Scoring at C6
by Bill Cable
on 2012-09-05, 10:31:04
I'd hoped to post this story a week ago, but with things being as busy as they are and me getting ready for a business trip in a couple days, I didn't get the chance. And I have a lot of other photos from C6 to share at some point, including some decent cosplay stuff I know my readers will love. But for now, I'll start off with my big score at Celebration VI.
I should start the story at the beginning, which was somewhere around 1998. I purchased my first Vintage figure at the Kane County toy show that spring, and after a few other eBay scores I was in search of a focus. Being friends with Chris Fawcett, John Wooten and Dan Flarida, I saw some amazing examples of character focus collections. So after some thought and introspection, I decided on C-3PO. And my goal was to put together a complete set of US Kenner cardbacks.
A lot were easy. At the time ESB MOCs were cheap, so I scored ESB31, ESB32, and a few ESB41s in short order. I also pretty easily put together a ROTJ run, and picked up the occasional SW cardback. Soon all I needed were expensive ones that I saw on eBay all the time, and a couple offers I didn't seem to ever see. Those were SW20 with Fett offer, ESB45 with Display Arena Offer, ROTJ with POTF coin sticker, and ROTJ with Anakin offer sticker.
Talking to my fellow collectors I learned that the Fett offer had never shown up. No examples at all at any stage of production. (a few years later I snagged the one known Cromalin when Tom Neiheisel listed it for sale... and that's still the centerpiece of my collection). ESB45 wasn't known except for proof cards. And neither of the Jedi sticker offers were confirmed (I found a couple different coin offer 3POs eventually). ESB45 3PO was particularly sought-after because that was supposed to be the debut cardback for the Removable Limbs figure. Tons of debut cardback collectors searched endlessly for an ESB45 3PO with absolutely no success. It was available in Canada. Just not on an English-language Kenner cardback. For whatever reason, it just didn't exist.
Eventually I gave up my search. If they did exist, they would have turned up somewhere already. The only oddity I ever noticed was this Basa ESB45 3PO on the Archive. It looked like a Kenner cardback, but Basa figures were from Peru! Obviously not what I was looking for.
Turn to 2012 - and a group of Vintage collectors return from Peru with interesting news! You can read the thread here but basically they revealed that the Vintage figures Basa sold were sent to them by Kenner, and they slapped a sticker on them. So the ESB45 Basa 3PO featured on the Archive was actually a Kenner-produced MOC action figure! It didn't make any sense! Everybody knew Kenner never produced the ESB45! So why did they show up in Peru??!!
Their very existence proves they were indeed produced by Kenner. We don't know why they were produced in such small numbers as to not be readily available (like it's line-mate the ESB45 Sensorscope R2). We don't know why or if ALL the ones they produced were sent to Peru. We just know they were made. This is huge news in the Vintage community, and may spark a renewed search for true stateside examples!
So I posted a few messages about how a US Kenner ESB45 3PO had been a long-term grail of mine, and one of my friends from Mexico took note. Luis, who owns the cardback featured on the Archive, sent me a message about it. His cardback is from his childhood collection. When he bought the figure in Peru, he carefully removed the bubble with a razor blade and kept the card. And he said he wasn't the only one who saved his cards. A childhood friend also saved his 3PO cardback, and he might be open to offers. Oh yeah, and Luis' mom was about to fly down to Peru for a visit and could pick it up while down there.
Some things just seem to be destined to happen, don't they?
Luis delivered the card to me at Celebration VI. I showed it around to a few people later than night and the next day, but I was so nervous about it getting lost or damaged I pretty quickly squirreled it away in my room. I got it home, cased it up, and now it's proudly displayed with the rest of my 3POs.
I hope you enjoyed the story. Now enjoy these photos!
Now I'm down to needing one final 3PO: ROTJ with Anakin sticker offer. That's another that should exist... Kenner applied the stickers at the factory before shipping them out... but to date we don't know of any examples. If an ESB45 can pop up, though, it gives me a lot of hope that I'll eventually track down that last one, too.
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