Friday, January 13, 2017

'Chive Cast Blog Log Pod Episode 1 - Unknown and Unseen Ewoks (A Kick in the Kaink)


In the first ever "Blog Log Pod," Skye and Steve interview Chris Georgoulias and Ron Salvatore about the NEVER EVER SEEN BEFORE sculpts for four different Ewoks. We discuss the blog post (linked below) and go deeper.



 

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READ THE ORIGINAL BLOG POST:

Sunday, January 8, 2017

'Chive Cast 79 - Boushh, Bor Gullet and Bros



Leia Boushh is the figure of the month and we talk about her language and representation in toy form. Skye and Steve put forth the vintage winners and loser from Rogue One. The Lehmkuhl brothers Sean and Ryan join us to talk about their experiences collecting as a team and finding prototypes in the wild! All this plus info on the 3rd Archive Party on the 79th 'Chive Cast.



 

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TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1:30 Carrie Fisher as a Mother Figure
10:00 Standard Intro
18:50 Flip the Script
22:30 News & Skye-Kus
33:30: Archive Party 3 Details
42:30 Rogue One Vintage Winners and Losers
1:13:00 Lehmkuhl Interview
2:36:10 Nugget from The Archive (Meccano Catalog)
2:41:30 Unloved (Sigma Leia)
2:45:30 Market Watch (Luke Jedi, Ackbar & Boushh)
2:56:10 Skye Flips out on Yehuda (and announces new Podcast)


























Image Sources and Show Note Links:

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Seeking Star Wars in MARK HAMILL'S POP CULTURE QUEST: An Interview with David Mandel

Steve writes:

Mark Hamill's Pop Culture Quest makes its journey to a galaxy far, far away with its most recent episode entitled "Collectable Legends" with comedy writer, producer, and longtime collector David Mandel (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and currently HBO's Veep) making an appearance to showcase some key Star Wars pieces from his personal collection (along with some dweeb who collects B-Wing Pilot junk). David was kind enough to join me for a brief interview about his his collecting perspective and experience with the show.


Steve Danley: As a collector with a wide range of interests (from comic art spanning many eras to toys and original film props), do you attempt to establish a "focus" within each area? How do you go about choosing pieces to pursue?

David Mandel: There are certain themes that run thoughout my collections. For example, with Star Wars I have props, and toys and original Star Wars comic art. The same is true of the big heroes like Batman, Superman and Spiderman. They are represented in all my areas. These days when it comes to choosing a piece—especially with prices so high—it really has to hit me hard. I think to myself, “If I don’t get it, will I be sad or angry or miss it?” and if the answer is “yes” then I at least start to think about pursuing.

SD: Where did you start as a Star Wars collector, and how did your approach to collecting within that franchise progress?

DM: I was born in 1970 and was 7 years old when the first Star Wars film came out, so I started with the toys. As a kid, I was collecting to “have them all.” I was not thinking about leaving them in packages and preserving, but those memories of searching for the figure I didn’t have stayed strong with me, and as an adult working at Seinfeld with money in my pocket, one of the first things I did was to start buying really nice versions of the figures in their package.


Mandel shows his rocket-firing Boba Fett prototypes to Pop Culture Quest host Mark Hamill.


SD: What led you to your appearance on Pop Culture Quest?

DM: I have known Mark casually for a while now and was lucky enough to meet [executive producer] Howard Kazanjian through our mutual friend (and my co-author on the Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie book) Brandon Alinger. So it sort of came together.

SD: With Hamill being a longtime collector himself, had your paths ever crossed in search of any items in the past? Do you share any particular collecting interests?

DM: I knew Mark was a big collector and I think we share a love of comic books in general. We have never gone toe to toe on anything. Mark is also a big comedy nerd—which I love—and he has an amazing collection of shows and sketches that he taped over the years.

SD: The show's main set looks to be one of the funnest to step onto from the standpoint of a pop culture enthusiast and collector. What was it like to interact with Mark in that environment and bring the Star Wars show and tell to the "den"?

DM: It was a fun set, and they did a great job putting it together, but its all really about Mark. If you don’t know him or have never seen him speak, he is so damn funny and an amazing raconteur. So I knew going in it was going to be fun.

SD: How long did the shooting session(s) take? Was it difficult not to get distracted being surrounded by all of that fantastic stuff and in the company of such an entertaining conversationalist?

DM: I got there a little early, while they were shooting some other stuff. I think Mark and I shot for an hour and change or so. We could have kept going and done it all day.


Mandel and Hamill compare the original cover artwork for Marvel's Star Wars #1 with the finished product.


SD: In terms of the pieces that you showcase in the episode, the Kenner rocket-firing Boba Fett action figure prototypes and Howard Chaykin/Tom Palmer cover art for Star Wars #1 are certainly among the most iconic in the vintage Star Wars canon and would be considered "grails" among many collectors. How would you define a collecting grail, and do both of these pieces fit that description for you personally?

DM: I think "Grail" gets thrown around a little too much these days. I prefer to think of things as personal grails as opposed to Grails in general, because of that. The rocket-firing Boba is a collecting grail, although among high end Star Wars toy collectors it is more common than you might think. The Star Wars #1 cover was a real personal grail to me—I have distinct memories of reading the Star Wars #1 on the beach with my dad when I was a kid. Also, since it is the hand-drawn original, it is the only one of its kind. Nobody else has that.

SD: Building relationships and sharing stories with fellow collectors is one of the most rewarding aspects of collecting. With a host as engaged, knowledgeable, and curious as Mark, were there any memorable or unexpected tangents that came up in conversation speaking collector to collector?

DM: I don't know what made the final cut of the show, but when we are talking Mark mentioned that he had the Luke Skywalker boots from A New Hope. I tried to trade with him!

SD: What was your favorite moment from the entire Pop Culture Quest experience?

DM: My favorite moment was actually off screen. I brought my family with me—my kids are 9 and 7—and they were just stunned to meet Mark, and he was just amazing with them!!



You can watch all released episodes of Pop Culture Quest streaming on Comic-Con HQ. For more on David's collecting background, be sure to check out this piece from the New York Times from October 2016.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Unknown Ewoks: Unearthed Figures from the Animated Series





Ron writes:

While the average Star Wars fan has already seen Rogue One 17 times, he has no clue what a Bondo or a Chituhr is. In fact, he probably hears those words and assumes one refers to automotive putty and the other is an uncouth slang term for "bathroom."

Nevertheless, the unreleased figures developed for the short-lived Ewoks line are among the primo pieces available to collectors of pre-production material. Six new figures were set for release in 1986, when the line was unceremoniously cancelled. They are: Chituhr, Chief Chirpa, Bondo, Paploo, Morag, and Weechee. Putting together a full set of these figures -- in any form -- is a labor worthy of Hercules, or at least Lou Ferrigno.

But the story concerning unreleased Ewoks figures doesn't end there. Four additional characters from the animated series are known to have been considered for release by Kenner. While they were cancelled prior to production, their existence is worth considering when discussing the line and speculating about its history.


The first figure we'll discuss is Teebo.

Although the Teebo released as part of the Return of the Jedi line wore a helmet made from a slain pig, his namesake from the animated series was anything but a tough customer. As is noted on the above model cel, made for reference by the animators at Nelvana, the cartoon Teebo was a poet who wore a cowl that made him look like a hairy Keebler elf.

Ewok poetry is unique in that it consists solely of words rhyming with "nyub."

According to the ever-helpful Wookieepedia, Teebo was featured in most of the Ewoks episodes aired over the show's two seasons, meaning he was one of its principal characters.

Wookieepedia also makes the claim that "Teebo had a rocky courtship with Latara, eventually getting together with her in his later adolescence..."

Is this the only known instance of an Ewok hookup?


The overall look of the existing Teebo prototype closely matches the character seen on the model cel.


Teebo's details are less sharp than those found on the other figures we'll discuss. This may indicate that less work was done on Teebo.


Kenner is also known to have done some work on Latara. I guess they pretty much had to. Had there been no Latara figure in the line, with whom would Teebo get it on?

Like Teebo, Latara was a central figure in the show, appearing in the majority of episodes. Per Wookieepedia, she was self-involved and craved attention -- which makes her sound like the Blanche Devereaux of the Ewok Village.


The existing Latara figure is interesting in that, though it displays a high degree of finish, some of its details differ from the final(ish) character design seen on the model cel. Most obviously, the model-cel image displays a prominent lick of hair and a braid, neither of which is evident on the figure.

It's possible the Kenner Latara was based on an early design of the character, which was later modified by Nelvana.


Lest Latara be the sole Ewok damsel tasked with fending off the advances of amorous Teebo, Kenner also planned a figure representing Kneesaa.

Chief Chirpa's daughter, Kneesaa was a sweetheart, a princess, and an unapologetic member of the Ewok One Percent.


Like Latara, the Kneesaa figure is worked to a pretty high level of refinement. You can imagine a production figure looking very much like this.


The back of Kneesaa reveals that Kenner shortened her cape considerably, probably because a cape that draped over the legs would not have been viable absent a separate rubber or softgoods element.


Finally, there's Kaink.

What's a Kaink?

The Ewok priestess, duh!

Kaink first appeared in the live-action made-for-TV movie, Caravan of Courage. If you don't remember her, it's probably because your brain has erased all memories of Caravan of Courage as a means of preserving your mental well-being.

Kaink also appeared in the animated series, where she helped Wicket restore the Ewok Battle Wagon, so that he could heroically -- uh -- help Kenner sell toys to captive and suggestible children.


When this Kaink figure first surfaced, it inspired some debate as to whether it represented an Ewok, a non-Ewok character from Ewoks, or something wholly unrelated to Star Wars, like a berserker mogwai. 


Kaink looks sort of unusual for an Ewok in part because of the presence on the figure of those horn-like protrusions near the ears. Those protrusions, which are not present on the model cel, are odd. So is the rather unadorned nature of the figure's form. All of the other figures in the Ewoks line feature molded-on apparel and accessories.


Fortunately, this image, from a batch of reference material sent by Lucasfilm to licensees, makes it clear that our Kaink figure represents the character sans exterior cloak.

Interestingly, none of the figures released (or almost released) in association with the Ewoks line features removable pieces of apparel. Had Kaink been produced with a separate cloak, it would have been the sole figure in the line to bear such an accessory. From a manufacturing standpoint, this was a fairly costly proposition -- especially since Kaink was a minor character, appearing in only two episodes of the show!

Of course, it's also possible that, had development on the figure progressed, that cloak would have been integrated into the body of the figure.

You may have noticed that the legs on the Kaink figure are not articulated. As we'll see, this doesn't indicate that the production figure was intended to have immovable legs. Rather, it probably relates to the aforementioned cloak and complications resulting from incorporating it into the figure, either as a separate element or as a sculpted-on detail.


This second image, also provided by LFL to Kenner, demonstrates that, early in the development of the series, Kaink had a longer mustache and horn-like protrusions of hair. Clearly, it was from early images such as these that the folks at Kenner worked while developing their prototype.

I think we can be reasonably certain that the appearance of Kaink was modified prior to production of the animated series. In particular, her hairiness was toned down.

As you may have guessed, all of these pieces are composed of wax of the kind used by toy creators to sculpt action figures. However, they differ in notable ways from finished pieces of three-dimensional toy art.

Although the limbs are affixed to the torsos via steel pins, as they would be on a finished sculpt, the joints lack the nylon disks typically incorporated into a wax sculpt at the very earliest stages. It's hard to tell just by looking at them, but they also lack the brass "buck" that is commonly incorporated into the torso of a wax sculpt.

So what are these? My hunch is that they represent preliminary sculpts -- modified wax reworkings of earlier clay roughs -- dating from the early days of development on the Ewoks line. At that point in time, all of these characters must have been intended for release by Kenner as first-series Ewoks figures.

Further indication that these were developed early in the line can be gleaned from the chronology of the Ewoks cartoon. As already mentioned, Kaink appeared in only two episodes. Both of these episodes aired during the show's first season. As there was no Kaink in Nelvana's Ewoks: Season Two, there would have been no Kaink in Kenner's Ewoks: Series Two.

Had Kenner opted to release these characters, it's likely these pieces would have been utilized to create more refined sculpts, incorporating all of the typical hardware, for use in generating hardcopies and then tooling.


In fact, evidence that further work on these figures was planned exists in the form of a brass buck created for use in the never-executed final sculpt representing Kaink.


The buck, made from machined brass, would have been incorporated into the torso of the Kaink sculpt, and would have allowed the sculptor working on Kaink to properly proportion and articulate the figure.


Each steel pin you see extending from the block would have been inserted into a nylon disk recessed into the joint of each wax limb, allowing for a snug fit and smooth movement. As the buck includes pins corresponding to the figure's legs, it proves beyond doubt that Kaink's legs would have been articulated.

As it happened, Kenner nixed Teebo, Latara, Kneesaa, and Kaink, and instead released a bunch of Duloks. That decision left these pieces as developmental relics. To collectors they represent tantalizing suggestions of what might have been had the line followed a different course.

Thanks to Todd Chamberlain, Chris Georgoulias, and Tracey Hamilton for contributing to this post.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Kenner Kids Vol. V: "You'll Stomp Your Eye Out!"

Ralphie: I want an official Kenner swivel side cannon action battle stomping SCOUT WALKER!
Santa Claus: You'll stomp your eye out, kid.

Steve writes:

I've always thought the kid featured in the photograph above was the vintage Kenner Star Wars equivalent of Ralphie from A Christmas Story, with similar Christmas dreams and aspirations that were fulfilled just the same (hopefully with spectacles intact). Stills such as this have turned up from different types of sources, including newspaper archives and groups of catalog-related items, indicating that they may have been sent to retailers and wholesalers in addition to being included in press releases. In any case, it's a fun image featuring one of the more endearing Kenner Kids that may not be as familiar as others from the earlier Star Wars products.


The Scout Walker was initially released in 1982 as part of the Empire Strikes Back line following an extremely brief appearance in the film during the Battle of Hoth. When did a passing glance onscreen ever eliminate a cool character or vehicle from toy consideration? Well, describing Prune Face as "cool" is slightly more questionable, but I digress. Featuring swivel side cannons with clicking "laser machine gun sounds" (I don't recall ever seeing the term "machine gun" associated with a Star Wars toy) and perhaps most importantly, the ability to "stand unassisted," the Scout Walker (or AT-ST) would go on to pay a prominent role in Return of the Jedi, providing even greater returns on Kenner's initial investment. I mean, the thing even makes the Vehicle Maintenance Energizer seem awesome in this commercial. What's not to like?

Happy Holidays from the SWCA!



Special thanks to Todd Chamberlain for providing additional background information on Kenner press stills.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Gift Guide for the Vintage Star Wars Collector in Your Life


Tommy writes:

Since the holiday season is winding down, I thought it might be fun to help out the people who are shopping for last-minute gifts for the collector in their lives. It's often difficult for non-collectors to know what to buy, since the hobby is very specialized and can be confusing. With that in mind, I asked a number of prominent Star Wars collectors what they would suggest as a gift. Because if you want to know what a collector wants, it only makes sense to ask collectors.

So, here's our 2016 Star Wars Collector Gift Guide, focusing on cool stuff under $50 that the collector in your life probably doesn't have:

Personally, I would suggest books on collecting. There are a number of different guides which can be an excellent part of a collecting library. Books like the hardcover Tomarts guide are an awesome resource, even if the prices are out of date now, and it can be found on Amazon and eBay very inexpensively.


Another option would be the vintage Micro Collection toys from Kenner. They can be found on eBay very inexpensively and a lot of collectors overlook them and probably don't have them yet. They serve as a nice counterpoint to the more popular (and larger) figures the collector in your life might already have though, and most collectors really like them once they have them in hand.


Lastly, I would suggest Plastic Galaxy, an excellent DVD documentary on the history of vintage Kenner Star Wars toys. It is very interesting to see how and why the toys were created the way they were, and it makes a great affordable gift.

A New Proof by Mattias Rendahl covers the history of vintage Star Wars packaging design and can be ordered here.

"Books are great. I'd say vintage iron-ons. Most still work and you can create cool vintage pop culture 'fashion' wear. DYI and SW and retro and fashion. All in one ;)" - Mattias Rendahl, author/collector

The Force in the Flesh by Shane Turgeon is a coffee table book showcasing Star Wars body art. It can be ordered here.

"I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say books. The most important thing has always been a solid collecting book library and they make great gifts. The original Sansweet/Tomart books are vintage in their own right now, From Concept the Screen to Collectible is a must have and all of the other awesome books out now, including mine and Mattias’ haha." - Shane Turgeon, author/collector

"I just bought a hallmark gift card box for the holidays with Vader on the cover and when you open the box to get the card it plays a pretty good version of the Star Wars main theme. A heritage necklace might be a thought or set of British pencil tops." - Yehuda Kleinman, collector/SWCA Guest Blogger

A vintage C-3PO Star Wars trading card by Topps, which is always very popular with collectors because of the strange X-rated addition found in the image.

"For vintage I'd go with the trading cards. Again generally a low price point and tons of lots on eBay.  Additionally, a Takara Tomy metal C-3PO figure, that's the [modern toy I'd suggest]. Very reminiscent of the [vintage] popy ESB boxed figs. These are a bit smaller, die cast and the paint apps are nice. They also have a relatively low price point so grab a few!" - Steve Shepardson, collector/collecting group administrator


ESB Ohrai Green Poster Art Credit Sheet Chirashi

"I like the book idea. Art books are fairly generic and you can find decent used ones on eBay or Amazon for around $10. T-shirts are pretty generic. TeeFury and other sites have some unique art. You know me, Chirashi [small Japanese movie posters] can be a pretty cool gift. For like $25 or so you can get 1 or more from all 9 movies [7 episodes, Rogue One and the Clone Wars cartoon]. Nice memento from the series."
- John Alvarez, collector/SWCA Editor


Rancho Obi-Wan Membership Kit

"My answer is going to be the physical copy of Plastic Galaxy. Even if they've downloaded and viewed the online version, the physical DVD is worth having just for the DVD extras alone! Maybe a gift membership to Rancho Obi-Wan (a museum located in California which showcases the largest collection of Star Wars memorabilia in the world)." - Mike Ritter, collector/R2-D2 enthusiast

Unlicensed Star Wars ceramics, which can occasionally be found on eBay

"You can never go wrong with a fun bootleg ceramic piece. One they're vintage, and secondly no two are alike." 

Vintage licensed Star Wars ceramics released by the Sigma company are a more expensive option.

"Then again there's always Sigma vintage." 

Star Wars Tiki mug

"And for the modern twist try a geeky tiki mug (you'll have to add your own umbrella.) " 

Star Wars candy dishes released by Hallmark

"Also Hallmark has some awesome holiday candy dishes out this year. Or you could dress up an old Gallery candy jar with a seasonal bouquet. Another one I just saw that I can't wait to dive into is this Star Wars paint by number set. Just came out!!" - Amy Sjoberg, collector/SWCA Blogger

Vintage Star Wars poster used to promote vaccinations, which can be purchased very inexpensively on eBay

"My first inclination would be to just say 'anything funky from The Toy Chamber.' But as far as a specific item that's awesome and affordable, there's the R2/3PO Immunization Poster."
- Steve Danley, collector/SWCA Editor

(In the interest of full disclosure, The Toy Chamber is owned by Todd Chamberlain, an Editor of the SWCA. He is well known in the hobby for having some of the coolest obscure Star Wars items around for sale though, which is why he was singled out here. - Tommy)

Preservation and display is a large part of any collection and something every collector should know about.

"Materials for display/preservation based on the items in the collection (comic bags, star cases, acrylic cases, etc) and reference books like Saving Stuff: How to Care for and Preserve Your Collectibles, Heirlooms, and Other Prized Possessions." - Duncan Jenkins, collector/SWCA Editor

(Preservation and display supplies can be found at a number of different stores, including Bags Unlimited and The Container Store - Tommy)


Star Wars The Black Series Imperial Stormtrooper Electronic Voice Changer Helmet

"One thing that comes to mind, is any of the "Making of" books by J. W. Rinzler. They are on Amazon for $53-$57. If you are at all interested in the history of the Star Wars films (and let's be honest, what vintage fan isn't?) these are must haves for you library. (The book can be purchased on Amazon here: The Making of Star Wars

Another idea, while maybe a touch on the expensive side, is the Star Wars The Black Series Imperial Stormtrooper Electronic Voice Changer Helmet. I know, it's a) modern and b) a "toy." But in person this thing is fantastic! Very well made and an almost dead ringer for an actual vacu-formed 501st Stormtrooper helmet. It would look fantastic in a display or along side prop replicas. 

Last but not least, one of my all time favorite Christmas gifts Aimee grabs for me are Oscar Acrylic Cases. At $16.50/case they are a fantastic bargain. The best part is it's supporting a fellow collector and his business."
- Chris Botkins, collector


Concept to Screen to Collectible, by Steve Sansweet, covers the history of Star Wars and the merchandise it spawned.

"I would recommend From Concept to Screen to Collectible, and old issues of action figure magazines, in particular the issues of Tomart that include all those hardopies (Tomart's Action Figure Digest #60 and #64). Available for cheap on eBay, I'm sure. Though it's probably too late now to get them in time for Christmas."
- Ron Salvatore, collector/SWCA Editor




And so there you have it, plenty of good options to fulfill your last-minute shopping lists. 

Happy holidays!

Friday, December 16, 2016

MarketWatch: Admiral Ackbar

Michael L. writes:

Our second figure in the ROTJ line is our favourite Mon Calamari war hero, Admiral Akbar -- interesting figure as he was available as a mail-away towards the end of the ESB line. So not only do we have MOCs and loose figures, but individual mailers of the figure out in the market. And as Skye speculates on 'Chive Cast 78: Ackbar Beez in the Trap, you do wonder if he was to be intended to be a more significant player in the Star Wars universe.

As I've mentioned we are using Facebook to get data but it hasn't been until Admiral Ackbar where I've been able to find a decent amount of examples. The fact SOLD prices are in the main retained on the Facebook posts is a great resource for collectors.

You will recall from the Luke Jedi post that I used a mailer as a transition between the figures.With so many mailers out there, and their large popularity I'll no doubt get a few crossover packs to highlight as I move through the Jedi line. Onto the data...

CATALOG MAILER

SKU #71430 (Luke Jedi / Ackbar / Lando Skiff Guard / Chief Chirpa / Rebel Commando / Logray / Boushh / General Madine) - $785 Sold on Facebook (or perhaps SWFUK)

RETURN OF THE JEDI

65A AFA80 (C80/B85/F85) $225

65B Ungraded (Clear Bubble) $155.50

65B Ungraded $52 (via Facebook)

65B Ungraded $80 (via Facebook)

65C Ungraded $60 (via Facebook)


77A Ungraded $90 (via Facebook)

LOOSE FIGURES

AFA80 Beige Torso - $65 (via Facebook)

BAGGIE

ESB-H - $53 (via Facebook)

PRE-PRODUCTION

First Shot Torso - $350 (via Facebook)

MAIL-AWAY PROMOTION

U85 Palitoy - $200 (via Facebook)

AFA75 - $245 (via Facebook)

SUMMARY

Great round up of Ackbar items on Facebook. Big shout out to Ross Barr who has been great in running these pages (with plenty of others aiding) but importantly championing that prices remain in the respective posts. This is a great resource, and it was really good to compile data from Facebook, almost exclusively.

I had actually found quite a few Luke Jedi items on Facebook, but they hadn't appeared to have SOLD, and had actually showed up on eBay as sales. Ackbar was quite different -- plenty of auctions, and even the pre-production piece all selling on Facebook. I would recommend joining the auction groups, and keep an eye peeled for good deals on the other pages.

All in all, some good deals for Ackbar were had, with most MOCs well under $100. The one graded example of the debut card was not a surprise at over $200 (though I do wonder if back in summertime if we would have seen more for that item).

Next month we will get back in sync with the podcast with Leia Boushh... in the meantime, Wampa Wampa.