Entries in gawthrok (3)
Kevin Gawthrope (@gawthrok) continues his project of creating Kenner-carded blister packs of Star Wars characters Kenner itself never produced. He has already come up with very plausible renderings of Wuher the cantina barkeep, Owen Lars, Beru Whitesun Lars, Tedn Dahai (Cantina Band Member) and Han Solo (TK-422 Stormtrooper Armor).
Kevin's latest post is a photo of himself and Richard LeParmentier, the actor who played Admiral Motti (the one Vader force-chokes in Star Wars). The two men are posing with what must be figure number six in Kevin's project, Admiral Conan Antonio Motti. If you are wondering about the name Conan, follow the link for an explanation (of sorts).
Kevin Gawthrope (@gawthrok, http://www.facebook.com/gawthrok) is a marketer, designer, Star Wars nut and even an iPhone app. I've featured his Kenner Star Wars cardback-based notebooks on this blog before. More recently I ran a post about his Kenner-style Wuher action figure. Now, through the miracle of the internet, KG and I have prepared this deeply revealing, only-slightly-contrived interview.
DH: I first learned about you from the Star Wars Daily. Tell me about that.
KG: The Star Wars Daily is a Paper.Li application that pulls together all the feeds from a Twitter list—in this case, all my Star Wars followers—and compiles their posts into a blog-type newspaper on a daily basis. It creates traffic for otherwise unknown Twitter users and their posts, while getting myself a few more followers in the process. Definitely a win-win.
DH: Not long after discovering the Daily I ran a piece on Star Wars holiday gifts available on Etsy, and by pure coincidence I ended up featuring your terrific vintage Star Wars cardback-based notebooks and journals (for sale on Etsy). Can you describe how you make these? Where do you get original cardbacks? Can buyers send you their own?
KG: Thanks for the kudos! The inspiration for my SW vintage notebooks came from two areas, primarily.
First, I've been an avid collector of Star Wars action figures for over 30 years—3/4 of my life—and as of last year, I chose to only focus on the vintage 'style' of collectibles. This includes the original Kenner toys from the vintage era (late-70's to mid-80's), and now the re-launched 'Vintage Collection' figures from Hasbro using the Kenner name and style of the old packaging from the vintage era. I wanted to put my years of knowledge on the hobby to good use.
Second, it's all about the nostalgia factor for me. Over the past decade, I've really honed my hobby into an expertise for vintage. I can spot fakes, help friends evaluate, estimate and grade their vintage collectibles. I was even a reporter/reviewer for Star Wars Action News podcast for a couple years as one of their monthly vintage reviewers. The podcast is all about Star Wars collecting, new and old, and gets over 10,000 listeners a month on iTunes.
Because Star Wars has embedded itself into popular culture, and means something different for each generation, I really wanted to produce something that everyone could enjoy—but also something that would speak to me, my personal brand, and what I love as a hobby in my free time. The notebooks were a perfect fit, and they are really starting to catch on—from friends, Star Wars fans, and even a few minor celebrities.
With the exception of the binding materials, the notebooks are made from 100% recyclable (and collectible) materials.
The cardbacks come from a couple of different sources. They are all 100% authentic 'vintage era' and 'modern vintage' Star Wars figure cardbacks produced by either Kenner, or now Hasbro. They MUST be the vintage cardback, and not from any other Star Wars vintage series. I've gathered up my inventory from my own collection of used cardbacks, collector contacts I have in Arizona, promos/giveaways from conventions like Star Wars Celebration and San Diego Comic Con, eBay of course, and I also got a nice stack from my Dad who found a bunch of vintage era cardbacks at a yard sale in Florida a couple years ago.
Buyers can send me their own for sure, in which case I will only charge them for materials and shipping, but it's a fairly simple process. I get them spiral bound at the local FedEx Kinkos, but I would love to make enough with these to afford my own binding machine. That way I can lower the price and bring more of these Vintage SW notebooks to the masses.
DH: Your latest project is Collect All 21. What's that all about?
KG: As of last year, I had sold off about 80% of my modern era (1995-present) Star Wars collection of figures. I had every figure produce on card since 1995, but no place to store them any longer. I also needed the money. I chose to go strictly vintage in 2010, and coincidentally found out that Hasbro was about to launch the Vintage Collection line in the same year. It was the best of both worlds—allowing me to focus strictly on the vintage era, but keep collecting modern era.
I sold everything modern I had with the exception of a lot of the TAC 2007 series, keeping all the McQuarrie concept figures, and then any modern figures from 'A New Hope'—my favourite film in the saga. I knew I was always going to do something with these figures when I put them aside a few years ago, but I didn't know what…until the Vintage Collection really started getting popular over the past couple years.
Now that the TVC line is almost coming to an end, there are still a lot of characters that I've always wanted to see on a vintage style SW cardback, but it's looks like they aren't going to happen. So, I decided to set aside my 'Top 21' figures and begin a new project—creating my own custom Kenner cardbacks. Not for consumption or for sale, just for me. I made a list, revised it a couple times, added a few figures that you could only get from some online exclusive, battle packs, and build-a-droid sets (there some HINTS in there, folks!) and I hit the 21 sweet spot.
Right on the heels of completing the list, I took a shot one day on GoDaddy.com and looked to see if 'CollectAll21.com' was available, and I was SHOCKED that it was! So, I snagged it immediately, and I'm now using it to document the project.
DH: So are you going to blow our minds by making notebooks using your homemade Kenner-style cardbacks? Will we be able to get one with Grand Moff Tarkin on the front and Lars Owen on the back? Or will Hasbro sue you?
KG: Yeah, I'm not gonna take that chance. Like the Force, everything seems to be in balance right now and I really don't wanna mess with that.
DH: Hmm, "balance of the Force" talk sounds prequelly to me. But I'll try not to hold it against you. So where has some of your previous work been featured?
KG: I've been extremely fortunate and honoured to have been featured on the following sites, in addition to your sublimely awesome blog: NerdApproved.com, MTV Geek!, The Fandom Post, and SuperGeekShow (YouTube).
DH: How do you find the time for all this? Don't you have a day job?
KG: Yes, I have a very fun and fulfilling day job that I love going to every day, but at the same time, everyone needs a hobby. Something to escape to that is different, yet worth spending the time to cultivate and make it your own. Some people race cars, shoot paintball, hike, etc. I like to collect, discuss, hunt, and learn as much as I can about vintage Star Wars Kenner action figures. (I also like to travel and shoot photography in addition to spending time with my 6-year old daughter, who is just getting into Star Wars herself and I'm enjoy sharing the stories and characters with her.)
DH: Okay, the moment of truth. Prequels: yummy or crummy?
KG: TPM: Crummy. AOTC: Semi-Crummy. ROTS: Yummy.
DH: Wrong, the prequels all suck. But thanks for coming out!