"An auction of one of the most complete collections ever offered of unpackaged, Star Wars action figures to benefit the not-for-profit Rancho Obi-Wan museum in northern California was won by The Strong, an educational, collections-based institution devoted to the study and exploration of play, in Rochester, NY.
The 10-day eBay charity auction ended on Dec. 9th with a winning bid of $11,500. The auction’s beneficiary, Rancho Obi-Wan, houses the world’s largest private collection of Star Wars memorabilia.
The auction included 1,950 different Star Wars action figures starting with the vintage line in 1978 and continuing through the beginning of 2011. The collection was built over more than 30 years by Fon Davis, a long-time ILM model maker and now owner of FonCoCreative Services, Lagunitas, CA. The figures make up about 85% of the total in the just-published book Star Wars: The Ultimate Action Figure Collection (Chronicle Books) written by Steve Sansweet, who is chief executive of Rancho Obi-Wan.
“The auction had over 100,000 views and more than 40 serious bidders,” Sansweet said. “I’m thrilled that the collection will be staying together and will be housed at an amazing place like The Strong.”
The not-for-profit Rochester institution is home to the world’s largest collection of dolls, toys, and games. Curator Patricia Hogan said, “We are so excited to have won the auction for the Star Wars Ultimate Action Figure Collection from Rancho Obi-Wan. Although The Strong’s holdings include some of the early figures as well as later issues, this collection’s exceptional depth, breadth, and provenance makes it a wonderful enhancement to the museum, especially since Star Wars Action Figures were just inducted into The Strong’s National Toy Hall of Fame in November. We look forward to numerous opportunities to exhibit the Star Wars Ultimate Action Figure Collection for the almost 600,000 guests who visit the museum each year and to share them with a global audience via The Strong's website.”
The Strong® is a highly interactive, collections-based educational institution devoted to the study and exploration of play. It carries out this mission through five programmatic arms called “Play Partners.” These are the National Museum of Play®, the International Center for the History of Electronic Games®, the National Toy Hall of Fame®, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play®, and the American Journal of Play®. Independent and not-for-profit, the Strong is situated in Rochester, New York, where it houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play. These enable a multifaceted array of research, exhibition, and other interpretive activities that serve a diverse audience of adults, families, children, students, teachers, scholars, collectors, and others around the globe.
The Rancho Obi-Wan Experience, a personally guided two-to-three hour tour of the collection by Sansweet, is filled with behind-the-scenes stories and anecdotes that give an insight into how Star Wars became such a major part of worldwide popular culture. Sansweet, the author of 16 Star Wars books, was a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal for 26 years before joining Lucasfilm Ltd. as head of fan relations in 1996. He left the company fulltime in April 2011 but continues as Fan Relations Adviser.
Rancho Obi-Wan, first established in 1998, was incorporated a year ago as a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose specific mission is to serve the public through the collection, conservation, exhibition and interpretation of Star Wars memorabilia and artifacts. The collection of about 300,000 items is used to provide meaningful educational, aesthetic, intellectual, and cultural experiences for a wide range of audiences. Money raised for or donated to Rancho Obi-Wan is used for maintenance, professional services, public outreach and related activities; none is used for acquisitions.