Mike’s Guide to Collecting Star Wars Memorabilia and Toys

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After a brief hiatus due to a new job, you haven’t seen much out of me, however that is about to change! I put a lot of thought and research into everything that I do, particularly these articles, because it is my desire to bring you something that is not only relevant, but also meaningful on a personal level as well. I had the idea to put together a simple guide on how to identify Star Wars collectibles and toys, and purchase them to add to your personal collection. This is by no means an all-inclusive list, or step by step process, but rather a simple offering to you, the reader, of lessons learned in my own personal collection throughout the years.  So sit back and take a look at Mike’s Guide to Collecting Star Wars Memorabilia and Toys.

To share a little about myself, I’ve been collecting toys since I was a kid. In middle school, I was actually given a toy collection from the seventies and eighties, that If I still had today, would be valued around five thousand dollars. Unfortunately, I didn’t take very good care of things back then, and most of it was either given away or thrown away throughout the years. I didn’t begin collecting again until 2007, and parted ways once more with my entire collection in 2014. I had reached a point of being burned out, and needed a break. I honestly had no intention of ever collecting toys again, however with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015, that all changed. I picked up a couple of the new X-Wings, and I’ve been at it ever since.

One aspect that was totally different for me this time, was that collecting toys expanded into toy reviews on Youtube. This is something that I had zero experience in, but I enjoyed watching others do it, and I wanted to share my knowledge and passion with other collectors. I currently have seventy nine videos with over seventeen thousand views, and seventy two subscribers to my channel.

So, enough about me. Let’s talk business! To begin, collecting goes beyond just going into your local big box retailer and snatching a toy off of the pegs. That may work for kids, but not for serious collecting. First, you need to identify what you want to collect: Be it action figures, vehicles, statues, etc… You may be like me, and collect a little of everything. If you have never collected, or are struggling with what to collect, I would suggest starting off with action figures themselves, as they are more readily available for the most part, and present an easier way to learn about the details of the toys, including their values.

I almost always buy my action figures from local stores, unless it’s just ridiculously impossible to find. This often means that I travel to ten different stores within an eighty mile radius of where I live. The reason that I do this is because I like to actually examine my figures before I buy them. Believe it or not there are subtle differences on each figure that you won’t see on a webpage. Sometimes these differences include slight variations in how the eyes are painted, or how the figure is displayed in the packaging. It also gives me an opportunity to pass over a figure that may have a flaw of some sort, for one that looks better.

Mike's Guide to Collecting Star Wars
Resistance Rey Action Figure from Hasbro

An example of this was the Resistance Rey action figure from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens line, that I bought from a guy in Canada. I could not find one locally (to date I have never seen one on the pegs of a local store) so I ordered one online. When the figure arrived, I discovered after opening it that the right ear was jagged, and really rough. I presumed it was removed from the mold that way, however I’ve never been happy with how it looks. That’s the sort of thing that you can avoid by buying figures in person. My exception to this is as in this case, with hard to find stuff like exclusives or variants.

I have read a lot of negative feedback from collectors concerning availability of figures and toys on store shelves, and this is something that I addressed in a previous video, found below:

I would also suggest if you are going to shop online, to only do business with Amazon, ebay, or other third party vendors that are vetted for security, versus buying from individuals. This will save you a lot of heartache and time in the long run, as I have been ripped off more than once by buyers who outright lied to me about their merchandise. Since then, I only do business locally, or through the above named online sources. Again, that is simply a suggestion on my behalf to consider.

Once you begin collecting figures, you may want to store one, and buy one to open. Some collectors simply keep their collectible figures in cardboard boxes, while others like myself use plastic totes to protect them. Another option to consider is to buy the plastic clamshell cases to secure carded figures inside. If you’re collecting the six inch Black Series figures, you may want to consider the plastic boxes for those as well. However you choose to store your toys, make certain that they are away from direct sunlight, as well as moisture. If you’re going to be displaying your figures, there are many options out there. I like to purchase plastic shelving made by Plano. They cost around fifteen dollars each, and include four shelves. They are sold in either White or Gray, easy to keep clean, and can be expanded or used individually as stand alone units.

Mike's Guide to Collecting Star Wars
Hasbro’s Remote Controlled AT-ACT Vehicle

Moving on from the action figures, I’m also big on collecting ships and vehicles, particularly those with electronic lights and sounds. I don’t know what it is, but to this day I still go in the store and activate toys with lights and sounds on them. Ships and vehicles in general cost more, and these are often considered highly sought after by collectors, particularly store exclusives or variants which saw low production numbers. A recent example of this would be the Toys R Us exclusive TIE Striker from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. This particular toy was a variant from the mass retail version, in that it had battle damage and carbon scoring painted onto the hull of the ship, as well as including different artwork on the box.

Most of the previously released ships and vehicles from Star Wars command a fair price on the aftermarket, particularly on ebay. When buying vehicles and playsets, take time to research the original toy, what was included, how it looked, etc… This will help in determining a fair value. You should also research the original retail price, and compare that to the current price point on them, especially older toys. More often than not sellers on ebay like to charge more for their items than they are actually worth. When I’m shopping for vehicles, I will literally look at every listing on ebay to see what the asking price is, even on an auction, then determine a rough estimate.

Another good rule is to only purchase items that have been owned by an adult collector, from a smoke free home, which includes all of the accessories. Doing this will help you in getting a toy that has been taken care of, and most likely hasn’t been played with at all, only displayed or stored. These are the types of sellers who are specifically targeting the adult collectors market, and they usually take the time to list all of the details on the toy. A final word of caution on buying stuff on eBay, is to avoid someone with a low number of seller transactions. I’ve made this mistake before as well. If you see an item that you absolutely want, but the conditions aren’t the best, I’d advise anyone to simply wait a few weeks or even a month. New stuff is added daily on eBay, and I will patiently wait for a toy in excellent condition, even if it means paying a little more money to get it, versus buying an item in poor condition.

In addition to toys, I also collect autographed photos and posters. This is a tricky addiction, as more often than not I have been ripped off with autographs. My advice is to totally stay away from autographs on ebay, unless you are one-hundred percent certain they are authentic. The only sure way to know is to buy one that has a PSA certification with it, which means you will be paying serious money. The good thing about this is that eBay offers buyer protection, but in hindsight it isn’t worth the hassle if the autograph cannot be verified. I currently have five autographs in my Star Wars collection.

I’m into the technical aspect of all things Star Wars, which means that I buy all of those expensive technical manuals and role playing books that you see in Barnes and Noble. I am extremely picky with what I buy, and I’ll explain why and what to look for. First, I have to say that Star Wars contains a wealth of background on literally everything that you see and don’t see, on screen. Right down to the types of clothes that are worn, everything has a manufacturer, a history, etc… It’s one of the primary elements that makes Star Wars so fascinating. I am very technically inclined, so I love to read the background information on the fighters and ships (which is how I landed this writing gig!). I look for and buy the books that include technical diagrams, and usually only buy the ones that are written by guys at Lucasfilm.

Mike's Guide to Collecting Star Wars
Star Wars Role Playing Sourcebook

My exception to this rule are the role playing books and materials that I collect. I have to be the only Star Wars fan out there who actually has role playing books, but doesn’t role play. I buy them simply for the information that they contain. The older books by West End Games contain a lot of rich information that adds to the Star Wars universe, especially for those of you like myself who enjoy the Expanded Universe (now labeled as “Legends”) more than you do the current sequel storyline. Force and Destiny is a role playing game currently published by Fantasy Flight Games, and is steeped in history and lore about the Force. I would go so far as to say that it is required reading for anyone wanting to know more about the Force and the Jedi, as it is more detailed than anything that I have read to date.

If you are into the more expensive and realistic collectibles, there are various options available out there, depending upon how much money you want to invest. On the lower end of the Spectrum, Jakks Pacific offers Star Wars characters in their Big-Figs line, which range in scale from twelve to forty eight inches, and are extremely detailed and life like. The figures are made of plastic, and generally feature between five and seven points of articulation, depending upon the scale. Their retail cost ranges between twenty and roughly ninety dollars or more, depending upon the figure, scale, and any additional features it may have.

S.H. Figuarts makes decent 1/12 scale figures for collectibles, that are highly detailed, and available at a reasonable price point. For the serious collectors, Sideshow Collectibles offers the best collectible figures from Star Wars, including Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, and my favorite, Jyn Erso! There’s even a life size Darth Vader for roughly nine thousand dollars.

In conclusion, these are just a few examples of how to get involved in collecting Star Wars memorabilia and toys, as well as what to look for when shopping. I hope that everyone has had as much fun reading this article as I did in writing it. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me directly at orionsbeltcreations @ outlook.com

May The Force Be With You