Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Stand By for Justice (and Brisket)!
CAVSWCC's 2nd Trip to Rancho Obi-Wan

It had been a long time in the making, but the club finally made its second pilgrimage to Steve Sansweet's Guinness World Record-holding Star Wars collection at Rancho Obi-Wan. Vintage collectors from throughout the state converged on the quaint and quiet town of Petaluma, forming the group's largest gathering yet with many familiar faces reunited and several newcomers joining in on the festivities. Though this was a return visit for many of us, the museum's collection is full of surprises and simply necessitates repeated attendance to even begin to appreciate its scope. The end-of-tour reward of authentic Texas brisket (with all the fixins) prepared by Rancho's General Manager Anne Neumann was more than worth the trip all on its own.


For the SoCal contingent, arriving the evening before the big tour was a good decision. As usual, the CAVSWCC traveling troupe found itself once again seemingly lost on a dark road (no cows, fortunately) -- this time on the way to the Lagunitas Brewery, which was conveniently located near our base of operations at the Quality Inn. After stumbling in the dark for what was beginning to feel like a worrisome time and distance, we found our way to the brewery's manufacturing area and shipping yard, which was reassuring but not quite where we needed to be. The lights and sound of live music were not far off, and we eventually made our way to the tasting room for a good meal and several fine brews.

The next morning, we paid a visit to Brian's Comics in old downtown Petaluma to meet up with some of the Northern California collectors arriving in town. Located adjacent to the famous alley where Curt Henderson rigged the bumper of a police car in American Graffiti, the shop is owned and ran by a man named Brian Christensen, who also volunteers at Rancho Obi-Wan. This subterranean comic lair was full of character and was as welcoming of a space as any comic book fan could ask for; it almost felt as if we were guests in Brian's decked-out den rather than a place of business, which made it all the better. It was here that we met up with the club's official R.O.W. liaison Dwayne Smith and a few of the newcomers.

Phidias and Mark E. browse at Brian's

Once everyone had made their purchases, the contingent increased ranks with a rendezvous at nearby Mary's Pizza Shack to fuel up for the main event.



As the clock struck 2pm, the full caravan descended upon the museum and the tour began. One of the first things we had noticed were the machinations of our future feast: the magnificent R2-BBQ. Along with a brief history of the property itself, Anne gave us a brief glimpse of the two blocks of brisket which had many of us salivating. As rain started to fall, the group b-lined it for a section of the museum that represented its newest expansion and hustled indoors. We became quickly aware that we were surrounded by a recently delivered mixture of high quality display fixtures and a full-sized Jabba the Hutt that were being temporarily stored there -- all of which are planned to be integrated into the museum in the near future.


Making our way towards shelter





As our above-average-sized tour group shuffled into the museum's stairwell entrance, Steve greeted us with his usual enthusiasm and we were well on our way. With all of the hoopla for The Force Awakens (including the aforementioned display pieces from a Target-sponsored event that had recently arrived), the museum is in an understandable state of transition. Nevertheless, the tour experience was as dense as ever in terms of the range of items highlighted and the stories behind them. To take on a brigade of 19 collectors as a one-man-act had to be somewhat daunting for Mr. Sansweet, so I'm incredibly thankful that we were all able to stick together.

Stop 1: the restroom equipped with every Star Wars bathroom product imaginable, including British Bubble Bath (for Space Freaks)







One of the most fascinating sections of the museum is the Library containing a comprehensive collection of Star Wars print publications from throughout the decades and around the world. In terms of vintage items alone, we were shown Steve's first official Star Wars collectible pulled from a trashcan at his workplace (another example of which can be seen here), a book of sheet music for children depicting Chewbacca sipping on a martini, and even more bizarre, unlicensed 1980s comic book adaptations from Asia (one of which depicting R2-D2 wearing bright green pants). To give an idea of the depth of awesomeness held within this cozy space, one of my collecting grails sat on a lower shelf behind a box of other volumes: the original novelization in Icelandic (which tells of the saga of "Flame Spacewalker," if it wasn't already cool enough).

From here, the photos mostly speak for themselves, but I'll add some commentary throughout...


One of the rarest Star Wars posters produced caps off a hallway adorned with original one sheets: the 1985 "Triple Bill" for a one-time showing in 9 American theaters (each theater received only 2 of these posters).

The above warning is adhered to the entrance to the first main exhibit space.
"No Bargain Prices" strictly enforced.
One of many vintage-infused display sections.


Trevor is overwhelmed by Uzays.

Carded Hungarians galore
Peculiarly hairy wookiee customized in Mexico
Vintage Japanese Food Items
Prototypes, Sigma Ceramics, and Other Rarities

As the official tour wound down in the third gallery space, wet had worked up a considerable appetite. Lucky for us, we were just in time for Anne's brisket dinner which was flat out delicious. In fact, it was so delicious that no pictures of the entire spread exist! Soon thereafter, folks began unloading their vintage wares for the traditional CAVSWCC Swap Meet held in some form at each gathering. This time around was particularly bustling and saw a number of great items materialize.

Stairwell view of the Swap Meet

Turkish Uzay Cardback
Mark E. (of Mortar Heads fame) unveiled his most spectacular piece yet.

Is Dwayne the man behind the mansuit? Evidence suggests...

Any trip to Rancho Obi-Wan isn't complete without some quality time spent in the arcade. The gang tested their skills with a myriad of games to choose from.

Mark H. and Trevor crank up the Atari versions of Star Wars (how many Death Stars do these guys have?!) and The Empire Strikes Back

Meanwhile, Melissa maneuvers her speederbike through the forest moon of Endor.
Phidias tries his luck.
Tessa flips some pinball with some slick vintage backglass.
Just because Don loathes the film doesn't mean he has to loathe its pinball incarnation.








With that, the evening came to a close and everyone started making their way home. Though I wish it had happened much sooner and that we could accommodate everyone who had missed this round, these events are always worth the wait and there will most certainly be other opportunities in the future. I'd like to especially thank Dwayne Smith for helping coordinate the tour, Anne for going the extra mile to fit in and feed so many of us, and our host and tour guide Steve for another memorable Star Wars collecting journey.

We unfortunately missed a few folks for the group photo: Katie & Loyal, Matt M., and Shawn B.



For a small group of us, the adventure continued on the way back down south the following day. Having never been to the Presidio National Park in San Francisco, we decided there was no better time to pay a visit to the current home of Lucasfilm and ILM. The company's offices at the Letterman Digital and New Media Arts Center are among several on the impressive campus. Though the interior production offices aren't open to the public, a pleasant stroll around the exterior and main entrance courtyard still provides a nice Star Wars stop if you're ever passing through.

C-3PO gazes innocently from a Lucasfilm office window.

This Stormtrooper guards his office more menacingly.

A fitting end to a Bay Area Star Wars trip: one of Lawrence Noble's bronze Yoda statues topping the fountain outside the main entrance to Lucasfilm's Headquarters

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Vintage Spotlight on CCTV America

Shortly before The Force Awakens hit theaters, I received an email from a producer at CCTV America inquiring about the club and whether or not any of the Southern California local members would be interested in participating in an interview about Star Wars collectibles. Not knowing exactly what to expect (if anything at all), the session ended up working out and was held at fellow member Mark Enright's place. I had curated a random mix of some vintage items from home to complement Mark's incredible model kit collection on display in his studio space where all things Mortar Heads are created. We spent about an hour with reporter May Lee discussing a nice variety of pieces as well as why we collect, and what the movies mean to us. The final piece aired the week of the new movie's premiere and can be viewed below. Unfortunately, the one bit I was most embarrassed about was what had been included! But alas, the Sigma C-3PO Tape Dispenser made a brief appearance to make up for it.




The full article can be found here: The vast galaxy that is ‘Star Wars’ merchandise

Monday, March 23, 2015

Celebration Anaheim 2015 Briefing



At long last, Star Wars Celebration is returning to sunny Southern California from April 16th-19th. For the first time ever, CAVSWCC will not only be in existence for a Celebration taking place in our home state, but we'll have an official presence at the convention. With so much in store for the club, I wanted to lay out a briefing of sorts so that members can get an idea of what to expect and how they can participate.


FAN CLUB TABLE

The club will have an official booth/table set up in the Main Exhibit Hall of the Convention Center (Booth #1065) that is required to be staffed by at least one club representative from 10:00am to 7:00pm each day during the show (aside from Sunday, which will wrap up around 5:00pm). This is a great opportunity for major outreach to fans and collectors both local to the Southern California area and throughout the state (and world!). Visitors will be able to receive printed information about the club, join our mailing list and Facebook group, as well as take home some unique CAVSWCC swag (detailed below).

I plan on manning the booth for a significant portion of the show, but will certainly need some volunteers to provide coverage whenever they're available, and particularly at crucial times where I'm required to be elsewhere. It would be great to have some folks available as back-ups as well. I'll be posting a schedule to the Facebook group and via email which will be finalized once the Celebration schedules have been released. That way, volunteers can be sure to sign up for shifts that do not conflict with panels, screenings, and other events that they don't want to miss.

CAVSWCC SWAG


T-SHIRTS
New CAVSWCC t-shirts will be available for members and other fellow collectors (while supplies last) for $10 each and ideally paid for in advance (details will be sent via the club emailing list and Facebook group). Fan Table Volunteers should be receiving their shirt upon their first shift at the booth. The shirts for remaining members will be distributed at the Dinner & Pub Night gathering on Saturday April 18th (details below).



A selection of exclusive giveaways will be available to hand out to the general public at the booth throughout the course of the show (or as long as supplies last). The following images are mock-ups and subject to change.



STICKERS
2.75" x 3.75" full color, high gloss stickers featuring the club flag designed by club member Barth Paine will be available to all.







BUTTONS
1.25" diameter buttons inspired by Barth's original logo and designed by club member Ryan Savas will be available to all.







PATCHES
A limited number of 2.8" x 4" patches of the club flag will be available to current club members, new members that join during Celebration, and other fellow collectors (while supplies last). 




COLLECTOR CLUBS BOUNTY HUNTER PATCH SET

A set of exclusive interlocking Collector Club patches has become a long-running tradition for Celebrations. This year, Bill Cable (of CreatureCantina.com) has designed a killer set of patches based on vintage Kenner figures, which are being manufactured through fellow Californian Mike Kurtz. Each participating club will represent one of the six bounty hunters. Through random draw, CAVSWCC got IG-88. Each club will have 1,000 of their individual patches to hand out to Celebration attendees at their club tables. CAVSWCC will be distributing 250 per day from our booth (1 piece per visitor). For those members who purchased sets of the patches in the fundraising effort, be sure to stop by the booth and see me to pick them up!



CAVSWCC DINNER & PUB NIGHT

On the night of Saturday April 18th, the club will have an informal after hours dinner/pub get together. As for the time, I'm imagining meeting up sometime around 8pm, depending on how the day is wrapping up back at the convention center. As for the location, the top choice as of this posting is looking like Lazy Dog, which is a short drive down the road from the convention center and Anaheim Hilton. They have a diverse menu, plenty of beers on tap, and a nice outdoor seating area if the weather agrees with us (which it likely will). This will also be the time and place to pick up your CAVSWCC t-shirts.

This is going to be a great four days and I'm really looking forward to seeing many old friends as well as making many new ones. Hopefully we'll be able to welcome some new members to the ranks as well!

--Steve

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

It's only a model...May 4th Vintage Gathering

"Camelot...Camelot....CAMELOT!...." err, wrong film. Sorry, sorry everyone! 

An interesting MPC banner from Return of the Jedi

Continuing the May 4th tradition from last year, we had a great get-together hosted by Mark Enright this past Sunday in sunny La Crescenta. Beyond the delicious BBQ and brews, the group got a first-hand glimpse at the "Mortar Heads" workshop and of one of the coolest and most unique focus collections out there. Mark's model kit collection has everything that a vintage Star Wars enthusiast could want -- multiple toy companies represented, international flavor,  kitsch advertisements, displays...essentially, stuff you just don't see every day and most likely wouldn't find unless you knew how and where to look.


Here we go with a photo re-cap of the afternoon....

The man behind "Mortar Heads" poses with one of his recent molds.
4-LOM from concept....
...to incredible sculpture.

Tessa and Ara enjoy the spread (while Steve chugs).
The traditional cardback swap-meet (with two ESB carded figures that have made their way to every meeting thus far!)
Ara brought along a great stash of vintage Marvel comics.
Several of which made it back to West Hollywood -- thanks Ara!
Mark's extensive run of R2 & 3PO model kits.
Jedi kits and other model gems.


This ROTJ Airfix 4-Kit Set was sold through the 1983 Sears Wish Book in the United States, even though Airfix kits came from the UK.
Meccano Millennium Falcon Kit - Canadian Parker Box with English and French text and a Meccano sticker.
Phidias acquires a neat addition to his Bib Fortuna focus -- a snap kit Bib from Mark.



Thanks again to Mark for being such an awesome host and for sharing his killer collection. Hope to see more members at the next gathering -- stay tuned for details!