Who's Afraid of Virgina Brooks?.... Not Me

March 2 1998
Newsgroups: rec.arts.sf.starwars.collecting.vintage

This whole controversy with Virgina Brooks and her unpainted micro is
really disturbing. It amazes me the lengths some people will go to make
a point. In fact it reminds me of the "I'll sue" attitude of many Americans
(fueled in part by the fact the U.S. has the most lawyers in the world, who
have all got to own a big house and drive two Mercades but I'll save that
argument for the communist newsgroups :)

Although its doubtful any prototype collector will be spooked by a newbie
rant like this woman's, it does give a bad mark on Star Wars collecting. If
there is going to be some sort of letter campaign I think that there are
a couple of things that need to be sorted out first and be include in any
letter. (I suppose someone should first post the paper's address, and
any other address a CC of a positive letter should be sent to)

1. Make sure you guys don't go sending off some angry rant to this newspaper
What works in a flame war don't in a newspaper. It sounds like a lot of
you are mighty pissed, and I would be too if I were mentioned in the

2. Clarify just how many unproduced prototypes are made (5, 6 of each? how
many Gus?) to make it clear that her find of 300+ figs is an absurd total.
So as to prove it is practiaclly immposible for her find to be unproduced
ones which makes her complaint uninformed and unjust.

2. Clarify how common unpainted figs are, so as to justify the existance of
her collection. And state that they are not true protos and that they are
worth only about $5

3. And mention how unpopular the micro series was in 82 and with collectors
today. I don't think there are even enough die hard toy collectors who'd
pay $600 each for 300 SW micro. Which reminds me where did this $600
number come from, I though unproduced micro was worth about $200-400?
Plus even if she had that many unproduced figs, wouldn't her giant supply
totally crash micro proto prices is she were to try and sell them?

Its too bad this woman has had to go to such mudslinging to promote
her trinkets. As far as I can tell Lopez, Sansweet, & co. are the guys who
are pretty much the main prototype collectors. It is possible that Gus Lopez
spends all his time making fake proto's just so he can be admired by
envious SW nerds, afterall anyone can make a website. But to challenge Steve
Sansweet? The only collector (to my knowledge) to be hired by Lucasfilm as
a P.R. rep. The reporter who wrote that article must have been her friend
because he obviously did no research. I guess he isn't aiming for a job
at the New York Times, maybe he wants to join the National Enquirer.

Its too bad, Sansweet will have to waste another one of his collecting
columns talking about another con artist.


March 4 1998
Newsgroups: rec.arts.sf.starwars.collecting.vintage

All good points, John. This is a copy of my letter, which I will be sending to
the editor of the Winter Haven News Chief and cc'ing to the folks at the list
on the bottom. Any letters touching on the points John has made above, sent to
the same distribution list as the one I've used would be beneficial.

You can use the following addresses (Kipling can be reached at Hasbro's Cinci
location...I don't have that addie in front of me)

Winter Haven News Chief
P.O. Box 1440
Winter Haven, FL 33882

Associated Press 50 Rockafeller Plaza
4th Floor, News
New York, NY 10020

Lucasfilm, Ltd.
PO Box 2009
San Rafael, CA 94912

Winter Haven News Chief
P.O. Box 1440
Winter Haven, FL 33882

Dear Editor:

The recent Associated Press article by Rick Kenney, regarding the
incredible "find" of Star Wars toys made by Virginia Jarvis Brooks has been
brought to my attention by a number of people within the Star Wars collecting
community. Though my association with Ms. Brooks has not been a long one, it
continues to reach new heights of absurdity, as she continues her apparent
efforts at boosting the value of her very common figurines by discounting rarer
figures which experienced collectors prize more. The article appears less than
well researched, biased, and supports an apparent agenda on Ms. Brooks' part
that runs entirely contrary to a concern for Star Wars collectors, Star Wars
collecting, or the Star Wars franchise in a broad sense.

The article implies that Ms. Brooks' figures have a value on the order of
"hundreds of thousands of dollars," and, furthermore, that individuals such as
myself and the Earth in Cincinnati are responsible for their devaluation.
Neither of these statements has any factual basis. Unpainted Micro Collection
figures, which is what the article suggests she has, have, at best, a value of
between $5 and $15 each, and have been available on the collector's market for
the last 15 years without a significant shift in average selling price. This
information is readily available to anyone who chooses to look for it, via
marketplace publications such as Toy Shop, as well as several well-known and
widely available price guides (the first edition of Tomart's Price Guide To
Worldwide Star Wars Collectibles lists such figures at $1 to $3 each). If
anything, the price of unpainted Micro Collection figures has risen slightly
since that guide's 1994 date of publication. To suggest that anyone has had a
hand in diminishing the value of Ms. Brooks' 328 figures is absurd and, I might
add, slanderous to the individuals at which the accusation is directed (myself

Among a great many other things, the article fails to mention the
discrepancy between unpainted versions of widely-marketed Micro Collection
figurines, and unreleased, yet prototyped figures which never made it to stores
or anything close to mass-production. The latter category encompasses both
near-production figurines, of a quality identical to Ms. Brooks', and hand-made
conceptual figures, made both by Kenner and outside companies, which aided
Kenner in the development of certain toys. The difference in market value
between Ms. Brooks' regular production figures, sold in painted form in
playsets throughout the United States and Canada, and an unreleased prototype
is, for obvious reasons of supply, exponential. Whereas Ms. Brooks' figures
were produced in quantities stretching into the millions, there are probably
less than fifty of each of the various pre-mass production pieces known to
exist today. Anyone who looks at the situation needs to keep this discrepancy
in mind if she wishes to properly understand what is going on in terms of
prices and availability. What Ms. Brooks has are unpainted examples of figures
which could be bought at any toy store in the early 1980's, a fact which Ms.
Brooks seems to have been unwilling to accept. In not presenting the reality
of the marketplace, the article misleads readers, as well as misreprents the
individuals it implicates.

Ms. Brooks' most outrageous claim, however, is that the few unreleased
Micro Collection figures that are valuable and are highly sought-after by
collectors, are all the product of a counterfeiting conspiracy. The Micro
Collection was terminated following its 1982 debut and prior to its 1983
extension, due to unsatisfactory sales. Left in the lurch were several
playsets, most notably the Hoth Bacta Chamber and Bespin Torture Chamber, which
would have come with four and six new figures, respectively. That these toys
reached it to a near-production stage is a widely-proven and incontestable
fact, and that they exist today in significant, if limited numbers is evidenced
not only by their place in private collections the world over, but by their
presence in Kenner photographs and literature of the time. I could produce
photographic and physical evidence of unproduced, though prototyped, toys and
describe their production process in depth; I could, based on extensive
personal research, provide a list stating which figures were concepted, which
were prototyped, and what stage of production each of these figures reached; in
doing so, I could cite personal correspondences with Kenner designers and
engineers attesting to the creation of these toys. But that's been done. This
information was provided to Ms. Brooks some 4 months ago, by myself and two
other experts in this area, and Ms. Brooks chose to discount it. To anyone
seeking the proof I am here citing, I would direct them to the Star Wars
Collectors Archive web site, at http://www.toysrgus.com, where it is all
collected and documented, as well as to issue # 60 of Action Figure News and
Toy Review, which ran a comprehensive article on nearly-produced Micro
Collection toys. This is the evidence at hand; evidence that has been years in
the collecting. The burden of proof lies in Ms. Brooks' hands, and she has yet
to prove anything.

Lastly, the article implies that I have in some way been involved in the
counterfeiting of Kenner products. I have indeed provided replicas of the ten
unreleased Bacta and Torture Chamber figures to the collecting community. This
was done in an honest, forthright fashion, and I have neither profited from nor
misrepresented these figures as genuine at any time. The figures are made from
a plastic-like resin, bear a number on their bases and have not exceeded a
production number over thirty pieces each. In short, there is no way that they
could ever be mistaken for metal originals, and I have taken every precaution
to insure that they wouldn't be. In doing this, I have allowed collectors to
own and appreciate these items at a negligible cost. On a personal level, it
is something I have enjoyed immensely, as I derive a great deal of satisfaction
from communicating with fellow collectors and bolstering interest and
enthusiasm for the hobby I love. Ms. Brooks' motive, on the other hand,
appears to encompass nothing more than an economic interest, and the article's
support of it is, quite frankly, disheartening.

I do not wish to cause Ms. Brooks problems and I hope her "find"
eventually meets her expectations. There is a truth here, however; a truth
that is well-supported, exhaustively researched, and free of any hint of
dishonesty or malice. It is a truth that has been proven by collectors and
upheld by the collecting community, by people who are concerned for the hobby's
welfare and who have dedicated a large part of their lives involved with and
promoting it. Ms. Brooks is not one of these people. Given the actual facts,
how your readers wish to interpret the situation is entirely up to them. What
I take issue with, however, is the misrepresentation, both of myself, as well
as the Earth (a long-respected Star Wars collectibles store), as not only
having had a deterimental effect on the marketplace, but in engaging in the
illegal production and sale of counterfeit Micro Collection figurines. These
are false implications and the article does not support them in even the
slightest of ways, a quality made all the more apparent when one considers that
I was not even contacted for a comment on the article I was named in. This is
shoddy work, and I will accept nothing less than a clarification of the
situation and a retraction of the implications.


Ronald Salvatore

cc: Rick Kenney Associated Press Howard Roffman, Lucasfilm, Ltd. James M. Kipling, Hasbro, Inc.

March 4 1998
Newsgroups: rec.arts.sf.starwars.collecting.vintage

Good letter. After reading it and the ones others have posted I think the
most helpful thing is to mention newbie syndrome and the confusion between
unpainted figs and unpainted unproduced prototypes. Afterall I, and many
like me thought I had a double telescoping Luke when I first heard about
it (and its price) same goes for Snaggletooth (hey his heads kinda blue
he must be worth $150) confusion.

The custom-repo problem is a joke. How can Kenner complain when people
make figures of charchters kenner hasn't made? Plus its obvious Ron's
repos aren't real. I have four of them and they are excellent, I can't
wait for a shot at the rest of them. They have only made me more interested
in the real ones, which I will likley never see in person.


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