Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Kenner's Star Wars Puzzles

Ron writes:

 You're a kid in the fall of 1977. You've just seen Star Wars for the 11th time, and you're wandering through the toy aisle of a department store while your mother fends off the advances of the slightly louche gentleman who sells mops and vacuum cleaners.

What do your eyes fix upon?

Chances are they fix upon the first wave of Kenner's Star Wars jigsaw puzzles.

Remember, in the fall of '77 licensed Star Wars product was scarce. Kenner, the principal toy licensee, offered only a board game, two painting sets, and the Early Bird Certificate Package. Actual honest-to-goodness toys were still several months away.

So you're looking at puzzles. And perhaps you're thinking, "What have puzzles ever done for me?"

Sure, there was that time you and Timmy Perkins argued over who got to put the last piece into Farrah on that Charlie's Angels puzzle that his uncle gave him for Hanukkah. But that was different. You had a broken ankle. And it was Farrah.

Come to think of it, Timmy Perkins is Methodist. What is he doing getting presents for Hanukkah?

Regardless, you're not exactly convinced by Star Wars puzzles. But the pictures are cool; they really evoke the movie. And what are you going to do, buy a freakin' Micronaut? Micronauts just won't cut it. Not now that Star Wars exists.

So you look back over at your mom as you try to formulate a plan to ask her for $2.50. She's still talking to that guy. And now she's calling him by his first name.

Kenner's puzzle line debuted with four products spread across two assortments. One assortment contained a pair of 140-piece puzzles, one depicting the droids, the other depicting Han Solo and Chewbacca. The other assortment boasted 500-piece puzzles depicting a space battle and Luke Skywalker on his home planet Tatooine.

The earliness of these products is demonstrated by their aesthetics: They don't even look like Kenner Star Wars products.

Rather than the familiar black-and-silver color scheme that Kenner would eventually use on every Star Wars product that had no connection to Play-Doh, their boxes sported odd, almost fruity design schemes. While the 140-piece puzzles came in blue boxes, their 500-piece counterparts featured packaging of a color that can only be described as electric mauve.

Coloration aside, the boxes featured primitive star-field graphics and a motif of concentric circles that may have been a reference to the illuminated charts seen in the Rebels' command room on Yavin.

No doubt about it, with the possible exceptions of Blue Snaggletooth and the plush version of Chewbacca, these are the most '70s-looking things that Kenner released in association with Star Wars.

Perhaps the most amusing puzzle of the original four was the one titled "Space Battle," which featured an image of an X-Wing and TIE Fighter locked in battle.

This is undoubtedly the product to which Kenner representative Jim Black referred when he told Steve Sansweet that "One of the first things we shipped was a boxed puzzle that had so much black sky and so many small stars, that it was almost impossible to put together."

Impossible to put together or not, Kenner re-released the Space Battle puzzle as part of their 1978 line of products. And when they did, its box was sporting the familiar black-and-silver deco scheme.

Not only were all four of the early puzzles reissued in the new packaging, text was added to their boxes to make it clear that they comprised the first series of Kenner Star Wars puzzles. Lest anyone doubt that additional series were imminent.

For some reason, upon its reissue, the puzzle depicting Han and Chewie was packaged in a horizontally oriented box. The original blue-box version featured a vertically oriented design.

The photo I'm using to illustrate the puzzle featuring the droids provides a good opportunity to discuss a variation that affects the puzzles. If you look at the lower portion of the silver "racetrack" border, you'll see that the Kenner logo appears between the title and the circular element highlighting the number of pieces and size. This variation appears to affect all of the first- and second-series puzzles. In other words, all the puzzles from these series can be found in versions with and without the Kenner logo on the front of the box.

When the Kenner logo was added to the front of the box, age ranges were also added to the upper right corner.

You might also have noticed that, on the droids puzzle featured above, there is text below the title indicating that it was "manufactured in Canada." That's getting a little too esoteric for my tastes, but if you want to try to hunt down all the "manufactured in Canada" versions, be my guest. And then considering scheduling an appointment with your therapist.

So what about Series II? I know you're dying to learn about Series II.

The series consisted of -- shockingly -- four new puzzles! As was the case with the earlier series, two consisted of 140 pieces, and two consisted of 500 pieces. My favorite is probably the one seen above, depicting the duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader.

If you're looking at this item and muttering, "Gee, that looks a little odd," it's probably because the entire background, showing the Death Star hangar in which the Falcon is parked, is the creation of an airbrush artist. In the film, the orientation of the Falcon is flipped. I think it more than likely that the original background was too dark to serve as good puzzle material. So Kenner redid it. Also, the sabers have been recolored. Ben's yellow saber matches the accessory eventually packaged with the large-size action figure.

A variation of this image appeared on Kenner's packaging for their inflatable lightsaber toy.

This puzzle is entitled, very appropriately, "Trapped in the Trash Compactor!"

Exclamation points were added to the titles of the puzzles released in Series II, presumably to make them sound more exciting. Possibly someone at Kenner was following the lead of Topps, whose trading cards often featured titles with exclamation points.

This 500-piece puzzle featured one of the film's most iconic moments. It's a good shot of that moment, too. Hamill really seems to be feeling it.

Rounding out Series II was this 140-piecer depicting Luke leaning in to make out with R5-D4.

Clearly, this momentous event necessitated the use of an exclamation point.

As this page from Kenner's 1978 catalog makes clear, in addition to the Series I and II puzzles, the line for that year included two new 1,000-piece products, each measuring 21.5" by 27.5".

This example, entitled "Aboard the Millenium Falcon" (sic), shows the four male heroes contemplating the "small moon" that is in fact something far more sinister.

But the cooler of the duo, and perhaps the coolest item in the entire Kenner puzzle line, was this nifty number featuring the famous art developed for the movie by the Hildebrandt brothers. Factors sold tons of posters featuring this image; I'm sure Kenner had a similar idea in mind. Its title: "Star Wars Adventure."

Kenner's puzzles were a success. In his book Star Wars: From Concept to Screen to Collectible, Steve Sansweet claims that Kenner sold nearly 2.5 million of them during 1978 alone. That being the case, it should come as no surprise that by 1979 the line had expanded to include 20 different products.

Is this most extensive line of puzzles ever developed in conjunction with a single movie? I would guess so...

"Stormtroopers Stop the Land Speeder!," part of Series III, presented kids with yet another iconic Star Wars moment to -- erm-- puzzle over during rainy afternoons.

As the above image demonstrates, a variation affects the Series III puzzles. Specifically, they can be found with the Kenner logo either in the lower right corner or interrupting the bottom of the "racetrack." Note that the corner-logo version omits the age ranges.

Well, at least  the 140-piece Series III puzzles can be found in either style. I've yet to find evidence that the 500-piecers from this series exist in logo-in-the-corner versions. All the examples I've seen feature the logo in the racetrack.

"X-Wing Fighters Prepare to Attack" is one of my favorites.

Given the limits of the material Kenner was working with, it's a little surprising that this is the only puzzle that utilizes one of the images used on the company's action figure cardbacks. Note the mirroring effect used to extend the image on the left side.

Surely the most interesting puzzle released in Series III is this one: "Victory Celebration." As you've no doubt noticed, its box features a sticker that says "pictorial content of puzzle inside does not include these two characters."

It appears the folks at Kenner cropped the photo when producing the puzzle, but forgot to do the same when designing the box.

Okay, so maybe those two guys aren't the most exciting-looking fellows. And yet I find them intriguing. 

In particular, the guy on the left, whom I call Space Force Thomas Jefferson, has all the gravitas needed to pull off his hairdo. 

Certainly, he's more interesting than Space Force Steve Jobs, whose face remained unmolested behind the grumpy-because-he-has-no-medal Chewbacca.

Naturally, Kenner corrected the error by issuing this puzzle-accurate box.

I wonder: What did those two guys on the left do to warrant expulsion from the Star Wars toy universe? I don't know about you, but I find this example of Stalinistic historical revisionism to be more than a little disturbing...

Series IV was the final series of 140- and 500-piece Kenner puzzles. My rough impression is that the puzzles in this series are a little tougher to find than those in the other series. 

The title of this example, "The Cantina Band," pretty much says it all.

You know, it never occurred to me until now, but this must have been a hard scene to shoot. All those costumed children and little people carrying the R2 prop and trying not to trip over something. And having to do it while being "faster, more intense."

The puzzle's title is "Jawas Capture R2-D2."

Kenner never made a Bantha toy, but they did make this Bantha puzzle...though they blew their big moment in the spotlight by misspelling the creature's name. Their title refers to it as "The Banta."

Rounding out Series IV, and confirming that the series was an all-Tatooine affair, was this puzzle, "The Selling of Droids."

As far as I know, the Series IV puzzles do not exhibit a variation with respect to the placement of the Kenner logo. All the examples I've seen feature the logo in the racetrack.

While looking at the above-pictured spread from the 1979 catalog, you may have noticed that puzzles of a larger size were introduced in that year. They consisted of a whopping 1,500 pieces, suggesting they were aimed at the lucrative incarceration market. Because who but an incarcerated criminal had the time to put one of them together?

The title of the puzzle pictured above, "Millenium Falcon in Hyper-Space" is not only partially misspelled, it's inaccurate, as it appears to show the Falcon just kind of floating there.

Finally, we have "Corridor of Lights," featuring a rather odd composite image of a Stormtrooper firing his blaster within the Death Star's prison corridor. The image was also featured on one of Kenner's wholesale catalogs.

Well, that wraps up our look at Kenner's Star Wars puzzles. If you're looking for a one-shot overview of what I know to have been available, see the above chart (click to enlarge). Possibly I've failed to account for some variations? If so, shoot me a message and let me know. I plan to follow up with a look at the puzzles released in Canada by Kenner's sister company, Parker.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Star Wars Community Digest Issue #12

Yehuda and Tommy write:

 Welcome to the latest issue of Star Wars Community Digest, your place to get summaries about what's going on in the Star Wars collecting community across all of the forums and Facebook groups. We will present the news and current events each week, so that you don't miss anything. Please be aware that many of these are closed Facebook groups though, which means you will need to join them in order to read the conversations. But don't worry, it's free and almost instantaneous.

Participating Groups and Forums:
Star Wars Displays and Advertising
Star Wars Records and Tapes
Star Wars 12 Backs and Early Vintage Collectors Group (A New Hope 1977-79)
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Vintage Collecting Group 1980-1982
Star Wars: Return of The Jedi Vintage Collecting Group 1983 - 1985
Star Wars: POTF (Last 17) Vintage Collecting Group 1985
Star Wars: The "Dark Times" Collecting Group (1985-95, Droids & Ewoks, etc)
Jabba's Court - Vintage Star Wars Collectors Group 1977 - 1988
The Imperial Commissary - 1977-1985 Vintage Star Wars Toys, Buy Sell Trade
Power Of The Force Coins
Star Wars bootleg and knockoff collectors
Star Wars Micro Machines and Action Fleet Collecting Group
vintage star wars action figures
The RebelScum vintage forum
Jawa's Outpost (UK and EIRE Star Wars trading group)
Echo Base Vintage Star Wars Trade/Sell/Buy
The Prototype Exchange
The Star Wars Traveler: filming locations and road trips for Star Wars fans
La Guerre des Etoiles Collectors (vintage Star Wars items with French language on them)
Star Wars at the Movies: Theatrical Advertising and Collectible Ephemera

If you are an administrator or moderator and 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 in recent weeks...

Props and Grails

Whether it is an original Rebel prop helmet from The Empire Strikes Back or the prototype run for the Kenner Tusken Raider Power of the Force coin, Gus Lopez continues to astound with his latest Star Wars Artifacts Updates. Make sure to check them out in the SWCA What's New gallery!


Woman’s Day and a Galaxy Far, Far Away

In 1978 and then again in 1980, Woman’s Day magazine published detailed blueprints for build-it-yourself Star Wars action figure playsets. Woman’s Day is a monthly periodical published in the United States with a demographic of mostly young mothers. 
Collector Scott Bradley shares a vintage picture of a young child standing next to his Woman’s Day homemade Hoth playset likely built by an enterprising mom. 

The full thread can be found here:

Further Reading on the Archive:

A Limelight Worth a Look: Pre-production Vinyl Records 

Every Star Wars collectible that has been manufactured underwent a design process which necessitated the production of prototype examples during the creative and approval stages. These unique pieces were designed to be disposable after the final product was approved and came to market. 
Much like an author's original handwritten notes, these unique artifacts have become appreciated by collectors in all branches of the hobby. 
Collector and audiophile Kevin Lentz shares his  prototype “grooveless” blank colored records used for the production of a colorful edition of the soundtrack for The Phantom Menace

The full thread can be found here:

Prototype Toy Found at a Retail Store

Prototypes toys never leave the design shop and are routinely discarded. 

Except when they aren't!

Eagle eye collector Jeff Correll spots a pre-production engineering pilot for a new Jurassic World toy at a retail store which was likely accidentally packaged along with standard production pieces. The EP includes a hand cut box with writing.

The full thread can be found here:  

Further reading on the Archive:

Look What Popped Up 

Master Bootleg Collector Joe Yglesias studies his collection of the original steel molds used to make the storied Uzay line of Turkish action figures and vehicles and finds the mold for the UZAY R2-D2 pop up lightsaber accessory.   

The full thread can be found here:

Further reading on the Archive:

Collect Them All 

Collector Thomas Gill continues the search for action figure variations as he studies the stitching on the snap cape Luke Jedi figures. 

The full thread can be found here:

Further reading:

A Limelight Worth a Look: R5-D4 Yupi Run

Collector Adam Marks assembles a complete run of 9 different color variations of the Yupi R5-D4 figures. The figures were a premium in Colombian snack foods in the late 1980s. The 40 figure set was produced in 9 color variations and is among the rarest lines of Star Wars action figures. 

The full thread can be found here:

Further reading on the Archive:

Vintage Imperial Gunner First Shot Found at Garage Sale

Collector Kyle Kaufmann brought home an Imperial Gunner action figure he found at a garage sale in Michigan. On closer inspection the figure was noted to be unpainted and missing its copyright information. The community helps evaluate the figure, which is most consistent with a first shot pre-production figure. 

The full thread can be found here:

Further reading on the Archive:

A Limelight Worth a Look: Chewbacca Rumph Mug Sculpt

Artist Jim Rumph (1942-1993) was a pottery sculptor in Santa Monica, California who produced folk art pottery out of his studio "the Slyme Factory" in the 1970s. Jim sculpted and produced three Star Wars themed mugs which were among the earliest Star Wars collectibles ever produced. The mugs were sculpted as busts featuring 3 different movie characters. The generously sized mugs featured Darth Vader, Ben Kenobi and Chewbacca. The Chewbacca mug has always been a personal favorite of George Lucas and sat on his desk.
Collector Will Grief shares an original Jim Rumph sculpt for the Chewbacca mug complete with Jim’s fingerprints on the back.

The full thread can be found here:

Further reading:

Vintage Parker Brothers Store Display 

From 1977-1982 Kenner produced a large assortment of Star Wars themed board games. However, in 1983 Parker Brothers took over board game production and introduced a series of games including the “Battle at Sarlaac’s Pit” board game. 

Collector Christopher James Leddy shares his rare store display used to advertise the Parker Brothers games. 

The full thread can be found here:

Further reading on the Archive:

A Limelight Worth a Look: a Different Approach to Carded Figures

Collector Jesse Cedar Soberman took a looser approach to carded figure collecting and completed a run of the "First 31" figures in varied rare packaging including 3-packs and special offers. Check it out on the Imperial Commissary. 

The full thread can be found here:

💥The Dark Side: Scams and Counterfeits

Fake second series Unproduced Droids and Ewoks

Unmarked counterfeit figures, accessories, and coins for the Unproduced Droids and Ewoks (UDE) line are being produced to look as authentic as possible. Some figures are being resculpted and some are being cast from original prototypes. We encourage all reproductions to be marked in a responsible way to avoid fraud. 

Reproduction Early Bird Kit Action Stand Coupon Being Circulated

Collector David James Lackore warns the community both in Rebelscum and on Facebook about a counterfeit Early Bird Kit action stand coupon that is being sold. David shares the differences he noted between the authentic coupon and the fake. Make sure to check it out. 

The full Facebook thread can be found here:

And the thread on Rebelscum can be found here:

Counterfeit Special Offer Stickers Used to Defraud

Once again, collector David James Lackore warns the community both on Rebelscum and Facebook of a new fraudulent special offer sticker that has been applied to production vehicles to criminally increase their sale price. Learn how to spot the fakes with the links below. 

The full Facebook thread can be found here:

The full Rebelscum link can be found here: 

Our Star Wars Community Digest Time Capsule Thread for this Issue: 

The Earth Toy Mall

Like Camelot, The Earth Toy Mall has receded into legend since its closing in 2008. The Earth was a Cincinnati based store that sold production vintage toys alongside Kenner hardcopies, first shots, and proofs. 

Cincinnati, the birthplace of Kenner toys and it’s Star Wars line, lent a fertile field for buying and selling rare Star Wars collectibles. The store's grand opening in December of 1997 was a well attended affair, with guest Kenny Baker present. Once established, The Earth began advertising in local media that they were interested in buying production and prototype toys. They marketed directly to former Kenner employees, who had often taken home unique pieces.

Throughout their tenure, The Earth had many great finds including multiple rocket firing Boba-Fett figures. 

Below are threads that help sum up the impact that The Earth Toy Mall had in the hobby. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

'Chive Cast 91 - From Squid Face to Squid Man

This month's podcast is dedicated to Jabba's squid-faced barge henchman and Venetian blind enthusiast, Squid Head. Skye gives you the top five reasons this figure is hot as FIRE and Steve breaks down the character's design just before Derek Webster stops by as the Space Freak of the Week (like Raphael Sadiiq). Ron R.A. "Ron-Ron" Salvatore Mundi stops by to ask the greatest unasked question in Vintage Collecting: Why is Hammerhead called Hammerhead? He also shares memories of collecting modern (?!), talks about the weekly "Ad of the Week" on the Archive's Facebook page, discusses his completely updated vintage catalog multipack article from theswca.com and helps Skye give a damn about Squid Head cape colors including a discussion of the brown and the pink. You'll learn what a soft goods sample is and what isn't a salesman sample. Mike Cooper pops by to discuss Satanism in Star Wars, the unproduced Mongo Beefhead Tribesman, the Mexican Squid Head, an unloved puzzle and plays a high-stakes MarketWatch game. All this plus Obi-Obi-Obi Ozzy on the latest Vintage Pod.

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07:54 – Top 5 Reasons Squid Head is HOT
14:07 – Steve’s Squid Head thoughts
17:13 – Cardback Art Meditations
18:21 – Palace vs. Barge: The Distinction Must Be Made
26:37 – Skye-Ku
28:01 – Flip the Script: Chris Walas and Squidface?
33:00 – Derek Webster is the Space Freak of the Week (like Raphael Sadiiq)
46:36 – Ron joins the show and shares Squid-thoughts
49:35 – THE BIG QUESTION: Why is Hammerhead called Hammerhead?
50:54 – Vintagesploitation Explodes: Baby Gap
56:30 – Modern Collecting Nostalgia-rama with Ron and Skye
1:02:10 – Ron’s Weekly Vintage Advertising Facebook Posts
1:07:19 – ALL about Vintage Catalog Mailers
1:21:03 – Brown Caped Squid Heads: What is the Deal?
1:30:32 – Pink Caped Squid Head: What is a soft goods sample?
1:37:06 – Mike Cooper Joins the Show: what is he all about?
1:44:25 – Vintage Video on Satanism and Star Wars Toys
2:02:22 – Obi-Obi-Ozzy
2:03:52 – Nugget from the Archive: Unproduced Mongo Beefhead Tribesman (featuring Grandma talk and Gwar Analysis)
2:19:58 – Lili Ledy Ficha Technicas and Hombre Calamars
2:22:32 – Unloved Item: Jabba’s Fiends Puzzle
2:31:03 – Squid Market Watch (Plus Golden Grail and J-Slot Boba Sale Discussion)
2:53:50 – Lightning Round
3:07:35 – Feedback

Image Sources and Show Note Links:

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Limelight Interview #7: Dark Side of Collecting - Bill McBride

Pete writes:

 When it comes to collecting Vintage Star Wars there never seems to be a dull moment, and needless to say the last few years have been unique unto themselves. New movies via the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney have lead to a renewed interest in the franchise and ultimately an up-swing when it comes to all things from a galaxy far, far away.  

With the renewed interest in the franchise we’ve seen the same revival in collecting, and in a few cases collectors too. One collector in particular has been the subject of many news segments and interviews. He currently holds the world record for the one thing that has him high on so many radars: a 6 foot 5 inch guy in a black costume.  

For those of you that are lost at this point, let me introduce the collector: the Dark Lord of the Sith of the Star Wars collecting world Bill McBride. Bill is a long time collector and contributor to the hobby. From being one of the first “focus collectors” to his contributions to web forums and the Star Wars Collectors Archive, it’s hard to imagine this hobby without Bill.   

In addition to his many contributions and general love for the Hobby, Bill is a stand-up guy in so many other ways.   He’s a former Marine, and graduate of Virginia Military Institute, needless to say his service didn’t stop there.  In addition to helping other collectors, and serving his country, he’s very involved in making his community a better place, donating time to Animal Shelters and general philanthropic efforts throughout the community.   

Needless to say I was excited to have the chance to chat with Bill and learn more about all things Darth Vader in hobby.


FP: Bill, thanks for taking the time to talk to me about your epic collection and story. I think there’s only one place for us to start and that’s the character itself. He’s the subject of many stories in the Star Wars universe, but so little is known about him. His image is instantly recognizable all over the world, so what is it that makes Boba Fett the best Star Wars villain?

McBride: Ha...

FP: In all seriousness though, why Vader?

McBride: It’s the nuts and bolts of the character, the world class talent that went into building the character. Ralph McQuarrie, he needs to be big and imposing, we need an imposing character like a bodybuilder that can act and there comes David Prowse, we can’t have that accent we need a deeper voice, in walks James Earl Jones...superlative off the chart character. It shows how amazing the character actually is.

Some people say it’s weird how you like the villain, but in the real aspect of the character he was the antagonist but he’s really transcended the atypical villain. He’s instantly recognizable, and although he’s imposing, kids love him.

As a kid I claimed Vader from an early age. Vader was the one I left at home. I wasn’t going to subject my Vader figure to the savagery of the other kids. I didn’t want him strapped to a bottle   

FP: What was your earliest memory of Star Wars?

McBride: Going to the store was the first collecting memory. We lived in the country and I remember going into town and seeing him on the peg hook. I instantly gravitated towards that figure.

FP: So how did you get into collecting?

McBride: My father was a bit of a collector. I loved Star Wars and I loved the character and wanted to learn more about him, who he was, what was his backstory, etc.

FP: So did you remain a collector through your life or was there a down period between your childhood and adulthood?

McBride: As a young adult, I thought it was a great opportunity to collect and get back into it. Out of high school I went to an academy (VMI) and then onto the Marine Corps. Having a hobby is something that always interested me.

I don’t really recall any watershed moment where I was full throttle ahead, I was just doing what I liked. I just had more free-time, I went to more shows and that’s when I spent more time on the hobby.

At the time there wasn’t such a thing as a “focus collector” like there is today. It was a simple ideology: Vader was the only thing that interested me. If I had two 12 backs in my hand and one was Luke and one was Vader, I would take Vader no matter what.  

Doing my homework and my research, one thing that helped me was focusing on stuff that I didn’t see; the rare stuff that I never got to touch in person, so I sought these things out. 


Vader is so universal that there are literally tens of thousands of items bearing his resemblance. Here we’ll dig into some of Bill’s specific tastes and personal favorites across his massive collection.

FP: So what are your favorite action figure related pieces?  

McBride: Prototype -- Prototypes always win out over production pieces. 4” has been a big area of focus and always has been, even from the early days. Even in the early days when I knew it was out there and I was trying to find it every chance I’d get. 4” Vader stuff has always been really tough to find, there’s not much out there. There’s only a few samples, EPs, and hardcopies. My test shot is the only one that I’ve ever seen. There’s maybe 6 internal prototypes, which isn’t many at all.

My test shot came directly from Kenner employees and sources, a few pieces came from The Earth in Cincinnati. One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen was at The Earth. Darren [Murrer] let me look at some stuff in the back room and he pulled out the Star Wars vinyl case and it was full of hardcopies. Anyone that has pre-production more than likely can trace some of their prototypes back to The Earth.

FP: What are your personal favorites in the pre-production area?

McBride: Personally favorites: 15” hardcopy, first shot, ESB box flat, Toy Fair 15” sample for the ESB release (regular figure but it’s boxed up in an ESB box). The challenge with flats and trying to find them is that early on they were used to re-box the items. A lot of them went up in price because of that. The thing that is really cool about these is their aesthetic charm.

FP: Your toy collection is expansive to say the least, but I know your Vader run goes a lot further than that. What's the next biggest segment that you focus on today?

McBride: Props are very high on the list. I’ve been doing a bit of both screen used props and the Master Replicas/EFX stuff as well, even into Illusive Concepts.

When it comes to original props, they’re really challenging. Once you get into props you start to realize that it’s so much more complex, it’s everything (Paul Allen is a prop collector). You have to be more strategic, you have to have good resources and contacts. There is so much more research that goes with it. People like to screen match, and that takes time and effort. There’s not a lot of hand holding when it comes to props. There’s no one that does authentication. 

There are great resources and good people. You can ask them questions and there is a good market of dealers (PropStore for example). It’s fun. I think that it’s an adult realization of a childhood tie-in, as kids we wanted the toys to live the movies and as an adult it takes it to another level and we own pieces of Star Wars.

It’s so tough. Pieces are few and far between, but I have found a few original props. There’s nothing more iconic than Vader’s helmet. There’s a few pieces from the Original Trilogy, some from Revenge of the Sith, and even TV related, and theVader helmet from the George Lucas Super Live show.

FP: One piece that’s gotten to be really popular the last few years has been the Double Telescoping Lightsaber Darth Vader. Even loose examples go for $10K+. What are your thoughts on the DT Vader?

McBride: There’s a lot to the Double Telescoping Vader, as there were several versions. The main differences are just prototype to production...early samples that lead up to the final production piece. The first example is in Plastic Galaxy, it’s the one that you typically see up for sale.   

The earliest one was the mushroom tip which has a small piece at the end of the saber. They took two of the mushroom tips from the mold, instead of finishing them off and putting the discs together, they glued the two ends together and it ended up being like 4 inches long. The disc maybe was developed to give you better grip on the saber. The final design was the circle double telescoping saber.

FP: Given he’s been part of every film and toy release in the Original Trilogy, how many variations of carded Vaders are out there?

McBride: There’s over 100 variations that you could collect: foreign, (Toltoys, Clipper), back and front etc. It’s funny, people see the collection and they always ask what’s the difference. The figure never changed. It was always about the packaging.

FP: What’s your favorite cardback in the domestic release?

McBride: Power of the Force Vader. The coin the aesthetics, it comes together and is a very cool looking carded figure. Foreign: Empire Meccano. The logo changed and it's a rectangular carded figure.

FP: So when it comes to other pre-production pieces, what are some that stand out to you?

McBride: From a 2D perspective: Revenge of the Jedi mock-up card. It’s an unused Empire card, same as what they did for Luke X-Wing. Those came from a guy that worked for Kenner. At the end of the day my favorite is the POTF Cromalin -- just the best packaging design, the colors are so bright with the Cromalin... they’re stunning.

When it comes to 3D pieces my favorite piece is the Empire 15” boxed sample. Other pieces like the carrying cases are great too. I have a few stages of the case: dull gold, black with no COO and a white one. These are the rarer pieces. When it comes to the shiny gold chrome cases, there are about 100 out there. They were painted on top of black or dull gold cases and there are several variations in the group.


FP: What keeps you going after all these years?

McBride: I have fun with it, I’m really passionate about it, it makes me happy. The cool thing I’ve done with Vader is that I can take a break on one segment and then work on another segment. You can do anything: hats, shirts, buttons etc., and that’s the key to longevity in the hobby. It’s easy to stay true to your focus as there’s so much with Vader.

FP: What are some of your interests outside of collecting? 

McBride: I’m very active with my local shelters and spend a lot of time with German shepherd rescues specifically, as I have three shepherds. Working out lifting, I used to shoot competitively, long range high power specifically. Outside of that I stay active in the community from a philanthropic point of view.

FP: Does your Star Wars collection spill over into any other collectibles?

McBride: I’ve picked up a few other hobbies over the years. Watches and firearms are the main two. I’ll be taking over a Civil War artifact collection as well.

FP: I saw your presentation at C7. It was a fun event, but what stands out to me is the last picture you, Skye and that C-3PO guy Bill Cable posted of the three characters in Sunnyvale. If you lived in Sunnyvale who would you be?     

McBride: Julian -- he’s the built guy with a drink in his hand. Granted, I do have the occasional Ricky moment.

FP: Were you a fan of the man they call Vader (Leon White) of WCW/WWF fame?

McBride: Not really -- I was a huge fan of the WWE at one time.

FP: How have the last few years collecting been collecting wise? Have things changed for you since the resurgence of the brand?

McBride: Not really... still focused, didn’t expand.

FP: Closing up, you’ve done a lot of interviews because of the expansiveness and focus of your collection. What’s the most common question you get about your collection?

McBride: Most common, how much is your collection worth? Or what’s the most valuable item?

FP: Typical... we’ve all heard that question before, just maybe not from a reporter.

I want to thank Bill for his time and being open to us learning more about him and his collection.

Until next time...

Wampa Wampa,
"Fratastic" Pete