Despite the incredible heat wave that is currently plaguing Southern California, thousands of cosplayers braved the increasingly high temperature to attend Long Beach Comic-Con at the Long Beach Convention Center. The annual convention featured a slue of celebrity guests, artists, and writers of comic books, film, and television alike.
One of the most intriguing panels was the collectible-centric “40 Years of Star Wars Collecting”, hosted by the Science Fiction Coalition. The hour-long panel consisted of three different segments including, “Vintage Action Figure Collecting”, “Trading Card Collecting” and “Black Series Figure Collecting.” Sci-Fi Coalition founder Shawn Mullen delved into the aspects of vintage collecting sharing various stories and facts about the inception of the original Star Wars action figures and all of the waves that followed. Originally 12 figures were produced in the first wave of Star Wars figures, however, since the success of the film was unprecedented at the time not enough figures were made in time to ship out in time for Christmas orders. As a result, Kenner Toys put out a cardboard box called the “Star Wars Early Bird Certificate Package.” The box contained images of all the figures currently in production and a mail order form that children could fill out to receive four Star Wars figures once they had finished production.
The panelists also discussed the various types of Star Wars trading cards as well as the rarity and value of most. Several vintage cards contain scenes that ended up being cut from the final film such as Han and C-3PO looming over the body of a dead Wampa. The cards have also been known to cause controversy, most notably a card featuring C-3PO very a very large “bulge”.
Finally, Mullen closed out the panel with a heartbreaking yet moving story of how his brother, whom had passed away several years ago due to cerebral palsy, was the main inspiration for the founding of the Science Fiction Coalition as they are also an awareness group as well as a fan club. As the panel ended, various cosplaying members of the coalition gathered at the front of the stage to display a beacon of hope to all those who may be suffering.