Another month, another visit inside the mind of a simple man just trying to make his way in the universe. Did Jango Fett REALLY think anyone was gonna buy that line? For that matter, did George Lucas? Sigh. I will NOT go on a tangent about the dialogue in the prequels. I WILL not go on a tangent about the dialogue in the prequels. Ok, I think I’m done. Now, where was I? OH YEAH, COLLECTING! That’s what you came for, right?
I’ve talked at length about my toy collection, so never fear, we aren’t retreading that topic. Today I’d like to discuss some of my non-toy collectibles from the Galaxy Far, Far Away. Since I have almost every toy that Kenner produced in the 70s and 80s, it’s forced me to think about what OTHER sorts of items might find a home in my collection. I’ve always been drawn to the off-the-wall things that not everyone is into, like my empty box from C-3PO’s cereal that I have on display in my apartment. I got it the same day that I got my immunization awareness poster from the Center for Disease Control featuring R2 and 3PO. These are great conversation pieces, and usually make people chuckle, so they were well worth the price. One item that I have left over from childhood is an electric Ewok toothbrush that managed to stay in the box, still not sure how that happened, but bless my mom for hanging on to it. I also recently acquired a record tote featuring the droids, and inside were several Star Wars storybooks, complete with the records that play the stories! I had most of these books and records as a kid, and I’m looking forward to listening to them again as soon as I have access to a turntable (And MAYBE I’ll get them transferred to mp3 so I can listen on my iPod! We’re living in the future!).
However, my most recent find (or “get” as Darth T-Bone calls it), is one that I have been hunting for about 15 years. Allow me to spin you a yarn: It was the late 1990s, after the Special Editions were released. Sci Fi conventions were still smallish affairs, and there was one that was held in Plano, Texas, very close to my brother’s house. We went and wandered the floors, it was my first time at one, and I was in awe of all the toys from my childhood and all the Star Wars memorabilia that people had managed to hang on to and were now selling. I bought a 1978 Sears Wall Calendar, still in its cardboard shipping box. I bought a reel of scenes from Star Wars, still sealed in plastic. Apparently it’s black and white with no sound, but it’s sooooo cool that it exists! I located a Yak Face and a Blue Snaggletooth and finally completed my Kenner action figure collection properly. There was one item I took a pass on, with the intention of getting it at the next con. It was an unopened box of Star Wars Dixie Cups. The artwork was amazing, it was a painted image of a Star Destroyer flying toward a Super Star Destroyer, with a red planet in the background, and an image of one of the Dixie Cups showing Han and Leia sharing a kiss. I know, weird, huh? But my mother bought these when I was a kid. We always had Dixie Cups handy for a quick drink of water, so she bought the Star Wars versions because we were all fans. I know, coolest mom ever. So, of course I REALLY wanted this box to display, as both a reminder of my childhood, and because the artwork was truly amazing. The next con came around, the same vendor was there, but the cups were nowhere to be found. He had sold them. Wow, didn’t see that coming.
You see, I know these sorts of things aren’t in great demand because I KNOW it’s kind of weird to have them on display. They aren’t mainstream Star Wars collectibles, so they aren’t particularly pricey, but they ARE extremely hard to find because nobody saved them. So, when con after con failed to turn up any new examples, I despaired of ever getting my hands on it. Then, it happened. When I least expected it, I found it! It was a small, free, one-day con here in DFW, sparsely attended, but because the table cost was low, different vendors were there who don’t normally sell at the Dallas shows. I walked up to a booth, and I saw the box!!! And not only that, I saw ANOTHER box that I liked even BETTER! It had a Twin Pod Cloud Car on the front, with an orange sky and Cloud City in the background. It was striking. I snatched up both boxes and made the deal then and there. After what seemed like an eternity of searching, I found them, repeat, I found them. My friends are kind enough to understand that it’s a big deal to me, even if they have no idea whatsoever why I would want 2 unopened boxes of Dixie Cups sitting on my shelf, but they DO all agree that the artwork is gorgeous.
This experience reminded me of why I like finding these sorts of oddities. It’s easy to go on eBay and do a search for a vintage toy and find it, but it’s rare to find something truly unique. We all know that I’m very interested in the story behind a particular item, and there’s almost always a story behind why someone kept something like the Dixie Cups. The CDC poster, for instance, was one of a stash that the vendor found in his grandfather’s attic after he passed away. He had worked for the CDC and had an entire box of these posters that had never seen the light of day. That’s an awesome find. The guy with the Dixie Cups said he found them in a lot he had bought from another collector, so their story is a mystery, but that’s almost as good, because I can make up my own backstory. But mostly, I just enjoy having them on display, because it gives me a chance to share the story of searching for them with my friends, and then we can talk about something in their life that has kept them on the hunt.
What about you? Do you have any odd collectibles that fascinate you? Or do you have any stories of anything that has eluded you for years? Tell me all about it in the comments section!
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