In 1998, a woman named Virginia Jarvis Brooks came into the spotlight, claiming that her collection was devalued due to the activities
of a number of collectors. Ms. Brooks' collection (which she never showed publically), consisted of a number of unpainted Micro Collection figures, like the ones shown above. Over the course of her argument, she said that her figures were priceless,
that several well known collectors were faking prototypes and passing them off as originals, that there were no unproduced Micro Collection figures (later her argument changed to say that there were no unproduced 1-1 Micro Collection
figures), and finally that pretty much every collector was a thief and a liar. After causing trouble for a couple months, Ms. Brooks basically disappeared.
Chris did a stellar job of chronicling this event in 1998, complete with copies of all the letters Archive staffers recieved. With that in mind, here is his article originally written in 1998, which he updated afterwards.
The issue was also discussed a great deal on Usenet, and I have preserved the threads at the end of the article for those still dying to learn more.
The Micro Collection Figure Fiasco of 1998
(a.k.a. "There Goes the College Fund!")
Written by Chris Georgoulias (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Scroll to the bottom to read the latest news on this issue.
March 18, 1998
Perhaps you've read about the issue concerning Ms. Virginia Jarvis Brooks and her "$200,000" set of 328 unpainted Micro Collection figures on the newsgroups, in the newspaper or you overheard someone talking about it at a toy show. Hopefully this page will explain the situation at hand, where the problems lie and let the reader understand all the nuances, details and behind the scene things that brought us to this point. There are a ton of details that make all the difference in the world. Grab a glass of your favorite beverage and prepare to take some time to read through this because it is very long and very detailed.
The issue was first brought to light in the Star Wars internet arena by Sirsteve's famous POTF2 web site, where the original February 23, 1998 newspaper article was scanned in for all to see. I believe this was up about a day before word spread like wildfire. I mean an Associated Press story about Star Wars collectibles and collectors we knew? This would indeed garner some attention - and some much-needed clarification.
The topic was first brought up for discussion in the rec.arts.sf.starwars.collecting.misc newsgroup with
a posting titled: "Trouble Afoot from prototype owner and Hasbro legal". This posting included the text of newspaper article and some questions which touched off a chain reaction of discussion otherwise known as a "thread". The last time I looked, the thread was about two weeks old and around 100 replies long. The thread expanded into the rec.arts.sf.starwars.collecting.vintage group pretty quickly and other related threads emerged such as: "New news regarding Virginia Brooks (Was Re: Trouble Afoot from prototype owner and Hasbro legal)" and "Who's afraid of Virginia Brooks?"
The newspaper article is quite misleading to the casual reader because the background needed to fully understand what's going on is pretty in-depth. I will get into everything here, but decent "condensed" versions can be found in the letters that Gus, Ron and I wrote to the Associated Press, et al. The letters give a brief background on the topic, address the problems with the "facts" of the article and offer explanations for what the truth really is. These letters were also posted on the newsgroups.
Ron Salvatore's letter to the Associated Press
Chris Georgoulias' letter to the Associated Press
Gus Lopez's letter to the Associated Press
The letters are pretty straightforward, but to further understand the situation is to also understand the accuser. The first time we heard about this beef was in October of 1997. For people like Steve Sansweet it was even earlier than that. The first few emails were signed "A concerned person". When pushed for a name to go with these accusations, we were given "Lou". Later on, "Tim" took over for Lou and it's pretty apparent now (to us at least) that this was Virginia Brooks herself. She made mention of those guys later on and said they were friends of hers. The tone of the messages and the content between Lou, Tim and later in ones signed by Virginia herself all bore the same attitude and style - Virginia's style, and I will treat it as such. Since we don't know for sure, I should say that even if it wasn't her she was still in cahoots with them. Still, the similarity in writing seems far too coincidental and we haven't heard mention of them ever since.
Let's begin with the first message to Gus , because he's grand poobah of the web site that has caught her interest. She also has her eye on Ron at this point and sends email to him basically telling him the same thing as Gus. Later on we found out why she had an interest in Ron, as can be seen from the newspaper article. Gus sends her a reply asking what her problem is, why she thinks she's right and why she's apparently trolling. Her next message to Gus helps us see just how much she knows about what she's talking about.
Now that you've read the messages, I'd like to point out some things that are pretty interesting and that tell us a lot about her background knowledge on the subject of prototypes, the toy creation process and Kenner. These are the kinds of things we would respond with or ask her about which she would usually just skip.
She states that there were no wax sculptings of the micro line and that the orignials were done in clay. The
truth is that Kenner roughed out things first in clay, then did finished sculptings in wax. Many still exist to othis day. This sculpting in wax was pretty much standard practice not only for the Micro Collection, but for the action figures as well. Kenner still sculpts the majority of their stuff in wax. For some "proof" of this, you can consult the one-shot magazine The Official Guide to Star Wars Toys by Topps where they interview various people who work on the current Star Wars design team at Kenner.
She states that the knowledge of the designers and other artists at Kenner is limited. However if they were the ones doing the hands-on work then can't we trust them to know at least what they worked on? Knowledge about what vendor produced what toy isn't as important as knowing what things were going on in the concept stages, where all of these unproduced micro figures spent their time. She insists on having everything documented on her paperwork despite the items people have in their possession. Think of it this way; if you saw a person standing on the street corner who had no birth certificate could you look them in the eye and tell them that they didn't exist? Of course not! It's really the same difference here. Things exist despite being fully documented or even mentioned on paper.
She says that Kenner demanded the Ral Partha company to halt production of "unauthorized" figures. Since the information on Ral Partha's involvement with Kenner was always unclear I bounced several email messages with Jack Hesselbrock, the president of Ral Partha, to get his side of the story. As you can see, Ral Partha has always had a good relationship with Kenner. They only made molds and spin-cast samples for things like Toy Fair. He also said that his sculptors did freelance work for Kenner. Combining this with what was told to us by an ex-Kenner modelmaker, it seems likely that the conceptual sculptings found nowadays (and sometimes called "Ral Partha" because they were molded and cast by them) such as this Darth Vader, this Ben Kenobi and this Luke Skywalker were made by Kenner folks and contract sculptors which may have indeed been the Ral Partha guys. These were done at 1:1 scale and were for conceptual purposes only. As you can see, they are pretty crude and look considerably different than any figure that made it to a more finalized state. Wax 1:1 sculptings exist, but the modelmaker said that he recalled seeing others sculpting with the epoxy ribbon material mentioned by Jack Hesselbrock. All of this was at 1:1 scale, not the 4:1 scale that the production Micro Collection figures were created in. Nothing was ever created by the Ral Partha company for distribution, hence there was never any issue about unauthorized bootlegs between them and Kenner. If there is any confusion about unauthorized bootlegs from this era, it's most likely due to the pewter figurines that were made by Heritage. Lucasfilm did indeed have production of these figures halted, but this is pretty obscure information and few collectors even know that these items ever existed. Yes folks, yet another piece of the puzzle is added. Have I lost anybody yet? Virginia thinks that the figures like these from the Bespin Torture Chamber set, which look just like the production figures for any other micro set, were not made by Kenner. One look at the detail of the figures and the set should prove otherwise. Not only were the toys made, but the
box mock-up is also unmistakably Kenner's work as well.
In addition to the Bacta Chamber and Torture Chamber, examples such as sculptings, hardcopies, playset mock-ups, and/or file photos exist for many other cancelled micro sets for 1983. These playsets include Dagobah as seen in Tomart's Action Figure Digest #21. In fact, the 1:1 wax sculptings for the Darth Vader, Ben Kenobi and Luke Skywalker concept figures mentioned above are shown in this article and go with this playset. The Yoda shown most certainly would go with it. A wax cave entrance is also shown but it is incorrectly labeled for the Dagobah set. The cave actually belongs with the "Wampa Terror" playset which is shown in Tomart's AFD #24. This was likely the conceptual version of the released "Hoth Wampa Cave" playset. The 1:1 wax sculptings shown include a Han Solo with sensor pack, Wampa and Luke on Tauntaun. Some of these sculptings have shown up as spin-cast (not injection molded) metal versions. The magazines also show some conceptual film-frame artwork which were used to outline the possible play scenarios for each of the sets. This artwork matches the sculptings pretty closely. I believe these photographs will be shown again in the upcoming special edition of Tomart's Price Guide to Worldwide Star Wars Collectibles. The Emperor's Throne Room playset was another set to make it to mock-up stage. Steve let me borrow a photo of the inside of this playset from his book which is mentioned later on. Two different 4:1 Emperor sculptings that likely went with this set made it to the marketplace one time, but no metal figures at the 1:1 reduced scale have shown up so far. Jabba's Boiler Room will be shown in the Tomart guide also. The only figures for this set that we know of are Power Droid and EV-9D9. Jabba's Court and an Endor Playset round out the other sets we know about. It's possible that metal concept figures were created for some of these playsets because of what's shown in the Dagobah photo. Still, none of these sets got as far along as the Hoth Bacta Chamber and Bespin Torture Chamber playsets.
In this message to Gus she asks him to give her some detailed information about where stages of production took place and whatnot. Gus had a pretty good reply to this one:
" I guess I'm missing your logic here. Why these questions and not
o Which micro figures were sculpted but never reached the
o Which micro figures were made into hard copies but were
never made into metal figures?
o Which micro figures were featured in Kenner literature
but were never produced?
o In what scale were the micro figures sculpted?
o What additional playsets were planned?
*These* are the relevant questions about unproduced micro sets. While it
may be interesting to know some of the additional info that you feel is
mandatory to know, I'd be curious to hear your answers to some of *these*
Virginia's concern is with the validity of items that never went into production, but she wants to ask questions pertaining to production, not concept. It's as important to know where phase 3 of production was competed as it is to know who stocked the drink machine in the lobby. It has nothing to do with the conceptual and pre-production phases. Did she answer the questions? Of course not. I mean the lady has only talked to people at Kenner via the 800 number. Has she flown to Cincinnati to talk to anybody related to all of this? No. Have we? Twice actually. Steve Sansweet has been there many more times than that and has had close contact with people there who did design and engineering on the original Star Wars line.
Virginia is also under the belief that a single person did the sculptings for the entire line of Micro Collection figures. Not only do we know that's false, it really doesn't even make sense because there were some 5 dozen different figures made! That would have been one seriously-overworked and stressed-out guy.
Ron got the next email. Here is where "Lou" switched to "Tim". Probably the most laughable part of the whole message is that she stated that packaging proofs and toy mock-ups were made, but the figures were not. However, it's obvious to see by the proof sheet for the Hoth Bacta Chamber and the box mock-up for the Bespin Torture Chamber that the figures were made because they were pictured! Take a look at this close-up of the 2-1B figure and see for yourself. The Luke figure is just as impressive. The playset itself is no less spectacular. She makes some grand assumptions about Tom Neiheisel which are just wrong. Of course the items were't there in 1982 because the copyrights on the Torture Chamber playset figures bear a 1983 copyright! Kenner even came up with a product spec sheet for the Torture Chamber . For some reason she thinks that the detail and accuracy of the figures that go along with this playset are not of the same high quality as the other Micro Collection figures. She somehow thinks that figures like these Bespin Guards from the Torture Chamber weren't made the same way as the standard metal production figures. If anybody can tell me how these figures look different, I'd love to know about it. I mean the lettering is dead-on and people that know about injection molding also know that those small circles on the bottom of the bases are tell-tale ejector pin marks from the mold. Ejector pins are what push the piece out of the mold once it's cooled. So much for the notion that these things don't look like production figures and that they were poured by hand. All of the figures for the Bacta Chamber and the Torture Chamber have the individual figure numbers on them as well as the LFL 83 copyright which means that they went through a manufacturing process that was at least similar to the standard figures. This process may have not been done at the same place as the rest of the figures, but it was done somewhere and it was headed by Kenner because the people that have unearthed these items all had Kenner ties. More proof that these figures came from steel injection molds is the process by which those molds are made. The shape of the 4:1 (4-up) urethane hardcopy, which is cast directly from the silicone molds made of the 4:1 sculpting, is sized down with an apparatus called a "3-D pantograph". This tool traces the contours of the hardcopy and, through a set of reduction gears, guides a mill which cuts the metal mold to the production (1:1) size. This isn't a trivial process done by amateurs which is why the production figures look so nice compared to the 1:1 conceptual figures. Because the figures are sculpted at a very large size, the ability to capture the detail and smoothness is directly translated into the final micro-sized figure.
Virginia also begins to plant the idea that The Earth is somehow selling fake stuff and that it's from Ral Partha. The truth is that she's mixing those metal concept figures (the ones sculpted at 1:1) with the figures that were made for the unproduced playsets with the resin figure reproductions made by Ron. Those playset figures were sculpted at 4:1, reduced in size for molding, and shot in metal just like the production figures were - copyrights and all. A good example of this process can be seen here for the micro FX-7 figure. The metal concept figures do not have copyright markings on the bases and they were spin-cast (not injection molded), just like Jack Hesselbrock outlined in his email messages. Ron's figures aren't even metal, plus the figures from the Torture Chamber and Bacta Chamber playsets have clear copyright and part number markings on them. This kind of confusion results when you try to make yourself an overnight expert on stuff you previously had no clue about and no interest in.
In another message to Gus she at least concedes that the unproduced figures may have been sculpted by Kenner. She still doesn't believe they were made into metal by Kenner, but this is because her paperwork doesn't show it. She also starts in with some wild assumptions about Tom Neiheisel that were just plain wrong. The truth is that there is no way she could have known anything about what kinds of meetings he attended and what was going on internally at that time. Heck, she was 100% offbase with his job description because he was in marketing, not design. This goes to show that when you give people a little bit of information to go on, they can try and stretch it all over the place. My guess is that she didn't even know who Tom was until she saw his name in the archive. Then she proceeded to pull all of her information right out of thin air. There was no conspiracy headed up by Tom and the whole notion is ludicrous to say the least.
Finally I get a message from her myself. Of course since the beginning Gus, Ron and I were cc'ing all of our messages and replies to one another so we could all keep up with what was going on. Virginia tries once more to say that the metal versions of those figures did not come from Kenner since the paperwork doesn't note it. Again she mixes up the conceptual figures, like the Luke shown earler, with the unproduced figures from the Torture Chamber and Bacta Chamber playsets. She at least concedes that the figures for these sets were sculpted, though she cannot account (by her paperwork) that they made it into metal form. She spews more inaccuracies about Tom and sculptings in general. I won't dwell too much on them because I think I've covered it already. The sculptings weren't clay and they weren't thrown out when the hardcopies were made. As long as the guys making the hardcopies were careful, the wax originals were retained. As far as every word she said about Tom's involvement - it's just dead wrong and a figment of her imagination. I think by now it's apparent that she would try and tear down anybody that stands in the way of her making millions with her pieces - regardless if it makes sense or not.
This last message to me even takes a swing at Steve Sansweet. I guess when you are sinking fast you will try anything including going after the world's biggest Star Wars collector and Lucasfilm's foremost expert on collectibles. Still we hear about how important her "documentation" is and how insignificant everything and everybody else is. I've never seen somebody so sure about what they have in the face so much proof suggesting otherwise - and so insistent on top of it all! She has made herself and possibly a small group of close friends believe a story filled with mixed facts, incomplete information and half-truths. A little knowledge can indeed be a dangerous thing.
The invitation just about beats all. She wants to invite all of us to debate this publically. Should I elaborate on this in lieu of what I've commented on earlier? I'd just be repeating myself. However she probably should learn to spell my name right if she's going to report me to the FBI. At least I would be in good company here with all of my collecting buddies making the journey also. I don't often get to see these guys since we all live so far away from one another.
Virginia is milking her incomplete paperwork for all it's worth because that's all she has to go on. While documentation from "the original engineer on the project" may seem like rock-solid evidence to some, it is important to point out that engineering didn't oversee all apsects of toy creation. There are also the designers, sculptors, modelmakers and packagers that have their input at different phases of concept and pre-production. Engineering headed up more of the production end of things which flows perfectly with what this supposed documentation (we still haven't seen it) covers. It is also very important to note that this engineer worked on all kinds of stuff and most likely hasn't done research on all of the concepts Kenner kicked around at the time that he wasn't aware of or that he just forgot about. Compare this "evidence" from ONE person to the numerous Kenner sources that have come about yielding file photographs, sculptings, sketches, artwork, hardcopies, proof sheets, mock-ups, plastic toys, playset boxes and the painted and unpainted metal figures of various types that you've seen here. I mean what more proof do you need? Literally dozens of unrelated people have brought stuff to light that isn't noted on her documentation. As pointed out many times (even to her) this engineering documentation is just incomplete because it apparently ONLYcovers items that went into full production for the 1982 line. The entire line of micro sets for 1983 was scrapped and never made it far enough along to have engineering documenting the phases like it did for 1982. The photo and physical evidence that has come about showing these sets and figures in conceptual phase and pre-production is undenyable. Concrete evidence like this is it's own documentation. More examples of these unproduced and other pre-production figures can be found in the Micro Collection Gallery of this archive. An excellent article on the unproduced Micro Collection, written by collector Rob Amantea can be found in Lee's Action Figure News and Toy Review #60. One of the first articles on the Micro Collection was written by Lenny Lee himself back in AFN&TR #6. Steve Sansweet also covered much of the conceptual phase of the Micro Collection in his fantastic book Star Wars: From Concept to Screen to Collectible.
Have we seen one shred of Virginia's paperwork so far, despite all the threats and promises? Are you kidding me? Even if she ever produces paperwork it will still not contradict anything that has been said here. The production paperwork will supposedly only show that these items aren't listed on it. It will not say that item x was never made. Virginia interprets the absence of item x on this paperwork as though it never existed. In fact we have proven not with paperwork, but with tangible items, that item x exists despite it's absence from this paperwork. I suppose that Virginia has no feet because her shoe size isn't noted on her driver's licence, despite the fact that she probably has ten toes. Have we heard more "facts" from Virginia? You know it! Ed Wiser posted an email reply he got from Virginia in the newsgroup discussion. In this reply from Virginia she states that the figures were sold months ago - back in October apparently. Then again we never know what to believe with her. If she did sell them, I surely hope the buyer isn't reading this right now. We clarified the issue about the "selling of fakes" in our letters to the editor. In a reply to her message did Gus actually promise to publicly eat a proof card if Virginia could prove she sold her figures for $200,000? That jokester. Then again, that sale would never happen and I know that's why Gus said he'd do it. Sort of along these lines, I'd like to state that there isn't a single expert on Star Wars collecting that believes the notion that all of this stuff is the result of some vast conspiracy to defraud collectors. Not even Kenner or Lucasfilm seems to care (even though it may seem the opposite) or else we would have heard something from them by now. The collecting experts are after the truth and I think you can agree that the proof shown here would make a believer out of anybody - except for probably one person that is. Then again some people can never be convinced that they are wrong. Need I mention that there is indeed a Flat Earth Society for people who actually believe that the Earth isn't spherical? Oh yeah, the "faked" moon landings are covered there also. :^)
If you're interested in reading the newsgroup discussion then you can go to The Deja News Archives and read all you want. All you have to do it type in "Trouble Afoot Prototype" in the search and it will do the rest. You can also use "Virginia Brooks" for your keyword search. After awhile Dejanews separates the current stuff from the old stuff, so don't forget to select "old articles" from the search tool if necessary.
And now you know the gritty details. If you got this far then I assume that you learned that collecting can sometimes entail knowing some seemingly "unrelated" facts. This whole issue has taken up the valuable time of many individuals who had to deal with and respond to this tripe. This level of detail has always been out there, but very few people (including our favorite accuser) have ever taken the time to learn it all. It would have been unnecessary to get into it like this, but the situation seemed to be going nowhere otherwise. Then again, this kind of "challenge" is sort of fun I guess. Who's next? :^)
P.S. - Before I forget, do you want to know what all the hooey was about? What all this time and energy was wasted on? What Virginia dwelled on that made us go through all of this? Stuff that Gus, Ron, Steve, The Earth and many collectors all over the country have had for years and aren't screaming about? I hate to end this whole issue with a dud, but if you look here and here you will see that they are really no more than unpainted versions of the toys sold by the thousands. The only difference is that these owners know what they're talking about. Though, where her "worth hundreds of thousands of dollars" notion ever came from, we still don't know.
Some Late Breaking News!!!
Well, it's Thurdsay, March 19 and, sure enough, after I told her about the existence of this page yesterday she comes up with even more for me to contradict. This issue is becoming a perpetual nuissance. We have covered absolutely no new ground with this lady in months.
So where do I start? How about with the statement that those micro-sized figures shown with the Torture Chamber playset and on the box are painted 4-ups? Would somebody who knew what they were talking about and knew what a 4-up was state that a 1:1 scale figure was actually 4x larger than it really is? Even after having just looked at the photo?!? Now I beg of you, is this even a slightly rational statement?? What's next? Well the notion that this engineer who supposedly signed off on everything didn't sign to have those metal figures made even though they exist in production-quality form. Need I comment more on those metal figures? Did she refute the fact that those are injection molded like production figures? No, because she honesly doesn't know any better. She has told us time and again about obtaining a "release" from Kenner to own the figures she has. Apparently she bugged one of the Kenner guys so much that he made up some paperwork to get her out of his hair. The truth is that items in private collections are the property of those owners. They were once Kenner property, but it was basically garbage to them. They threw out prototypes all the time because nobody cared about them back then. Nowadays it's a different story because toy collecting is so big and the collector force is hungry. The toy industry is very secretive and nowadays toy company representatives and employees will tell you that it is illegal to own prototypes and that all prototypes are destroyed and none leave the company. They have to tell people this so that they won't get into trouble, but the fact is that the stuff has gotten out in the past and it will get out in the future. Kenner doesn't write releases so that somebody can have legal "ownership" of their prototypes. If Kenner had no qualms about "releasing" those items to some unknown person like Virginia then it stands to reason that they would release any prototype to anybody - if they were harrassed enough, which I have a feeling was the case here, thus making the release superfluous. I'm convinced that the release she has was created just to keep her off their backs. It's too bad that even this wouldn't stop her from bugging them. If anything, they inadvertently kept her coming back for more.
Virginia wants documentation so we give her tangible evidence, but she is still going in circles like a Sonic Lanspeeder with a stuck drive wheel. I told you that she wouldn't listen. Now where are those Flat Earth Society applications......
8/2/00 - It's been a long strange trip...
Actually, I haven't really given this issue much thought over the past two years. I figured that Virginia finally accepted the truth and moved on. Apparently this is not the case. Read on...
I guess I should preface this by telling you folks that Gus, Ron, and myself flew to Cincinnati and personally met Jim Golden at his home on three different occasions over the past year and a half. Jim is a great guy and we had lots to talk about concerning the good old days at Kenner. We literally spend hours at his place just talking. We got into some engineering discussions about the Micro collection and the Skiff, which he also worked on. We also showed him a project list for the Micros we had which turned out to be a copy of his original from the early 1980's. That was pretty weird and Jim couldn't believe that we actually had it. But, given the level of detail I've covered here, would you expect less from us? I hope not. We went onto discuss the various other ex-Kenner folks who we had personally met with and often bought from. All the Kenner people have been a wealth of information and the stories passed along are fantastic. We are truly getting an idea of what it was like to be the headquarters of probably the most popular toy line of all time.
It was on our last trip that Jim mentioned how Virginia was on the news talking about her figures. It's funny how core folks in the hobby never get to hear about this stuff. Then again, it wouldn't be sensational if the reporters knew the whole story. I'd really appreciate knowing that my name or the names of my friends is getting tossed around, in a bad light, by a mis-informed media. Apparently, lawyers (as in multiple) have been contacted, but we have not heard a thing. Talk about drastic measures. How do you deal with someone who gets news organizations to put your name in print and broadcast one-sided incorrect stories accusing you of things you have not done? In light of doing some basic research? In light of sheer facts?
Here is where it gets pretty interesting. We only recently found out that Jim worked on Micros for a year before he went onto Girl's Toys in January 1983, thus losing his close involvement with the Micro Collection. I guess I should remind people that the two sets (thus the 10 figures) which were unproduced were intended for 1983 release and have copyrights bearing that date. Let me say that again - Jim ended his involvement with the Micro collection *before* he saw the figures in question being created. That is why he had no knowledge of them. That is why the paperwork he has doesn't note their existence. He was gone by that time and thought that the early conceptual pieces and ideas they tossed around in 1982 were abandoned because of poor sales. However, Kenner *did* push to have these things tooled-up and ready to go for 1983 - probably in preparation for Toy Fair (which occurred in February). Production plans for furthering the Micro line were indeed cancelled and the Bacta Chamber and Torture Chamber sets never saw the light of day as far as public was concerned. However, they did have tooling made and the diecast prototypes are in existence, albeit in very small numbers. This really clarifies everything I wrote in the original story. I think this is the crucial element to this story as well as the straw that will break the camel's back. Had I known this was still an issue I would have taken the unproduced figures to Jim on our last trip to show him that they were indeed made *after* he left Boy's Toys. He still thinks those figures never got past the stage of the Ral Partha versions which, I'll admit, were crude. Though Jim refers to those as "junk" but he's not a collector so he views them differently. We'll visit Jim again in a few months and take care of it. I can't wait to see the look on his face when he sees the figures. He even said he'd write a letter stating that the figures were indeed made once he verifies that they are legit. Which they definitely are. I think he was beginning to doubt his own recollections and assumptions once I began reading the copyright info on the figures to him over the phone. I almost hate to think how one person is going to react to all of this. Steaming mad is my guess. The truth hurts sometimes, I suppose. But nobody ever set out to screw anybody here. Ever. We just report information on collecting and I still stand behind everything I wrote two years ago because it's the truth.
But back to the availabilty/rarity/price of the standard (produced) unpainted figures. I've personally seen dozens of auctions on ebay for unpainted micro figures in the past year alone. In all cases for figures that went into production, the prices were relatively low. Say 2-6 bucks per figure at best. Usually they are sold in multiples. Some better ones like Boba Fett have hit upwards of $20, but that's more of an anomaly because of character popularity. I've also seen several auctions for the 10 unproduced figures from the Bacta Chamber and Torture Room sets. While those sell for much more than standard figures, they rarely have topped $400 each. Most are in the $100-$300 range. Anyway, it doesn't take a genius to search for stuff on ebay. In fact, had I known that this was still an issue, I would have saved those old auctions as more proof. Oh well, we'll definitely be seeing more so it's no big loss. Oh yeah, on our most recent trip to Cincinnati we purchased no less than 180 unpainted figures. And we find them on every trip because they're so abundant. This is in addition to the multitudes that each of us already has. Perhaps this will shed more light on their availability.
Interestingly, the crux of this entire matter seems to be that we are out to devalue these unpainted Micro figures. I guess having the full set of 70-odd unpainted production figures means I'm shooting myself in the foot. Gus and Ron too. And some other buddies of ours. Too bad that's not the case. The truth is that we live in a reality and the reality is what I stated above. These items are not ultra-rare treasure. Sure, they're rare compared to what was produced for sale to customers, but the numbers are still great. In fact, Jim told us that up to 200 of each figure was made during testing phases at the vendor. Some are indeed harder to find than others, but they're not impossible to locate. Given that about 70 figures were produced for release, that is a possible 14,000 which could be in existence. Jim ordered to have the samples destroyed, but we all know that didn't completely happen. Nobody knows how many of the thousands were saved, but they were definitely not scrapped. Knowing the Star Wars market like I do, I can say that it only takes a fraction of 14,000 to satisfy the demand. I sincerely doubt that even 1/3 of those figures are still around, but that would still quite be quite a load on the small segment of the collector's market that is acutally interested in owning them. Hence the prices. Supply and demand ya know...
And now you know the whole story.
In the interest of historical preservation, I have preserved the RASSC threads related to this event in the SWCA Hobby History Archive, and a thread on the topic from our friends at RebelScum. They are presented here in chronologic order based on the dates the threads were started:
"Trouble Afoot from prototype owner and Hasbro legal
2/28/98: The original thread on the topic.
"Who's Afraid of Virgina Brooks?.... Not Me"
3/02/98: The issues involved with sending in letters are discussed.
"Look at This on the V. Brooks front"
3/07/98: VJB writes collector Ed Wiser to inform him how "wrong" he is.
"What ever happened to Virginia Brooks? "
1/25/02: Collectors wonder where VJB is.
Additionally, I was able to confirm that Ms. Brooks made at least one TV appearance. I managed to track down the info on it, but sadly the news station was not able to supply me with a tape of this segment. :(
SHOW: Newschannel 8 At 6
June 6, 1997, Friday 6:00-6:30 PM
Visual - Lake Wales, Star Wars miniatures.
Interview - Virginia Jarvis Brooks, Lake Wales, talking about the Star Wars figures she bought years ago. Her pewter toys are pre production knowledge.
End: 15. 30
Needless to say, if anyone has a copy of this program, I would LOVE to add it to this article. The same goes for any other letters, posts or pictures related to this event.
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