At least I assume that Gremlin-esque transformation of a part of my collection happened sometime during the insanely wonderful Star Wars Celebration VI in Orlando. How else to explain the simple math: We arrived at the Orange County Convention Center with 17 pallets and crates weighing well over two tons. The returning truck has 26 pallets and crates weighing who-knows-how-much!
Really, I don’t remember buying a lot. Then again, I was in my eyes-glazed-over convention zone for a week. There’s abundant evidence that I got around, and we had constant, steady lines at the Rancho Obi-Wan Experience. The memories of the people I met, the panels I did and the ones that I saw, the folks I posed with—all of that is slowly coming back.
What hasn’t come back yet—more than a week after it set off from Orlando—is the truck with the 26 pallets and crates—and that’s another part of the learning experience for our very first roadshow. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. The truck that picked everything up on August 14th was supposed to arrive at Rancho Obi-Wan at 8 AM that day. It arrived after 6 PM. This time, all we got was the most basic information: the truck would arrive Tuesday Sept. 4th. It was a long day. As the bright sun turned to shadows and then darkness, there was still no sign of a big rig, no telltale sound of downshifting gears. Was I worried? Would you be?
It’s really just a small part of my collection. My 501st patch-trading buddy Jason Neurath, who along with his awesome wife Rachel was a huge help in Orlando, puts the number at one-half of one-half a percent of the total collection. I’ll take his word since math (maths if you’re British according to my 1978 Helix Star Wars Maths Set) was never my strongest subject. We brought about 300 items to Celebration; Rancho general manager Anne Neumann has so far cataloged 90,000 items in the collection…leading to our best estimate of nearly 300,000 separate pieces! Yes, I know. It’s a terrible responsibility to be steward of such a collection but, but someone had to do it!
So, what, me worry? No, not really…except, if you were at Celebration or have seen some of the photos or video posted online, you know that those 300 pieces are all very special to me.
Anne and I walked through the collection many time over a period of several months, makings lists, changing them, and then changing them again. Even after we physically pulled things off the shelves, I walked through and replaced some cool pieces with cooler ones. Like the museum itself, we wanted the first-ever traveling exhibit for Rancho Obi-Wan to tell a story about the breadth and depth of Star Wars memorabilia and it impact on popular culture—and vice versa. We especially wanted to highlight original art and one-of-a-kind fan-made collectibles that show such skill and passion.
Was the Experience a success? Based on the constant lines of fellow fans waiting to get in, the more than doubling of our membership, the buzz and postings, we couldn’t be happier. And while it was hard work, we had great volunteers helping out and great fun chatting with incredibly nice folks from all over the world. There truly is nothing like a Celebration!
I’d like to tell you about all the new items the truck is bringing, but I’m going to have to wait on that until they arrive. For one large new piece in particular, I had to sign a confidentiality agreement that lasts until the airing of a certain show on the Food Network on Sept. 9th at 8 PM ET/PT. You’ll want to tune in. Thanks to Lucasfilm publicity ace Matt Shell for arranging that sweet deal!
Finally, early Wednesday morning, we heard back from the folks that arranged the shipping. It seems someone forgot to tell us there had been a change of plans. Instead of one big 53-foot truck, someone made the decision to transfer our cargo from to two smaller trucks so that they might be able to pull up our driveway to the back door for easy unloading of the pallets. (One wonderful 59-year-old trucker with just a dolly, some patience, and a little help was able to do the job in darkness two weeks ago.) And that, it seems, will take another week! A week? Imagine if the final assault on the Death Star had taken a week! Hmm. “The boy has no patience.” But I promise to learn patience…as my mentor Obi-Wan has long counseled.
Steve Sansweet is chief executive of Rancho Obi-Wan, a non-profit membership museum that houses the world’s largest private collection of Star Wars memorabilia. To find out about joining or taking a guided tour, visit www.ranchoobiwan.org. Follow on Twitter @RanchoObiWan and https://www.facebook.com/RanchoObiWan.