Welcome to the first installment of Collectors’ Bounty. In this edition, we give a warm welcome to Joe Gamez as he tells us a little about his Star Wars collection habits and showcases some of his favorite pieces. Be sure to follow Joe on Instagram for updates on his collecting journey. @jawaman77
Joe with the great John Williams
When did you first see Star Wars and which is your favorite film?
I saw the original Star Wars at a drive-in theater in California back in 1977. My favorite film is Return Of the Jedi.
Who is your favorite character?
Luke Skywalker. From when he’s looking at the twin suns wishing he could be somewhere else, knowing he is destined for better, to the mistakes he makes along the way, and finally the success in his mission to bring his father back to the light. I just identify with so much of his character.
How long have you been collecting?
I started in 1995 when they released the Power of the Force 2 collection. I was around in 1978 to 1985 when the original Star Wars figures were the hottest thing on the shelves. Unfortunately, I grew up without a lot of money and wasn’t able to take part in having any of those toys. When the POTF2 figures came out, I was 22 years old, had a job, my own money and I was finally able to experience the fun of hunting down figures. Even driving to stores in different states just to see if I could get lucky enough to find a newly released figure or a variant of one I already had. I know the POTF2 isn’t everyone’s favorite line, but they will always have a special place in my heart because of the experience I had collecting them.
Which was your first Star Wars figure?
Right before the POTF2 release, I purchased a mint on card (MOC) 1984 77 back Wicket.
What is your favorite piece in your collection?
The Vintage Collection Return of the Jedi AT-AT. I LOVED the AT-ATs when I was younger, and always wanted one. This was a gift from my girlfriend, so on top of it being an awesome piece to have in the collection, it also has sentimental value.
What is your rarest/most valuable item?
This is a question that gets asked a lot. For me, my collection is always about how much joy it brings me, how much fun I had hunting an item down, and if I’m really lucky, how much sentimental value an item has. That is why the most valuable item in my collection is a Don Post Darth Vader helmet. I know….not worth thousands of dollars. Ya see, my mother gave me that helmet, it was the last gift she gave me before she died in 1999. This isn’t an item you can run out to the store and buy! Someone could offer me millions and I would turn them down, so it is easily my most valuable item in my collection.
Do you have a focus?
I am a HUGE fan of the Vintage Collection line. (We won’t speak of how horrible Hasbro is treating this line at the moment!) I love the look of this line, reminds me of the carded figures that were in the store when I was a kid. I own every original trilogy vintage collection figure but one….ill get to that one in the next question!
What is the grail item that you are still on the lookout for?
The only original trilogy vintage collection figure I need is the Canadian VC20 Yoda on the Return of the Jedi card back. I’ve lost a few auctions, and recently missed out on a Facebook purchase by about 30 seconds I was told! One day I’ll have him!
Any other information you can share about you and your collection?
I almost quit collecting last year! In February 2019 my house was hit by a bad flood. I had tons of collectibles in bins, stacked high on shelves. Unfortunately, the water made the shelves fall over, dumping almost half my collection into the muddy water. I lost about 130-150 figures, a POTF Millennium Falcon, X-Wing, and tons of old promotional materials and every lifesize cardboard standup. The most painful was my 21 back R5-D4 and the only Empire Strikes Back vintage MOC I owned, the Snowtrooper. I could spend the next hour listing things I lost.
What changed my mind about quitting was the Star Wars community. I posted pics of the flood online and a bunch of fellow collectors literally came out of nowhere to rescue me! Everyone demanded my address so they could send me some figures. And that gesture alone is what made me think, “How could I leave a group of amazing people like this?”. It’s a great community to be a part of and I continue to meet people who eventually end up becoming really good friends. For me, the two things collecting is all about are the joy it brings you, and the amazing people you meet along the way! MTFBWY
Big thanks to Joe, now let’s check out some more of his Star Wars collection!
Thanks for sharing your collection, Joe!