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Hero Of The Force – Meet A Master Star Wars Collector

On December 17 there will be a great awakening, not only of the Force, but of a film franchise that has lain dormant for a decade. 38 years after it made its first appearance on the big screen, we’ll return once again to a Galaxy far, far away with Star Wars Episode 7.

For many of us it will be an exciting time, as we once again meet characters we thought gone forever. For others, it will be the start of a new journey among the Rebel Alliance and evil Sith Empire, with new friends in tow.

Here at ParcelHero we caught up with a passionate enthusiast for whom Star Wars has been an everyday part of life for the last three decades to find out just what it is that makes the pull of the force so powerful.

Iain has been collecting vintage toys since the early 90s and has, over the years, amassed more than 3,000 figures. In fact, he has more than 20 Millennium Falcons alone. He owns everything from loose Luke Skywalkers to carded 8d8’s. That’s an 8d8 figure (8d8 was a minor droid character that appeared briefly in Episode VI – no one knows why he got his own figure) that’s still in the packaging – the cardboard back with a clear plastic bubble.

Iain’s also a successful eBay merchant, where he buys bulk lots of figures and sifts through looking for gold before selling on the rest. He’s sold over 1000 figures, so it’s safe to say he knows his postage from his parcels. We caught up with him to find out whether or not he’s as excited about Star Wars: The Force Unleashed as we are.

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Star Wars figure hunter Iain has something of a weakness for the Falcon

Which was the first Star Wars film you saw, where and when?

First one I saw was Return of the Jedi in the cinema – I remember going to the Ipswich Odeon with some friends and one of their mums – I don’t remember too much about the film other than it was amazing – I had the Panini sticker album and it was great to see everything on the big screen

When did you start collecting Star Wars memorabilia? What drew you to Star Wars in particular?

We never had much as kids because my Mum thought it was a waste of money – plus there were four of us so it would have been pretty expensive. So around the early 90s my brothers and I picked up various bits at car boot sales when we could. We knew there was some value to it and obviously there was the nostalgia. However we didn’t get anything too exciting and in the end the boxes just laid untouched in my parents’ cellar. They moved over to France and it meant we had to collect everything from their house – so I bought out my brothers shares and took them home with me. About 5 years later I looked on eBay to get an idea on value and before I knew it I was buying more and more pieces that I didn’t own – and my collection grew from there

What was the first item you got and from where?

I remember paying 50p for an X-Wing from a jumble sale when I was about 7 or 8 – my Aunt also bought my first carded figure – a Klaatu around the same sort of time

There is a whole galaxy of Star Wars memorabilia available, do you focus your collection on any specific types of items?

I don’t really focus on anything collection wise, I just like things that are a bit different – however the bulk of my collection is vintage as this gives me the most pleasure – it is a nostalgia thing

What item are you most proud of and how did you acquire it?

I have been lucky to meet some great people in the community – the friendships built are one of the best parts of the hobby. Recently two people have gone out of their way to help me secure a couple of pieces, one a very rare Palitoy carded figure and the other an carded figure that I had been after for ages.

A carded Star Wars figure of Ben Kenobi A carded Star Wars figure of Han Solo A carded Star Wars figure of a stormtrooper

What item/items are on your wishlist?

There is nothing specific I am looking for right now, however I would love to get some pre-production items for my figure focus.

How do you go about finding new items for your collection?

As the collection grows, the search gets harder to find items I don’t have. I use the forums, Facebook and eBay to search for items and also look to trade with other friends in the hobby

Do you buy/sell stuff from/to people/businesses in other countries? If yes, where around the world?

I buy and sell to hundreds of people around the world – I have a small business selling display accessories (stands and cases) so post to Europe, American, the Far East and Australia regularly. I also pick up items from these places as well.

How would you recommend packaging a piece of memorabilia to make sure it’s not damaged when it’s sent?

You would be amazed at how I have received valuable items in the past – shoved in empty boxes or worst still bubble mailers! I have even had people tape up the original boxes and put a label on them! The best way to send them is to just take care – send them as you wish to receive them. For carded figures it is important to protect the bubble and I always put them in a star case for added protection. For expensive items then plenty of bubble wrap and protection is a must – it pays to double box items as well – ideally with a gap all around the item so nothing is pressed up against the outer walls

What’s your opinion of the prequel trilogy compared to the original trilogy? Do you collect items from both?

I am not a prequel hater for sure – they are enjoyable in their own right – but compared to the originals then they don’t get close. The first three films are just iconic – they were far beyond their time and they set a very high bar. I don’t collect from the prequels – mainly because it has no relevance to why I collect (nostalgia).

Not the Star Wars toys you're looking for

Because Star Wars collecting was already an established hobby by the time the prequel trilogy came out there were people who were aware that there was a huge potential market for associated merchandise, and also that rare merchandise from the original trilogy had become worth quite a lot since it was launched. How do you think this affected Star Wars collecting?

I think there are hundreds if not thousands of people out there that regret collecting the POTF2 [Power of the Force 2 – merchandise to accompany the Star Wars prequels] stuff – it was just so mass marketed that there was never going to be anything ‘rare’ about it. The draw of the vintage items is that they are much harder to find – even though millions were made.

What are your hopes for the Force Awakens? Will you be adding anything to your collection from the film’s merchandise?

I think the film will be amazing – all of the trailers have looked superb and the film seems to be going back to the roots of the originals rather than the excessive use of CGI in the prequel. In terms of merchandise, I can’t see me adding too much – but I do like the Black Series items which do look great on display

If someone felt inspired to get into Star Wars collecting today what advice would you give them?

Be patient – spend some time doing research and don’t worry about what everyone else is collecting. Pick things that you are happy with and that mean something to you. And most importantly enjoy yourself.

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