Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Touring Rancho Obi-Wan

Yesterday I was invited to join friend Fon Davis of Fonco Creative for a tour of Rancho Obi Wan, Steve Sansweet's museum where he houses the world's largest collection of Star Wars memorabilia.  I'll admit that I was initially skeptical about going and looking at a barn full of old Star Wars toys.  It turns out I had no idea what I was in for.

Steve Sansweet worked as the Director of Content Management and Head of Fan Relations for Lucasfilm for decades and is a fiendishly dedicated collector of all things Star Wars.  He literally wrote the book on Star Wars collectibles.   

Seriously, several books.  Their titles include Star Wars: 1,000 Collectibles: Memorabilia and Stories from a Galaxy Far, Far Away, Star Wars: The Ultimate Action Figure Collection, The Star Wars Vault: Thirty Years of Treasures from the Lucasfilm Archives, Star Wars - From Concept to Screen to Collectible, and The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia.

His museum, a densely-packed 9,000 square feet, is filled to the brim with everything I ever wanted as a kid plus a whole lot more I grew to covet after I started earning my own paychecks.  The collection includes vintage toys, screen-used props, tie-in merchandise, tribute artwork, and some amazing prop and model replicas.

Here's one of my favorite pieces, the smiling Vader:
Smiley Vader

There's a whole lot more, so if you'd like to see additional pictures, read on...

The tour began in Steve's office where he has a wide selection of blaster rifle and pistol replicas as well as framed art from all over the world.  After a quick explanation of a few things on display there and pointing out the restroom (complete with every kind of Star Wars related personal care item ever made) we went ahead down the hall to a nondescript door. 

With a press of a button, John Williams' music from the opening scrawl of every Star Wars movie started up, the door was opened, and we stepped inside:
Lots of Toys
The Darth Vader in the center of that frame has been cobbled together almost entirely from screen-used items from Episode 3, 5, and 6.  The most notable exception being the shoulder and chest armor which were from walk-around suits built by ILM for promotional use.

Turning to the left, there's an animatronic Cantina Band:
Animatronic Cantina Band
The tan-colored panel behind them is a door from the original Cantina set that was left behind when the production finished filming on location in Tunisia more than 35 years ago.

Walking down the aisle, the shelves are filled to capacity with action figures, trading cards, and so on, but there are all sorts of gems mixed in, such as these Jedi holocron props:

And their Sith counterparts:
Sith Holocrons

A lifesize Battle Droid built for FAO Schwartz by ILM artists:
Lifesize Battle Droid

This is R2-MrT2, which appeared on the Conan O'Brien Show:

Moving into a smaller room at the back, there were even more treasures tucked away.  Here's a copy of the Yoda puppet made from the screen-used molds:

Here's an exceptionally well done Star Destroyer model complete with lighting:
Star Destroyer

While a lot of it was really cool stuff, there were a few oddities mixed in.  For example, there's this C-3PO tape dispenser:
C3PO tape dispenser

The real treat for me was the last room:
Final Room

Here he had all sorts of fascinating stuff:

Even the wallpaper was amazing:
Dead Bad Guy Wallpaper

He has the world's largest Star Wars bobblehead:
World's Largest Bobblehead

I really loved this Stormtrooper golf bag:
Golf Bags

There were countless min-busts and maquettes:
Republic Commando Maquettes

Here's the velvet Ackbar portrait I never knew I always wanted:
Velvet Ackbar

And every helmet ever made by Don Post, eFX, and Master Replicas:
Helmet Lineup

Then he also had a selection of the stormtrooper helmets that were tricked out by a variety of artists for Star Wars Celebration a few years ago:
More Trooper Helmets

Trooper Helmets

Here's the Samurai Vader mini helemt that was released in Japan a few years back:
Samurai Vader

What I didn't realize was that they'd made a stormtrooper as well:
Samurai Stormtrooper

Mounted to the opposite wall was a tauntaun from screen-used molds:

In the middle of the room were some of the customized helmets from the Vader Project.  Here's one:

At the end of the four-hour tour, I can definitely say I'm glad I went.  The real challenge was staying away from ebay when I got back home afterward...


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