Friday, June 28, 2019

'Chive Cast 99 - Rocket Riding Along the Facebook Divide

“The Honesty, which is kindness, that comes across as cruelty.” This episode is about collecting the Biker Scout, but it is also about the pre-Facebook / Post-Facebook collector divide. We talk about the Rocket Rider’s short snout and proofs while also penning an open letter to the unofficial leadership council of the FaceBook collectors. We invite John Alvarez and Joe Yglesias -- the eternally old-and-grumpy Statler and Waldorf of vintage Star Wars -- to share tales of old hobby beefs and how it used to be on Rebelscum. John pipes in to discuss how he built his storied and dismantled Biker Scout run and then Joe helps us to think about where the Scout DNA hides in Vintage bootlegs. Plus FX Master history lessons, VHS ads, Quartz Stop Watches and an improvised MarketWatch on the Gretzky Podcast!

Loading the player...


01:30 – Show Intro
10:34 – Open Letter to the Facebook Gods
22:30 – Actual Biker Scout Talk Begins
28:40 – Behind the Steve with the “Rocket Bike” Rider
37:20 – Skye-Ku
38:12 – Netherlands Biker Scout Stuff
42:35 – John and Joe Tell Tales of Trolls Past
54:30 – Neinast Debate
1:03:14 – The Great "FX Master" Scam History
1:13:13 – The guy who didn’t understand what a Yak Face hardcopy is
1:27:30 – John’s Old Biker Scout Run
1:47:30 – Biker Scout DNA in the Bootleg
1:51:32 – Nugget from the Archive (Unproduced clock, Stopwatch Layout Art)
1:59:10 – Havens debate and John
2:03:09 – Unloved Item (Ditty Bag)
2:07:15 – Vintage Kenner Commercial
2:11:30 – Biker Scout Improvised MarketWatch
2:15:45 – Short Mouth Variant
2:17:22 – CBS-Fox Video Sweepstakes Ad and Outro

(NOTE: The Screed unpainted head/torso and the Gaff head pictured here turned out to be fake pieces made by Scott McWilliams - to learn more:

Image Sources and Show Note Links:

Monday, June 24, 2019

How to Make Museum-Style Signs for Your Collection

Ron writes:

 If you're like me, you view collecting as being all about contextualization. You, as a collector, are trying to assemble a group of objects that tells a story. That's ultimately what motivates you -- the story.

Sure, the chicks are also great. But let's be honest: After you've been collecting Star Wars toys for a while, the spectacle of women throwing themselves at your feet and begging for your attention becomes a little old.

Which is why you should consider dressing up your collection with signs.

Signs are a great way of adding context to all that stuff you've acquired. They're also a great way of ensuring that long-haired freaky people remain 100% aware that they need not apply.

In this post I will cover signs of two types. I've found each type to be helpful in contextualizing my collection.

Shelf Tents

A shelf tent is a small sign resembling a place card that can live unobtrusively on a shelf beside whatever it is that you're displaying. I say it resembles a place card because it literally is a place card.

Avery makes a decent printable place card. I've found that 2" x 3.5" is a good size for a shelf tent.

I can hear you saying, "That's it!? Your idea of a hot collecting tip is a printable Avery card that I can buy on Amazon?"

Well, I didn't say I was imparting arcane knowledge or stealing the Declaration of Independence with Nicolas Cage. It's just a simple idea for a sign. Feel free to come up with a more complicated one, if you're into that kind of thing.

Here's an example of a shelf tent I made for one of my items. You can format the text in any way you like.

Wall Placards

One drawback of the shelf tent is that it doesn't allow for a lot of text. It imparts its knowledge in a few lines, and that's that. Fortunately, the wall placards I've designed are more spacious.

Here is what you will need to make them:
Once you have your materials in hand, you can start to assemble your signs.

First, take off your clothes and put on the speedo.

Next, simply type the text you want on the sign into the Word template provided by the label company (you may need to adjust the template a bit). When you're done with that, print the labels, and then stick them onto the chipboard squares.

Yes, you can also print the text on regular paper, cut the paper, and glue it to the squares, but I discovered that doing that leads to problems concerning the squareness of the signs. No matter how carefully I cut, they always looked a bit off.

When you stick the label to the square, you may find that an edge or two of the label slightly overlaps the cardboard. Don't worry about that. No one will notice once it's on the wall. If you trim it off, it's liable to look janky. The key is to make sure that none of the brown cardboard is showing when viewed from the front. Apply the labels carefully!

To get it on the wall, use the Command strips. Simply stick two on the reverse of the square, as shown in the below photo, then pop two additional Command strips onto the ones you've stuck to the square. Then remove the adhesive backing from the latter two strips, and carefully affix the whole assembly to the wall (use a level if you want to feel like a real man).

The Command strips give the squares a bit of clearance from the wall, which makes the signs look pretty swank and museum-like. If you need to remove the strips, you should be able to do so without damaging the wall by following the instructions provided by 3M. I tested it, and it worked for me.

At this point you can remove the speedo. But make sure you store it someplace safe. You'll need it should you decide to make additional signs.

And there you go. Signs!

Monday, May 13, 2019

I FOUND YOU: The Dream We All Had

Skye writes:

 The DREAM. You know the dream. We’ve all had the dream. The one where you walk into an old toy store that is filled floor to ceiling with vintage toys. The one where you discover a room filled with factory overstock. The dream from which you hate to wake.

 What if you could recreate that dream? Let’s go even further, what if you could recreate the experience of dreaming that dream.

Montreal based artist Eric Bond has tried to do just that with his astonishing, befuddling and not-a-little-bit disturbing video series entitled “I Found You.” His dreamscape is made entirely in miniature and with painstaking detail. Star Wars toys, Nintendo games, cereal boxes, GI Joe playsets, comics… the entire pop culture menagerie of a child of the 80s and of the middle-aged collector of the 2000s is reproduced, destroyed, submerged and lit with a sickly neon glow.

These works are clearly and overtly inspired by Vaporwave, a recent genre of music that takes 1980s cheesy pop and distorts it to the point of grotesquery. This is usually paired with visuals of 1980s Mall consumer culture. When listening to this music you feel the warmth of nostalgia in your bones, but also sick to your stomach as you are stuck in an uncanny recreation of a disappearing culture. Here's a great compilation of Vaporwave to familiarize yourself with the genre.

Bond’s art works on the similar nightmare/dream aspect of Vaporwave, but he deals exclusively in the memories and artifacts of 1980s youth culture. Take a look at the photos in this gallery, or better yet, check out these videos:

I’ve seen these in person, and it is unbelievable the amount of work that has gone into this. Each recreation is an object of art, yet he is not afraid to deform his work and to make it ugly. He easily could have made a toy store from 1983 and lit it well. It would have been spectacular and frankly, would have received more attention and admiration from a larger public. But that would have been a mere trick, and this has realized aspirations to art and an individual’s artistic vision. He is not recreating our youth, he is recreating our youth as it is recreated in our subconscious.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

'Chive Cast Blog Log Pod Episode 11 - Protomold Fudge

What is a Protomold? How is it different from a Hardcopy? How was it made? Who made it? So many questions and amazing amounts of answers coming from Ben Sheehan, who just wrote the blog post about. Ron Salvatore joins to add his prototype knowledge, Steve keeps it on the rails, and Skye talks about his mom's underpants. In other's a typical 'Chive Cast!

Loading the player...



Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Polish Figures and Jakub Burzyński's "Far Far Away"

Ron writes:

 Bootleg action figures from Poland were among the first items I can recall being wowed by on the Star Wars Collectors Archive.

Actually, I don't think they were even considered Polish at that time; all anyone knew was that they were weird and ugly.

Here's an old entry by Chris Georgoulias. Somehow, the internet has preserved it for decades, along with countless other crazy things, like "you've released the fooking fury," Selleck Waterfall Sandwich, and that dodgy Limp Bizkit fansite you made using GeoCities after Becky dumped you and went to Lollapalooza with some guy named Chad.

Those old SWCA entries were my introduction to Polish bootlegs. I was immediately smitten, especially so in the case of the crazy Princess Leia with AT-AT Driver limbs and silver star puffs hairdo.

By that way, that last link leads to a later entry written by yours truly. I'd forgotten that I'd described that Leia figure as Blue Snaggletooth's prom date. Funny.

As a collector, I've always been drawn to novelty. Here was an area of collecting that was wholly mysterious! In the '90s, only a few collectors in the States owned examples of these figures, and almost no one knew their full story. Seeing them was exciting. It opened a door.

Somewhat weirdly, it wasn't long before I had the opportunity to purchase all of the figures that I'd seen on the SWCA. The man who owned them was selling large portions of his collection. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity. I recall paying about $20 each for them. When I proudly told a collecting friend of this, he looked at me in horror. Twenty bucks a pop for those dire things? He thought I got robbed.

Maybe I did get robbed. At the time, you could buy many carded figures for $20. But it seemed worth it to me to own something obscure. And I already had a bunch of carded figures.
Well, flash forward 20 or so years, and Polish figures have ceased to be obscure. They're an accepted part of the hobby; some collectors even focus on them. For this we can thank collectors like Joseph Yglesias and John Alvarez, who continued gathering information on these figures long after I'd grown too lazy to keep up. In fact, I traded a good portion of my material -- which had come to include a couple of very rare carded examples -- to Joseph sometime in the early 2000s. I sort of regret it. I got some very nice things in trade, though.

Fortunately, I still have some relics of those days.

Here you see the original photographs that were featured on the Archive. They're dated February of 1994.

And here are two of the ziplock baggies in which they came to me. I love the little stickers reading "RARE." Such melodrama!

Finally, here's the box in which all the bagged figures were stored. In case you didn't get the hint, rare figures were inside.

The inside cover even bears a sticker with some Polish text on it.

Anyway, all of this is but an introduction to the real topic of this post: Jakub Burzyński's excellent new book, Far Far Away: A Guide to Unlicensed Vintage Polish Star Wars Action Figures.

As you may have guessed from the title, it's a thoroughly deep dive into the realm of Polish bootlegs. I think it's likely to remain the authoritative source on this area of collecting for the foreseeable future.

Jakub appears to have a gift for organization, as the book is scrupulously structured and logically laid out, with its sections corresponding to different series of Polish bootlegs. Jakub identifies eight such series from the vintage era, ranging from a early articulated Chewbacca (a series consisting of one figure!), to a second and final set of articulated figures, the production of which wound up around 1990. Two additional series are covered in subsequent sections, including one whose figures included capes decorated with bizarre designs.

But as anyone who has any interest in this stuff knows, to collect Polish is to collect variations. There are scads of color variants available within some of the individual series. If you want them all, you need to find the blue, the pink, the green, and so on.

Fortunately, Far Far Away contains a lot of color photography to help you get a handle on what exactly is out there.

There are even sections devoted to non-Star Wars items. My favorite: a Rambo figure that looks something like Phyllis Diller wearing a bandanna and green pants.

Take it from someone who knows a little bit about compiling collecting information: a lot of work went into this project, and we can thank Jakub and his many sponsors and contributors for putting so much effort into a collectibles book that truly does justice to its subject.

Judging by the photos of the author featured at the back of the book, Jakub is a tasteful dude who knows how to rock a velvet jacket. That sense of taste is evident throughout this production. It's easy to appreciate the book as an object. The cover design is simple but striking, featuring Leia as Blue Snaggletooth's prom date on a black background. The exterior of the book has a rubberized texture that makes it feel grippy and thoroughly high-class. And the print quality, paper, and writing are ace from start to finish.

If you're interested in purchasing a copy, you can contact Jakub via his Facebook profile. The price isn't cheap -- but then neither is the product. This is a classic example of the purchaser getting exactly what he pays for.

If you'd like more information, check out Jakub's interview on a recent episode of our podcast.