I signed up to join the Ohio Star Wars Collectors Club shortly after Jenn & Kelsey & I moved to Ohio fifteen years ago, in the summer of 1999.
I had learned about OSWCC through the vintage Star Wars collecting Usenet newsgroup, and was intrigued by the idea of a group of collectors getting together in real life to geek out and swap stories, trade stuff, and share new finds and favorite pieces.
I seem to remember that the club communicated mostly through email lists at the time, and even though I soon felt comfortable contributing online, it was still quite awhile before I actually found the nerve to attend one of the monthly meetings of the North Region. I remember being nervous about actually meeting my fellow OSWCCers in person, and wondering whether the few pieces from my own collection I’d brought to share would be blown off as lame, and whether I’d feel odd and left out. It was kind of like heading off to a week at Camp Tippecanoe when I was a kid.
Turns out it was really cool and low-key and just a bunch of Star Wars fans hanging out and nerding it up for a few hours. And I loved it. For a few years there, I hardly missed a regional meeting, and I spent a crazy awesome 30+ hours with OSWCC friends at Star Wars Celebration II in Indianapolis.
In 2001, I had to cancel my trip to what was supposed to be my first OSWCC Summer Social, due to a seriously violent 24-hour-case of the barfs that swore me off Chik-Fil-A for life. I started a 10-year streak of Summer Social attendance in 2002, though, making it a priority every year even though along the way, my attendance at the regional meetings had trailed off. And the social was a highlight every year: road tripping with friends or bringing Kelsey along; catching up with everyone and browsing the tables; picking up really cool pieces and meeting some really interesting folks.
The OSWCC gang was my first audience for the essays that eventually became Collect All 21!, and my friends there were the first to embrace and support it.
My trips to Celebrations III, V, and VI included more fine times hanging out with OSWCCers.
My social attendance streak came to an end in 2012 when we were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime family vacation, and I missed last year’s as well, due to a family move.
And honestly, I wasn’t sure about this year – again, I haven’t been to meetings or active in the club forums for some time – until my friend and fellow OSWCCer Matt asked if I’d like to share some of my Star Wars nostalgia with a presentation at this year’s social in Cincinnati. (The location rotates annually between the Cleveland, Cincy, and Columbus regions.) It had been awhile since I’d done one, so I accepted the invitation, stayed up late the night before the July 12 social writing and rehearsing, and hit the road that Saturday morning with my daughter and her friend.
Digression: Kelsey had not been to a social since 2007, and had only been to one other before that. It was a pleasant surprise when, the Thursday before this year’s, she said, “Hey – you didn’t invite me! What’s up with that?”
We left early and met up with my buddy Josh in Ashland to share the rest of the there-and-back-in-a-day trip. (Yes: More time on the highway that day than actually spent at the social. Still worth it.)
Man, what a fantastic day: Scott D.M. Simmons and his dad, Kim D.M. Simmons were there – that’s a Kim Simmons vintage Kenner photograph up at the top of the page – along with a bunch of OSWCC friends who I had a ton of fun catching up with. Many of us have now known each other long enough to have seen each others’ kids grow up.
Despite the support OSWCC has always given my writing, I was really nervous about my presentation, because these are people I know. It’s different doing a reading at a library or convention where the audience is people you’ve never met. But you know what? Once I started, I wound up having fun. And people said some incredibly nice things to me afterward, and I was grateful to Matt for the opportunity and glad to have made a few people laugh, and happy to have sparked some other childhood memories.
I’ve missed this. And even if I don’t meet my goal of making it to a North Region meeting again soon, I’m awfully glad I made the trip.
(Also: If you’re a Star Wars fan and you live in Ohio, and you haven’t looked into joining OSWCC, why the heck not?)
I’ve said before how excited I am to have played a small part in this project, so when the finished DVD of Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys landed in my mailbox last week, it was a little like the day I got my Bossk.
Here’s the elevator pitch from the DVD web site:
Like no toys before them, Star Wars toys were a phenomenon that swept the nation, transforming both the toy and movie industries, and ultimately creating a hobby that, 30 years later, still holds sway over its fans.
Plastic Galaxy is a documentary that explores the groundbreaking and breathtaking world of Star Wars toys. Through interviews with former Kenner employees, experts, authors, and collectors, it looks at the toys’ history, their influence, and the fond and fervent feelings they elicit today.
I may not be the most impartial reviewer, of course, but think the movie turned out well. It’s a nice balance of nostalgia trip, toy merchandising history lesson, eye-popping show-and-tell, and behind-the-scenes storytelling. There’s some fun animation work throughout, too.
Several nifty people I’ve met and/or know from fan circles are also in the movie, like Jim Swearingen, and a couple OSWCC and KennerCollector.com friends, and Steve Sansweet, who wrote what’s still one of my all-time favorite Star Wars books, “From Concept to Screen to Collectible.” (A book, which, it should be noted, also inspired Plastic Galaxy. It’s still a good read 20+ years after its publication. Most of what has become common knowledge about the Kenner/Star Wars backstory was unearthed by Sansweet first.)
It’s probably not too much of a stretch to say that if you remember the Kenner brand or coveted the neighbor kid’s Landspeeder or grew up in the twin-sun shadow of the original Star Wars, then Plastic Galaxy is probably in your wheelhouse. You can order it from Brian and Karl’s Futurious Industries.
This begins with an overdue thanks to the guys behind JediCon WV, who earlier this month published a really moving and heartfelt Tumblr post about Collect All 21! and my presentation at their 2010 convention.
John writes he was six when he was first swayed by the Force. I was more like 11. But so many of his recollections are similar to my experiences. Here he was, five years my junior living in Ohio while I grew up in Virginia, older – not wiser – and it’s like we lived next door to each other.
So I want to thank you, John, for bringing out the Star Wars kid in me once again. Each re-reading brings back memories of the best childhood anyone could’ve asked for. Maybe that’s why I’ve never really left it behind.
I mean dang. Thank YOU. It feels like I’ve said this a million times, but god, that kind of reaction, and hearing that someone read what I wrote and enjoyed re-discovering long-lost secret joys? That’s one of my favorite things in the world, and it’s a huge reason I wrote Collect All 21! in the first place.
So, that’s the first part of the post as referenced in the title.
Naturally, the second part is this: You know what makes a good Christmas present? Unbridled Star Wars,-1970s-and-’80s nostalgia, conveniently packaged in classic paperback format, or in an expanded electronic book edition.
There’s an excerpt, and some nice things that nifty people have said about the book, and things like podcasts and interviews, and some non-Amazon Collect All 21! links here.
Deep and sincere thanks again to everyone who’s supported this book for the past five-plus years and encouraged me to keep sharing my Star Wars memories.
The first batch of pre-orders and sales that summer and fall of 2008 were mostly to family, friends, and the supportive Star Wars fans of the Ohio Star Wars Collectors Club and the vintage forums at Rebelscum.com. They really jump-started this whole thing with their responses to my 2007 online series of Star Wars recollections.
In early 2009, right around the time my last full-time newsroom job was eliminated and I found myself out of work, Rob Wainfur posted one of the earliest completely-neutral-party reviews of Collect All 21! on his Retro Finds site, which was a more-than-welcome bit of nice news, and especially neat because Rob’s from Wales.
Around the same time, Adam, my Collect All 21! editor, launched Deus Ex Comica, and suddenly I was like, “Hey: I want a cool, professional cover and a foreword, too!” And that’s where Kirk Demarais and David Morgan-Mar came in, generously contributing their talents to the revised version of Collect All 21!, providing me with some amazing front cover art and a kick-ass introduction.
Working with a great digital publishing team, I expanded the book for a Kindle edition in July 2011, adding some new personal material as well as interviews and my magazine-length feature on Lorne Peterson.
Some of the other neat stuff that’s happened along the way:
- In spring 2009, I got an incredibly kind and supportive email from George Krstic, another Northeast Ohio first-generation Star Wars fan who grew up to write neat stuff like MTV’s Downtown, Megas XLR, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Motorcity. We’ve hung out a few times since, and recorded a few Star Wars nostalgia podcasts, and it’s always a blast. (George also introduced me to Josh Ling, who’s also a first-generation Rust Belt kid that came of age addicted to Kenner toys, and, I think it’s also fair to say, deals with the same old-school v. new-era Star Wars internal conflicts that twist so many of us in geek knots.)
- Jenny Williams and Curtis Silver both said really nice things about Collect All 21! on the GeekMom and GeekDad blogs, respectively.
- At PAX East in 2010, thanks to the GeekDad crew, I met Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks author Ethan Gilsdorf, who bought a copy of the book on the spot while we were all hanging out, and later provided me with a superlative blurb.
- CNN interviewed me for a 30th anniversary story about The Empire Strikes Back.
- Sharing Star Wars memories became kind of a thing: My friend Jonathan Liu sent me an advance copy of Tony Pacitti‘s My Best Friend is a Wookiee (2010), and I wound up meeting Tony at Star Wars Celebration V to exchange books and stories. A couple years later, in 2012, Gib van Ert released A Long Time Ago: Growing Up With And Out Of Star Wars, which I read and enjoyed on the way to Star Wars Celebration VI. And, of course, earlier this year, Fanboys director Kyle Newman (who also encouraged me regarding Collect All 21! in 2010) put together The Return of Return of the Jedi.
- Geek A Week artist Len Peralta and I recorded a Star Wars and 1980s conversation/podcast.
- I got invited as a guest to a couple JediCon WV events, which were tons of fun, and got my name on a spectacular poster by Kenner toy photographer Kim Simmons.
- Hugo Award-winning author and good guy Jim C. Hines read Collect All 21! and blogged about it.
- Then there was that time in 2012 when the fantastic Renita Jablonski called me and said, “So, we were thinking of doing a piece on the 35th anniversary of Star Wars, and I said ‘I know a guy,'” and we talked on the phone, and then BOOM! I’m driving to work a day or two later, and right there in the middle of National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” is me. (And five years before that, when Renita was at WKSU, she produced a piece I wrote about not remembering the first time I saw Star Wars, which, again, is pretty much where all this started.)
- Topless Robot put Collect All 21! on its list of The 10 Greatest Non-Fiction Star Wars Books, which includes the line, “Celebrate the love, yub yub.” Yes!
- Somehow my book caught the attention of filmmaker Brian Stillman, who visited our house a couple summers back and interviewed me for Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys, which should be coming out later this summer.
Crunching some numbers from Lulu and Amazon to figure out about how many copies of Collect All 21! are out there – counting print and electronic versions – I come up with a number somewhere close to 2,500. (I’m always looking to make that number bigger, of course, but hey – that’s not a bad run for a completely independent, word-of-mouth effort.)
I will never be able to say thanks enough for all the encouragement and support from my friends and family and everyone who’s ever bought, borrowed, read, or shared Collect All 21! among fellow Star Wars fans and 1980s-era nostalgia loons (which I can say since I’m one of them).
The Force Will Be With You. Always.
Not too sure about that goofy guy at the beginning, but I know several of those other people, and this looks like a fun, seriously nostalgia-inducing movie.
Brian and Karl visited me – gosh, a couple summers back, already? – and talked Star Wars toys and 1980s kidhood for a couple hours, and it was a blast. They were talented and professional, and I’m really excited to have played even a small part in this project.
All sold – thanks, readers!
Dec. 7 update: Three of the four copies have been sold! The remaining unused Hasbro cardback is the General Grievous version.
I’ve got one
four paperback copy copies of Collect All 21! leftover from the Akron Comicon, so I thought I’d package a few extras with them for the holidays. Details below the photo.
- One unused cardback from Hasbro’s current vintage-style line. The fronts are done in the style of the old Kenner packaging – which is very cool – and the backs have a little bit of Kenner figure history on them. These have never had actual action figures attached. (Note: Three of these are Boba Fetts, and one is General Grievous.)
- TWO vintage Topps cards from the “Giant Full Color Photocards” set. Yes: These are the actual cards from 1980. (Genuine Nostalgia!) No, there is no giant stale gum.
- A digital version (not pictured – of course) of the extra chapter’s worth of material which was added to the Expanded Edition of Collect All 21! This will be delivered by email and can be sent as a Word document, PDF or in ebook form. It’s only the new interviews and added content – not a digital edition of the entire book.
And I’ll knock 10% off the cover price, so you’ll get the book plus those extras for $13.50 + shipping.
If you’re interested, leave a comment or send me an email at booth (at) fieldsedge.com
Adam Besenyodi will be sharing the table and selling Deus ex Comica: The Rebirth of a Comic Book Fan. He may even have some copies of Exo-1 and the Rock Solid Steelbots on hand. (And if he won’t, I’m sure he’ll let me know soon enough.)
I believe I speak for
all both of us at booth A12 when I say it would be excellent for you to come by and nerd out for a few minutes.
I’m off to cover Star Wars Celebration VI – keep an eye on GeekDad – , but look: As promised, from now through Sunday, Aug. 26, the expanded Kindle edition of Collect All 21! has a pretty attractive price tag:
Along with a few other fans, I’ll be heading to Orlando this week for Star Wars Celebration VI. And since I do enjoy sharing a wee bit of nostalgia for the saga, I’m running an Amazon promotion starting on Wednesday, Aug. 22 – the day before the convention opens – through Sunday, Aug. 26, when everyone packs up their big Corellian ships for the jump home.
Over those five days, the expanded electronic edition of Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek will be available for Kindle readers and apps for zero dollars. ($0.00).
As in, “Hey – Over here! Free book!”
As in, “You mean if I have an Amazon Kindle or even just the reader installed on my phone or tablet or other we-live-in-the-future-and-it-sort-of-rocks device, I can read one of The 10 Greatest Non-Fiction Star Wars Books for NOTHING?”
But not quite yet: You need to wait until Aug. 22-26, when the Amazon promotion is running. (And no, this doesn’t include the original paperback The First 30 Years edition of Collect All 21! Although if you enjoy the electronic edition, I highly recommend picking up a physical copy: It’s a bit shorter, but the sweet Kirk Demarais‘ cover really pulls a room together.)
During the promotion, I’ll take some time out from my Celebration nerding to share reminders and some nice things people have said about the book.
A fun week lies ahead!
I got a lot of encouraging feedback in July of 2011 when I expanded Collect All 21! for a digital edition. Unfortunately, while the folks at my digital publishing company were great to work with and did a bang-up job converting the book and pushing it through various channels, they had to make the difficult decision to close their virtual doors earlier this year, ending the availability of the Expanded Edition.
After thinking things over for a bit and pestering some very patient and understanding friends for advice, I decided to go ahead and tweak a couple small glitches and make the Expanded Edition available again myself through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.
Opening that first Darth Vader figure and putting him in a Landspeeder. Imagining a snowy elementary school playground as the wastes of Hoth. Seeing Return of the Jedi on opening night.
Moments like these – and a galaxy more – make up more than three decades of “Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek.” Author and first-generation saga fan John Booth takes the reader from a childhood packed with Star Wars guys (never “action figures”) and Christmas wishes both fulfilled and unrealized, through the years when the trilogy lay dormant to the mainstream public’s eye, and into an age of seeing George Lucas’ universe as an adult while exploring it again as a parent.
Collect All 21! revisits the late 1970s and early ’80s, in all their bad-haircuts-and-Atari glory, then moves beyond those decades and nostalgia to explore the evolution of the Star Wars saga and its fandom.
This expanded electronic edition also includes interviews with Star Wars cast and crew members reflecting on the saga’s impact from both first-generation-fan standpoints and a career spent bringing the universe to life on-screen.
Named by Topless Robot as one of The Ten Greatest Non-Fiction Star Wars Books, Collect All 21! is a love letter from a self-aware geek written under the sometimes harsh light of hindsight, softened with understanding. It captures the innocence and wonder and infinite possibilities of what it meant to an eight-year-old to Collect All 21!
“Like a nostalgic walk through your childhood and growing up geek.”
– WIRED magazine’s GeekDad
“The feeling of childhood magic that pours from its pages will have you reflecting on how much of an impact the Wars have had on you.”
– Topless Robot
“I never thought I’d actually get that Time-Travel Belt, but reading this book is almost better.”
– George Krstic, writer, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Motorcity, and Megas XLR
I’ve also decided to keep the Kindle edition at it’s three-dollar price – which means, yes: More book than the print edition, for less money.
Additionally, it’s available through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, so if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can borrow it for FREE.
And hey – Star Wars Celebration VI is coming up fast, so why not start getting psyched up now?