Gus Lopez created The Star Wars Collectors Archive (theswca.com) in 1994—a virtual museum of rare and unusual Star Wars collectibles—the Archive was the first Star Wars collecting website on the Internet. He is a frequent speaker at conventions on Star Wars collecting topics and has led the Collecting Track for the Star Wars Celebration conventions. Gus has formed various Star Wars collecting communities. He is a regular contributor on Star Wars collecting for various publications and co-authored five books covering different aspects of Star Wars collectibles. Gus collects rare Star Wars memorabilia including vintage toys, cast and crew items, artwork, toy prototypes, and original movie props and costumes, which he displays at his home, the Bobacabana, in Seattle, Washington.
Here are Ten Questions with Gus:
1. How big is your Star Wars collection at this point?
I would estimate that I have around 10,000 Star Wars items spanning several areas I focus on: cast and crew items, screen-used props and costumes, original art, vintage toys, record album awards, toy prototypes, food items, store displays, and cereal boxes. The number of items is dominated the vintage toys, food and cereal items, and crew gear. But the original props and costumes take up most of the space in our house because I like to have those in nice displays.
2. What are your favorite Star Wars items in your collection?
It’s impossible to pick one, but one of my favorites include the original Death Star model used in the first movie. It’s such a significant piece in Star Wars, and I’m so excited to have something with that significance. Princess Leia’s slave costume from Return of the Jedi is also one of my favorites—definitely my favorite costume on display in our house. Other cool pieces include a Tusken Raider mask, Boba Fett’s backpack from Return of the Jedi, prototypes of Kenner’s rocket firing Boba Fett action figure, and Luke Skywalker’s belt from the first film.
3. What is your favorite recent acquisition?
I just recently picked up some amazing original artwork by Ralph McQuarrie for various concepts he drew and painted for Star Wars cast and crew t-shirts, belt buckles, and Christmas cards. It really doesn’t get any better than one-of-a-kind Ralph McQuarrie artwork!
4. What is the rarest SW item in your collection?
I have a lot of one-of-a-kind items in my collection so in terms of scarcity many are tied. I also have many very rare items like prototypes of the vintage toy line. The majority of my collection is rare stuff. On that note, I don’t seek out rare items because they’re valuable or high end—I own lots of rare items with little value. For me, it’s about the thrill of the hunt and the novelty of finding items people didn’t previously know about. Whether these items have “value” or not is less is important to me, but with that said, it’s not lost on me that many of these items have substantial value.
5. What is the strangest or most eclectic SW collectible you have?
I have a display case filled with weird Star Wars items. These include Star Wars items like bongs from The Netherlands, player piano roll, Star Wars condoms from France, a filled Pine Sol bottle with Star Wars promotion on the label, and Star Wars toilet paper from Germany.
6. Where would you rank The Force Awakens in the film franchise?
I believe it’s really strong film. Each of the films has unique elements, but I love the acting and chemistry between the characters in The Force Awakens and the way the story unfolds. I definitely put it in the top half of Star Wars films.
7. Any predictions for The Last Jedi?
Hard to say what it’s going to be like. If it’s the 2nd act of the story, I would expect that it will set up the conflict for this trilogy and leave on the cliff hanger. I really like what they’ve done with this trilogy since they’ve made it clear there is lots of backstory still to be explained, and they did it in a way that was subtle instead of the more blunt “There is another” from Empire Strikes Back that waves it in the audience’s face.
8. What do you think of the direction of the franchise? In good hands?
I’m very pleased that Star Wars is in Disney’s hands. The quality of The Force Awakens and Rogue One show they can take Star Wars to new levels and create stories in this universe. They have been able to scale the licensing to a new level and the quality of products has increased. Disney has a great record for thinking about these licenses and brands in the long term, so we know they’re not going to just milk Star Wars for short term gains.
9. Are you going to be at opening day for Star Wars Land (at Disneyland or Walt Disney World)?
If I’m able to, I will be there opening day. I’m an annual passholder at Disneyland so would love it if they do something special for passholders to see a preview of the new Star Wars land!
10. Beside Star Wars, what else do you collect?
I don’t have room to collect much else but I still sneak in a few things. I have a small shrine to the Beatles, and have some really cool Beatle collectibles such as vintage cereal boxes from the US and UK, several rare Yellow Submarine items, Ringo’s personally owned psychedelic posters of his bandmates, and Ringo’s personal platinum record award for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I also have a small collection of Evel Knievel toys in sealed boxes. As a kid I was really into Evel Knievel and on some level he represents a kitschy aspect of Americana.