A note from Steve Sansweet

Dear fellow Star Wars fans and collectors,

I need to share some distressing news with you because I need your help.

In February we at Rancho Obi-Wan found out that we had been the victim of a major theft that surreptitiously took place over many months in late 2015 through 2016.

There were more than 100 valuable items stolen, the majority of them vintage U.S. and foreign carded action figures, many of them rare and important pieces. Most have either been resold or professionally appraised for a total of more than $200,000.

The theft came to light after Philip Wise, a good friend, major collector and owner of several Star Wars websites, posted news of the theft of his rare prototype rocket-firing Boba Fett action figure from his Texas warehouse. Zach Tann, a respected toy dealer and collector in Southern California, immediately notified Philip that he had purchased that figure from Carl Edward Cunningham, 45, a well-known Star Wars collector and R2-D2 builder from Marietta, Georgia.

Tann further told Philip that he previously had bought many other rare Star Wars collectibles from Carl and sent a detailed list. Philip said that he quickly concluded by the quantity and quality of items that they had likely been stolen from my collection here in Petaluma, California.

Tann is working closely with us and authorities to help recover and return as many of the stolen collectibles as possible. Without Zach Tann’s call to Philip, which came despite great potential personal financial exposure to himself, we might still not know of the theft or its extent.

Carl surrendered on an arrest warrant from the Sonoma County, California Sheriff’s Department at the end of March and was charged with felony grand theft. He is currently free on bail with additional hearings in the case scheduled.

I have known Carl for many years, considered him a good and trusted friend, and played host to him at my home numerous times. I, and the staff at Rancho Obi-Wan, are devastated that he is the alleged perpetrator of the thefts. Not only have important items been stolen from the collection, but also our time, energy and ability to trust unconditionally have taken a blow.

If you have any information about Carl Cunningham’s activities or items that he has sold please write to tips@ranchoobiwan.org. If you think you may have purchased a stolen item, please be patient while we work through this process. It is our goal to resolve this situation as quickly as possible and to continue to use the collection at Rancho Obi-Wan to “Inspire through the Force” despite the destruction caused by one person.

Thank you for your help,
Steve Sansweet
Rancho Obi-Wan

This is a LIST OF ITEMS that hasn’t been accounted for. If you bought any of these, especially on eBay (user name: winterceltic) or through the Rebelscum.com forum in the last year from Carl Cunningham, please let us know at tips@ranchoobiwan.org
Harbert 12-Back C-3PO
Kenner 12-Back Han Solo (Large Head)
Kenner 20-back Jawa
Kenner 20-Back Death Squad Commander
Kenner 21-back Hammerhead
Kenner 21-Back Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot
Kenner 21-back R5-D4 SW card
Kenner 31-back R2-D2
Kenner 41-Back Stormtrooper
Kenner 41-Back-A Darth Vader
Kenner 47-back Luke Skywalker (Bespin) Brown hair
Kenner POTF Han Trench AFA 75+Y #11842094
Kenner POTF Ben Kenobi AFA 85Y #11190100
Kenner POTF Darth Vader AFA 85Y #11667777
Kenner POTF Chewbacca
Kenner Diecast Cloud Car Pilot
Kenner Diecast X-Wing
Kenner Canada Ewoks King Gorneesh AFA 75+ #17591428
Kenner Canada Ewoks Canadian Lady Urgah
Meccano 20-Back Jawa AFA 70Y #11973891
Palitoy 12-Back-B Death Squad Commander
Palitoy 12-Back Jawa (cloth cape)
Palitoy 12-Back-A Sand People
Palitoy 12-Back-B R2-D2 AFA 75 #14754625
Palitoy 12-Back-A C-3PO AFA 85 #11805509
Palitoy 12-Back-B Princess Leia AFA 80 #11810768
Palitoy 12-Back-B Stormtrooper AFA 85 #11860712
Palitoy 12-Back-A Han Solo AFA 85 #12889727
Palitoy 12-Back-B Darth Vader AFA 85 #11696213
Palitoy 20-Back Death Star Droid AFA 85 #19616463
Palitoy 20-Back Hammerhead AFA 85 #12519045
Palitoy 30-Back-A Hoth Trooper AFA 85 #11584683
Palitoy 65-back R2-D2 with Sensorscope
Palitoy Tri-Logo Imperial Dignitary AFA 75+ #19588540
Palitoy Tri-Logo Amanaman
Palitoy Tri-Logo Hammerhead
Palitoy Tri-Logo Luke Skywaker (brown hair)
Palitoy Tri-Logo Princess Leia Organa
Palitoy Tri-Logo Yak Face
Palitoy Diecast Tie Fighter
Takara Sticker 12-Back-B Ben Kenobi
Toltoys Death Star Spherical Cardboard Playset with Palitoy innards
LEGO Millenium Falcon #10179
LEGO Super Star Destroyer #10221
LEGO Rebel Snowspeeder #10129
LEGO Imperial Shuttle #10212
Goodbye party Gooney watch
Goodbye party Gooney yellow mug
Goodbye party Gooney hat
Multi-color K tie tac
Terminator Gooney mug
Raiders slide
Gooney hats x 4
Star Wars blue Fall flyer

Lucasfilm and Pinewood Studios Propshop Launch New Line of Screen-like Prop Relicas

DSC02690Unveiling Finn’s helmet—from the most authentic line of prop replicas ever made. Rancho Obi-Wan is proud to take part in the unveiling of a new line that comes as close to screen-used props as possible. Thanks to Lucasfilm, we’re excited to add to our collection this incredible FN-2187 Stormtrooper helmet with bloody handprint, part of the Star Wars Collectibles: Ultimate Studio Edition line. It’s as close to a screen-used prop as you can buy.

Continue reading “Lucasfilm and Pinewood Studios Propshop Launch New Line of Screen-like Prop Relicas”

Topps Digital Star Wars Cards: A Surprisingly Fun Experience

By Steve Sansweet

I have to admit that at first I was dubious. I’ve been collecting Topps STAR WARS™ cards since the first set started showing up with slabs of gum in 1977. My love of cards goes back even further to collecting baseball and non-sports card when I was growing up. But buying and collecting digital STAR WARS cards from Topps?

But I decided to give it a try, after downloading it from the App Store to my iPhone (Android users, no fear—I’m assured a version is coming very soon).

I’ve got to say that it’s fun and in just a week I’m a convert. It’s an entirely new experience, but you still go through the process of buying a pack of cards, knowing in advance what the odds are of what kind of cards you’ll find in the different packs, and then having the fun of opening them to see what you’ve gotten.

10_Product_Shot_E7_SWCT_Flourish_RowAnd the images on my iPhone 6 Plus are really breathtaking—as clear as any I’ve seen from the films or TV series in any format. Just tap the card and you’ll see the reverse with a detailed bio of the character or what’s happening in the scene. The STAR WARS™: Card Trader by Topps app quickly lets you know whether you’ve gotten a new card for your collection or if it’s a dupe and thus available for trading—a major part of the set-up and one that connects the card-collecting community.

The My Cards section of the app lets you see your collection arranged in groups. There are eight cards from the upcoming STAR WARS: The Force Awakens™ (I still need two of those), Galactic Empire, Galactic Republic, Independent, Rebel Alliance, and Separatists. There are also tags that tell you exactly how many of each card you have.

5_App_Artwork_E7_SWCT_PacksIn addition to the standard white-bordered cards, there are more limited chase sets in blue, red, yellow and very limited gold cards. There are limited sets that add colors like green, orange, and purple to the mix. And then there’s a whole lot more. Each day there are new packs available for a limited time with Scene Collection, Galactic Moments, Vintage, Bounty, Vehicle and other card types. You can look at all cards that are or have been available—because many are so limited that they are already marked sold out. That’s where your trading skills become so important. Other cards are marked Coming Soon.

The app sends messages each day telling you what’s going to be available in the way of limited new packs and cards. There are always new ways to better your odds of getting rare cards. There’s a weekly vote for Fan Choice cards. You start your collection with a gift of 25,000 credits (the packs sell for different amounts) and you can refresh your Cantina account by entering the app at least once a day and also by buying credits via the app.

So now that I’m up and running, how about doing some trades with me? I’ll be at the Topps STAR WARS Booth at Star Wars Celebration on Friday, April 17th, from 4-4:30 PM and I’ll share my fan name with anyone who wants to trade…and then we can continue from there!
First, download STAR WARS™: Card Trader by Topps for FREE.

Steve Sansweet, president of Rancho Obi-Wan, owns the world’s largest collection of Star Wars memorabilia, has written 17 Star Wars books, and worked as head of fan relations for Lucasfilm for 15 years after a 26-year career as a reporter and Los Angeles bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal.

Rancho Obi-Wan and I Take On San Diego Comic-Con

By Steve Sansweet

The Star Wars REBELS screening
The Star Wars REBELS screening

It is way too crowded. It has become next to impossible to get tickets or hotel accommodations—and the rooms available are double or triple a legitimate rate.

With hosts Arnie and Marjorie Carvalho at the annual SWAN fan breakfast, this year benefitting ROW.
With hosts Arnie and Marjorie Carvalho at the annual SWAN fan breakfast, this year benefitting ROW.

But it just can’t be missed. I had been to every San Diego Comic-Con International since the late 1980s in various roles as Media (Wall Street Journal reporter and editor), Professional (Star Wars books) and then Exhibitor (doing Lucasfilm presentations since 1996 and then bringing a huge LFL Pavilion to the Exhibit hall). LFL Events Lead Mary Franklin has been doing an awesome job every year turning confusion into an exciting space for fans.

I didn’t go last year; somehow the “hassle” didn’t seem worth it, especially after I got a hotel room five miles out. This year, I didn’t get any hotel room in the insane lottery system—but I persevered.

I found one or two items to buy.
I found one or two items to buy.

And that’s because for anyone whose life is devoted to pop culture, or even one part of it, SDCC is like Mecca, even if you can go only once in your life. I had added reasons to go this year. I wanted to learn as much as I could about the upcoming Star Wars REBELS TV series on Disney XD. Star Wars Action News was kind enough to make Rancho Obi-Wan a beneficiary of it’s now always sold-out fan breakfast and I wanted to connect with fellow fans and Licensees about all the great stuff going on at Rancho Obi-Wan.

Oh yeah. There were a few exclusives I was hoping to buy….along with other cool stuff. But mostly it was a chance to reconnect with friends from across the world—the heart of an event like Star Wars Celebration, which is even more exciting because it’s all Star Wars all the time.

Presenting Rachel Kempster of DK Books with a ROW Sponsor-level Lucite star.
Presenting Rachel Kempster of DK Books with a ROW Sponsor-level Lucite star.

It was definitely mission accomplished in every respect! I was able to give our special Rancho Obi-Wan Lucite benefactor and sponsor stars to four great companies: DK Books, Sideshow Collectibles, Entertainment Earth, and eFX Collectibles. I handed out a prize membership to Rancho at the SWAN fan breakfast. I had conversations galore with Licensees, artists, and fans at booths and in the crowded aisles. And it was wonderful to again be able to attend the 501st dinner and take part in Saturday morning’s group photo.

Chatting with the great Phil Tippet.
Chatting with the great Phil Tippet.
Meeting Vanessa Marshall, Hera Syndulla on Star Wars REBELS.
Meeting Vanessa Marshall, Hera Syndulla on Star Wars REBELS.

I saw a screening of the first two episodes of REBELS in a theater—and it was wonderful. The new series has even more humor than I expected and a ton of heart. Plus the visuals—many inspired by the iconic Ralph McQuarrie’s creative work—really brought me back to an original trilogy frame of mind. I can’t wait until the series starts airing on Disney XD this fall.

I made some new friends—especially ace Star Wars fan-girl Vanessa Marshall, who plays the Twi’lek Hera Syndulla in REBELS. She is clearly going to be a fan favorite along with the rest of the amazing cast. It was great hooking up with my conventions posse: The Three Amigos, all Texas lads: Chris Gereke (Chief Sherpa), Scott Green and Tony DeBenedetto; and my longtime close friend Michael Wistock (attending with his lovely wife Lisa and daughter Leila), who drove down in his SUV and has the unenviable task of bringing my, um, few purchases back to me in Petaluma without the benefit of seeing through his back window.

At the Star Wars REBELS party with Michael McMaster, who built the full-size Chopper, and Lucasfilm’s Matt Martin.
At the Star Wars REBELS party with Michael McMaster, who built the full-size Chopper, and Lucasfilm’s Matt Martin.

Geek culture is bigger than ever. We know it. Hollywood knows it. Licensees know it. Conventions all over the U.S. and beyond are bulging at the seams. And even though there are some conventions that were around before the first one in San Diego in 1970, it is still the king and the heart of pop culture for five days every July.

(Thanks to Chris Gereke, John Schlosser, Michael and Lisa Marie Wistock, and others for the photos.)

Steve Sansweet, president of Rancho Obi-Wan, owns the world’s largest collection of Star Wars memorabilia, has written 16 Star Wars books, and worked as head of fan relations for Lucasfilm for 15 years after a 26-year career as a reporter and Los Angeles bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal.