Jean Bernard

A little while ago I was contacted by a Vintage Star Wars collector from Paris, France. His name was Jean-Bernard and he introduced himself and his collection with the following link – http://www.collection-starwars.com/collection-starwarsjoker

After viewing his awesome Vintage carded figures Trilogo.info hauled him into the interview chair for a chat..enjoy!

Trilogo.info – Hi Jean-Bernard! Great to have you with us, let’s dive right in with our first question! Your collection is very nice but let’s find out more about why you collect! It would be great if you could explain how you got into collecting Star Wars and of course when and why Trilogos?

Jean Bernard – Of course, well my journey into collecting is very much like other collectors stories I suppose. “Star Wars” was the first movie I saw at the Pictures. I can easily remember discovering the first SW action figures by Christmas 1979. The very first ones I played with were Chewbacca, Princess Leia, Jawa and Stormtrooper. I locked myself in a dark room to verify if my Jawa’s eyes twinkled just like in the movie! Ha ha!

In 1982, on a visit to the UK (Brighton) I brought back 4 new figures : the real terrific Boba Fett (which I chose just because he had a missile), Lord Darth Vader, AT-AT Driver and Luke X-Wing. Then several others were slowly added to my childhood collection. I saw ROTJ at the cinema in Paris in 1983 and I kept on buying ROTJ figures on those famous Meccano French cards. Unfortunately (but naturally) when I became a teenager, the fun of playing with toys had made way for other hobbies like volley-ball, guitar and parties outside with friends. My interest in charming girls now began as well! Fortunately I had put away my figures with all their weapons and kept them in a shoe box.

In 1990 I went away camping to Brittany with a friend of mine. We stopped in Saint-Malo where people sold out their things in the street. You can imagine my surprise discovering characters like Anakin or the Imperial gunner which I believed unproduced to my knowledge.

When I came back to Paris I decided to find out about the “last 17”. These toys were no longer available in shops. They had become collectable rarities (even loose) and could be found at the flea market, in comics bookshops or in second hand toys stores. Internet buying did not exist yet.

In order to collect at that time I earned a little money babysitting children in the evening and busking in the subway with my guitar. This allowed me to gather a large collection of original carded figures. Trilogo cards were easy to find at this time because people were not so interested in them – these were very much the “golden years” of collecting. I can even remember buying a Boba Fett Trilogo for 200F (about 30 Euro) which is amazing really but was typical at the time. I can’t remember seeing the Jawa or Madine for sale however, even back then. In 1993, I had almost the full Trilogo set (except hybrid cards) with rarities such as Boba, Yak Face, Amanaman, Luke Bespin, Emperor guard, Death Star Droid … They were pinned up on the walls in my room all around, some even onto the ceiling!! I fell asleep under a staring sky!

Trilogo.info – Wow great recollection Jean, I love hearing about the early days of collecting, it seems even more exciting each time I hear a story like yours. Could you tell us when exactly were you born and what do you remember from your childhood about Trilogo toys, did you see them for sale as a child?

Jean Bernard – I was born at the very end of the sixties exactly on December 29th 1969. I remember more the Empire & Jedi lines really and I still collect and enjoy earlier Meccano carded figures and as you can see from the pictures it’s great to show the transition from Meccano to Trilogo, packaging design changes and shapes, logo changes, really very interesting and beautiful!

As I mentioned earlier I was a teenager at the Trilogo time, say 1984-1985. But yes I do remember seeing two new figures on Trilogo cards through a shop window in Paris: Barada and Imperial Dignitary, but I left them since I had stopped playing.

Actually, I have a rather interesting story about Meccano Trilogos in France! The first Trilogo cards appeared on the French market in autumn 1984 and were sold until the beginning of 1986. Then the sales dropped rapidly because the SW toys boom was suddenly over. By Christmas 1987 a huge sale took place in a popular Parisian discount store called “Tati”. Hundreds of Trilogo cards were sold 4,50 Francs each (less than one actual Euro). Among them all the “Last 17” could be found in high quantities. All the left over stock was sold out in a few days at those prices. The majority of Trilogo cards that were available on the collector market in the 90’s mainly came from this historical clearance sale!

Trilogo.info – Another great story! So..being French, what is your opinion as a collector on those Meccano issue Trilogos? Do you find them more appealing and would you rather have Meccano Trilogos in your collection than ones released in other European countries?

Jean Bernard -They’re my favourite ones because I don’t’ really like the big squared classic Trilogo bubbles. Actually Meccano Trilogos are very beautiful looking. On the other hand I also like the Clipper cards with stickers & mini catalogues.

Trilogo.info – Recently you mentioned to me that despite owning a near complete set of Trilogos in the past you did in fact sell them. Sorry to ask but, do you regret it now?

Jean Bernard – Well, in the early days the most exciting challenge in France was finding earlier 12 backs and the mysterious POTF cards. As these were much more scarce and expensive than Trilogos which I had collected first. I decided to sell off my entire collection (almost) to finance 12 backs and POTF. Fortunately I did not have Madine or I may well be more upset nowadays! I also made some pretty good swaps with collectors or shops owners so I don’t feel too bad. For example my Palitoy 12 back Darth Vader was obtained for 5 easy to find Trilogo figure, I traded a Jawa POTF for 5 other easy Trilogos. I also managed to get the very hard to find Kenner diorama with 12 first figures for 8 other Trilogos. Remember back in 1994 without Ebay and Co and not very many trading contacts overseas, trading in person was how our collections grew.

So honestly I have hardly any regrets because it was my choice as I couldn’t keep everything for material reasons. I do miss my Meccano small bubble Boba Fett though, it was in beautiful condition as well. That figure nowadays has become one of the rarest along with Madine and the Hammerhead Hybrid.

I think my biggest regret actually is not taking pictures! I wish I had captured my first Tri set on camera only I didn’t think about it. Then again back then I had no camera anyway ha ha!

Trilogo.info – You mentioned that “nowadays” some Trilogos like the Meccano small bubble Fett are actually seen as rare and sought after, with that in mind and knowing that it won’t be as easy to collect them now as it was back in the 90’s are you still interested in getting back into Trilogos and do you still have any left from your collection?

Jean Bernard – Indeed I kept some of them: Yak Face of course, Luke Jedi with cape into green cardboard, Stormtrooper, my incredibly rare Nikto under rounded Meccano bubble, Ben Kenobi double stem bubble.

I think that my rarest is AT-AT Commander PBP pale face under a Miro-Meccano double stem bubble. He’s proudly part of my collection since I’ve never seen another one surfacing!

Sure I am interested in going back to Trilogo collection. I focus on scarce European carded figures such as PBP Empire, Clipper, Harbert and Palitoy with the logo on the card front. Trilogos belong to Europe and in many ways to France, which is of course home for me so they do not really feel “foreign” but I will always have a love and interest for them. I’d also love to get a Canadian 12 back MOC with double French/English logo.

Trilogo.info – Which Trilogo collections have you seen that really made you say “Wow!”?

Jean Bernard -Stephane Faucourt’s one is the best I know because he’s keen on rare French variations and to see them all together is a real treat.

Apart from Stephane, I am sure there are some great collections being kept hidden somewhere. It would be worthwhile to discover them but keeping them secret is usually the decision of the owner and rarely does that perspective change which is a shame.

Trilogo.info – Do you have any interest in miscards, variants or oddities in the Trilogo line?

Jean Bernard -I have no particular interest in the common Trilogo miscards/deliberate errors really although I know some collectors really like them, I think I don’t find them so interesting just because I know the majority were just ways to clear overstock and therefore not anything amazing.

Trilogo.info – Which are your favourite figures or specific Trilogos?

Jean Bernard -I would say AT-ST Driver on an early French card with the dark red background as well as a nice minty white Luke Stormtrooper on that sunny yellow background, I once managed to get a Luke Stormtrooper helmet back on his head while inside the bubble! It was a lot of fun Ha Ha! Oh and I like the Jawa not just for the figure but the artwork on a Trilogo is great!

Another couple of favourite Trilogos are Luke Bespin and Boba Fett of course.

Trilogo.info -Now that we know it’s possible you may begin Trilogo collecting again, have you set any goals? Perhaps finishing the set in a certain amount of time, or just select cards?

Jean Bernard – Every early French Trilogo card holds my attention because they are true French cards only sold here. They remain the only way to own some figures never available in France before on a French card : AT-AT Commander, TIE Pilot, Zuckuss, Dengar …

There are some unbelievable (perhaps unique!) variants still to be discovered out there I’m sure.If I do collect Trilogo again I would certainly pick out early French cards above any others.

Stephane’s book brought the collecting world some precious information on them which made them very popular so prices can be high. In fact, Trilogo.info also has a lot of information on them for collectors but for those that don’t know yet, the Meccano Trilogos feature specific details like double stem bubbles (seldom used), the rounded peg hole or the small sticker “Fabriqué à Macao” on the right corner. A white sticker is definitely rare. Very few Trilogos were available with the white sticker, most were black but some confirmed examples are  : Madine, Biker Scout, Gamorrean Guard, Teebo, Solo (regular), AT-AT commander PBP version (“Fabriqué en Espagne”), Rebel Commando & Prune Face. 

The white sticker can also be found on slightly earlier Meccano ROTJ figures as shown here on a Meccano Gamorrean Guard cardback alongside a Meccano Chief Chirpa Trilogo with the same sticker.

Trilogo.info – Meccano Trilogos are real pieces of art, the bubbles used on them are great to see when compared to more common versions. So..If you don’t mind me asking, as you found this site on the net and no doubt had a read, what do you think Trilogo.info would benefit from in the future? Perhaps a feature on something you enjoy or an interview with a certain collector?

Jean Bernard -Well the site has various interesting links. I do love the Alternate Photo Art and the Bubbles type guide. However the photo gallery looked a bit lacking at first glance. The site should over time try to show all the cards with known variants including hybrid cards. Maybe a new guide Tri-Logo about French/Early Macao cards showcasing these variants like in the Meccano 2 Trilogo book.

Whatever you do in the future or any information that is added to the site I still think the site is great and for that you get my congratulations for your Trilogo dedicated website!

Trilogo.info -. Thanks very much Jean! In actual fact the gallery has been overhauled with a little help from a German collector called Thorsten (Battletank on the forums) who was happy to supply some missing images to fill up the gallery and the future updates may well delve into Meccano variants at some point!

Ok Jean, before we finish up this interview please give some words of wisdom about collecting for younger collectors/newer collectors, I always like to ask this question to those that have been collecting over 10 or so years because it’s obvious they still have a passion to collect!

Jean Bernard – In my opinion passion is the correct word to use! Collecting MUST remain a sound passion. In the beginning finding a new figure opens the floodgates of childhood nostalgia and from there we progress. We remember certain toys we’d do anything to acquire again preserving them forever. But you’re totally right, wisdom is a key word. You know you’ll have to be more than patient and to save money sometimes for a long time before you can add a rare figure to your collection and hunting new pieces should never work to the detriment of family life. So do not turn crazy and remember luck may come your way. It’s very important to take a break and forget about your collection for a while, holidays with the family are more important than toys after all. This secret balance would bring you real pleasure as a collector!

In fact John Lennon pointed out the way to the truth when he said “All you need is Love”

Thanks for allowing me onto the site and happy collecting to all in the SW world, oh and of course a Happy Christmas 2011!

Wow Jean thanks! A very Merry Christmas to you as well! See you next time guys!

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