The best part of the Creation Star Trek convention this past weekend was that I met 6 amazing prop collectors during the show. It was kind of funny, as I kept being introduced to collectors by other collectors! Ultimately though, it was not what I bought from IAW that made this such a great weekend, but who I met.
On Friday, I met Martin from Germany (eBay handle: Filmwelt_Berlin). Those of us who went to Christie’s remember him as he won a lot of stuff, including the Enterprise Shuttle Pod full size set. A few months ago I emailed him and we have been corresponding ever since. Martin was very gracious to let me win the Admiral Janeway costume a few months ago (which he wanted to) and we email each other regularly. It was good to finally meet him in person!
Standing around the IAW booth, I met Willie Bath, who is a well known collector from the UK, Willie in turn introduced me to Ken Friedman, a long time collector and dealer, with an impressive collection. Both guys were fantastic folk and we spent a great deal of time all weekend chatting. Ken is actually a dealer, selling props and autographs full time. He had a booth at the show and will again in Vegas. Willie is from the UK and has outbid me on a few items on IAW in the past (some of which he actually picked up from IAW at the event).
One of the things I don’t like about many prop collectors is the level of secrecy that they maintain. While I understand it sometimes, as many just don’t want people to know what they have, I prefer exchanging information and networking. For me, the social element of collecting is very important. Both Willie and Ken are very outgoing and love sharing stories and information.. While Willie has only been collecting for about 5 years, Ken has been collecting for over 20 and had a great perspective on the market for Star Trek uniforms over the past 10 years. He was telling me how before Christie’s, costumes from all the new shows would go for $ 10-25,000 because you simply couldn’t get them, and that Christie’s and IAW have dramatically changed that. Good news for all of us new collectors, but bad news for collectors who paid high years ago for main character stuff. I learned a ton from both of these guys and they helped make the show that much more rewarding.
Friday afternoon, my good buddy Jason White (www.moviepropking.com) called me as one of his collecting buddies was going to be at the show and he wanted me to meet him. Now, this collector is one of those who is very private and so I am going to call him “Mr. X”. He has what has to be the best collection of Star Trek props anywhere. He had great contacts in Paramount and has been collecting for years. We went to dinner Friday night and he shared stories with me and gave me a ton of information. A truly nice guy, I understand why he doesn’t like the limelight and I respect that. But even with the very private collectors like Mr. X, if they like you and you come well referenced, they love sharing stories about their collections and the hobby. His insights were really great and I learned so much, it was like an education in Star Trek props. On Saturday he brought a part of his collection and showed me about 40 amazing Star Trek props from Phasers to Tricorders to the first mobile holo-emitter. It was educational and much appreciated.
Then Saturday, Brett Jones, who is the genius behind Federation Surplus (the best Star Trek replica prop guy in the business) introduced me to his buddy John Castillo. I was just leaving the parking lot to go meet Brett for lunch, when Brett calls me and asks me to meet John as he had a ST: TMP bio-buckle that Brett was going to borrow for reference material. John was practically standing in front of me on the sidewalk and so I got to meet and chat with him at length. What was funny was that John knew who I was because he reads my blog every day! John lives up near Fresno, so he had to leave that night, but before he did I helped him pick out a great ST: TMP costume from IAW as John really wanted one. A beautiful costume, it had a mint bio-monitor buckle and pants with built in shoes. It looked pretty sharp and John got a great deal.
The last guy I need to mention is Brett Jones of Federation Surplus. Now replicas are a point of contention for many prop collectors who are worried about the hacks who sell fakes as “Screen used”. And while there are a ton of them out there, Brett is very clear that he is making replicas and you will never find him passing stuff off as real, screen used or production made. He has an incredible passion for what he does (he does Federation Surplus full time) and is an absolutely insane perfectionist. I visited his shop and he went through his process with me and how he identifies fakes and the differences between good and bad repros. He gave me two Next Gen comm badges and some pips for my Sisko uniform, and he recently cast the admiral’s pin from my Janeway Admiral uniform and I have to tell you, he did an unbelievable job. There is simply NO ONE in the business who does better work than him. If you need Comm badges for your uniforms, want a Phaser or Tricorder, or just about anything, Brett is the man. Plus he is one of the nicest, funniest guys I know. We went to dinner with his lovely girlfriend Toni, and we all had a great time (although she must have been bored listening to us geeks talk about Star Trek all night!).
Overall, I haven’t had this much fun since Christie’s weekend. I made 4 new prop collecting friends, got to meet Martin from Germany, hang out with Brett and see his shop, and just have a great time doing what I love. I hope you all make an effort to come to the Vegas con in August, as I know many of us will be there and I have already spoken to Creation about doing a panel on Star Trek Prop and Costume Collecting with IAW and a few long time collectors Some of us have even discussed buying a booth to sell some of what we have for sale, and if you are interested in being a part of that, let me know. Either way I am looking forward to seeing everyone at Vegas. (find out more about the Vegas show here.)
Also, my apologies to the two adorable little kids, Kendra and Karson (pictured above), brother and Sister, who were dressed up in classic Star Trek uniforms, as I had taken photos of them, and unfortunately the photos disappeared with my camera! Fortunately, their Dad supplied me with one today.