May The Toys Be with you – An interview with Star Wars Vintage Collector Matt Fox

Ok so I live in a Town call Basingstoke within the UK where we have the Willis Museum and from the now until the 14 April there is an exhibition called May the Toys be with you. I could not contain my excitement on being able to see the Vintage Star Wars collection, my children and I were sharply there at 10:30 just before it got too busy.

Whilst I was there looking at this glorious collection I got even more lucky and met the owner Matt Fox who is a very down to Earth gentlemen, so even thou we only got to talk for a couple of minutes I spent the rest of the day thinking about Matt’s amazing collection, I knew from that point I really wanted to write an article.

So Matt has everything from a Death Star playset to X-wing fighter, the classic Millennium Falcon to all the classic Star Wars figures there is nothing missing from this vintage collection.

So one thing I wanted to know from a fellow collector is the struggle and hardship of being a collector real or is it just me.

Please see all the questions that I wanted to ask Matt, as a collector myself I really enjoyed the passion in his responses as well as the complete honestly.

Interview Questions and Answers

STBC:

Did you save your collection from when you were a kid or purchase it as an adult?

Matt:

I love walking through May The Toys Be with you exhibition and chatting to visitors about the toys. The one recurring line I hear again and again is, “I used to have that”. Past tense, and said with a mixture of regret and longing. So many of us had out toy collections given away to jumble sales or sold off for pennies at car boot fairs, or perhaps simply chucked in the bin. I’m one of the lucky ones whose parents kept their toys stashed safely in the depths of the loft. In the mid Nineties when the Star Wars Special Edition’s came out at the cinema, and the prequel trilogy was imminent I journeyed up into that loft and pulled out my old dusty box of toys. When I opened the lid it was like that moment in Pulp Fiction when you see the golden glow shine up from the suitcase – pure nostalgia! The toys never went back up to the attic. That was the moment I started collecting again as an adult.

STBC:

If you collected as an Adult how hard was it coming in to collecting so late?

Matt:

By the mid Nineties vintage Star Wars toys were already commanding decent sums, but the biggest challenge was finding them. Ebay, facebook and forums weren’t around and so it meant going to hobbyist stores or conventions. Today they are easier to find but a lot more expensive.

STBC:

What is the most you have spent on one item?

Matt:

When I started collecting in earnest my modus operandi was to buy job lots on Ebay, badly photographed auctions perhaps ending at a bad time of day. Then I’d clean the toys up, keep what I needed for my collection, and resell the rest individually to cover my costs. I have always tried to be a budget conscious collector, because for me ‘success’ as a collector isn’t measured in owning lots of items you’ve overpaid for – any rich fool could do that tomorrow – success is getting a great item and a great price.

STBC:

What figure, playset or vehicle is your favourite and why

Matt:

My favorite item in the vintage toy line has to be the Palitoy Death Star. It was the toy I played with most as a kid and today it is also one of the rarer and more valuable items in the toy line. The reason why it’s rare is because it was made of cardboard. You didn’t need a one in a million shot with Photon Torpedoes to destroy this Death Star, you just needed to accidentally step on it! Few mint and complete Death Stars survived, and even unboxed they are worth around £400.

 

STBC:

What was the hardest item to find?

Matt:

I have a fair few items in the exhibition that only exist in very low numbers but actually a recent acquisition that I’d been looking out for over many years was a little reflective sticker from the Palitoy Death Star. The sticker would have been stuck right at the bottom of the central chasm to create a mirrored double depth effect. This sticker I recently acquired still had the reverse backing on it – it was misapplied. God bless the child that owned this playset and never bothered to stick that sticker on! Answering this question I realize what an utter nerd I have become… a man who can get excited about misapplied vintage stickers!

(The sticker which Matt refers to is behind Vader in the shaft)

STBC:

What was the moment in Star Wars that made you such a fan?

Matt:

I genuinely became a fan of Star Wars in the first second of the film. I was 5 in 1978 when my Dad took me to see Star Wars and it was my first trip to the cinema. It would have been exciting whatever film I had seen that day, but from that opening John Williams note BAAAAM as the logo fills the massive screen. Wow, what a way to pop your cinematic cherry!

STBC:

How many shows do to you do throughout a year displaying your collection?

Matt:

May The Toys Be With You has proven very popular with the public and tends to go to museums for around 3 months at a time. A wise man said “collecting is a sickness and sharing it is the only cure” and that’s what I am doing with this exhibition!

STBC:

As a collector has there ever been a moment you wanted to stop collecting?

Matt:

Nope!

STBC:

Do you like and collect any of the new Star Wars Series such as the Black Series, S H Figuarts or the Amazing Hot toys?

Matt:

I think many of the modern toy lines and particularly the replica type items are simply stunning. They make the vintage toys look like… well, like vintage toys! However I hold myself back from collecting them as it would be a slippery slope for me, and could become never ending. So I collect within the ‘boundary lines’ of the vintage era 1977 – 1985.

STBC:

Is there anything missing from your collection that you still need to get or is it finally complete?

Matt:

There are a few items that I’d still love to add to my collection. It’s true that as you collect more, that you’re increasingly left with the rarer and harder to find pieces. It’s not even necessarily a question of money, more a question of availability. My one dream item above all others probably doesn’t even exist. It would be the Star Wars marquee display that adorned the front of the Odeon Leicester Square cinema in December 1977 when the movie was first released. The billboard sized marquee was stunning and it lit up with laser beam effects at night. I suspect it ended up being skipped when the movie ended its run, but even if someone had just kept a piece of it I would love to own and display it. A piece of UK cinema history that really does belong in a museum.

STBC:

How many items do you have in your collection?

Matt:

I have 400-500 items on show in May The Toys Be With You. I actually own a whole lot more besides that I haven’t had the gallery space to display yet. One day soon I hope!

STBC:

Have you managed to collect all the boxes that go with each figure or set?

Matt:

I love boxes. I have all the vehicles and playsets in a condition called NRFB, which stands for ‘never removed from box’. This is one rung below MISB, which stands for ‘mint in sealed box’. However I prefer it because it means you can actually open the X-Wing or the Cantina playset and you can enjoy all the contents – the instructions, the sticker sheets, the product catalog, the cardboard inserts. All the gubbins that came with the toy!

STBC:

I like the Last Jedi did you enjoy and Luke’s new direction in episode 8?

Matt:

The Last Jedi was my fave film of 2017. I love that the Star Wars movies are again being made in the UK and that they are employing UK craftsmen to make these incredible places come to life. I mean, Snoke’s blood red throne room – wow, what an incredible piece of set building. The movie was unpredictable, it was funny, it was exciting, and it was even quite moving at times. I’ve seen it twice and am looking forward to watching it again many more times.

STBC:

Who is your favorite Star Wars Character and why?

Matt:

When it comes to fave Star Wars characters that is hard to pick. Darth Vader has to be the most iconic visually in the films, however when it comes to the vintage toy line then I’d have to say that Boba Fett seems to command the highest prices.

STBC:

When not on display how do you go about protecting your collection?

Matt:

The single most important thing to protect your collection is to be aware of sunlight. It’s great to have a collection on display but make sure you have UV film on the window. It’s transparent, cheap and quick to apply.

STBC:

What do you enjoy the most when your collection is on display is meeting other fans remembering their childhood toys by seeing yours or new fans seeing how toys used to look.

Matt:

When I collected back in the Nineties I felt like I was alone in a bubble. The nice thing about living in this era is that social media connects you with others who share your passion. There are a LOT of vintage Star Wars fans out there! It is great to meet people in person too at the exhibition, and my experience is that Star Wars fans tend to be friendly, imaginative, good people. The ‘train spotter’ stereotype is well outdated, if it was ever true. These days it is cool to say you like Star Wars. The geeks have inherited the Earth.

STBC:

With the collection I have I enjoy recreating scenes is this something you enjoy doing or is they are put away safety?

Matt:

I do love a good diorama, who doesn’t? When the exhibition was on at Torquay, the museum and I put together a huge Battle Of Hoth diorama. Loads going on, you could look at the diorama for ages. These are museum exhibits but they are also toys, so I think it is great to display them in a fun and playful way like that.

 

 

STBC:

Outside of your toy collection what is your favourite memorabilia?

Matt:

Outside of the toys my current fave pieces of memorabilia (which I only recently acquired) are a rare set of three cinema tickets, one to each of the Cast and Crew screenings of the original Star Wars trilogy of films.

STBC:

Did you get a chance to go to comic cons and meet the actors of Star Wars?

Matt:

I have been to a few comic con style events, including the last two Star Wars Celebrations… but I have never met any of the cast or queued for autographs. I do admire the ‘long game’ patience of those guys and gals you see bringing in posters that are literally covered every inch in signatures.

STBC:

Do you know how much your collection is worth?

Matt:

I’d estimate my exhibited collection would net around £100k if I decided to sell up tomorrow but my intention is to enjoy owning it till the end of my days and then leave it to my children as hopefully a fun (and valuable) part of their inheritance.

STBC:

What does it mean to you having such an Amazing collection?

Matt:

I feel a mixture of pride and shame to own this collection. More pride than shame admittedly, but still there is no getting round the fact that I am a grown man messing around with kids toys! But look, statistically one third of all Britons will admit to collecting something, so I am not alone. When you look at the skills required to be a collector – research, dedication, hunting, preserving, curating – it is an admirable pursuit. I also like beautiful and fantastical objects, and the movie poster art and the iconic toys of Star Wars definitely qualify. So yes, I do enjoy owning it, and I hope that some of you reading this will pop by to May The Toys Be With You (it’s free to visit) and enjoy it too.

Conclusion

So having a collection myself I know how good it feels when a package arrives with your latest conquest, but being a collector can be hard work at times. I do believe it can become an addiction, there have been times when I have wanted to scrap it all only to find myself admiring it ten minutes later saying to myself what was I thinking.

There is also the thought of money, when collecting something I intend to spend what I thing the item is worth, but for something like Star Wars it is rare to come across such deals that may have been there 20 years ago, so this would be something I would not even consider.

So what I am getting at is if you want to collect as an adult I think it is perfectly normal, everyone needs a hobby but I would suggest doing it within your limits.

Having a collection of toys old or new or anything you are really into that have been released in a more accurate from is a Beautiful thing.

I would like to say Thank you to Matt for his answers I really enjoyed the responses I got as well as sharing his amazing collection I am well and truly starstruck and pretty damm jealous.

If you get a chance to check out this display, details can be found on the Facebook page below.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1893296724319089/?ti=icl

Also if you cannot attend, here is a video of Matt’s collection

 

Share to

Paul Smerdon

Paul Smerdon

I have been into comics since the early 90's and my main passion has been X-men I collect books, figures and any collectiables I can get my hands on. For shoot the breeze I have the pleasure opening my eyes to new worlds and adventures. I also do the Across the Pond Trades where I get an opportunity to look at trade paperbacks and review them via our YouTube channel. I also have my own Facebook page and Youtube called Smerdp which is full of plastic goodness. Many Thanks Paul
Written by
I have been into comics since the early 90's and my main passion has been X-men I collect books, figures and any collectiables I can get my hands on. For shoot the breeze I have the pleasure opening my eyes to new worlds and adventures. I also do the Across the Pond Trades where I get an opportunity to look at trade paperbacks and review them via our YouTube channel. I also have my own Facebook page and Youtube called Smerdp which is full of plastic goodness. Many Thanks Paul

Have your say!

1 0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>