Monday, September 18, 2017

Star Wars Treasures in Upcoming Prop Store London Auction

Steve writes:

 Whether or not you're an active prop collector, Prop Store's auctions are always a feast for the eyes of any pop culture enthusiast. The catalog for their upcoming Live Auction "Treasures from Film and Television" which is set to take place in London on September 26th was published a few weeks back. From a box of Joker Grenades from the 60s Batman television series to Jeff Goldblum's receding-gums teeth appliances from The Fly (1986) and even Globey, the catalog offers something for everyone.

More appropriate for and of particular interest to readers of this blog, there is a wide range of Star Wars material available. Below are a handful of the more significant pieces, along with some that I personally considered to be pretty neat.

A marquee item (and the one understandably shown on the cover of the catalog) is an ILM Y-Wing visual effects model miniature from Return of the Jedi. Not much to say beyond that!

For those into authentic Galactic Civil War apparel, there is a Rebel Fleet Trooper vest from Star Wars as well as a Snowtrooper helmet and backpack from The Empire Strikes Back, among other pieces.    

The auction also includes a handful of vintage theatrical posters, the most glorious of which being a U.K. quad poster featuring the Hildebrandt artwork that would be replaced by Tom Chantrell's Style C campaign.

In addition to some familiar cast and crew items and a selection of storyboards, the auction features several unique pieces that caught my attention. While I'm not an autograph collector, the above copy of the original Empire Strikes Back novelization signed by Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Billy Dee Williams, David Prowse, and Anthony Daniels during a promotional tour event at Selfridges in May, 1980 is a nice little artifact of the period where all hands were on deck to generate buzz for the sequel.

Seeing how the vision of the original Star Wars actually materialized has always fascinated me. There are so many costumes and props that we all take for granted now, but their tangible existence had to begin somewhere. One of the coolest lots in the auction that documents just that is a set of 35mm negatives shot during production that depict early castings of a number of iconic helmets from the film. While some seem to closely resemble the final product, others are considerably different; namely the Rebel Pilot helmet with its mouthpiece that was present in concept art. From an archival perspective, their intrinsic value is substantial. 

As someone who grew up in Southern California and embarked on many an adventure on the "Endor Express" (well, many of the exact same adventure with a maintained level of enthusiasm), this batch of hand-drawn artwork and model photographs for the original incarnation of the Star Tours attraction sheds light on my favorite sequence of the ride wherein our robotic Paul Reubens captain semi-successfully navigates the Starspeeder through a gigantic comet -- or as noted on one of the drawings, an "iceteroid." Comets? Comets!!

Finally, my personal favorite item in the entire auction: one of a small number of Sprocket Systems KEM flatbed editing tables that was used to cut the likes of The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Return of the Jedi, and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, to name a few. Some historic celluloid passed through and was ultimately transformed by this relic of bygone technology that Lucasfilm fittingly had a hand in developing.

These are merely but a few of the awesome items (Star Wars-related or otherwise) that will be on the block in the auction, so be sure to set aside some time to browse through the entire catalog linked at the head of this post.

Furthermore, for anyone living or visiting across the pond, a free preview exhibition of over 250 lots is running at the BFI IMAX Waterloo where the Live Auction will be held on September 26th. As the BFI puts it: "You can watch other people spend huge amounts of cash, whilst you soak up the atmosphere and marvel at the decades of cinematic history in front of your very eyes."

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Limelight Interview #6B - To the 3rd Degree: Tim Eckholdt


  Pete writes:

Wampa Wampa, Space Freaks! For our second round of discussion with Super Collector Tim Eckholdt, we move to items with a bit more dimension. While we focused the first Limelight of Tim’s collection on 2D items, we’re now moving over to the illustrious category of 3D vintage items. The 3D category has been the fastest growing segment of the pre-production market over the past several years, both in terms of demand and value.   Although not outpacing 2D by much, first shots, engineering pilots and hardcopies have become a major focus in the hobby due to the popularity of character focus collections. Beyond complete figures, items such as arms, heads, and torsos have all become key pieces for character focus collectors across the board.    

Given both the popularity and depth of this collecting category we’re happy to bring the 2nd part of Tim’s Limelight: all things 3D pre-production in the vintage Star Wars universe.


FP: When did you first start to branch out into 3D preproduction items? 

TE: I branched out into 3D items and other pre-production at about the same time. I was still collecting production items at that point and it was a way to continue the journey. One of the great things about collecting is that there’s always other areas to get into and other segments to look at. It’s part of the reason people who have been in the hobby that have been at it for years like Chris G[eorgoulias] and Ron [Salvatore] that still haven’t seen everything. It motivates us and keeps us going. Plus, not everything has been found. New stuff still pops up from time to time.

FP: What’s your favorite piece (or pieces) in your 3D collection? 

TE:  IG-88 12” painted hardcopy. The detail is incredible. I was never a big a fan of the “dolls.” I never had any as a kid. Even the production dolls didn’t do much for me, but I loved the packaging and the detail on the pre-production is incredible. You can see so much on it; it’s a big ass space doesn’t get much better than that. Todd originally had the figure, he was selling a lot of pre-production at the time and we went back and forth on the piece but couldn’t come to terms on a price for it. I bought all the other stuff from the lot but I didn’t get that piece; John Alvarez ended up picking it up. I eventually worked out a deal with John. Now I have the full set with the exception of the Jawa.

FP: What piece means the most to you?

TE: Luke Bespin hardcopy. It was my favorite figure as a kid and when I started to collect that was the first one I went after. Even today it’s my favorite of the figure of the line. It’s actually an unpainted carbolon. It was Bill Wills that originally owned it, but I bought it from Grant. I picked up the piece between Celebration VI and VII.  It was the one piece in the collection that I knew that I paid too much money for at the time, but I was okay with it as it was such an important piece for me.

FP: Wow that’s incredible, and since then you’ve been able to branch out into a few other key pieces for the figure.

FP: What was the hardest piece to find or acquire?

TE: It’s kind of tough. Really a lot of this stuff is taking advantage of the opportunities when you’re presented with it. I didn’t dig anything out of anyone’s collection, stuff tends to show up and you make it happen. Ultimately timing is key in the hobby. The most nerve-wracking was the Han Bespin hardcopy. A lot of anxiety, because I wasn’t into the 3D stuff for that long, so I was apprehensive to jump into the fold. The first step is always the toughest. Loose to MOC jump, MOC to pre-production jump, stepping up is sometimes hard to do.

FP: I saw that you had a few of the Vader Carrying Case first shots, but one in particular stood out to me: the one that has a gold front and what appears to be a chrome back, what can you tell me about that? 

TE:  I got it from the same guy as the other first shots, Jay Butler. He was buying stuff from The Earth back in the day. I think the silver was shot first, then the gold was shot secondly as an overlay as they were testing the paint. Inside is the dull gold color that is seen on other example. On the silver side it has a date of 2/1 that is hand written, and on the gold side it has a piece of tape with the date of 2/1. 

Bill McBride has a similar case with no dating on it. It’s a first shot case that was then used for the test run. Amazing pieces. Of course Bill has several, but I’m always impressed when I come across one.

FP: Tell me about where the Boba Fett 4-Ups came from.

TE: The painted one came from [Tom] Derby, it’s the paint master that is in the Archive and it has the same sticker on the base - J1. The unpainted came from the Celebration VI finds. It was a nice surprise to find it.

FP: Those are great pieces, and I’m sure there are those out there that are jealous of you being able to shake those loose.
FP: One thing I noticed about your collection is a lot of Coin related items. What can you tell me about the 6-Up pre-production pieces?  

TE: I initially got a pair. They were Imperial Gunner pieces. I was able to find the softcopies and hardcopies for the character. I was trading with James Gallo and through it I actually got the Yoda hardcopy as well. About two years ago I said my goal was to get a coin run, but my real hope was to get a character run from each mint [Worldwide and Osborne]. 

Someone was letting go of their Ben Kenobi run and I was able to pick up that character. It wasn’t even two weeks later from that deal and John Alvarez decided to let go of the Zuckuss run, so I was able to get both done in a month. Worldwide did Kenobi and Osborne did Zuckuss, and I had both sculpts. I was really lucky as only about 20% of the sculpts actually still exist from a character perspective. 

Another cool grouping I was able to find were the two stages of the Creatures coin. In addition I have the Osborne dies for the coin, along with 6-up examples of the coin.

FP: Given your focus on the Cantina characters that has to be a really important piece for you.  

FP: What keeps you going after all these years?

TE: Stupidity [we both laugh]. The thought that you’ll see something you haven’t seen before. The hope that you’ll be able to bring pieces that have never seen the light of day out into the light of day. Goals. Keep setting higher goals for yourself and it keeps you motivated. You can get a large percentage of the run together easily and it’s the difficulty of getting to those last few pieces, it drives you. You might know where it is and you try to let them know you’re interested. I’m not one to constantly ping someone over a piece, but I check back periodically trying to get other pieces that are really important to me.


FP: What is your best memory from collecting? 

TE: Celebration VI. I’d had been asked to go to several Celebrations before that and it never really seemed to worked out. I was starting to lose a little enthusiasm for the hobby. I had a few friends in the hobby at that time, but most of my time was spent talking to people over email and online. I didn’t get to meet a lot of people face to face, it was really impersonal.  

Going to the event with a bunch of guys from AZ was great. Getting to meet a lot of the guys that were in the hobby for a long time and how open and inviting they were. I started to realize part of the loss of energy in the hobby was due to not taking as much part in the social aspect. It changed my perspective on the hobby. I mention this one guy a lot, he had a huge collection, he sold it off, and to my knowledge he never really met anyone in the hobby and built a relationship. If you don’t partake you miss out on a big part of what collecting is all about.

FP: What are some of your interests outside of collecting? Does your Star Wars collection spill over into any other collectibles?  

TE: I started collecting comics prior to getting into Star Wars. I’ve always had a collector’s type of personality, some of us are just wired that way. I had a lot of key issues during the peak of my comic collecting, going back to Golden age stuff. I also spend time with hot rods. You got to see my roadster, and I’ve always appreciated the culture from that era.   

FP: What does your significant other and family think about your collecting? 

TE: My wife has always been very supportive. I was always collecting since we were together. She knows it makes me happy. She’s gone on trips with me buying collections. The friend aspect extends to her as well, she’s made a lot of friends out of it. She’ll go out with other collectors' wives even when I’m not hanging out with the other collectors. I couldn’t imagine being a collector who doesn’t have the support of their significant other. The kids are young. They have some interest in Star Wars, but they don’t really understand it.

FP: If you were a Star Wars character who would it be? 

TE: Oh wow...this is one of those questions that Skye and Steve do on the podcast.

FP: No it’s a completely original question that has nothing to do with this podcast thing you talk about....

TE:  Of course, of course, I most closely relate to a Jawa. Just for the simple fact that I live in the desert and I scavenge for things.

If you ever want a more linear view of Tim’s collection be sure to visit his Rebelscum limelight page at the link below.   It’s in itself a mini archive of specific pieces from his collection and showcases the items individually rather than part of an ensemble.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

'Chive Cast Blog Log Pod Episode 4 - Skye and Steve's Dave Mandel Explosion

In the wake of "Skye2K" and the loss of cursed 'Chive Cast 84, we rally to interview comedy writer, producer, and longtime Star Wars collector David Mandel (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and currently show-running HBO's Veep) about his development as a collector and several significant moments in hobby history that were documented in never-aired episodes of his anarchistic and hilarious video game review show "Dave and Steve's Video Game Explosion" filmed at Celebration II in Indianapolis in 2002. You'll hear about "First 12" character photoart selling for $3,500 and the infamous "Rocket Fett choking incident" that unfolded at the Cloud City Collectibles booth. We also discuss David's experience partaking in Mark Hamill's Pop Culture Quest.     

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Image Sources and Show Note Links:

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Spring-Summer '17 MarketWatch: Post-Celebration Ohs & Wohs

Pete writes:

 What’s going on folks? Literally, what’s going on? The market has been on fire since Celebration Orlando. Since we didn’t get to cover much from the event itself, in this installment we bring you a double dose of high end vintage goodness from both the event and the ensuing month on eBay.  

It was a month of highs and lows on eBay, but mainly highs when it comes to Celebration. With some record breaking prices and transactions on some mainstays in the hobby, the event was anything but cheap. Even room sales seemed to be slow moving, at least for the limited time we had them up and running this year. Some last minute additions made it more interesting towards the end, but a lot of people were set up and torn down in a blink of an eye.

Celebration Notables:

12” Star Wars Box Flats – A pair of items only seen at room sales worth mentioning is the set of 12” AFA 80 box flats for Han Solo and Princess Leia. 12” box flats are a finite group of items, with only a handful out there for each of the few released and unreleased figures in the line. 

ROTJ Transparencies – One of the coolest and most unique items available at the event came to us from our friends at Cantina Collectibles. A framed set of transparencies for Klaatu was one of very few one-of-a-kind vintage items available at the show. The presentation with transparencies over their respective cyan, magenta, and yellow colors comes across perfectly, making this one of the best items at the show... if you had a cool $15K for the piece.

Leia Poncho Pink Cape Mock-Up – Another piece we were able to see at the Cantina Collectibles booth was this little gem. Surprised it was still available at the end of the show, as it’s one of the few more desirable mock-ups in the hobby today, featuring a pre-production variant that is truly distinguishable from its production figure counterpart.

Revenge Proofs – Though not the rarest of the pre-production items, Revenge proofs are a mainstay and still a very popular and desirable segment of the hobby. When it comes to Celebration, this was the hottest group of items. Prices on common proofs exceeded $2,000 – something I’ve never seen before. There was actually more available when it comes to Revenge proofs than there were at the previous event in Anaheim, with two large collections and a lot of smaller individual proofs available at the event.


Going back to our typical coverage of the eBay market, we have a nice array of rare and highly sought after items. A lot has come available and some – more so in the month of April – were steals, while the market eventually picked up in May.

The first item of the month has a tie to Celebration as that’s where it entered the collectors market. Being picked up by one of the more well-known collectors and dealers in the hobby, this particular auction was heightened by its tie to a non-profit organization giving it an extra jump in price.

Luke Skywalker Double Telescoping Lightsaber MOC - $15,501- eBay Auction

When it comes to grading, the grade is always something that’s secondary to the item to me. But when you see an item of this size pull a grade of 90, it’s hard not to pay attention to the number. The total number of graded AFA90 boxed items is finite in the overall scope of AFA grading in the hobby, however this particular piece is one of the very few to make the fringe grade of 90 and almost be considered mint. It’s a great sight to see; so little edge wear and damage, great tape. Overall it’s an incredible presentation.

AT-AT ESB AFA 90 - $20,000 - eBay Auction

Star Wars 3-packs are always a favorite to keep an eye on. With their colors, character combinations, and overall short run they will always be a fan favorite. This month we have three unique pieces to showcase.    

Heroes 3-Pack Special Action Figure Set - $12,500-BIN - eBay Auction

Creatures 3-Pack Special Action Figure Set - $5,060 - eBay Auction

Hoth Rebel 3-Pack Special Action Figure Set - $4,650 - eBay Auction

Although the transaction didn’t technically occur on eBay, I couldn't pass up mentioning one of the few true "miscards" to come onto the market in the last few years. This is a great combination, making it even more desirable then a lot of other miscards out there. Unlike a lot of ROTJ miscards, this is one of the few that is not pre-production in nature, making it a true factory error.

Stormtrooper on ROTJ Han Bespin Cardback – Miscard AFA75 - $5,500 - eBay Auction

Continuing on with the rare and unique, we have a pair of Luke Skywalker first shot figures. First shots continue to be one of the hottest segments of the hobby, with prices continuing to climb even as the market is roughly flat compared to last year.

The first coming from the Power of the Force line – that being Luke Skywalker (Battle Poncho). Receiving a 90, it’s quite the sight from a condition perspective, but AFA also did a really nice job casing the poncho separately. 

Luke Poncho First Shot – AFA90 - $5,000 - eBay Auction

The second piece is an unpainted Luke Skywalker (Hoth Battle Gear) – a very cool piece with white limbs and a tan torso.

Luke Hoth First Shot - CIB Auction - $8,000 - eBay Auction

For some contrast to Celebration, we have some of the more recent auctions on eBay for Revenge proofs. Both nice examples of some of the more desirable background characters, the gap between these and the prices on the floor are pretty staggering, with a 25% or more premium at the event vs. these auctions.

IG-88 Revenge of the Jedi Proof - AFA 85+ - $1,400 - eBay Auction

Hoth Stormtrooper Revenge of the Jedi Proof - $1,585 - eBay Auction

Our last piece follows the ongoing growing popularity in catalog mailers. In this example, we have a fairly rare ROTJ mailer featuring 4 main characters. Not only is it a difficult pack to find, it’s one of the more desirable from the series. It just happens to be sealed, making it unique as well. The price actually seems right in line with where you would expect a sealed example to come in; a great piece and one that we rarely see.

ROTJ Mailer - Boba Fett, Luke X-Wing, Darth Vader, Yoda - AFA80 - $2,036 - eBay Auction

That’s all for this month...check back soon for our next update and coverage of the rest of the summer.

Wampa Wampa,
Fratastic Pete