Part One Part Two
While Rebelscum spent its weekend working through Steve Sansweet's collection of Star Wars toys, props, art, games, cards, ad infinitum we were able to take some time out to select our favourite pieces from the hundreds upon thousands of collectibles we could choose from. Here we present Rebelscum's personal picks from The Collection:
The Empire Strikes Back (Intellivision/1982)
Chris H: "I've been a console gamer since the systems came in wood-grain, and the Atari 2600 masterpiece men call "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" is a seminal title in the video game pantheon. It was the first Star Wars title for a console system (with the inferior Jedi Arena and Death Star Battle to follow) and would help ignite the fires of movie-themed video games (fires which burn just a little too brightly these days)."
"In Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back players took command of an (overly) agile seven-pixel snowspeeder as it took on endless waves of thundering AT-ATs. Those snow walkers would absorb a brutal pounding - close to 50 shots to bring one down, as I recall. If you and Dack could avoid taking damage to your little speeder for two full minutes you were rewarded with a pulse-pounding midi of the Star Wars theme music, which, while the highlight of the game, was typically where I'd crack under the pressure and auger into the unforgiving snow dunes..."
"The Sansweet Collection had, of course, perfect, sealed examples of both boxed versions (silver and gold) of SW:ESB. In fact, the whole video game library was a marvel to behold - every conceivable Star Wars title in an array of packaging variations, often in different languages, along with separate instances of games that came out on both the PC and the Mac."
"Given the selection, it was a difficult decision, but after carefully scrutinizing the whole glorious video game library, the Atari classic Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is what I finally decided to
Aluminum R2-D2 (Antonio Diaz Altamirano/c. 2001)
Dustin Roberts: "I first saw this piece on a previous visit to Rancho Obi-Wan and fell in love with it on the spot, and it is one of my favorite R2-D2 items known to exist. Created entirely out of aluminum, this droid is very lightweight and very delicate. The level of detail put into this delicate item is just mind boggling. From the smallest weathering details to the open panels with tools ready to go, this R2-D2 has a ton of terrific detail and is an instant conversation piece for any and all Star Wars collectors."
"Antonio has done so many other aluminum models which include an AT-AT, AT-ST, X-Wing, Y-Wing, Slave-1, Escape Pod, Snowspeeder and Republic Gunship! With so many other cool items hand made by Antonio I always come back to this R2-D2. Many feel it has something to do with my collecting focus which is R2-D2, and I'd say they're right on target! You can check out more detailed photos of this and many other R2 units at my R2-D2 focused collecting website, R2D2Central.com! "
Dave Myatt: "Hanging out at Steve’s is always a blast, but not because of all the Hasbro toys and Dark Horse comic books that everyone has in their collections. Walking through the museum is always an exhilarating exploration where bizarre discoveries are not just expected, but promised."
"If it’s your first time there Steve does it up right. The Lights! The Music! It’s like Star Tours, only without the nausea. The single thing that becomes apparent after the initial shock of it all is Steve’s passion for the collection - the entire museum is a hundred lifetime’s worth of adventures."
"Sometimes I scratch my head when I discover something in my collection that I forgot I had, but you don’t get that with Steve. He remembers every detail, and in the case of fan and artist originals, Steve can tell you who made it, when he got it, and the entire story of what it is. In some cases, he can even tell you the life story of the piece's creator! And that’s what I think about when I look at the cool one-of-a-kind items like these Yoda sculptures - they are all unique and beautiful and Steve can tell you everything about them."
Lucasfilm Star Wars License Announcement (LEGO/1999)
Jeremy Beckett: "It is no small surprise that my Rancho-Obi Wan pick is an item from Steve's LEGO corner. The few times I have visited The Collection I have always made a bee-line to this part of the museum to stand next to his Bricka Fett, while checking to see what additions he has made since my last visit. And despite being surrounded by an almighty array of toys, games, posters, clothing and - most strangely - Star Wars branded PineSol, this small piece always grabs my attention."
"In 1998 LEGO announced their global license to make Star Wars construction sets, and followed up with a promotional set for the 1999 International Toy Fair in New York. It was mailed out to those members of the toy industry and press who LEGO wished to invite to the unveiling of their new line-up of Star Wars System sets."
"Those lucky enough to receive one of these found that inside the white mailer box it arrived in were Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader - the first two Star Wars mini-figs ever - battling it out in a miniaturised version of Emperor Palpatine's Throne Room on the second Death Star. To add to the magic LEGO had included a microchip that played the first few bars of the main Star Wars theme."
"I have only ever personally seen two of these, one was at Steve's and the other being sold at Celebration II (which I sadly passed on), and know of one other. It seems to be a mystery just how many of these were sent out by LEGO and how many have surived the past six years. One day I would like to be counted amongst those who have claim to one."
Animated Cantina Band (FAO Schwarz/c. 1999)
Maureen Kuppe: "Upon entering the museum, one is hit by the Star Wars experience head on…from the opening refrains of John William’s masterpiece to the glittering lights of the illuminated displays, you know you are stepping into a galaxy far, far away. And then as you descend the stairs it begins; that familiar Cantina music stops you in your tracks as you turn left to see the one and only Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes lift their instruments and sway to the jizz music."
"My favorite pieces are some of the newest additions to the collection. The four life-size, pneumatic controlled animatronic jizz wailers didn’t fly in from Mos Eisley. No, Figrin D’an on kloo horn, Tedn Dahai and Ickabel G’ont on fanfars and Nalan Cheel on the bandfill had a long-standing gig at the FAO Schwarz toy store in Las Vegas, Nevada. Previously these Bith musicians were forced to play in close quarters; so close in fact that when they swung to the music, they actually rubbed elbows. This caused some wear and tear on the band’s costumes, creating holes in the arms of their shirts. However, the band is being repaired and restored to their original condition and now have a proper stage with plenty of elbow room in their new home, entertaining the lucky guests of Rancho Obi-Wan."
Thall Joben Food Premium (Dunkin/c. 1987)
Shane Turgeon: "I'm one of the few Star Wars fans out there who actually enjoys watching and collecting things related to the Droids animated series. So much so that one of my collecting foci is based on my favorite character from the series - Thall Joben. One of the nice things about this focus is that there really aren't a whole lot of items out there to collect, especially when compared to a character like, say, Darth Vader. As a result, I've been able to put together a comprehensive run of prototype and preproduction items but there are still a handful of items from around the world that continue to elude and even confuse me. It was one of these items that caught my eye at Rancho Obi-Wan."
"Many Droids and Ewoks enthusiasts have debated the origins of this tiny green Thall Joben figure and the set that he comes from for several years now. There have been two leading theories going around, one believing that these were released as a snack food premium in Columbia by the now-defunct company Yupi. The problem with this school of thought was that there is an entirely different line of Droids, Ewoks, and Star Wars mini-figures out there that others believe to be from Yupi."
"Other collectors believe that these guys were released as a snack food premium in Spain; a country notorious for releasing a myriad of interesting and exclusive Droids and Ewoks collectibles. Over the past few months several dedicated collectors have been digging hard trying to find the answer to this question and finally, we can say we know that these are indeed from Spain. More specifically, they were made by Dunkin in four different colours and came packed inside Panrico snack cakes."
"I'm happy that this mystery can be put to bed but unfortunately, I'm now left with the daunting task of finding both this and the Yupi figures for my collection! If any of our Spanish or Columbian readers out there can help me out, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org."
Custom Star Wars Figures (Gary Weaver II/1995-1999)
Dan Curto: "I got my start online through my hobby of customizing Star Wars toys. I originally started my own site (The Custom Alliance) as a showcase for my own creations. However, I quickly became a large part of the customizing community through various sites like Rebelscum and FFURG.com."
"Although I had customized a bit when I was younger, One of my early inspirations to return to the hobby was the work of Gary Weaver II. While the POTF2 molds may seem outdated compared to today's toys, Gary spiced up his customs with intricate details and his own packaging designs, which really made them stand out in my mind."
"Exploring the many aisles in Steve's museum, you find the back walls are actually shelves with rows upon rows of comic book boxes. Inside the majority of these boxes are action figures from the vintage days all the way up to the modern lines, all organized and labelled. However, one of these labels struck me as odd: it was titled 'Heir to the Empire figures.' My curiosity got the best of me, so I peeked inside and found Gary's customs!"
"The Boba Fett: Twin Engines of Destruction set shown above is a complete set of 5 figures and a custom pursuit swoop created by Gary Weaver II that was inspired by the Dark Horse comic of the same name (although the story originally was serialized in Star Wars Galaxy...more info here.)"
"Seeing the actual custom figures that had inspired me to get into the hobby myself was certainly a highlight of the trip to the Ranch. It's been a long road with many twists and turns (and many websites!) along the way, but it all began when I got inspired by Gary's work to make my own toys."
Dog Food Promotion (Harpers/1983)
Anne Neumann: "Food premiums have existed for Star Wars since the beginning, typically taking the form of a sticker or card because that is what's easiest to put in the package. Since 1977 there have been inserts with the more popular chips and cereal, but also the occasional bread, cheese, or ice cream. Wonder Bread in the U.S. was one of the first with 16 collectible cards. Sometimes there's even the odd sausage, seasoning, or poultry product. French company Le Gaulois had 28 different magnets included in their various chicken dishes this year."
"And then there's Dog Chow. Harpers in Australia is the only company to have included a Star Wars premium in a non-human consumable food product. There are 12 stickers from the Return of the Jedi promotion in 1983 and they can be considered the rarest food premium of them all. Steve has 11 of the 12 and a bag. His guess as to why they're so rare is pretty logical. Bags of dog food tend to last a while whereas promotions do not. Probably not many Aussie dog owners made an effort to buy as many bags as it would have taken to collect the series in that short amount of time. And really, if you didn't own a dog would 12 cards be worth 25+ pounds of chow?"
Autographed Star Wars 1st Edition (Ballantine/1976)
Jay Shepard: "When I first saw this, I shouted out,'"Hey, this is the original hardcover!' Which seemed like a great find. Then, I opened it to check out the publication dates and some other information for Rebelscum's archives and my jaw just dropped. It's signed! And it's not just signed, but signed by Lucas as well. It seems Steve was visiting the premiere of Captain EO at Disneyland. George Lucas was at the event and Steve waited around while Lucas chatted with others and then casually inserted the book under Lucas' nose and asked for the autograph."
"This piece is not only an amazing collector's piece, but a part of history, as it represents the major players (Dave Prowse, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, George Lucas, Gary Kurtz, Mark Hamill, & Carrie Fisher) in the creation of the original Star Wars signing one of the rarer printed works of film related fiction. I was tempted to add my own name in, but I opted to take the photo instead."