Thursday, May 17, 2018

'Chive Cast Blog Log Pod Episode 7 - Golden Grail of C-3PO Collectibles

Bill Cable discusses the first ever confirmed 45-A back C-3PO (Removable Limbs) with Skye and Steve. After searching for 20 years for this debut cardback, he finally finds one. What is the story? What is up with the proofs? Peruvian droids? How did it happen? Is there another?

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Show Note Links:

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

A Golden Grail: The ESB 45 Back Removable Limbs C-3PO

Steve writes:

 Guest blogger and Editor Bill Cable is here to recap his recent significant find of a production carded figure long thought to have never existed: the 45 Back C-3PO (Removable Limbs).

Bill writes:

On Monday April 9th, 2018 the history of Vintage Star Wars collecting was rewritten. An Empire Strikes Back 45-back C-3PO with Removable Limbs appeared on eBay. It's that particular figure's American debut cardback. Prior to April 9th, 2018, it was believed by EVERYONE not to exist.

Why is this ESB45 Removable Limbs C-3PO Kenner MOC figure significant? Well, a bit of history... When I began my C-3PO collecting focus back in 1999, with the goal of picking up 3PO on each different Vintage cardback, the ESB45 was already known not to be common. It was highly sought by debut cardback collectors in particular. No stone was left unturned in the quest to find one. By Star Wars Celebration II in 2002, it was essentially accepted not to exist. That belief was so solid that I was over-the-moon elated to pick up two ESB45 proof cards, as proofs were the only known examples of the Display Arena offer on a 3PO cardback (even though as proofs go, they were pretty common).

Prior to this arriving on eBay, the only two examples of a U.S. Kenner production ESB45 3PO existed in the form of open cardbacks, which were purchased in Peru and distributed by the Basa company. The cardbacks are straight standard Kenner, and the bubbles were removed by the kids who bought them (I'm friends with one of them). They have a small Basa sticker on the upper-left corner. And nobody knows why the only ESB45 3POs ever to turn up turned up in Peru. Complete mystery. All we can do is speculate.

That this figure did not exist was a given in the hobby. It was so thoroughly understood not to be that everyone stopped looking for one. Even when stuff like the SW21-back Stormtrooper was discovered, people still wouldn't go so far as to speculate that an ESB45 3PO might also exist. If not one cardback had popped up after 10 years of people searching relentlessly for one, then everyone concluded it must not be out there. They must have all been shipped to Peru for whatever reason. That was the belief until this figure appeared.

The auction seller picked up this figure at a Hong Kong Vintage toy shop. And that's all we know about where it came from. As the figure was manufactured at the Smile factory in Hong Kong (as indicated by the small 'S' under the proof-of-purchase), we can speculate that it never left that country until it was sold on eBay. The Basa cardbacks feature the same 'S' factory code, and are identical in every way to this ESB45.


It was 35 years before the first example of a Kenner ESB45 C-3PO with Removable Limbs was confirmed to exist.  Unbelievably, a second example popped up on eBay less than a week later...

This example was also sold out of Hong Kong. It is in similar condition, but lacks the large black X which was on the bubble of the first. The auction was listed with the same lack of fanfare as the first ESB45 C-3PO. But this time it did not escape notice.

The seller for the second auction reported that he pulled it out of his warehouse. From the sound of his response, he operates an antique toy shop, and he just happened upon some Star Wars toys that he's stored in a corner. This suggests perhaps even more rare figures could soon be uncovered!!

Stay tuned for an upcoming Blog Log Pod from the 'Chive Cast that delves deeper into this story, and be sure to check out Bill's full articles on this remarkable find over on his site

Monday, May 7, 2018

Star Wars Community Digest Issue #10

Tommy and Yehuda 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)

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 last week...

Disco Ben and Vader

Star Wars vintage bootleg ceramics continue to intrigue with their unintended satirical sculpting of Star Wars characters. Richard Rich reaches out to the community for information on what appears to be a fist bumping disco themed maquette lamp. Join the conversation in the Star Wars Bootleg and Knock Off Collectors Group

The full thread can be found here:

Further reading on the Archive:

Simpler Store Displays 

Store displays are designed to have eye-catching appeal and are frequently highlighted in collections due to their dramatic appearance. Collectors discuss the simpler store displays, their collectibility, and their ability to enhance a collection in this thread in the Star Wars Displays and Advertising Group

The full thread can be found here:

Further reading on the Archive:


A collector accidentally breaks off the peg from a figure stand which remains jammed in the figure's foot-hole. The community at Jabba's Court offers several possible methods to remove the peg from the figure without causing damage to the figure. 

The full thread can be found here:


While the Star Wars Community Digest is geared mostly to text-based threads and sources of information, we do suggest that all collectors become familiar with collecting podcasts as well. There are a number of really good vintage-themed podcasts which can help both newer and long-time collectors learn more about collecting and stay up to date on the current events in the hobby. In this thread from the 12 Back Group, the community discusses the topic and identifies their favorite podcasts.

The full thread can be found here:
Good Vintage Podcasts?

A U.S. Kenner ESB45 C-3PO with Removable Limbs Finally Turns Up!

For many years, the community (and especially C-3PO aficionado Bill Cable) has been under the assumption that no Removable Limbs 3POs were released on ESB45-back cards. Despite years of searching, no examples had ever turned up and the figure was thought to have been unreleased on that cardback...but then Bill randomly found one on eBay, of all places! He details the whole story in this thread from the Empire Strikes Back Group (and on his own site,

The full thread can be found here:

Further reading:
Creature Cantina: Epic Story

One Display to Ruler Them All!

There are few things as beloved in this hobby as the line of Star Wars-themed stationary and school supplies released by Helix in the UK. As areas of collecting go, it's one of the hottest right now, to say nothing of how difficult many of those products are to track down. Which makes this store display for Helix rulers which was limelighted in the Displays and Advertising Group all the most awesome to see!

The full thread can be found here:
Helix Ruler Display

Further reading on the Archive:
Helix items listed in the Archive Database

A Fourth Headman

After many years of searching, collector Paul Chu unearths the 4th known carded UZAY Headman. Paul shares the international journey on his discovery of one of rarest and most coveted Star Wars Bootleg figures.

The full thread can be found here:

Further reading on the Archive:

Behind the Scenes Swag

Lucasfilm crew as well as Kenner employees often received exclusive gifts for work on particular projects or for years of service. Collectors discuss this chapter of Star Wars collecting and limelight many exclusive behind the scenes swag in this thread from the Empire Strikes Back group. 

The full thread can be found here:

Further reading on the Archive:

A Limelight Worth a Look: Carded Boba Fetts

Chris Eddleman shares a picture of his complete run of carded Empire Strikes Back Boba Fett figures with different mail-away offers, in this thread from the Empire Strikes Back group.

The full thread can be found here:

Further reading on the Archive:

It's All Greek to ESB Read Alongs

Sometimes, the coolest items around are the foreign (to the US, at least) releases of vintage items. They're usually MUCH harder to find, since they were often released in significantly smaller quantities, and it's also really cool to see familiar logos in different languages. Such is the case here in this thread from the Star Wars Records and Tapes group. While the standard English language version of the ESB Read Along isn't likely to excite too many people, here we see a super rare Greek language version turn up!

The full thread can be found here:
ESB Greek Read Along

Further reading on the Archive:

From the Furthest Reaches of the Galaxy: Meiji Seika Display

Meiji Seika, a Japanese food company, produced Star Wars themed candies accompanied with small flexible plastic figures and collectors cards. Similar types of small figures were produced in Japan by other companies as well. Collectively they are referred to as Keshigomu or Keshi figures. In this thread in the Displays and Advertising Group, Gus Lopez shares pictures of a very rare vintage store display which illustrates the candy and toys and is accompanied with classic Star Wars imagery. 

The full thread can be found here:

Further reading:

Glue or Goo

A collector shares his concerns about what appears to be glue on the wrists of his large size Boba-Fett action figure. The Imperial Commissary group discusses the reason for the gluey appearance, which turns out to be a form of plastic degradation common with large size action figures. 

The full thread can be found here:

Further reading:

A Limelight Worth a Look: General Mills Card Set and Mailer Wallet

Paul Morrison shares pictures to the 12 Back Group of his General Mills Cereal Star Wars 18 card set accompanied by a Star Wars-emblazoned wallet designed to hold and display the cards. The rarely seen wallet was only available as a mail away offer from General Mills.

Further reading on the Archive:

Another Case of Customs Being Sold as Prototypes

An administrator of the Empire Strikes Back group warns the community about an eBay seller offering multiple custom pieces as pre-production pieces accompanied with false provenance.

The full thread can be found here:

An Original Toys R Us/Early Bird Store Receipt is Found 

Rob Wallace recently bought an original Early Bird envelope which was accompanied by the original Store receipt. Rob shares pictures of this rare piece of ephemera with the Star Wars 12 Back Group, complete with an image of Geoffrey the Giraffe.

The full thread can be found here:

Further reading on the Archive:

Pine Sol Display

Whenever the topic of odd licensed Star Wars products is raised, my personal favorite to mention is the vintage promotion from Pine Sol. While one doesn't typically associate floor cleaner with a galaxy far, far away, the company did offer a mail-away for Star Wars flying disks. While the frisbees are hard enough to find, and unopened bottles of the cleaner which featured the promotion are even tougher, I don't think I've ever seen one of the store displays!

The full thread can be found in the Star Wars Displays and Advertising group here:
Pine Sol Shelftalker Display

Revenge of the Jedi Proof Cards Mislabeled as Cardbacks in Recent Auctions 

It appears as if several lucky collectors in the Return of the Jedi Group were able to buy proof cards way below market value due to the poor labeling on several recent eBay auctions. Hopefully they arrive safely and can be authenticated. 

The full thread can be found here:

Further reading on the Archive:

Record Number of Porgs

As part of this year's Record Store Day (a promotion to encourage people to visit local record retailers), a special album was released featuring music from The Last Jedi (two tracks), but the record itself was in the shape of a Porg. The promotion was limited to 3,500 copies and was only available at certain record stores. In this thread from the Star Wars Records and Tapes group, collectors spread news about the exclusive.

The full thread can be found here:
Porg Records

Further reading:
Who Else Found the Porg LP?

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

"I'd say that debasing themselves this way is a fair indication that Lucas' interest in
the Star Wars saga is low."

While some fans have accused LFL/Disney of destroying their childhoods with The Last Jedi, it is perhaps interesting to remember that Lucas has a long history of destroying childhoods, originally in real-time, rather than retroactively 40 years later.

In 1985, Star Wars was still beloved but obviously on the way out. Fans could feel it. Power of the Force figures were appearing at retail and weren't exactly flying off the shelves. Return of the Jedi had been in theaters for two years, and at that point, if you hadn't seen it, you weren't going to. And even if you had seen it, there was a good chance you didn't like it overly much (or if you did, you weren't posting about it online). Star Wars conversation finally had its own home on ARPANET, in the dedicated net.movies.sw newsgroup, but even that would only last until July of 1985 (the group was eliminated because, according to their reasoning at the time: "There seems little reason to support this group until a new Star Wars epic comes out (years), and we can recreate the group at that time, should the net last so long.") Yes, Star Wars was on its last legs, walking off into the sunset like every space western hero should.

More importantly to some people though, the franchise hadn't "sold out."  Yes, there had been the Holiday Special, but since this was the days before bootleg tapes of that were accessible to fans (in fact, this era pre-dates most home video, period), people generally ignored that. Star Wars was still pure. Commercialized more extensively than anything since Mickey Mouse, but nobody paid attention to that either. Star Wars was something truly special...except for the Ewoks. People posting online in the 80s generally hated them beyond all reason, because THEY RUINED RETURN OF THE JEDI!


Nerd rage in the fandom was at one of its highest points ever. Star Wars fans were being ostracized by the other sci-fi newsgroups, because Star Wars wasn't *real* science fiction. It was too childish. As evidenced by the Ewoks, which RUINED CHILDHOODS AND THE FRANCHISE! (or so the thinking seems to have been at the time).

Which is why it should probably come as no surprise that news of the Droids and Ewoks cartoons wasn't exactly greeted with enthusiasm from the online world. Most of the people posting in newsgroups in the 80s were older fans, who considered ROTJ for children. These were fans posting from universities and military bases, installations which had access to the very expensive computer equipment required to access the internet during that era. These were fans who liked ANH and ESB, but ROTJ was seen as something ridiculous which would probably never catch on. To many of the fans online in the 80s, it was probably for the best that the Trilogy was over and Lucas was taking a break from the saga. And as such, they weren't immediately sold on the idea of the galaxy far, far away coming to Saturday morning cartoon lineups on TVs closer to home. In fact, they were basically never sold on the idea at all. It seems to have been taken as either a horrifying joke, proof that Star Wars was done, or that Star Wars had never been anything special to begin with. Star Wars was for adults, not children!

This would be the first of many times that LFL ruined these people's childhoods.

Still, if you had signed onto ARPANET (or that young upstart Usenet) in Spring and Summer of 1985, these are examples of the kinds of conversations you could have taken part in. Spending your days cracking jokes about how nothing could be worse than Star Wars cartoon shows.

Star Wars Cartoon Series

Ewoks and Nutrasweet