Thursday, February 22, 2018

'Chive Cast 88 - Commando Love

Love reigns supreme over the 'Chive Cast when Skye and Steve host a round table of Rebel Commando connoisseurs comprised of Chris "What's in the" Botkins, Stephen "Sward" Ward, and Chris "Special" Leddy. We cover it all, from mock-ups, to blueprints, to Presto Magix, to mini-rigs. For the first time in years we really go deep to understand what makes a focus collector concentrate on one character and why. "Ron Ron" Salvatore joins us as well to talk about the devastating Commando Acetate Sculpt and defines what a "Plaster Cast" is. All this plus many extended heart-warming meditations on the meaning of our hobby in this month's Vintage Pod.

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02:01 – Show Intro
07:13 – Skye’s Movie Thought
10:30 – Flip the Script – Captain Jode
18:35 – Skye-Ku
25:00 – Skye’s New (Dumb?) Focus Collector Classification System
30:56 – Love Segment
31:27 – Bob Martinazzi Love
35:36 – Tessa Love
38:35 – Empire State Collector Club Love
43:13 – Skye and CAS Love
56:00 – MOC(k) is Love
57:13 – ICCC Love
58:01 – Star Wars at the Movies Podcast Love
1:01:27 – Vintage Rebellion Love
1:04:03 – Nugget From the Archive (Acetate Sculpt with Ron Salvatore)
1:25:29 – Vintage Vocab (Plaster Micro Mold)
1:39:52 – Rebel Commando Round Table Introductions
1:44:09 – The C-Team Intro Song (Why do you collect Rebel Commando?)
2:01:18 – Stephen Ward’s ToyShop talk
2:17:34 – Molded Face a Thing?
2:20:19 – Rebel Commando’s Odditys
2:25:05 – Endor Forrest Ranger Talk…really?
2:30:28 – One Dollar Vilx MarketWatch (Rebel Commando Competition)
2:46:19 – (Three-Way) "So be it" Lightning Round
3:02:32 – Unloved (Presto-Magix)
3:05:55 – Outro

Image Sources and Show Note Links:

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Star Wars Community Digest Issue #2

Tommy and Yehuda write:

 As always, the Star Wars Community Digest is your place to get summaries about what's going on in the Star Wars collecting community across all of the Facebook groups and forums (well... those which want to be a part of this series of articles, anyway). Please be aware that many of these are closed Facebook groups, which means you will need to join them in order to read the conversations.

If you would like your community to be a part of this feature, please let us know. We are always happy to include additional groups/forums in our summaries, but be aware that not every group can be featured every week.

In any case, lets get right down to it and get everyone caught up to date on what they may have missed last week...

Collector Bob Martinazzi Passes Away

Bob Martinazzi

Luke Jedi focus collector and friend of the Star Wars Collectors Archive, Bob Martinazzi, passed away early last week. As such, a lot of threads and conversation were dedicated to memories of Bob and the impact he had on the hobby.

His friends and family have the deepest condolences of the entire Star Wars Collectors Archive editorial staff. This hobby and this world are a darker place without him. He will be missed.

Bob was interviewed in Episode 76 of the SWCA's Podcast, The Chive Cast Vintage Pod.

Threads about Bob:
Thread in the Return of the Jedi Group announcing his passing
Rebelscum thread discussing his passing

The Display Group Gives Away a Bunch of Awesome Store Displays

The Star Wars Displays and Advertising Group gave away a bunch of awesome displays.

It's not every day that a group gives away a couple thousand dollars worth of collectibles, but that's just what the Star Wars Displays and Advertising Group did last week. The rules of the contest were simple: reply to the thread with a picture of a display or advertising item in your collection and you'd be entered. Then 7 random winners were chosen, and they won some surprisingly awesome stuff! Will Grief did not skimp on the prizes, that's for sure. 

The full thread can be found here: Store Display Giveaway Thread

If you are unfamiliar with the prizes, further reading on some of them can be found here on the Star Wars Collectors Archive:
12 Action Figure Display Bin Header
ESB Shelftalkers

A Set of 3-Packs is Showcased in the IC

Well, there's something you don't see every day.

David DeMarchis casually posted this image to The Imperial Commissary Group last week, showcasing his complete collection of 3-packs, as well as a variety of other vintage multi-pack rarities. There's really not much else I can say about this image, so I'll let it speak for itself.

The full thread can be found here: Beautiful Toys

Additional reading on the Archive:
Three Packs

Return of the Jedi Tri-Logo 4-Pack
German POTF 3-Pack
Canadian Sears Exclusive 7-Pack of Figures
Empire Strikes Back 6-Pack (red)
Empire Strikes Back 6-Pack (yellow)

Buried Treasure from the Palitoy Factory in Leicestershire

Companies are often left with an odd dilemma when they produce more product than the market demands. The company has to decide if it is more cost efficient to liquidate the remaining merchandise or to toss it. 

Toy companies have often sent their unwanted overstock to landfills for dumping. This has caused the occasional fearless collector to embark on a stomach turning archeological dig.

It may seem to be an impossible task to dig up any vintage toys from a landfill and have them be recognizable and in condition to be collectible.

But it has happened before. In April of 2014, video game collectors went on a pilgrimage in New Mexico to a landfill. It had long been rumored that the Atari company dumped nearly one million copies of a rare video game cartridge featuring E.T.

The collectors were able to locate and unearth collectible quality examples with a unique allure (and smell). A recent thread in the Jabba's Court Vintage Star Wars Collectors Group discusses the issue. It has been reported from multiple sources that the Palitoy company, who was the manufacturer of the vintage Star Wars action figures in the United Kingdom, dumped their overstock regularly in a landfill in Leicestershire. 

Anyone want to grab a shovel?

The full thread can be found here: Palitoy Buried Treasure

Further reading:

First Images of a Bootleg Store Display for ‘70s Puffy Psychedelic Magnets

So bootleg.

A previously undescribed and unlicensed counter top store display was recently discovered in a find highlighted in the Star Wars Displays and Advertising and Star Wars Bootlegs and Knockoff Collectors groups. The display features puffy vinyl Star Wars themed magnets with groovy stylings. The set includes multicolored versions of the X-Wing Fighter, R2-D2 and in the bootleg tradition, unrelated characters including Ming the Merciless.

The full threads can be found here:

Additional reading on the Archive:

Questions Continue about the Bucket Coin Find

The continuing saga of the Bucket Find.

As you might recall from our last issue, there was a find of Power of the Force coins, among which were a lot of rarities. The coins weren't in the best condition though, showing a variety of damage and some were even spray-painted silver. The thinking the week before last was that the find was good and the coins were legitimate. Last week, however, there were growing concerns about the find and whether or not the coins are all authentic. The Star Wars: POTF (Last 17) Vintage Collecting Group discussed a recent auction for a Darth Vader coin from the find, which was won by a member there and then closely examined. He shares his findings with the group, which seem to call the entire find into question.

The full thread can be found here: The Bucket Find Part 2

Additional reading on the Archive:
SWCA Coin Gallery

Engineering Pilot 3-Pack in GDE

3-Pack Engineering Pilot

Collector Christopher Caswell posted pictures in the La Guerre des Etoiles Group of an amazing item in his collection: an engineering pilot of the ESB Rebel Set 3-pack. Owning a 3-pack is a tough enough task and they're grails for most collectors, but to own a pre-production sample of one? That's even more impressive!

The full thread can be found here:
3-Pack EP

Additional reading on the Archive:
A nice description of what an engineering pilot is and what it was used for.

A Collector Rediscovers the Diverse Vintage Keshigomu Figures from Japan

As the Star Wars mythology permeated the international social fabric in the late 1970s, the characters from the film were rapidly turned into collectibles by many toy manufacturers. Japan, which is known for its unique and imaginative toy lines, had just been introduced to a very successful new type of toy collectible.

Keshi (or Keshigomu) translates to rubber or eraser. They are small unarticulated rubber figures depicting characters from popular themes.

Hundreds of different Star Wars-themed Keshis exist in multiple colors and several scales. Two of the largest Keshigomu manufacturers in Japan were Takara and Maruka (many American children of the 1980s may remember the M.U.S.C.L.E. type of Keshi figures released by Bandai).

Recently, a collector took a chance on a couple of Keshis and a nice discussion ensued in the Star Wars 12 Backs and Early Vintage Collectors Group.

The full thread can be found here:

Further reading on the figures can be found in this old thread from the Rebelscum forums:

The Diverse World of Star Wars Food Collectibles:
A Discussion of Some of the Coolest Food Premiums in the Galaxy

From Cereal Boxes to bottle caps, collectors in the Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Vintage Collecting Group discussed their favorite Star Wars Food related collectible and posted pictures from their collections!

The full thread can be found here:

Additional reading on the Archive:

One of Four Alamo Drafthouse Cinema X-Wings Saved by a Collector

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is a domestic chain of movie houses that provide food, unique giveaways, and fun experiences to moviegoers.

Four specially designed photo-op X-Wing cockpits were produced for the release of The Force Awakens, complete with helmets and a functioning hatch.

A lucky collector was able to bring one home at the end of the promotion and documented his fun journey in a thread in the Star Wars Displays and Advertising Group.

The full thread can be found here:

Further reading:

Rebelscum Shares Its Most Emotional Moments

The magical moments of collecting Star Wars stuff.

Sometimes as collectors we get so preoccupied with getting the next great piece or tracking down some lost grail, that we forget to cherish all of the cool moments we've had in this hobby. The vintage section of the Rebelscum Forum had a thread last week which invited collectors to share those "magical moments" which make collecting so much fun. 

The full thread can be found here: What is the Most Magical/Emotional Moment You Have Had Collecting?

Our Star Wars Community Digest Time Capsule Thread for this Issue: 
The list of proofs available for after-hours trading at C2...

Take a moment to process this picture.  The article can wait...

There are a few seminal moments in the vintage collecting hobby: The Earth Toy Mall hardcopy find, the 1993 Las Vegas Store Display Auction, the Men Behind the Masks tour (one of the first times collectors from across the country met up in person), etc. Moments in time which are known and talked about by collectors who weren't even there to see them. The Celebration II Proof Sale was one of those occasions.

Basically, a collector decided to sell his proof cards at a room sale during Celebration II in 2002. While that might not seem especially memorable, the collector in question was Steve Denny and his collection of proofs was a significant percentage of the total number of vintage Star Wars proof cards in the world!

That sale is a sale which will be remembered as long as people are collecting Star Wars toys. And thankfully, all of the threads related to it still exist. Denny was also interviewed on our podcast in Episode 83: Thousands of Prototypes: Steve Denny Story Time.

Further reading:
The list of proofs available for after-hours trading at C2...
What kind of prices were the Denny/Flarida proofs fetching?
Pictures from the Denny / Flarida sale
wish i saw the C2 Denny/Flarida sale coming

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Star Wars Community Digest Issue #1

Tommy and Yehuda write:

 With the size of the online Star Wars community growing larger every day, we feel like collectors are missing important conversations. Where once they could stay up-to-date by reading a single forum or newsgroup, now they have to juggle a couple dozen different Facebook groups and several competing forums. With that in mind, we thought it might be nice to provide a way to bridge that fragmentation.

Every couple of weeks, we'd like to provide a sort of directory for collectors, pointing out the important conversations or sales which happened all across the online SW world during that period. These recap posts will serve as condensed guides to what's going on in the community that week so that collectors can quickly see what conversations they need to take part in. In order to do this, we intend to get permission from the various mods and admins of those groups to select threads which struck us as especially interesting and worthy of being pointed out to the rest of the community. We will summarize them here and provide a link to the original thread so that everyone can participate in conversations they missed or read up on topics they'd like to know more about. This isn't to say that these are the only interesting threads in the groups during that period of time or that the groups/forums we're monitoring are the only places to have meaningful discussion, just that they're the threads we felt best fit our project and the groups which let us know that they would like to be a part of the articles. Please be aware that many of these are closed Facebook groups, which means you will need to join them in order to read the conversations.

If you would like your community to be a part of this feature, please let us know.

With that out of the way, let's move on to looking at what happened in the last couple of weeks...

Ride-on Speeder Bike Display Turns Up

Todd G Iganti recently posted pictures of a new addition to his collection in the Star Wars Displays and Advertising Group. While it's not always news when a collector gets a new piece in his/her collection, in this case, it is. Todd got the store display for the Ride-On Speeder Bike Pedal Car and tells the story of how he acquired this grail item and the really interesting story behind the previous owner. As it turns out, the gentleman was 91 and an inventor!  

It's always nice when a collector is able to get the #1 item on their want list, but it's even better when it's this rare and there's a cool story behind it.  
Todd's Speeder Bike Pedal Car Display Thread

The full thread can be found here: Ride-on Speeder Bike Store Display Thread

If you want further reading about the promotional display Todd acquired, you can see a nice collection of art and production materials related to it on the SWCA: Pre-Production Material Related to Speeder Bike Ride-On Toy Promotion

The Bucket Find: An Important Vintage Power of the Force Coin Find Yields Rare but Damaged Touched Up Coins

Bucket Find Coin

A large collection of vintage Power of the Force coins were found in a bucket at a yard sale and were subsequently offered for individual sale on eBay. The find -- now termed the “bucket find” -- yielded multiple examples of some of the rarest coins from the set including examples of the Skiff coin and AT-AT coin.

On arrival, some of the coins had an odd surface finish and this raised concerns about the newly discovered coins' authenticity. After discussion and review on the Power of the Force Coins Group, the coins were found to be authentic, but unfortunately the seller had painted some of the more corroded examples to make them appear in better condition.

The full thread can be read here: Bucket Find Coins

Additional reading on the Archive:

Everything About Biker Scout

This thread in the Star Wars: Return of The Jedi Vintage Collecting Group 1983 - 1985 had a simple purpose: to share information, not pictures. The goal was to tie together the knowledge of the whole group to create one thread which would have all of the information about collecting Biker Scout items that anyone would want to know. 

The responses are genuinely interesting, particularly since it's cross-referenced with the Star Wars: The Dark Times Collecting Group and the Rebelscum forums.

The full thread can be found here:
Everything About Biker Scout

A Generic Appearing Space Board Game form Greece Turns Out to be a Rare Star Wars Bootleg

Greek Bootleg Board Game Thread

The cover of this Greek UFO vintage board game showcased on the Star Wars 12 Backs and Early Vintage Collectors Group (A New Hope 1977-79) Group gives a hint to its origin with the familiar silver double racetrack design used by Kenner toys for their Star Wars line. The remaining cover graphics like on many bootleg toys have been changed to an unidentifiable design likely to avoid legal action.

Beneath the thinly veiled disguise is a bootleg version of Kenner’s “Escape from the Death Star" game, complete with images and characters taken directly from the film.

The full thread can be found here: Bootleg Greek Board Game Thread

Additional reading on the Archive:

A Rare Model Trem Darth Vader Figure Variant Find Leads to a Detailed Discussion on Model Trem Figure Variations

Model Trem Darth Vader

Before the Brazilian toy company Glasslite was able to secure the legal rights for the production of Star Wars action figures in the late 1980s, a line of unlicensed Star Wars action figures was produced by a company named Model Trem. This line of unique bootleg figures were manufactured out of painted lead and resin and exhibit a folk art appearance.

The limbs were attached to the torso of the figures in a variety of ways, mostly with varying kinds of rivets. This has lead to well recognized variations within the line.

A recent find of an unusual Darth Vader Model Trem bootleg figure with an unarticulated head lead to a detailed discussion in the Star Wars Bootleg and Knockoff Collectors Group on the figure line and its variations.

The full thread can be found here: Model Trem Figure Thread

Additional reading on the Archive:
Archive Special Feature: Model Trem

Who is the Expert on...?

Who is the expert on...?

The Jabba's Court - Vintage Star Wars Collectors Group 1977 - 1988 group recently had a very interesting thread which asked a seemingly simple question: who is the expert on a given figure? The replies acknowledged a lot of awesome collectors, ranging from old-timers of the Usenet era to collectors who didn't really participate in the community until the rise of Facebook. While it could have easily turned into a popularity contest, it instead reads like a directory of knowledgeable people who would be willing to help answer someone's question on a given figure, mixed with some healthy discussion of "old school vs new school" collecting.

The full thread can be found here: Experts

Spanish Droids and Ewoks Cassette Turns Up

It's always interesting when something new turns up, and that's just what happened on the Star Wars Records and Tapes Group. While other Droids and Ewoks cassettes have turned up with bootleg art over the years, this is apparently the first time this particular variation has been seen. While the price it brought on eBay was considered too high by the group ($91), there's no denying it's a neat piece. 

The full thread can be found here: Droids and Ewoks Cassette

Additional reading from the Archive:
Please check out the SWCA for more information on Droids and Ewoks items.

Our Star Wars Community Digest Time Capsule Thread for this Issue: Official ROTJ Info. (**spoiler**)
ROTJ Thoughts Before the Movie is Released

On February 21, 1983, user "mitccc!jfw" logged onto the net.sf-lovers newsgroup -- on what would one day become the Internet -- and posted his thoughts on a Lucasfilm presentation in Boston put on by the New England Science Fiction Association. One of the key moments of the convention for him were the then completely unknown images and statements in the presentation about Return of the Jedi, which was still 3 months from release.

His ideas about the movie and what it might contain make for interesting reading 35 years later.

The full thread can be found here: Official ROTJ Info. (**spoiler**)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Wonder No More: The Star Wars Bread Promotion of 1977

Ron writes:

 I visited Jonathan McElwain in the summer of 2016. I can assure our readers that he has one of the best food-related collections out there. Consequently, I'm happy that he's agreed to share some of his knowledge in a blog post devoted to the Wonder Bread promotion of 1977. Let's hope he'll return in the future with some additional posts about this fascinating area of Star Wars collecting.

Jonathan writes:

One of the earliest food promotions for Star Wars involved a set of trading cards distributed inside bread bags. Commonly known as the Wonder Bread promotion, this promotion involved at least two brands of bread, but more on that later.

The premium involved in this promotion was a set of sixteen trading cards. The card fronts feature now familiar marketing images bordered in black, while the plain white backs include the card number and a brief written description. Twelve of the cards featured characters, while the other four cards featured ships. Interestingly, some of the character cards include the actor’s name below the character’s name, while others don’t. The named actors correspond with those who received billing on movie posters and other promotional materials (Hamill, Ford, Fisher, Cushing, and Guinness). There is nothing on the card fronts or backs to identify their association with the bread promotion, but each card bears a 1977 Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., Inc. copyright on the back.

In Star Wars: From Concept to Screen to Collectible, Steve Sansweet shares that “Star Wars trading cards were stuck in more than sixty-five million loaves of Wonder Bread.” That is a pretty staggering number when you consider the short-lived nature of the promotion and the fact that the population of the United States was somewhere in the neighborhood of 220 million people in 1977. Sansweet goes on to say that “General Mills promoted Star Wars cups, kites, cards, and stickers on twenty-five million cereal boxes.” Based on these numbers, the bread promotion dwarfed all of the cereal promotions from this early time period combined.

The bread promotion was tied into a larger promotion that involved the giveaway of an awesome customized Star Wars Toyota Celica.

According to Star Wars: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume One -- specifically the Afterword authored by Robert V. Conte -- Twentieth Century-Fox was anxious to propel the domestic box office numbers for Star Wars past the $200 million dollar mark before the end of 1977. According to the same source, the licensing fee was waived in exchange for a commitment to have the bread cards on store shelves by late September of 1977. The expiration dates printed on surviving bread wrappers range from early October to early November, so it seems likely that the commitment was met (or very nearly so).

Charles Lippincott has shared a wealth of information about the early days of promoting Star Wars on his Facebook profile in recent years. Information about the bread promotion shared by Lippincott has included the following:
  • The bread cards were designed by John Van Hammersveld, who also created the artwork used on the displays.
  •  The cards were proofed in late July and early August 1977, which aligns well with the cards being on shelves in the Fall of 1977.
  •  Twentieth Century-Fox was aware of large-scale unauthorized print run(s) of cards being sold to dealers.

The cards were distributed inside bags of bread, one card per bag. The cards were inserted directly into the bags, without any sort of wrapper to protect the card. To this day, the cards remain plentiful, inexpensive, and readily available in nice condition. This availability most likely stems from the later unauthorized additional print run(s) that Fox was combating.

As alluded to earlier, there were at least two brands of bread involved in this promotion: Wonder Bread and Braun’s Town Talk Bread. Both brands were, at the time, owned by ITT Continental Baking Company, Inc. Wonder Bread was widely available throughout the United States as a popular enriched (fortified) white bread. Although ownership has changed in the ensuing years, Wonder Bread remains on store shelves in the USA today. Braun’s Town Talk Bread was a popular brand of white bread available in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania region. It is possible that there were other regional bread promotions, but I’m not aware of any evidence of this.

The bread bags (wrappers) are collectible and quite scarce, in comparison with the plentiful bread cards. Saving bread bags wasn’t unheard of at the time. My parents re-used them to line our not-so-waterproof snow boots. Whether re-used for some utilitarian purpose or not, the vast majority of bread bags were promptly tossed out with the rest of the garbage.

There are many known variations of the bread bags (wrappers) for the obsessive collector to pursue. These variations include differences in varieties, sizes, ingredients, printing characteristics, numbering, and union labeling.

- Varieties: Wonder Bread was available in at least eight varieties:  Big, Country Style, Giant, Jumbo, Regular, Small, Standard Large Loaf, and Thin.

 - Sizes: Many of the varieties were available in several different sizes (weights) and, overall, the breads ranged in weight from 12 to 30 ounces.

- Ingredients: While the basic recipe for Wonder Bread is consistent, a few of the ingredients in the bread loaves vary. While many of the wrappers tout that there are “no preservatives added,” some of the wrappers lack this marking and these breads utilized calcium propionate as a food preservative. Several wrappers are for Kosher bread. The Kosher bread used vegetable shortening, unlike the rest of the breads which used lard for shortening.

- Printing Characteristics: The majority of bags are mostly white, subdivided into about an equal split of bags with printing applied to white plastic film and bags with printing applied to clear plastic film. A couple of the bags note that Wonder Bread is the Official Bread of Disneyland. These bags are certainly one of the earliest Disney/Star Wars cross-promotional items.

- Numbering: The wrappers have small identifying numbers on the back sides of the wrappers, just below the nutritional information. These numbers may represent different bakeries. However, it seems more likely that they represent a region or possibly different printers. The numbers on known wrappers are 00113, 00118, 00125, 00127, 00138, 00140, 00401, and 00700.

- Union Labeling:  Many of the wrappers bear the seal of the Bakery & Confectionery Union, but some lack this labeling meaning, presumably, that those loaves were produced by non-unionized bakers.

I am aware of 20 different Wonder Bread wrappers, but with so many variable attributes, there are surely more variations to be found. There most certainly would have also been Braun’s Town Talk bread bags that touted the inclusion of the bread cards, but the limited distribution of that regional brand compounded with the disposable nature of bread wrappers has made finding them elusive.

There are also some attractive store displays associated with this promotion. The Wonder Bread shelf talkers and danglers are quite common, as far as vintage store displays go. The pole sign is a bit less common, while the poster is much less common. Shelf talkers, danglers, and posters do exist for the Braun’s Town Talk brand, but are much tougher to track down than the companion Wonder Bread displays.

Monday, January 29, 2018

"The Most Unstable Craft in the Fleet" - Star Wars and Epcot's Cranium Command Attraction

© Disney, All Rights Reserved

 Tommy writes:

 In 1989, the Epcot theme park in Walt Disney World opened the "Wonders of Life" pavilion. This would be the area of the park which focused on health and the human body. Located just north of the Horizons show building (the current location of "Mission: Space"), the pavilion was a huge indoor space consisting of several different but related attractions.  Guests could race through the human body on Body Wars, which used the same ride system as Star Tours to simulate the experience of rescuing a miniaturized Elisabeth Shue from someone's blood stream. They could learn about sex from Martin Short (not a joke) in The Making of Me, a film which was so controversial to Disney's largely family audience that it required a warning sign to be posted in front of the theater. For our purposes though, we will be concerned with an often overlooked show inside the Wonders of Life: Cranium Command.

"Buzzy" (© Disney, All Rights Reserved)

Cranium Command followed "Buzzy," the pilot of an adolescent boy's brain (called "the most unstable craft in the fleet"). Guests met Buzzy in an animated pre-show, then were ushered into a theater with different screens forming the shape of a human head.

Cranium Command theater (© Disney, All Rights Reserved)

It was Buzzy's job to listen to the various organs of the body (mostly played by SNL comedians of the era) being projected onto those screens, and make command decisions.

The goal was to teach guests how complicated the human body was and how hard your brain has to work in order to function. In other words: this was the attraction you sat through while your older brother or sister was having fun riding Body Wars.

While the attraction is largely forgotten by most people today, there was one aspect to it which should interest Star Wars fans. When Buzzy was boarding his human head in the animated pre-show, his commanding officer dumped all of the things young boys liked inside it. Among them: Coca-Cola, Ariel the Little Mermaid, swimsuit magazines, dinosaurs, candy, the space shuttle, and little images of an X-Wing, R2-D2, Stormtrooper, an AT-AT, and C-3PO.

Stormtrooper and X-Wing
The head of an AT-AT

It's important to remember that this ride opened in 1989, during one of the darkest periods of the Dark Times between the Original Trilogy and the release of the Special Editions. Adding Star Wars imagery to things was by no means a regular occurrence. This was the first time Star Wars had appeared inside a Disney ride since Star Tours opened 3 years before at Disneyland, and was the franchise's first appearance inside a Walt Disney World attraction (WDW's version of Star Tours wouldn't open for a few months more. (Although, technically 3PO and R2 appeared on the hieroglyphics wall inside the Indiana Jones scene in the Great Movie Ride, which opened a couple months before Cranium Command, but that was in the actual Indy movie, so it's debatable if it was Disney adding it on its own or merely presenting the scene as LFL filmed it.)

So, you can find Star Wars references in the oddest of places.

After years of only operating seasonally, Cranium Command closed its doors forever in 2007, along with the rest of the Wonder of Life pavilion. These days, the building usually sits entirely empty except for a couple months a year when it's used for Disney's Flower and Garden Festival. The Cranium Command theater is still there though, empty and silent. But it spent 18 years filling young boys heads with images of Star Wars.

If you'd like to join Buzzy and his friends, you can watch footage of the ride here.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

'Chive Cast Blog Log Pod Episode 5 - Famous Auctions

"Fratastic" Pete, Skye and Steve discuss many important Vintage Star Wars auctions over the last 20 years with "Ron Ron" Salvatore and Chris Georgoulias. We briefly mention several auctions which we will return to at a later date, but go in depth on the following events:

-The 2002 Celebration II Collector Track Auction
-The 2007 Celebration IV Charity Auction (and the great Lucasfilm Marketing Dumps)
-The 2011 The Boba Fisher Auction somewhere in Pennsylvania
-The 2008 Premier Collectible Auction in San Diego, the greatest and most important Vintage Auction there has ever been and ever will be.

Finally, we discuss the 2017 Hakes Auction which could be a harbinger of things to come. Wait, how many tens of thousands of dollars?  Have a listen and learn how the hobby we love has recently become "Auction House Worthy." supply warehouse selling vintage?!

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05:41 – "Fratastic" Pete joins the show and discusses the 2007 Lucasfilm Auction
10:59 – Chris Georgoulias joins the show
14:19 – Celebration II Collector Track Auction
17:05 – The DiCaprio Auction
20:15 – Discussion of Celebration III Lucasfilm Marketing Dump (featuring books and animation cels) and the later 2007 Lucasfilm Marketing Dump
24:50 – Celebration IV Charity Auction revisited
26:30 – The Plumbing Supply Warehouse that used to sell merchandise directly from the Lucasfilm archives
29:36 – Boba Fisher: the man and the auction
54:21 – The 2008 PCA San Diego Auction, The Biggest and Best Vintage Auction of all time
01:24:07 – Hakes Round One

Show Note Links:

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

A History of Star Wars Pressed Pennies and Elongated Coins

Steve writes:

 Resident guest blogger and master of the Star Wars eclectic Yehuda Kleinman is back with an extensive look at a collecting niche with roots dating all the way back to 1893 that continues to live on today.

Yehuda writes:

Pressed pennies, squished cents or elongated coins are the names given to kitschy souvenirs that can be self-manufactured by a tourist or visitor at a locale with nothing more than pocket change and occasionally some elbow grease on a classic hand-cranked machine.

The different machines that create these collectibles can be manual or automatic but all follow the same basic principle: transforming standard round pocket currency into oval flattened souvenirs with embossed images of interest, often commemorating the activity or place where the machine is located, or at times depicting an individual or character.

A coin of a particular currency that the machine accepts for transformation (most often a penny) is inserted into a slot, and for a small fee the machine is activated. With the use of a manual hand-crank or through electronic motorized gears, the coin travels through a labyrinth of machinery until it reaches a round die with an often intricate design which then sandwiches the coin between a second metal surface, usually obliterating the original coin image and replacing it with a completely new design on a now flattened ovoid souvenir.

Classic hand-cranked pressed penny machine and mechanism.

The prehistoric origin of saving a flattened coin as a souvenir dates back to the 19th century and all began with trolley cars. It was commonplace for truant children or quirky tourists to place a coin on the trolley tracks and wait for the trolley to pass over the coin. This would result in a flattened piece of metal with loss of its detail that could be carried around as a symbol of stupidity.

The first elongated coin machine with an embossed design was created for use at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. It was manufactured and functioned in the same way that modern hand-crank machines do. The difference is that at the time, the machine was operated by an attendant (likely wearing a 3-piece suit).

The first known pressed penny.

The pressed penny machine was a tremendous success at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Not only did people enjoy having an inexpensive souvenir customized to the event, they were able to watch with glee as the souvenir was created, much like their easily amused ancestors did staring at the trolley tracks just a few years before.

The popular introduction of pressed pennies at the World's Fair spawned a new tradition of creating unique pressed penny machines with custom designs commemorating each different event. Machines also started popping up at local points of interest. People began to develop collections of these pressed pennies as keepsakes of their travels and from there a collecting hobby was born.

Well over a century later, pressed pennies continue to be a popular collectible for many of the same reasons. They remain detailed interesting collectibles that are inexpensive and have the added enjoyment of being manufactured by the collector when using a hand-cranked machine.

Below is some general information about collecting pressed coins and suggested preferences for choosing a coin to press when possible.

When pressing a penny, typically a solid copper coin is preferred. In the United States, pennies that were manufactured prior to the year 1982 were 95% copper and are often preferred for pressing. After 1982, pennies are composed of 97.5% zinc plated with copper. The solid copper coins give a uniform appearance to the final pressed coin. On the other hand, zinc pennies with a copper plating will often show the white zinc metal streaking throughout the copper plating once the coin is pressed, often obscuring the design. (It should be noted that pennies dated 1982 can either be copper or zinc as the mints were transitioning.)

Pictured above is an example of a pressed penny using a solid copper coin and the same pattern pressed on a copper plated zinc coin which demonstrates zinc streaking.

Hand-cranked machines offer the operator the ability to choose which coin is to be pressed, while automatic machines will usually supply the coin to be pressed (typically a new copper plated zinc penny). On the plus side, the zinc and copper pennies supplied by an automatic pressed penny machine do not typically express streaking since the coin dies on the automatic machines are designed to make a more shallow relief and do not break the copper plating when operating correctly.

Although pennies are the most common coin to be used for pressing, nearly every type of denomination has been used. Some dies are manufactured for use on specific types of coins, while other dies can be used on multiple types of coins by altering the coin slot. Poor condition silver coins from the United States minted prior to 1965 and steel pennies from 1943 will occasionally be used as souvenirs or for a special occasion.

A The Force Awakens "Rey" coin pressed on a 1964 silver quarter.

Coins that are selected for pressing are often cleaned with different methods prior to pressing. For the best results, a common method is to clean the coins with ketchup. Coins are sometimes sealed with wax afterwards to prevent tarnishing.

Pressed pennies can either be manufactured with licensed or unlicensed images. Once a machine is no longer in use, the pressed coin is considered "retired." Coin dies should ideally be altered in a way to indicate that any new coins produced by the dies have been produced after retirement.

Pressed coins that have licensed images are usually retired at a specific point and the coin dies are not frequently used again unless they are marked after retirement. This is typically the case for pressed coins made at Disney locations. At present, Disney is the largest producer of pressed coins.

Coins produced with unlicensed images (or bootleg coins) which are in private hands are often retired when they are taken out of use and destroyed because of lack of interest. However, some bootleg coin dies have been used for decades, making their products readily available.

Disney has been manufacturing pressed coins since 1987 and has exponentially increased the interest in the hobby. Some pressed coins can be quite challenging to find likely because they were individually manufactured by tourists and collectors as needed without any overstock. Disney parks will regularly offer many new unique coin presses at different times throughout the year at their resorts. They will also routinely retire pressed coins throughout the year. Disney retires their dies by marking each engraved image with a small additional animated engraving, often of Tinker Bell. The result is that any future use of the dies will cause a new pressed image to form the new added included image of Tinker Bell indicating that the coin is a re-strike.

M&M Minis come in a tube which is a favorite piece of hobby equipment for many pressed penny enthusiasts. The tubes are used as storage containers for quarters and pennies. A typical pressed penny cost two quarters and one penny. The $.50 is used for the price of using the machine and the penny itself is selected for pressing. The tube is filled by placing two quarters in the bottom followed by a penny followed again by two quarters and another penny until the tube is filled with pre-prepared clean copper pennies and quarters.

Pressed coin collecting is considered a category of coin collecting and in numismatic circle falls under the subtitle "exonumia," which includes collecting tokens. Retired pressed coins can often be found at coin collector sites and stores as well as through pressed coin collector clubs and online auction sites.

Vintage pressed coins are often found with a drill hole at the top of the coin. These drill holes were placed so the coin could be worn on a chain or charm bracelet.

A pressed penny featuring R2 and 3PO which was previously used on a charm bracelet.

Throughout the years, people have collected pressed coins in different ways. While some collectors continue to restrict their collection to coins that they were able to manufacture themselves, many collectors focus on assembling a cohesive collection, often on a specific genre.

Pressed pennies are often kept in an album for display and storage.

This article will focus on all of the known pressed coins that have a Star Wars theme. Pressed coins are often available in themed sets from the same pressed coin machine. When pressed coins are known to be part of a set, the information will be included. A notation will be made if the coin has a licensed or unlicensed image. The coins will also be categorized in three groups.

Category 1: Coins that are still in production and are readily available.

Category 2: Coins that are retired but are still often available on secondary markets or coins that are not yet retired but have poorly accessible machines.

Category 3: Retired coins with small production numbers often with bootleg images.

The earliest known Star Wars pressed coins are a set of 4 pressed pennies which were likely available in the 80s. They are unlicensed. Only copper examples are known. (Retired)

1980s Rebel DX-2 Star Sprite with X-Wing Bootleg Imagery (Retired). 1982 Zinc plated example with streaking evident.

1980s Imperial Ice Probe Photon KZ66 with Probot Bootleg Imagery (Retired)
1980s Robot World Exploratory Wisconsin Dells with Image of Bootleg C-3PO “Robot” (Retired)

The coin above was available at the Robot World Exploratory in Wisconsin. The robot depicted was clearly modeled after C-3PO and gave a guided tour of the tourist attraction.

This following set is comprised of 12 different designs which have shown up over the years on nearly every denomination. The set consists of portraits and scenes from the Original Trilogy as well as from The Phantom Menace. The coins have been found on pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. Curiously, they have also been found embossed on pennies but not flattened or elongated and then subsequently coated with a white metal. Coins with these designs have been found since the early 2000s but also have been found on more recently minted coins. These are bootleg designs and it is unclear if the coins are retired.

2000s Bootleg Set

 2000s Bootleg Set Pressed on Nickels

2000s Bootleg Darth Maul Pressed on Penny, Nickel, Dime, and Quarter

 2000s Bootleg Designs Pressed into Pennies (Non-flattened, Non-elongated; coated in white metal)

The Disney Corporation embraced pressed coins in 1986 as a new staple of the Disney Park experience and has since progressively filled their properties with hundreds of pressed coin machines worldwide. The following year in 1987, Disney opened it first attraction featuring a non-Disney property: Star Wars. Popularity in the Star Wars franchise had been waning in the mid-1980s. It had been 3 years since the release of the last expected chapter of the Original Trilogy in Return of the Jedi and there were no new films on the horizon. However, Disney recognized the legacy of George Lucas’ creation and understood its staying power.

Star Tours -- a virtual reality ride simulating varied space adventures while on board the exclusive Disney space shuttle (the StarSpeeder 3000) -- was originally launched at the Disneyland park. The ride was subsequently introduced at 3 other Disney parks: Disneyland Hong Kong, Hollywood Studios-Orlando, and Disneyland Paris. The first Disney pressed coin with Star Wars imagery was a penny featuring an astronaut Mickey Mouse and a StarSpeeder 3000. The combination of Star Wars imagery married with classic Disney characters was a consistent feature in the early Disney coins.

1st Disney Star Tours Coin (Retired 2002)

The second coin Disney produced was available in Disneyland for only one year. It was part of the "Magical Milestones" series of coins that were made to celebrate the 50th Anniversary year of the park in 2005. Each coin in the set was made to commemorate a specific event from each of the 50 years of the park's history. The coin design produced to represent 1987 was made in honor of the inauguration of the Star Tours ride. It once again represented the StarSpeeder 3000, now gliding in front of the Death Star. This is the first Star Wars pressed coin to display a new image on both sides of the coin. The reverse features the Magical Milestones logo found on all of the coins in the set.

"Magical Milestones" Star Tours Coin (Retired 2006)

In October of 2012, the Disney Corporation acquired Lucasfilm, including the ownership and rights to the Star Wars franchise. It was at this point that Disney decided that it would be a better approach to minimize melding the classic Disney characters with Star Wars characters as was their practice on many products up until this point. The idea was that as the new steward of the franchise, Disney hoped to maintain Star Wars souvenirs and merchandise more true to the Star Wars universe.

Before these changes could be implemented, a new set of 3 Star Tours pressed pennies were released in early 2013. These coins featured the Star Tours logo with classic Disney characters mashed up with Star Wars characters. The coins feature a Goofy/Darth Vader, a Mickey Mouse/Luke Skywalker, and a Minnie Mouse/Princess Leia.

 Star Tours Disney Mash-ups (Retired 2016)
In 2016, the 3 Star Wars/Disney mash-up coins were retired and replaced with a new set of 3 coins featuring R2-D2, Yoda, and a third new character Kylo Ren from the then recently released Star Wars film The Force Awakens. These were the first Disney pressed coins true to the company's new philosophy: designed with accurate Star Wars character portrayals without the addition of classic Disney elements.

Star Wars Disney Coins (2016)

Between 2016-2017 Disney has produced an additional 4 sets of 8 pressed pennies. Each set is produced by an automatic machine with supplied copper plated zinc pennies. The 4 machines are located at different attractions throughout the Disney parks in Orlando, Florida. These sets have characters and imagery from the original films as well as characters and imagery from the newer films produced by Disney.

This set depicts images from The Force Awakens and they can be pressed at the Launch Bay attraction at the Hollywood Studios theme park.

The Star Wars Galactic Outpost in Disney Springs is a store dedicated to collectibles and souvenirs from a galaxy far, far away. It boasts an 8-penny Star Wars pressed penny machine with action posed characters and ships from The Force Awakens.

This next set of 8 coins is from the Epcot store Mouse Gear. It features character portraits from the Original Trilogy. They are also numbered 1-8 (this machine was originally located in Disney Springs at the Once Upon a Toy store).

The following fourth set of 8 pennies can be found in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World.

The Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California offers 4 sets of 3 Star Wars pressed quarters which are all double sided. The first two sets are located in Disneyland. Each set is pressed in a different machine and portrays imagery from The Force Awakens. One set features heroes while the other features villains.

The other two sets are pressed at the California Adventure park and feature characters from
the Original Trilogy in a set of silhouettes and a set of line drawings amidst a starry background.

A new set of pressed coins was produced in honor of Disneyland's 60th Anniversary, just as Disney had done previously to mark the park’s 50th Anniversary. The coins were double sided and featured imagery that represented important chapters in the park's history. Included was a penny with an image of C-3PO emblazoned on its front.

Pressed coins are now an international affair with unique examples from all over the world. Just like their American predecessors, the international sets are pressed to commemorate an event or a visit to a tourist destination. The country of origin and other known information for each set will be noted.

This set of 3 pressed coins are from Disneyland Hong Kong and feature intricately designed images from The Force Awakens.

These 4 pressed coins are a Star Tours set from Tokyo Disneyland and feature the Star Tours logo and emblem. One of the coins depicts a StarSpeeder 3000 while the other three feature Original Trilogy characters.

The next 3 pressed coins are part of a traveling prop exhibition called “Star Wars Identities." They display some of the most interesting and detailed art found on a pressed coin. The exhibit has 3 intricate portraits which have been reproduced in great detail on pressed pennies. The exhibit coins includes a portrait of Darth Vader with his bust composed of an active Death Star in battle, including TIE Fighter ships in flight. A second portrait shows a bust of the Jedi Master Yoda composed of a landscape of his home planet of Dagobah. A Stormtrooper helmet composed of hundreds of tiny Stormtroopers makes up the third portrait. The exhibit has been throughout Canada, France, and England thus far.

These 4 teardrop shaped pressed coins originate from London. They are double sided and are from Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum.

The Shanghai Disney resort which first opened in 2016 offers these 4 pressed pennies, including a Boba Fett.

Finally, these 6 coins feature characters from The Force Awakens and Original Trilogy, and are likely from Taiwan. More information is needed about this set. They appear to be licensed and may have been available at an event.