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Star Wars: Collecting

Mike Kurtz
DC Metro Area Star Wars Collection Club
Wednesday, May 18, 2005 12:00 PM

It seems like years ago -- in fact, it was decades -- that you talked mom into buying the R2D2 action figure. Soon, the Bionic Man and GI Joe were relegated to the bottom of the toy box as plastic tie-fighters, light sabres and exploding Death Stars filled afternoons with countless reenactments. A Star Wars lunchbox totally trumped the Dukes of Hazzard model and you held your head high walking the neighborhood streets on Halloween night decked out in full sand person costume. Those were the days. But where are those toys now?

Quite possibly in Mike Kurtz's house.

Kurtz, founder of the DC Metro Area Star Wars Collection Club (DCSWCC), will be online Wednesday, May 18, at Noon ET to discuss Star Wars memorabilia and the local club, which celebrates its two-year anniversary in August.

Submit your questions and comments before or during today's discussion.

Already 165 members strong, DCSWCC meets in Maryland and Virginia. Find out more information about upcoming meetings at the group's Web site www.dcswcc.com .

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Arlington, Va.: Do you have any idea what the appeal is for people to stand in line for a week and a half so that they can watch the first public screenign of the newest Star Wars? You could go the next day without standing in line at all? This sounds like madness to me.

Mike Kurtz: Some people are fans and some are fanatics. We all have our passion for Star Wars. I have stood in line for hours for SW related items. Whats madness to some if Fond Memories to others

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Springfield, Va.: Do you feel that your club is very cliquish. Or is equal time given to everyone?

Mike Kurtz: We try to make sure there every member has equal time and voice. I encourage all memebers to express how they themselves.

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College Park, Md.: With the growth market of "collectible" toys, do you forsee a long-term investmentary potential for the newer Star Wars action figure line and its related accessories akin to the increased perceived dollar value of the vintage (1978 - 1985) toy line?

Mike Kurtz: Im not an person to comment on investment value. I collect for the enjoyment no the investment potential

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Columbia, Md.: Do you feel scalping of toys and exclusive items helps or hurts the community? What do you consider scalping to be? Thanks!

Mike Kurtz: I think that scalping hurts the Fan community as a whole. The DCSWCC is a group of collectors who collect to collect not collect to profit from. I consider scalping anyone who hoards items to make a profit from or use's membership to gain something to be used for profit.

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Arlington, Va.: Obviously, collecting can be emotionally rewarding if one truly loves the subject matter. But considered purely as an investment, has collecting "Star Wars" memorabilia been profitable? Have people made siginificant money? Or is there just too much merchandise out there for any collector to amass anything unique?

Mike Kurtz: I cant answer personally on this because I dont look at this from a financial aspect. I know people have made living out of selling Star Wars related materials. What one person finds as "unique" other may not. It comes down to what you the collector values.

There are a few "High-End" collectibles out there that run in the the several thousand $$ they have been produced in limited quanities and some consider those as unique.

But to me personally I value the memories of the Movies, and time spent with my fellow DCSWCC members as the greatest value for me.

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Manassas, Va.: How does it really feel to be the Emperor of something that brought so many local fans together?

Thanks for everything! Paul

Mike Kurtz: Thanks for the kind words. Im not the Emperor, just a guy who decided to start something that has turned out to be a great impact in the Star Wars Fan Community. Thanks to all the members of the DCSWCC for a great job.

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Bethesda, Md.: I seem to recall that, at some point long, long ago, George Lucas was considering making a total of nine "Star Wars" movies -- three prequels and three sequels to the original three movies. Is he still considering this, or will "Sith" be the last in this series?

Mike Kurtz: Revenge of the Sith will be George's last movie, as he stated most recently. But the Fan community is hoping for Episodes 7-9 will be made in the future.

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Washington, D.C.: How many TV specials were spin-offs from episodes IV-VI, e.g. "Star Wars Holiday Special," etc.?

Mike Kurtz: There was the Star Wars Holiday Special and the Droids&Ewoks Cartoon series so far. I know there will be a live action series slated for the fall of 2005 and possible another Cartoon series.

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Boulder, Colo.: Weren't there originally going to be nine movies in three trilogies?

Mike Kurtz: There has been Talk for years about 9 movies, but George Lucas has stated recently the this will be his Last Star Wars Films. But, that being said... doesnt mean he wont let someone else direct future Star Wars movies if he were to right them.

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Springfield, Va.: I have a (relatively) large "Star Wars" collection I am intersted in downsizing, if not selling outright. Is their a specific avenue/business/Web site/convention or individual person I should look into in this area (I am from Richmond, Va., orginially) to get the most value from my pieces?

Thank you.

Mike Kurtz: Im not the right person for Collection Value questions. There are alot of online options ebay, yahoo auctions, you can also check out Brian's Toys www.brianstoys.com they buy collections.

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Washington, D.C.: Who do you think is an better fighter Darth Vader or Darth Maul?

Mike Kurtz: Thats a personal opinion question. I will say Darth Vader based on Anakin's Fighting and what im looking forward to seeing tonite at 12:01am.

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Germantown, Md.: Hi there -- I have a collection of the small action figures from the 70's (Luke, R2D2, C2PO, Han, etc..), and I also have an R2D2 that is about 15-inches high. All are in great shape, but not in boxes. What might I get for them if I sell, or would it be better to keep them?

Mike Kurtz: Its up to you want you want to do with them. There are collectors in the area that are willing to purchase them im sure. I cant quote value because its subjective.

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Oakton, Va.: Can someone who is a fan of Star Wars AND Star Trek really consider themselves a TRUE Star Wars fan?

Mike Kurtz: Yes! Fandom is personal not outlined by a set of rules or guidelines. Its up to you what you consider yourself.

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Washington, D.C.: Is it hard for Star Wars collectors to find dates? It seems that most are socially awkward and have difficulties engaging women (or vice-versa)? I imagine that if you were to do a survey that most collectors or hardcore SW fans suffer from a bit of depression. What are your thoughts on the matter?

- Chris

Mike Kurtz: Actaully i would say 90% of our members are married or partnered. Just coming back from Star Wars Celebration 3 Convention in Indanapolis, IN I witnessed alot of couples at the convention. So I personally think that like any fandom aspect there are opinions on that topic.

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Rockville, Md.: What's your favorite Star Wars collectible item (or line of items)?

Mike Kurtz: My favorite Character is Yoda, so anything and everything Yoda.

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Secaucus, N.J.: I own a death star playset from the early 80's in mint condition, all working parts in order and attached. I've heard this is a realtively rare set -- just wondering if you could expound on the background on this one.

May the force be with us all!

Mike Kurtz: With ebay rare items become not so rare. If your looking to part with it check out local shops or collecting groups or online auctions. If your just trying to gauge value check out completed auctions.

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Falls Church, Va.: I have action figures in original packaging which are about 20 years old -- any value?

Mike Kurtz: I cant quote values on figures.

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Richmond, Ky.: I have in my possession a script: "Star Wars by George Lucas Revised 4th Draft 3/15/76" signed "Mike Prowse is Darth Vader." Could you tell me if this has any value?

Mike Kurtz: Again I'm not a person who can quote Value. David Prowse was the Actor who was in the Darth Vader suit during the filming and James Earl Jones was the voice actor. So if it says Mike Prowse sounds like its a fake. But there are also alot of fake autograph's out there.

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Washington, D.C.: What is the most prized/valued "Star Wars" collector item?

Mike Kurtz: Well for me it would be my collection as a whole and the memories associated with it.

A very good friend's more prized piece is his Blue Snaggletooth Figure!

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Franklin, Ohio: I bought my son the jacket that Luke wore in "Empire Strikes Back." How much would that be worth today? It is in excellent condition.

Mike Kurtz: Sorry I cant say. You might want to check out online for apprasial companies.

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Fairfax, Va.: Back in the early 80s as a kid, I had a lot of star wars figures. But I systematically crushed them all in my father's table vise. If I hadn't done that, would they have been worth something today?

Mike Kurtz: The market for figures has had its ups and downs. It just depends on when you value it.

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Alexandria, Va.: Where can I rent/buy a good costume for tonight's showing?

Mike Kurtz: I cant really say. Most of our Members that have costumes have built them from scratch or ordered kits online. There is not really any place that I know of that you can get a good costume for the day of the release

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Annandale, Va.: Mike, don't you think that the Star Wars buzz will significantly diminish after this movie runs its rounds? I'm thinking of the 15 years between "Return of the Jedi" and "The Phantom Menace." Near the end of that period, the original Star Wars mystique was pretty faded for the Average Joe.

Mike Kurtz: Well we have discussed this within our group and consider this will happen. But we take into consideration that the Fan Community will still exist and remain strong for years to come.

At our monthly meetings we have an average of 40 members come monthly, so I can say for sure that the Star Wars Community in DC Metro Area will be going strong for years to come.

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Fairfax, Va.: Do you think there was anything to the criticism that certain characters were reflecting racial stereotypes?

Mike Kurtz: Again this will fall into the personal opinion side. I did not personally see this but after reading about it could understand some opinions wether or not I agreeded with them.

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Nashville, Tenn.: My dad was a fan of the Stars Wars book before the movie came out, and consequently got me a set of figures from Sears that came packaged together before the movie came out. All have since been played with to the extent that heads have fallen off, stickers peeled away, etc. I can't recall which figures were included in this set. Do you by chance know?

Mike Kurtz: There were a few sets that came out. Sears did carry a couple of different sets. What year range are we talking 77-83 or 95-current?

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Washington, D.C.: Why "Star Wars" for you? What is it about the movies that captured you as a passion?

Mike Kurtz: My father took me to see Star Wars when I was a kid and something about it "Stuck" with me throughout the years. I have been a Fan of other movies, but Star Wars has always been the #1 for me

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Fairfax, Va.: Whats the over/under on the gross of this movie by Monday morning?

$130 million?

Mike Kurtz: I cant even take a guess

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Columbia, Md.: Whatever happened to the original Boba Fett figure? The cereal box promised a launching missile. After much sugar consumption, I get a glued in missile. Did they ever release a figure with a launching missile?

Mike Kurtz: They pulled the figure due to chokeing hazard concerns. They replaced it with the "non" rocket firing figure. Though there are some samples out there in the market. But beware there are ALOT of fakes out there also.

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Deathst, AR: Mike,

How long do you think it will take before people begin selling toast on eBay with the image of (insert Star Wars character/actor here)?

Mike Kurtz: Funny Questions: Im sure if you did a search on active or completed auctions you could find one now.

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Omaha, Neb.: What are the original Star Wars toys worth? What prices are being paid for what?

Mike Kurtz: I cant comment on value.

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Norfolk, Va.: Mr. Kurtz -- In about 1983, I decided I was all grown up and threw out all my Star Wars toys, including about 30 of the original action figures, a snowspeeder, and that cool Millennium Falcon with the fold-down landing gear/handle. If I drive up there, would you please kick my a-- for me? Thanks.

Mike Kurtz: LOL! Sorry for A-- Kicking from me. But, if your interested in joinging a group of 165+ great fans check out www.dcswcc.com

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Ashburn, Va.: Mike, since you're a devoted fan and ardent collector, what was your take on Episode I and II? Were you satisfied with them or did you feel disappointed that they weren't done a little better?

Mike Kurtz: I was dissapointed in EPI and satisfied with EPII. After going back and watching EPI I can say I do enjoy it more now and will probably more so after Revenge of the Sith

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Arlington, Va.: What, in your opinion, is the most difficult-to-locate Revenge of the Sith action figure?

Mike Kurtz: Currently it would be $41 Super Articulated Clone Trooper

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Columbia, Md.: Ohhh, here's the big question: Where do you stand on Lucas's revisions of the movies? And should the originals be available (legally)?

Mike Kurtz: I think all versions should be made available, but I do know they exist outthere - thanks SWD

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Nipomo, Calif.: We had a friend, who we thought was nuts, who paid $150 retail for a 1977 first Star Wars movie, bonafide Darth Vader helmet. What would that be worth now.

Mike Kurtz: My guess if it was a movie prop would have to be $5K+

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Nashville, Tenn.: From 77. Pre-release of the original Star Wars. I think there were five figures -- maybe Luke, Obi-Wan, Leia, R2D2 and either Darth Vader or C3P0. I know it wasn't Han. It came with a small display base with a cardboard background. I remember thinking the toys were kinda lame until my dad took me to the movie (I was five at the time). I don't think I put them down for years after that. I still have most of them and my kids play with them now. I wonder if you can distinguish which ones would've come from the set. For instance. I for some reason have two Obi-Wans, but one has darker hair than the other.

Mike Kurtz: It was referred to as the "Earlybird special" and consisted of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Chewbacca and R2D2. Kenner couldn't make the figures intime for Christmas of '77 so they sold "Earlybird" kits and you had to mail away and they sent you the 4 figures.

There are 2 different Kenobi varations that are popular the white and grey beard version. Im sure there are many others out there too.

I know there are also too many to count variations of Luke Jedi also.

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Deale, Md.: I hear that blue snaggletooth is a real gem.

What do you think of the "wars" between "openers" and "mint in box-ers"?

Mike Kurtz: I can see both sides I collect both ways. I like to play and display so for me I say "Do whatcha Like"

Lumpster and Lumpy

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Washington, D.C.: As one who loves the effects in movies such as the Star Wars saga, I was wondering -- do you know of anywhere in the D.C. Metro area where one can go to gain knowledge in this aspect of moviemaking? Any film schools/effects shops in the area that you know of? Thanks!

Mike Kurtz: There are no schools in the area that Im familiar with that have programs. I know alot of ILM staff members come from colleges on the west coast.

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Deale, Md.: Blue Snaggletooth? ... I'd raise my Chewbacca tankard to that one.

If there's one thing in your collection that you're most proud of, either monitarily or for sentimental reasons, what would it be?

Also, what has been the biggest highliight for you in organizing/running your collecting club?

... and how much is a blue Snaggletooth worth?

Mike Kurtz: Well I have a few prized pieces (1) being my lifesized Yoda from ATOC, another would be my framed picture of the DCSWCC Membership at our Summer Social last july 101 members and family spending the day having fun and enteracting.

I also would have to say my Yoda tattoo that was drawn by Indy Marosy!

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Gaithersburg, Md.: Do you know of any Web sites that will summarize the story lines, characters, etc. of the past five Star Wars movies so that I can completely appreciate this next one? I'm new to the Star Wars craze and haven't seen all the films.

Mike Kurtz: check out www.theforce.net the site has alot of good resources and timelines.

For collecting check out www.galactichunter.com and www.rebelscum.com

Oh and of course make sure you check out www.dcswcc.com

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Wilmington, Del.: I once heard that a fellow pulled an original 1977 Death Star prop (one that didn't explode) out of a dumpster. Any truth there?

Mike Kurtz: I cant comment on that since I have never heard of it. But I did have the pleasure of meeting a man through a fellow member Martin Thurn at the Star Wars Celebration 3 who gave tours of shooting location for Star Wars and got to see his pictures and talk about the props he collected while living there.

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Washington, D.C.: FYI to potential sellers -- there is a second hand toy store in Wheaton just behind a row of little shops on the west side of Georgia Ave. that, I think, will buy Star Wars items. I have bought a few items from them.

Mike Kurtz: Thanks for the Information

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Ellicott City, Md.: I consider myself a Star Wars collector and enjoy the hobby greatly. What would be the benefits of someone like myself joining a Collecting Club like DCSWCC?

Mike Kurtz: Networking... LOL. Seriously we are a bunch of great people that help each other out. We meet monthly to talk, trade, and enjoy our personal Star Wars related experiences.

When I founded the DCSWCC in August of 2003 I never imagined it would grow this big. With in the first week we had 30 members and at our first meeting we have 21 people attend. Now we have 40-50 members attend every month.

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Arlington, Va.: Any advice for keeping my played-with figures in good shape? My R2D2 is showing signs of wear, Han Solo's legs are loose. Have your members any advice for maintaining our toys (short of not opening the box!)?

Mike Kurtz: The the catch 22 - if you play with the toys they will show wear. My advice if you can afford to and locate have a play set and a display set.

Orangeleaders tip of the day!

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Chapel Hill, N.C.: I had a large scale collection which I (mostly) sold off during the hype before the release of Episode I. I did keep a few items, including a "Revenge" of the Jedi Kenner action figure card back, which I purchased years ago from Mitch Miller -- who you may have known -- when he was liquidating his huge collection. I'm curious if you know what these are going for these days.

Mike Kurtz: Sorry I cant quote values. I dont stay on top of that aspect

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Mike Kurtz: The Store in Wheaton is called Toy Exchange. Stop by and see owner/operator, Perry. Its on Triangle Lane off of Reedy Rd.

thanks PPJR

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Washington D.C.: Speaking of the films, are there any Star Wars celebrities/costuming groups in the D.C. area?

Mike Kurtz: There is 2 Garrisons of the 501st Costuming Groups one in VA and one in MD. Check out www.501st.com for more information.

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Washington, D.C.: OK, going along the Star Wars/Star Trek line, let's say an Imperial Star Destroyer comes across the U.S.S. Enterprise. What is the outcome of the ensuing drama?

Mike Kurtz: Only in the mind and imagination of fans can this outcome play out

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Alexandria, Va.: I really enjoy the authentic reproductions of SWOT props. I currently own 10 orginal Graflex 3-cells that have not been altered, and several assembled OB1 sabers. I also own a couple of Stormtrooper Suits (1 Follano rip and one that is a pull from the ANH Film used that is floating around). What sort of street value am I looking at for this stuff nowadays? Seems many of the prop collectors were forced out by Lucasfilm lawsuits. Anyhow, just wondering, and yes, I am a massive geek.

Mike Kurtz: No idea sorry

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Scotch Plains, N.J.: I was given a blue "May the Force be with You" button at the opening of what was later renamed Episode IV in May 1977 -- Any of these still available out there?

Mike Kurtz: check ebay I have seen some on there.

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Notre Dame, Ind. : Hi Mike,

When I was a kid, I used to dress up like Luke and blow up my tie fighter toys with M-80 firecrackers because I hated the dark side. Now 25 years later, I've collected a bunch of cool Anakin figures from toy stores and Burger King. I'm worred that by 2 a.m. tonight after I see Episode III I'm going to have the urge to destroy them, too. Do you think I'm OK? I also like to start small fires.

Mike Kurtz: LOL You should be fine and remember kids DONT PLAY WITH FIRE, cause you will get burned

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Mike Kurtz: I want to thank the Washington Post for inviting me to participate in this chat session today. Please check out the DC Metro Area Star Wars Collecting Club at www.dcswcc.com

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