SWAU Prop Collecting Series Part 1: Introductions and Origins
The following series is written by Jerrad Sanders, SWAU member, moderator of our Autograph Universe group, and SWAU's residential prop master.
What is a prop? Is it a stormtrooper helmet? Maybe a bluetooth speaker that looks like the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy? Perhaps it’s the handle of an old camera flash with a repurposed circuit board or bubble strip that has been slapped to its side, just above the windshield wipers? Is it a Master Replica or a Hasbro toy? Signed or unsigned? Screen used or not? The ONLY real answer is…all of the above.
To put it plainly, the sheer breadth and width of the subject that is props should come with a visual encyclopedia. Alas, this is the medium we have been given. So, for the sake of brevity, this article will stay close to a galaxy far, far away and skip the dirty underbelly. So, sit down, buckle up and prepare yourself as we lightskip through hyperspace, navigating the virtual and physical minefield that is props.
In my case, the beginning of my love affair with props was the studio scale Millennium Falcon that was produced and sold by Master Replicas, when high end props replicas could be purchased for retail price…a more civilized time. A time when Master Replicas ruled the galaxy and was pumping out everything from full size (1:1) helmets, lightsabers, studio scale vehicles, mini lightsabers, and even mini helmets. In 2001, Master Replicas was gearing up to embark on what I personally believe was the greatest run of prop house/studio grade quality props we have seen thus far. They gave us OT pieces, prequel pieces, and even gave us what is now referred to as “Legends” pieces. If you walked the path of the Jedi, you could buy Luke Skywalker's lightsaber that he almost murdered himself with in A New Hope. If you choose the way of the Sith you could buy his father’s lightsaber. They offered something for everyone.
You could also dip your toes in the deep end of studio scale ships/vehicles. That is where the hook was set for me. It was my sole mission to get an SE 1:1 studio scale Millennium Falcon. Sadly, I never tracked down my white whale. With specs of 32x24x6, a mirror base, fully lit cockpit, running lights, and a clear acrylic cover, when fully displayed is bigger than most coffee tables. This giant is often times is the centerpiece of the most hardcore collectors. They made 1500 Limited Editions (LE) and 500 Signature Editions (SE). On top of the high cost for the actual prop, you also received a plaque signed by the most famous pilot to ever sit in its captain’s chair, Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford. It was peak Star Wars collecting. The rub: there was only 500 of them. So, I settled, unwilling to pay the secondary market price point for a Signature Edition Falcon. I picked up a Limited Edition.
I then went on a mission to track down a signed Ford plaque. I looked everywhere. I came up empty for the better part of 2-3 years. Until, SWAU announced the Harrison Ford send in signing, the first EVER. The excitement was palpable. It was happening! It was really happening!!! So, I preordered my Ford autograph, had a custom plaque made, and waited. Months later, my plaque showed up on my doorstep and was the cherry on top to the centerpiece of my collection. Call it what you want, but I just call it my Signature Edition, Master Replicas studio scale Millennium Falcon. My prop grail.
So where does that leave us? Why does all of that matter? It matters because of money. Your money. Props aren’t cheap. Would I suggest going out and dropping $2,000 on a Limited Edition, A New Hope, Han Solo Blaster? If you have the money and it makes you happy, ABSOLUTELY! However, in 2021, there are a lot of cool options out there. Disney bought Star Wars. The mouse has money. They are already pumping out lightsabers, left and right, and it’s only a matter of time before they offer blasters and ships. Coupled with ever advancing technology, 3D printers, and passionate fans. There are more options than you’ve probably even thought about when it comes to collecting props.
Join us for part two of our Prop Series where we look into the different options prop collectors can chase after in the modern world of prop collecting! Master Repilcas, Galaxy’s Edge, Plaques, and more!