Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Book Review: Star Wars the Ultimate Action Figure Collection!

As a long-time Star Wars action figure collector (I paid for most of George Lucas' children's shoes) it's nigh impossible for me not to mention Stephen J. Sanweet's brilliant new book Star Wars: The Ultimate Action Figure Collection.

Weighing in at over 350 pages and covering nearly 2,500 action figures spanning from the late 1970's to 2012 this is an unmissable resource for all breeds of collector. I was gifted a copy for Christmas by our very own Jacinta, and now I must tell you why you need a copy too!

You and I will chat... after the jump!

If you don't know who Steve Sansweet is then you and I are going to wrestle. For many, many years he was the head of fan relations for Lucasfilm (until the events leading to the acquisition of that particular company) and - perhaps more importantly for this book - he is also the custodian of the world's largest Star Wars collection, housed at his massive museum, Rancho Obi Wan. For a book like this to be definitive and worthy of your time, you need it in strong, capable, sensual hands like Steve's. He not only knows this stuff, but he loves this stuff, and you'll feel Steve's love as things heat up on every page. 

Now people, seriously, this isn't like those dry black and white price guides. Every single figure is given its own full body, colour image, often complete with accessories, and every single one has accompanying text. This is not only going to give you important details about the figure, but also about that version of the character, as well as the occasional behind the scenes info (did you know that Kit Fisto was portrayed by an always grinning on-set carpenter?), or even just colour commentary from Steve. Sansweet is a witty, affable character so he approaches the book with a warm and welcoming personal touch.

Just look at this example...

There's more Lando's there than you could ever possibly hope for. And yet more still on the following page. In fact some characters take up a huge amount of real estate. Chewbacca spans four pages, Han manages nine pages, Luke trumps that with thirteen pages, and the Clone Troops fill up an exhausting  forty-three pages! That's a hell of a lot of repaints!

Which is something else to note - this book covers not just every major release of a character but also any significant variants such as repaints or retooling. This is incredibly handy, especially if you already have a version of a character and want to check if a later release is enough of an upgrade to justify purchasing it. It becomes very easy, while scanning through these pages, to access whether or not you own the definitive version of each figure. Ebay is a confusing mess, so this guide becomes a huge time-saver. It's a fantastic resource to ascertain what you're missing and what you can skip.

Plus it's not just figures from the movies. Within these pages you will also discover characters from the expanded universe, video games, and animated series. Even the ancient Droids and Ewoks cartoons are covered, which is fun whether you're just curious or a completist.

Aside from helping identify gaps in my collection, the other useful thing about this book is shows me which gun belongs to which character. As they topple over on my shelves, or I move from house to house, the accessories often get mixed together like a tiny plastic key party. This book is currently the quickest way available to me to learn which figure should be holding each weapon. 

And let me be even bolder, still. I would also argue that, as many fans scale back or even sell off their collections, that this book makes for a pretty solid virtual collection on its own. If your attachment to the figures is purely nostalgia fuelled, then you may well get that same buzz simply by perusing this book rather than cluttering up your shelves. I know that if I ever part with all my figures then I would love to have something like this around to fill in the void. There's plenty to look at and it satisfies that itch.

I also have to recommend that you take the time to read Steve's introduction where he runs through the history of 3 3/4 inch Star Wars action figures, particularly highlighting how revolutionary they actually were at the time. These were the dark times before many films had successful licensing deals and Steve tells how Star Wars become the juggernaut that forever changed the landscape.

This book is essential for Star Wars fans. I only hope that its success will lead to additional volumes, perhaps covering other areas of Star Wars collecting. I'd love, for example, to see a run down of all the vehicles and beasts that have been released in the last 30 plus years. The potential is endless.

Available to buy from Book Depository.

1 comment:

  1. hmmm...I only own a handful of Star Wars figures these days (they got traded for Transformers long, long ago. In a galaxy actually, fairly close by). Regardless, I'd LOVE to have photographic representations of all my old figures, plus all the one I never had! Accompanying facts and trivia are also very welcome!

    Oh fine, I'm going to the book store. Happy? :D