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...

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Star Wars Reads 2016:
Rancho Cucamonga Vintage Roadshow Part II

One youngster pointed out that the non-present Vinyl Cape Jawa was worth $53,000 in today's market.

Enjoying the Empire Strikes Back Pop-up Book

"Was the Mongo Beefhead Tribesman figure edible?"

Though there weren't many questions posed following a panel I presented on vintage collecting at this past weekend's "Star Wars Reads" event, there were some great ones. While the unproduced Mongo Beefhead Tribesman from the proposed 1986 Star Wars expansion line wasn't edible, he certainly should have been!

Sponsored by the Rancho Cucamonga Public Library, the annual event was expanded to two days for 2016 and saw thousands of attendees of all ages congregate to celebrate Star Wars, reading, and the sense of community that a public library epitomizes. CAVSWCC had an expanded vintage display in the Victoria Gardens Cultural Center lobby, once again bringing old toys and collectibles to the attention of many young fans while bringing back memories for those from the original Star Wars generation.

While the majority of the activities were taking place outdoors in the courtyard and thoroughfares of the adjacent Victoria Gardens mall, our set-up was located in the Cultural Center lobby connecting the library and the Lewis Family Playhouse, where none other than Billy Dee Williams would be interviewed on Sunday afternoon (more on that later).

Just around the corner from our display was an area for kids to take pictures with their favorite characters from the 501st. As they lined up for photo ops, their eyes often wandered to our table, which more often than not coaxed them to dash over for a closer look. With countless parents endearingly stressed about their kids grabbing every object on the table, the genuine curiosity that vintage items raised among the young ones was palpable. Luckily, the handy-dandy MovieViewer was at the ready and immediately provided a hands-on exercise that proved to be more than enough to keep crowds of kids (and plenty of nostalgic adults) fascinated. Others enjoyed flipping through a set of Kenner cardbacks, with the kids pointing out characters they recognized and their parents proudly delcaring which figures they once had (and as so many childhood toys were, lost to the ebb and flow of growing up).

The MovieViewer once again proved to be a big hit.

One of the creepier Don Post masks from the collection of Mark Enright
One-hand Yoda

To kick off the second day's festivities, I presented a panel on vintage collecting which covered the basic history of the vintage line and its major product categories, from the primary 93 figures to the Droids & Ewoks lines, 12" figures, Micro Collection, and Kenner's 1986 proposed line extension. Food collectibles and offbeat items such as the Ewoks Talking Telephone and the "Darth Vadar" Fun Poncho were  highlighted as well.

The panel also included a handfull of audience polls -- one of which was a rarity guessing contest pitting the Vinyl Cape Jawa against the die cast TIE Bomber and Bondo from the series of unproduced Ewoks figures.

When one has the chance to describe a "Travling Jinda," one must capitalize.
Shakespeare was appropriately armed for the weekend.

The weekend's main event was a special appearance by everyone's favorite smooth-talking scoundrel, Lando Calrissian himself, who participated in an on-stage discussion in the Lewis Family Playhouse and also read Where the Wild Things Are to a group of rambunctious youths in the main courtyard. In typical Star Wars fan fashion, a pre-line for the ticket line began forming early in the morning and was well populated when we first arrived to the Cultural Center around 8:30am. Luckily for us (and several others), there were still seats available as the event drew nearer in the afternoon. Having never seen Billy Dee Williams speak at a Celebration or any other such event, I was definitely intrigued as we entered the theater only to see "Jedi Elvis" -- who had sung the National Anthem at last week's Quake's game -- warming up the crowd.

"Jedi Elvis" got the audience primed for Billy Dee.

Billy Dee began by joyfully acknowleding that his career had come full circle now that he was "hanging out with librarians," and would go on to discuss his self-described "ecclectic" life that would see him transition from an aspiring painter to a successful actor and above all, a "personality." He discussed the atypical process of being cast in The Empire Strikes Back, with Irvin Kershner seeking him out, visiting him at his home, and discussing their mutual apprecitation for Buddhism and Eastern philosophy. Williams was also particularly fond of being choked out by Chewbacca. Though he may have been... let's say "somewhere else" a few times during the conversation, he seemed sincerely appreciative of the love the audience was giving him.

Williams was joined by friend of the club and event organizer Allen Callaci, along with a local reporter.

Williams' reading of Where the Wild Things Are was complete with dramatic (and less dramatic) pauses and additional commentary ("they're all just having a good time...being wild"), all under the watchful eye of Darth Vader's finest. That being said, I don't think the Stormtroopers were forcing him to read to children against his will, as he seemed to have a decent time with it.

"Let the Wild Rumpus...START!"

New member Darren Gin also joined the crew on Sunday and did an awesome job distributing CAVSWCC swag and demonstrating the MovieViewer.

The past two weekends in Rancho Cucamonga have been a ton of fun and I hope we'll be back for these events in the years to come. We owe a huge thank you to Allen Callaci from the R.C. Public Library for reaching out and inviting us to take part!