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

Thursday, August 3, 2017

How French Comics "Valerian" Met Star Wars

Stéphane writes:

 The recent release in theaters of the movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets from director Luc Besson is the perfect time to take another look at an article I wrote in French 10 years ago in 2007.

The visual world and style of Valerian comics was a great deal of inspirational source, from the start, for people who worked on the original Star Wars movies and even the prequels; here's how...

Back in the 1960s-1970s, the golden age of Belgian and French comics had started decades ago with such famous authors like Hergé ("Tintin") or Goscinny ("Asterix"). In early 1967, leading comics magazine Pilote was looking at a sci-fi series to stand out from its competitors, which led to the introduction of "Valerian: Spatiotemporal Agent" comic strips from famous authors Jean-Claude Mézières and Pierre Christin. It became a comic book on its own in 1970 and now totals 27 different albums.

Valerian was a forerunner of the Space Opera in many ways; the stories are cleverly written and revisit many concepts of the genre such as virtual and parallel worlds, time travel, extra-terrestrial encounters and architectures, cloning... the visual style is clearly ahead of its time and still not outdated even as of today. Last but not least, the incredible amount of alien species, and of course the main characters: Valerian a typical anti-hero, and Laureline his sensual and clever partner / girlfriend who incarnates femininity and maternity.

History say that Mezières tried to contact George Lucas when he realized that some stuff in Star Wars had been obviously inspired, if not copied, from Valerian; but he never received any reply. As a response, he published an illustration for Pilote magazine in 1983 depicting Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa meeting Valérian and Laureline in a bar surrounded by all sort of creatures typical of both series. “Fancy meeting you here!” says Leia. “Oh, we've been hanging around here for a long time!” retorts Laureline.

Looking backwards, Lucas could be blamed for his silence, and the true story has never been told. But it wouldn't appear unusual that people working on a sci-fi movie would find inspiration from either stuff their knew or sources around. At least, it was confessed by design director Doug Chiang on the prequels, when he said he kept a set of Valerian albums in his library.

Over the years, several other concepts from the Valerian series were used in movies like Conan the Barbarian and Independence Day. But recognition came when Luc Besson requested Mézières to design sets for his movie The Fifth Element in 1994, reusing flying taxi cabs from "The Circles of Power" (1994) and the palace-spaceship from "On the Frontiers" (1988).

You can find more info on Valerian on Wikipedia:

As seeing is believing, you can check for yourself with excerpts from various albums:

Comic #02 - Empire of the Thousand Planets - 1971

The white priest's helmet is reminiscent of Darth Vader's.

Meet Valerian held prisoner in carbonite...

Character's face with a burned face like Anakin's in Revenge of the Sith

Perspective view of spaceships as used in the last scene of The Empire Strikes Back

Comic #03 - World Without Stars - 1972
Spaceship looks like Star Wars early spaceship concepts as well as the Episode I Flash Speeder 

An obvious early version of Jabba's Sails Barge

Can you believe this Laureline in slave-like outfit dates from... 1972

Comic #04 - Welcome on Alflolol - 1972
Kind of space scene with the Millenium Falcon

 Comic #05 - Birds of the Master - 1973
A torture machine similar to the one shown in SW and ESB

Comic #06 - Ambassador of the Shadows - 1975
Spaceship with sails as seen in Episode II

Meet Grand Moff Tarkin...

Those aliens (Shingouz) are probably Watto's ancestors.

Pedestal similar to the ones from Geonosis Arena in Episode II

Comic #07 - Rigged Lands - 1977
Making clones out of a same living person... 

Comic #08 - Heroes of the Equinox - 1978
City landscape reminiscent of Naboo in Episode II

Comic #09 - Chatelet Stop to Cassiopee - 1980
Laureline borrowed the Emperor's chair.

Comic #15 - Circles of Power - 1994
Dexter Jester from Episode II served here... 

Comic #16 - Hostages of the Ultralum - 1996
 This character must be Boss Nass' relative...

The Gungan submarine from Episode I can actually fly in outer space.