was pretending to be a super collector or to know more than others. It was quite funny as well and I found myself laughing out loud several times. I was having a crap day at the time so thanks lads for the cheering up!

Check out this photo of a few of the podcast guys hanging out with the SWFUK fellas at a recent convention.

swufk

Straight off the bat the podcast grabbed me. I loved the mix of regional accents on the podcast. Being an Aussie, we all pretty much sound the same so this mix was a lot fun for me. I got a bit lost as to who was who but I guess it will take a few podcasts before we recognise the voices.

What I liked most about the podcast was that it was crammed to the brim with interviews. While I love technical talk about figure variations and all of that I also love the personal side of collecting. All of the interviews were great, such as those with Paul Tree, Paul Bateman and Mark Newbold but I did particularly like the one with Iain Sanderson. I’ve had quite a bit of contact with Iain and he has always seemed to be an honest and down to earth bloke. It was great to see that he also came across that way in the interview and it was cool to learn more about one of the most popular members of SWFUK. I hope the podcast continues with these interviews but obviously it will be a lot of work for them to maintain this intensity every month.

The podcast was long – over three hours, but I loved that. The more the better. I know that some have complained about the length of the CHIVE Cast but for me there is a simple solution – fast forward the segments you are not interested in! It can’t be that hard.

One thing I’m curious about is whether the podcast will appeal to non-Brits. The hosts are all from the SWFUK forum as are several of the guests. Further, a lot of the topics discussed are linked to the forum so I guess I can understand if say Americans for example may not be initially attracted to it. However to be fair, it is the SWFUK podcast after all and the hosts don’t dress it up as anything else. I’m an Australian yet I still found it fascinating and at the end of the day they are still simply talking about what we all love – vintage SW toys. What could go wrong?

I encourage everyone, including non-Brits to whack your earphones on and absorb yourselves in the first podcast. Really it is a great effort from a good bunch of fellas and it is no doubt going to get better and better. I’m already hanging out for my next hit!

Thanks again to the boys for putting this together for us all.