Monday, November 26, 2018

All of you are an important part of my life: CAVSWCC 10th Anniversary Life Day Meet-Up

As Han Solo followed the statement in the title of this post with an "I'm glad I could be here" that bottomed out the Harrison Ford disinterest meter, it became perhaps the funniest moment in the Star Wars Holiday Special for me. This is because the circumstances onscreen so painfully tell us otherwise and the circumstances I found myself watching it in for this particular attempt were actually precisely in line with the intended sentiment.

This past Saturday, the club celebrated its 10th Anniversary with a get-together in Eagle Rock and among the many highlights, standing in our living room with those brave enough to stay into the evening and endure the Holiday Special in its entirety may top them all. Without being initially aware of or intending it, the date of the meet-up happened to fall on the 40th Anniversary of the infamous yet beautiful Star Wars television disaster of November 17th, 1978. It's as if it was fate.

While we were sadly missing our founder and Wookiee family connoisseur that moved eastward nearly 9 years ago and later joined another amazing collectors club, he was definitely there in spirit.

In the past 10 years, the club has grown considerably both in ranks and activities. From two group trips to Rancho Obi-Wan (and a third upcoming) and having an official booth at Star Wars Celebration (which is on the horizon again with next spring in Chicago) to becoming a regular presence at the Rancho Cucamonga Library's annual "Star Wars Reads" event, a lot of vintage Star Wars appreciation has been fostered for both collectors and casual fans of all ages.

But at the heart of it, despite how sporadically we shake the "Californian" in us and plan member-hosted meetings, this club has established a close-knit community of collectors, and of friends. 

Last weekend's get-together exemplified this. As a perfect preamble, none other than the velvetgeek Bruce White himself was in town to open another incredible WWE black velvet wrestler portrait show at Gallery 1988 on Melrose the night before and a NorCal contingent of Mark and Dora Huber and Trevor Wencl arrived a day early to attend.

Just before heading to the gallery, we squeezed in a quick double-feature 16mm screening of the original teaser trailer for Star Wars and its derivative parody Hardware Wars courtesy of Trevor, who once played in a band by none other name than "Fluke Starbucker" and has petted the one and only Chewchilla the Wookiee Monster.

Trevor's Hardware Wars print was a gem for several reasons. First of all, the color was spectacularly good for a print from the late 70s. Secondly, it was canned with a supplementary pamphlet that revealed this particular print was intended to be used for educational purposes. The study guide, which was written in part by the film's director Ernie Fosselius, included numerous exercises meant to teach students about the nature of parody -- even having them come up with their own. It is the ultimate film-related kitsch collectible and I'm so glad he brought it and that we were able to project it.

Saturday's main event saw all of the CAVSWCC Meeting mainstays: regulars and newcomers, bbq and beverages, and a varied assortment of vintage items for sale, trade, and to share.

First round of kebabs hit the grill.

The club mascot points the way to the watering hole.

Tessa's amazing cookies (sadly, no Wookiee molds in the set for Life Day).

Patio ensemble on a nice (nearly Fall-like) SoCal day.

First time attendees Dale and poster enthusiast and Facebook group leader Tony van Dam 

Bootleg Brethren Trevor and Darren

A rarely seen German bootleg Stormtrooper brought by Darren

Bootlegs and more.

The gang gathers at the drive-way "Swap Meet," where everything from store displays to Rumph mugs to lobby card negatives could be found.

A couple of old-schoolers: Phidias and fresh from the East Coast, Rob Johnson - Welcome to CA!

Rob and Tony make their marks on the CAVSWCC flag.

Finally had some pieces framed in the office just in time for the get-together.

A fun acquisition and one that's been on my list for some time: the Jim Rumph Kenobi Mug -- Thanks Mark H.!

With most of my vintage collection not on display, I did bring out a few favorites, including the bizarre Silver Striker.

B-Wing Pilot travelling exhibit.
To exorcise the Holiday Special demons, Mark and Darren took part in a "Super Star Wars" session where the mantra was "blast first...don't ask questions." We made it into Echo Base in "Super Empire Strikes Back" but never made it to "Jedi." Next time!

Thanks so much to everyone that could make it to this one, and to everyone that's attended any of the meet-ups since '08. With CAVSWCC, a joy we all can share was truly created. Here's to another 10 years.

--Steve Danley

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Slot Car X-Wings, Bootlegs, and More in Marina del Rey

2017 has turned out to be quite an active year for CAVSWCC. With two meetings and a return to the Rancho Cucamonga Library's "Star Wars Reads" event happening earlier in the year (to see photos from the July Northern CA meetup hosted by Mark Huber, be sure to check out this great post on the Facebook Group), this past weekend's third get-together that took place in Marina del Rey was a welcome opportunity to gather again. Darren Thomas and his wonderful wife Ashlee generously hosted this round and as usual, it was a blast!

Onto some highlights...

Among many neat pieces in Darren's fantastic collection of bootlegs and other oddities, it was nice to see a Lili Ledy 12" R2-D2 and several Brazilian Model Trems in person!

Darren's impressive loose collection on display with customized color backers created by fellow Southern Californian collector and first time meeting attendee Greg Sanders.

Fitting servers at the poolside spread.

Darren had recently pieced together a complete and (mostly) fully operational "Duel at Death Star" Racing Set, which was simply awesome to see in person and to give a go. From the odd Stormtrooper Luke artwork to the incredibly lamely designed "fighter" cars, this is a thing of beauty.

Ryan Savas brought items that had a discernible "Holiday Special" theme, including a complete style guide for the animated sequence and some stellar pieces of animation art.

Darren brought out some impressive pieces of art, including "Galactic Freakshow" by Randy Martinez -- one of the standout examples from the "Vader Case Project" that were auctioned at Celebration Anaheim 2015, which was a pleasure to see up close again.

First time attendee Ro Kohli brought a really cool selection of custom figures his company War Machine Marketing creates. Above, Mark Huber (who devotedly trekked all the way down from Modesto for this meetup) inspects a Sandtrooper that was unfortunately hosting a Xenomorph.

The glorious Jedi Master's Quizbook -- the first published work of "enterprising eleven-year-old student in Florida" Rusty Miller, who had been off the grid for many years.

Of the many offbeat licensed toys from the vintage line, the Play Doh sets offer some of the oddest designs and imagery. What in the world is Darth Vader doing flying a Snowspeeder with Snowtroopers in tow?

A CAVSWCC get-together wouldn't be complete without some fun pieces changing hands. As if it were destiny, two Empire Strikes Back 48Bs that the club's expatriate New York-based founder (and self proclaimed "King of the 48Bs") Skye Paine was missing happened to be available from newcomers Ro and Pete Rosenzweig, whose name I had previously recognized from his tremendous vintage Star Wars photography blog at

A contingent also made a visit to Big Lou's Toys and enjoyed additional fine dining at Dinah's Fried Chicken, which I am sad to have missed!

Thanks again to Darren and Ashlee for their hospitality and to all that were able to attend.

Until next time...

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Rancho Cucamonga "Star Wars Reads" 2017

Last Saturday, CAVSWCC  had another display at this year's annual "Star Wars Reads" event at the Rancho Cucamonga Public Library. Set up within the main library and on the way toward a special meet and greet with none other than Emperor Palpatine himself (picture Santa Claus at the mall flanked by Royal Guards instead of elves), there was a constant stream of curious youngsters and nostalgic adults discovering and remembering vintage toys and memorabilia of all shapes and sizes. As a "Library School" alum and advocate of the public library as an integral community institution, getting to be a part of an event like this is particularly meaningful for me.

Just as it was last year, the Super 8mm MovieViewer was a hands-on hit. Working perfectly after nearly 40 years, it is sincerely one of the best manufactured toys ever produced. Several parents referred to it as the iPad of their generation. It captivated everyone from BB-8 to local law enforcement.

There were cosplayers and droids aplenty, including an impressive life-size and fully puppeted K-2SO (missing his head here).

A contingent of astromechs make their way from the "dressing room" to the outdoor festivities.

Visitors take a break from the sun and bustling activity outside to take a look at vintage wares.

The booth next to ours was occupied by a local high school's 3D printing club which was procuring small Yoda heads, as well as a handful of larger renditions of Darth Vader's mutilated helmet from The Force Awakens. Kids these days...

Demonstrating how an Italian Harbert "Give-a-Show" projector or "proiettore festacolor" would work.

Huge thanks to Allen Callaci for inviting us back, and to Tessa, Darren and Jeff for coming out and taking all of the awesome photos. Looking forward to returning next year!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A La Biblioteca! - CAVSWCC Meeting Under the Barrios Big Top

This past Saturday, the club had its first SoCal member-hosted meetup in quite awhile at the home of Phidias Barrios, where his amazing collection "La Biblioteca" resides. Phidias and his family have always been the personification of hospitality, and this get-together was no different. With a full bar and BBQ spread, no collector went hungry or thirsty. To top it off, the proceedings took place on the driveway under the canopy of a gigantic tent, saving us (and the vintage wares) from the intensifying San Fernando Valley sun.

We had several newcomers attending their first meetup, including Brian Angel, Tom Corrigan, Darren Thomas, and Nico Lombardo -- all of whom took part in the indoctrination err...flag signing ceremony.

Clockwise: Brian, Darren, Tom, and Nico signing the club flag.

While there were some very nice items laid out, the majority of the get-together was geared more towards hobby conversation. It was great for old friends catching up and getting to know the new members. I  came home with a couple of personally significant items because of the ridiculous generosity of Phidias and Mark H. Back at the very first CAVSWCC meeting at Skye Paine's in November 2008, I sold Phidias my Lili Ledy B-Wing Pilot, and I'd had regrets about it in the years that followed. Phidias let me know that it had gone into his storage soon after and had been there ever since -- and that he'd find it for me and bring it to the next get-together. I didn't expect to have it back free of charge!

Early Bird Mark Huber eyes the long lost Lili Ledy B-Wing Pilot

Mark -- who has been assembling an awesomely creative vintage Sandtrooper focus over the past few years -- brought a 20th Century-Fox Star Wars Campaign Book that has a two page spread of the iconic Sandtrooper and Dewback. Another item right up my collecting alley (and an increasingly tough one to find at a reasonable price), Mark kindly offered it to me as a gift. I seriously can't thank either of you enough!

Brian Angel continued the charitable activity with a donation of a really nice ROTJ 65B Back Chewbacca with Coin Offer for Skye's Chewseum.

Some more photos of the meetup are below, including shots of Phidias's jaw-dropping collection.

Vintage Cardbacks and Long Island Iced Teas...A perfect pairing.

Some of Brian's wares.

From Left to Right: Tom, Ryan and Mark E. enjoying the shade of the Barrios Big Top.
Trio of cabinets displaying some of Phidias's prototype and pre-production collection.
Additional prototypes
Prototype Angels

The source of the collection's name is Phidias's extensive run of Bib Fortuna items, ranging from figural prototypes and packaging items to various vintage and modern items.

Vintage Bib Fortuna Prototypes & Misc.

Vintage Bib Fortuna Continued

Modern Bib Misc.

All in all, it was an awesome day. Thanks again to Phidias and his family for taking us all in and to all of those that attended. We'll be getting the ball rolling for another meetup following Celebration Orlando. Until then...