Story: The author discusses the rarity and value (or lack thereof) of numerous categories of Star Wars merchandise, including, of course, the ubiquitous action figures and toys, as well as novels (both graphic and otherwise), posters, soundtracks and story records/tapes, clothing, and many other items. He also provides estimated prices for these items, both with and without their original packaging.
Review: My last attempt to review a price guide publication, long ago, didn’t make me eager to tackle another one anytime soon. (Indeed, there’s been a gap of nearly eight years between that last review and this one.) This one, fortunately, is a bit more realistic. I have to commend the author’s decision to effectively split his pricing down the middle – one column indicating the value of an item left in completely intact original packaging (the price that everyone hopes their old Star Wars trinkets will fetch on eBay) and the value of an item outside of its packaging, presuming all parts are intact (the price that everyone will likely get if they’re lucky and have taken care of their goodies). If a loose item isn’t in pristine condition, it’s safe to assume that you scale the estimates downward from there. This is a realistic, pragmatic approach that will hopefully save us from seeing too many more beaten-up loose Hammerhead figures on the ‘net for $100 each.
There’s a lot of interesting background information on the various categories, from the origins of the Star Wars novels and comics to the nifty Kenner Micro Collection playsets that I ogled as a kid. Many of these essays calmly assert the same thing: Star Wars merchandise was mass-produced. Unless you’ve got a printer’s proof of a Revenge Of The Jedi action figure blister card, or some obscenely rare prototype, what you have probably isn’t rare. There were probably thousands or millions of the things made. The author even cautions against items like Master Replicas’ super-expensive life-size weapon and costume replicas as an investment. The brutal honesty is refreshing, and make the introductory essays the highlight of the book – don’t just skip straight to the numbers. All collectors’ guides should be like this.
When it comes to comics and novels, though, an entire book could be devoted to those topics alone (indeed, an entire book has been published on the subject of the four-color history of the Star Wars universe), and this book’s cursory glance at those items is very much a glance and not a thorough look. Amusingly absent from the book section is “Star Wars: The Action Figure Archive”, a non-price-guide book which (A) I love dearly, (B) is overdue for an update, and (C) might well be considered this book’s chief competition, hence its omission.
Every once in a while, I run into a grammatical or punctuation blunder that makes me think that “A Universe Of Star Wars Collectibles” probably would’ve benefitted from the tender care of an editor or two. That aside, the book’s impressive candor and drool-worthy photos of various things in their original boxes just about make this a fair trade. The most recent edition published covers up through some Attack Of The Clones merchandise, covering through what figure collectors will know as the “Blue Saga” packaging. This book, too, could use an update – and perhaps now, while the embers of the Star Wars universe are cooling a bit before the saga re-emerges on TV, would be a good time for the author to do just that.
Author: Stuart W. Wells III
Publisher: Krause Publications