The perfect display; it's something every collector longs for and dreams about. For some, whether it's due to a lack of space, funds, or family support, a dream it often remains as cherished collectibles stay forever tucked away in boxes. However, most collectors fare better, putting out what they can, where they can with many managing to set up entire display rooms with every Star Wars item they've acquired over their collecting career. And every so often, one of these collectors manages to put together a display area so impeccable it defines perfection. We here at Rebelscum are pleased to give you a tour of just such a collection; a collection is defined as much by what lies within it as by its clean and simple, yet breathtaking, presentation.
Residing deep within the heart of the American mid-west is Bo Sanders, an avid Star Wars collector and the man behind www.bothanstation.com. Bo recently completed work on his dream Star Wars basement and sat down with us to provide some insight behind his magnificent display.
Bo, how long have you been collecting SW memorabilia?
Since 1977 – starting with newspaper clippings for a homemade scrapbook.
What types of SW memorabilia do you collect?
Mostly domestic posters, pre-release materials, cast and crew items, and replica props.
Of these, which types of Star Wars collectibles interest you
All of the behind-the-scenes stuff – from cast and crew items and documents to pre-production materials
Were there any other collections out there that served as
inspiration for your display set up?
There are pics of so many great collections within the Rebel Scum Forums! I believe every type of collector can find daily inspiration there. I can certainly appreciate those completists out there (a la Steve Sansweet) who have piles of Star Wars stuff lining every square foot of their homes or apartments, but I’m particularly fond of those who do more with less.
At what point did you start developing how you’d someday like
your collection displayed?
When my wife and I built our house eight years ago. I always planned on making our basement a super Star Wars man cave; but when I shared the idea with my wife, Heidi, she was less than impressed. It wasn’t until my growing collection was taking over our shared home office that my wife agreed to grant me my wish, on one condition – everything must be displayed in a classy and well-organized way so she wouldn’t feel embarrassed to bring her friends over. It wasn’t long after that we proceeded to design and finish our basement around my growing collection.
What did you ultimately want to accomplish with your display
area and why?
I wanted to create a comfortable living space with a museum-like feel.
What is the square footage of the basement area?
Approximately 1,400 square feet.
Once you knew the space you were working with, how long did it
take going from early designs, finished designs to starting renos?
It didn't take long to design at all. We originally thought to split the living space up into individual rooms, but the roughed-in half bath made that difficult. For some reason the builders placed it directly in the center of the basement next to the water heater and furnace. So we ultimately decided to leave everything open to flow around the walled in bath and utility room. One of the focal points I wanted was a shelved area to display my replica props. There was already a natural lip in the foundation we had to frame around so I decided to make that one side of what would become the shelving unit. After that, my brother-in-law built the three-sided display case out of MDF board and we lifted it into place.
Did you do the renos yourself?
I did a little here and there, but it pays to have relatives with strong carpentry skills on both sides of the family.
How long did the renos take, from start to final set-up?
It took about three months to finish the basement, however I don't know if I'll ever be completely finished with the displays. I'm always adding and subtracting a bit here and there, always trying to stick with my original promise to my wife of keeping it clean and clutter-free.
Was there a lot of thought put into choosing the paint and
carpet colours or did you just wing it? If so, what were your
reasons for choosing the colours you did?
I knew that much of the wall space would be covered with my collection of posters. I decided right away that a cool blue color would complement the many shades of blue found in many of the Original Trilogy theater posters. The light tan carpeting was a safe choice, but I also like to think it mimics the sandy surface of Tattooine.
Did you run into any limitations that kept you from doing
something you had really hoped to?
What sort of preservation techniques did you employ for your
framing and lighting?
I use acid-free archrival backs UV filtered plexiglass for all of my theater posters. The less valuable items are housed in inexpensive, but uniform, black frames from craft or thrift stores.
In addition to all of your theatrical posters, I see you also
have a number of ad slicks as well…what got you interested in
Newspaper ads were what introduced Star Wars to the masses. Those black and white advertisements originated from ad slicks distributed by 20th Century Fox like those in my collection. Many sets include several pages of various sized ads depending on what was budgeted for a given newspaper. Not only are they relatively inexpensive to collect, but I consider them as beautiful and unique pieces of art in their own right.
One can’t help but notice the absence of Star Wars action
figures, both vintage and modern, in your display areas…do you
collect the toy lines?
I have saved all of my original Star Wars action figures and toys from childhood and continue to collect the modern lines. They are safely stored away for any future children we might be blessed to have. However, I do have plans to eventually finish my basement storage areas to properly display them as well. Just don’t tell my wife.
Why did you decide not to display your action figure
collection in your basement?
Again, it was the promise to my wife. As long as I keep my "toys" hidden away, I am allowed to have the basement of my dreams.
What are the technical details of your home theatre system?
Mitsubishi 52" DLP with a Denon 6.1 channel receiver and Infinity speakers.
Do you often get to entertain other Star Wars collectors and
if so, what are their reactions?
I’m a member of the 501st 70th Explorers Squadron of Kansas and Missouri and have had a few other members over a time or two. I also work with a good friend who collects mainly the action figure and toy lines. They always seem impressed with my collection. I get the most enjoyment though from our friends and neighbors who regularly bring their children over to visit. Whether it is getting to play with one of my Master Replicas FX lightsabers or posing for pictures next to the Tusken Raider or Stormtrooper costume displays, the reaction children have to my collection can’t be topped.
What are your favourite 5 items from your collection?
In no particular order:
The mylar advance Star Wars theatrical poster.
Original storyboard featuring Chewbacca with ears aboard the "pirate ship."
Set of ILM Halloween Party invitations – I'm desperately searching for the 2004 invite featuring Vader, C3-PO and R2 carved pumpkins – please help a brother out! :)
The Chewie mug from Rumph! California Originals – the licensed collectible that started it all!
Darth Vader ROTS Studio Scale Helmet from Master Replicas.
Great stuff Bo! Thanks so much for taking the time to share the story behind your collection and display with the Rebelscum community!