If you’re a Star Wars collector, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve had to pare back some of your hobby purchases in these economically challenging times. But there is still a great way to get that collecting fix on a budget – if you’re willing to explore the world of vintage collecting!
Not the world of mint-sealed-on-card vintage collecting, but the eccentric, exotic, eclectic world of ticket stubs, disco singles, foreign paperbacks and iron-on transfers from the ‘70s to ‘90s. Treasures abound in the under-$10 category of collecting, if you know where to look – and what to look for.
As an exercise in budget collecting – and a way to relive some great finds of the last year — I thought I’d go back through my collectible purchases of 2011 to find those pieces I felt were exceptionally good deals, even if they’re not what some would categorize as mainstream (which frankly makes them even more appealing!). Most of the following – with a few exceptions – were had for under $10, and required just a little bit of adventuring beyond the usual Star Wars collecting categories on eBay:
Jan 10: British Jar Jar Binks Pencil Case (£3.97)
Yeah, I know, first one out of the gate and it’s a Jar Jar collectible. This was actually the fourth piece I picked up after the new year, and just couldn’t resist those cool retro-style graphics that just scream galactic-groovy.
(See more 2011 frugal finds after the jump!)
Jan 10: Canadian CN Tower Star Wars 1978 Birthday Party Ticket ($10.50)
Ok, so I already broke the under-$10 rule on my second item out, but this one gets points for pairing “Star Wars Birthday Party” and “BOOGIE” in the same breath (and we can’t imagine how far-out a Star Wars party hosted in Toronto’s famous spaceship-like CN Tower must have been!).
Feb 5: Factors Lobot Iron-On ($15.00)
Yes, a second item that’s over $10, but come on, a Lobot glitter iron-on from 1980? These don’t come up too often (like, NEVER) and that airbrush-chrome logo was just too retro-cool to pass up. A colleague of mine actually snagged the iron-on attached to a tee (pictured) while I picked up an unused sample to transfer to a ringer-tee of my choosing.
Feb 15: 1977 Del Rey Star Wars Novel Info Sheets ($5.00)
This packet of information sheets sent out by book publisher Del Rey to booksellers in 1977, which includes information on the first post-release printing of the Star Wars novel (the first was actually printed in late 1976), was just too cool to resist at such a rock-bottom price. The photo of the mock-up cover alone makes this a real gem.
Mar 7: Tony Danza and C-3PO Press Photo ($9.99)
The largely uncharted world of ‘80s Star Wars-television crossovers will occasionally produce gems like this press photo from 1985’s “ABC Saturday Morning Sneak Peek and Fun Fit Test” starring “Who’s The Boss?” star Tony Danza and “Thank The Maker” coiner C-3PO.
Mar 17: Hollywood Star Wars Premiere Wild Post Flyer ($0.99)
Even with obvious folds, I couldn’t believe I snagged this little piece of Hollywood history for under a buck. While similar wild post flyers which include Hollywood’s AVCO and Plitt City Centers seem to come up with some frequency, those listing the Chinese Theatre, a venue added just before the May 25th release date, are quite rare.
May 10: Tokyo Disneyland Star Tours Phone Card (£2.50)
As Star Wars and Disney aficionados can tell you, Star Tours merchandise originating from Japan’s Tokyo Disneyland is exceedingly scarce, so snatching up this used, mirror-finish phone card from the early ‘90s for just a few bucks American was a great find.
June 15: 1977 London Star Wars Premiere Ad (£0.99)
I had actually been searching for this rare London ad from Britain’s Time-Out magazine for quite some time, a great display piece which showcases the cool Hildebrandt quad poster artwork and London venues on the front and a full map of the London Underground on the reverse (apparently this ad was meant to be removed from the magazine and used by theater-goers to navigate London’s subway to the Dominion or Leicester Square Theatres).
July 11: 1977 Toyota Dealership Magazine Star Wars Cover ($9.99)
This was another piece I’d been trying to track down for years after letting my first copy go to a fellow collector many moons ago. Depicting the famous (infamous?) Star Wars Celica on its cover, one has to wonder just what happened to this seventies sweepstakes superstar.
Sept 21: 1977 Italian Star Wars Novel (€5.99)
The original Italian Star Wars novel from 1977, which depicts the retro-ish Papuzza-illustrated cover, is not that tough a find if you’re willing to pick one up directly from an Italian seller. Finding one with the yellow Star Wars paper insert – which touts the film’s release in Italy – is a much rarer find, since most would have been tossed after serving the convenient role of bookmark.
Sept 25: Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader Van Model Kits ($10.00)
Ah, the seventies. This faddish pair of Star Wars van model kits, which were released in 1979 by model maker MPC for the first and only time, are a bit tough to come by still sealed in the box. A pair of fully-built examples, however, can come cheap and conveniently photo-ready for the rare occasion that someone would actually ‘fess up to owning them for a blog entry.
Oct 5: Senator Theater Episode I Ticket Stubs ($7.00)
This cool pair of Episode I theater ticket stubs, which actually depict a photo of the theater sporting the Episode I marquee, were picked up for the cost of just one at face value in 1999!
Nov 23: Kenner Star Wars Early Bird Kit Sticker Sheets ($0.99)
Here’s where having some knowledge of Star Wars collectibles can come in handy. While these three sticker sheets were advertised as free theatrical giveaways in 1977 (which they very well could have been), I recognized them as the oft-misplaced part of Kenner’s rare 1977 Star Wars Early Bird kit, which was sold during the holiday season before the action figures were available. Because these stickers are often missing from opened kits, many collectors seek them out to complete their ensembles.
Dec 2: 1979 Clark Junior High School Yearbook ($11.50)
Here’s the last item breaking the $10 rule, but with good reason. This was my favorite find of the year, beating out items which were likely much more valuable and sought after. Clark Junior High, which resides in La Crescenta, California and now operates as a magnet school, was actually my junior high alma-mater between 1982-83, and until this month, I had no idea they had released a Star Wars-themed yearbook in 1979. What makes this piece even more appealing to me personally is the fact that the original owner – whose name is ink-stamped on the Star Wars-themed endpapers – turned out to be my seventh grade math teacher.
Dec 11: Fantastic Sam’s Hair Salon Chewbacca Photo ($9.99)
This one I’m still waiting for my postman to deliver (hence the auction listing pic above). Is it from the 1980s or a recent fan-made piece? Who cares! A fully-costumed Chewbacca posing for a hair salon portrait? Priceless.
Dec 12: Star Wars Holiday Special Jefferson Starship Single ($4.00)
Here’s a find that came as a result of a fellow collector sharing a bit of the holiday spirit on a collecting forum. He’d posted a pic of one of these Jefferson Starship singles – which also happens to be the little ditty they sang for “The Star Wars Holiday Special” in 1978 – and pointed me to an auction that offered one on-the-cheap. A great find, and probably not the first time “Star Wars Holiday Special” and “cheap” have been used in the same sentence.