Star Wars Posts

Collecting Star Wars is cheaper than you think

screen-shot-2016-12-22-at-1-04-14-pmA Guest Blog Post by Dave Moss
This article was originally written for Rareburg, who in December,  joined forces with hobbyDB to provide an excellent source of collectible knowhow for the community. 

When I chat to people who don’t collect vintage Star Wars toys they all tend to think that it must be an expensive hobby as they have seen news reports about a rare Star Wars toy that just sold for thousands of pounds. And I think this puts many people off from getting started collecting. A recent example of this was when a very rare carded Boba Fett figure sold for $18,000 at auction.

But this is really not the case, yes there are some items that sell for thousands, but there is much more to collecting Star Wars than high price rare items.

My first ever post-childhood purchase of a Star Wars figure was a vintage loose Biker Scout, total cost 5p! OK, this was a few years back, but it’s still possible to find nice items for cheap prices. Online auction sites have made them harder to find, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there, and for me the hunt is part of the fun of collecting.

If you want to get started collecting vintage Star Wars toys then I would suggest you start with loose figures and ships. These you can pick up in many places, online, toy fairs, car-boot sales, second hand shops, charity shops, and flea markets.

Chief ChirpaPrices for loose figures and ships tends to be a lot lower so you can start by only spending a few pounds or less on each figure. This will enable you to get a feel for the condition of the figures and what they should look like.

Figures at the low price range of the market will more than likely be well played with and missing weapons, but you can still find some really nice items and even the odd rare item.

There are plenty of online resources that you can browse through to find out what accessories each figures should come with, or whether there are variations you should look out for. And once you feel more confident you can start spending a bit more and getting some nicer condition figures.

Hopefully by this point you will have caught the bug and want to start collecting carded figures. There are many ways to collect carded figures, some people like to go for the most pristine untouched cards that never even saw the shop floor. While others are happy to have cards that have some wear and tear to them.

Most figures were released on multiple styles of cardback. The rarest being the original ‘Star Wars’ (SW) cards, next are ‘Empire Strikes Back‘ (ESB), and the easiest to find are ‘Return of the Jedi‘ (ROTJ) or ‘Tri-logo’ cards. Tri-logo refers to late release figures where the cardbacks had the Star Wars logo in three different languages on the front of the card.

Again I would suggest starting at the bottom end of the market and pick up cards that are referred to as ‘beaters’. These are figures where the cardback maybe creased or torn, or the bubble (or blister) that the figure sits in is cracked, crushed or yellowed with age. These cards still have lots of charm and character to them, and cost a fraction of the price of mint carded figures. You can expect to pay under $20 for figures on ROTJ cards. As an example I recently picked up a ROTJ Ewok Chief Chirpa on a pretty nice card for £9 from a flea market.

As well as action figures and ships there are many other Star Wars items that you can look into collecting. Other favorites include Topps trading cards, Marvel comics, pencil toppers, erasers, or badges. Once you get started collecting vintage Star Wars you will soon find out how much merchandise has been produced over the years. There really is something for everyone.

So don’t be put off thinking vintage Star Wars toy collecting is all about high price items. Collecting Star Wars is cheaper than you think and there is something for every kind of budget.

Life, Death, and the Price of Princess Leia Action Figures

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

There’s been a lot of chatter on Facebook from collectors who complain about sellers raising the prices of collectibles related to a famous actor or public figure when they die. Right now, of course, lots of folks are concerned about the price of Princess Leia action figures in the wake of Carrie Fisher’s sudden death.

“How dare you?” they ask. “You ghoul!” they scream (yes, I actually saw someone call a seller a ghoul a couple days ago). “How can you even think about exploiting a person’s death for profit?” they yell.

Well, they have a point. But only sort of.

luke skywalker princess leia han solo

So what do you do when this happens? Several possibilities come to mind…

Spare the outrage. So maybe the seller is taking advantage of the situation. Calling them ghouls (such an underutilized word!) won’t help. The market decides what an item is worth by how rare it is and by how many people want to get their hands on it. They have the right to ask a price, and you have the right to decide if you’re willing to pay it.

princess leia action figure

Wait a couple weeks. Part of the reason for the higher price is that a lot of non-traditional collectors are suddenly looking to buy a memorial item, which can drive up the market. So wait for that first wave to calm down, and you might be competing with fewer buyers. There’s a phenomenon that often occurs when a particular collectible sells for ridiculous bucks that goes something like this:

• The first seller gets a huge price for a rare item.
• Other collectors who have the same item to sell put theirs up for sale right after that.
• Suddenly, there are several of that supposedly “rare” collectible available.
• That first buyer, who was willing to overpay, is no longer competing with you.
• And then the price settles into its natural place.

Hold on, you don’t already own one? If you’re a serious collector, you should already have that item on your shelf, right? Well, not necessarily. Perhaps it really is a rare action figure, in which case, you should expect it to be expensive. So maybe it’s a fair price. And if the price is higher than anyone is willing to pay, the seller might lower it eventually.

Finally, why were you looking up prices in the first place? Here’s a 2001 cartoon by Rex Silo, published shortly after Dale Earnhardt, Sr. died, that explains a common process.

Food Shelter Cable Rex Silo

“Food, Shelter, Cable” by Rex Silo. (c) 2001, used with permission

So why did you look it up? Were you just curious about the value of an item? Or were you considering selling one yourself if the price is right? Admit it, we all have different reasons to collect, and cashing in on a rare item at the right time is one part of the game.

In the meantime, let’s appreciate Carrie Fisher for who she was… an actress with a beautiful voice, a ferociously funny writer, and someone whose films have left us with fantastic memories for almost four decades now.

princess leia han solo

Star Wars: A Chronological Conundrum

By cpowell2112

In honor of “Star Wars” Day (May the Fourth be with you…), we look at a way to maximize your enjoyment of the most popular film series of all time.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 4.27.04 PM

When the first “Star Wars” movie came out in 1977, it was a worldwide phenomenon. At the time, it was the highest grossing film ever, earning $775 million worldwide. It was’t until “The Empire Strikes Back” was released in 1980 that we found out the secret of “Star Wars”… It was actually the fourth installment of the series.

That fact isn’t a secret anymore, what with the prequel trilogy disappointing us through the early 2000’s and the sequel trilogy bringing us “new hope” for the Star Wars series. But the big question is why didn’t George Lucas give us the Star Wars saga in the correct order? I’m sure there are many answers, even a few given by Lucas himself, but I personally believe the explanation is quite simple: The prequels are boring.

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I know what you must be thinking, “Uh-oh, here we go again. Another angry fanboy complaining about the prequel trilogy”. Well, before you start getting a bad feeling about this, let me assure you that all the bellyaching in this article is done. Instead of trying to explain how the 2000’s Star Wars movies could have been made better, let’s focus on making the movies better in a different way.

How you watch a series of movies can greatly impact the meaning and message of the story. Most movies are pretty straight forward, with a sequential release pattern and short delays between each sequel. Look at the Harry Potter series for example. If you sit down to marathon those films, you obviously start with The Sorcerer’s Stone, and move on in order from there. But what if i ask which “Star Wars” film to watch first? Do you go with episode 1, or episode 4? And where do you go from there?

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This dilemma is a two pronged problem; chronological and technological. In all technically, the “correct way” to watch “Star Wars” is to start at 1, and go forward. I’ve personally found that method a little distracting due to the sudden drop in special effects ability from “Revenge of the Sith” to “A New Hope.” The practical effects in the original trilogy were groundbreaking at the time they were released, but technology moves far too fast for something that innovative to be the best for long, and the prequel trilogy came out almost 30 years later. The CGI in the newer trilogy was yet again a breakthrough for it’s time, leaving the beauty and simplicity of the original trilogy in the dust, and when you come from the latter to the former, it feels as if you’re stepping back in time rather than following a sequential story. So how does one combat that? Simple, you would think, watch the movies how they were released.

Many diehard “Star Wars” fans would agree that 4-5-6-1-2-3 is the order to watch these films, and I used to be one of them. The effects loose the distracting quality, and you save the worst movies for last, but the story was not meant to be told that way. While I hate to admit it, the prequel trilogy has very important information to help understand the original trilogy, such as Anakin’s fall to the dark side and the destruction of the Galactic Republic to make way for the evil Empire. So why wait to get the full story to the end?

My very good friend introduced me to a new way of watching these films, and I personally find it to make the most sense. Start by watching episode 4 and 5, they came out first and are arguably the best Star Wars films. Also, they do the best job of creating a universe and story that we can easily get lost in, not to mention the HUGE cliffhanger at the end of episode 5. After you have found out about the Star Wars galaxy, and learned of the Force and the true identity of Darth Vader, that is when you go back to find out what happened to the Jedi, the Republic, and why Anakin Skywalker was seduced by the Dark Side of the force. Watching “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith” will do just that, and make you even more excited to see the final resolution of the Darth Vader story in Return of the Jedi.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 4.47.37 PM

Hold on, what about “The Phantom Menace?” We are talking about watching the whole Star Wars Saga, so why aren’t we watching the very first episode? The answer is simple, if unpopular; Episode 1 is not important to the story. The only things that “Phantom Menace” shows us that are not in the other movies are that podraces are cool and Darth Maul deserved more screen time. Even the absolute loathing for Jar Jar Binks that episode 1 delivers is taken care of in episode 2, when he single handedly gave Palpatine the ability to create the Empire. I mean, let’s be honest, if “Phantom Menace” had been released as the first Star Wars movie instead of “A New Hope,” “Star Wars” could have been one of the biggest box office flops of all time.

Now, I’m not saying this order is the right way to watch these movies. I won’t even say it’s the best way to watch these movies, but it is the way I enjoy most. I have found that this order (4-5-2-3-6-7) not only enhances the story by giving you backstory and closure right when you need it, ending with “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens.” Also, you skip over a whole bunch of extraneous information and it’s hard to follow political debate that permeates episode 1. Give this order a shot, and I’m sure you’ll see why I love it so much. Happy viewing, and may the force be with you.

Did We Mention We Get To Play With Toys at hobbyDB?

hobbydb office tatooine

There are many reasons it’s awesome to work at hobbyDB, not the least of which is our office space. Our Boulder, Colorado headquarters are located in a building that bears a strong resemblance to Luke Skywalker’s home. In fact, we’ve officially nicknamed it Tatooine. Inside, the walls rarely meet at right angles, and bright, primary colors abound.

The latest bit of fun? Our new mini conference room. The wall-mounted Hot Wheels track is great for keeping meetings light and non-confrontational, unless some sort of racing action breaks out, in which case we race for keeps. A dry erase board is also on hand for keeping track of points standings. Or for, you know, conducting actual work.

Hot Wheels room at hobbyDB

All kidding aside, a little fun in the workplace helps create an atmosphere in which folks look forward to spending time. So, what’s the most fun thing in your workplace? Let us know in the comments section!

Kidrobot’s Allen Richardson Joins hobbyDB Advisory Board

Allen Richardson Kidrobot

Over the past year, hobbyDB has been collecting everything from Kidrobot, and now we’ve added Allen Richardson. No, he’s not a Vinyl Art Toy, he’s VP of Product and Marketing for Kidrobot, and he’s joining our Advisory Board.

The Kidrobot archive on hobbyDB is the most complete listing you will find anywhere on the internet, and Allen will be able to help us stay on top of all the new releases. “I get to work with the best independent vinyl artists and largest licenses available today,” he told us. “I love getting to live in two very different worlds and make a living within them both.”

If that sounds like a fun job, consider the rest of his history in the world of toys.

He started in the video game world with Konami, and then moved to Tiger Electronics. When Tiger was acquired by Hasbro, he was put in charge of their “Star Wars” product line. “It was a dream come true as I had collected action figures all of my life. My earliest memories were of receiving the very first Star Wars action figures for Christmas. Star Wars, and most all of what we call the “Boys Action” category, has been in my blood for a very long time.”

As Director of Marketing /Product for Hasbro, he handled a few other brands you may have heard of: Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, The Littlest Pet Shop, FurReal Friends, VideoNow, Hitclips, PooChi, and Furby for example.

And before coming to Kidrobot, he worked for Sphero. “I returned to Star Wars to work on everyone’s favorite new Droid: BB-8! Being able to take traditional toy play and add an app-based experience to it was truly innovative and memorable.”

Aside from those interests, he collects original comic art. His favorite piece is a Judge Dredd page from “2000AD” by Brian Bolland. “This page pairs my favorite character with my favorite artist. They are pretty rare, so I was elated to finally have it for my collection.”

hobbyDB is just as glad to have Allen on board.