Guys, it’s been too long…so in order to celebrate a long overdue interview, Trilogo.info jetted off to Sweden to catch up with Johan Sydling – a Vintage collector with a passion for Trilogos! Enjoy!
Welcome to Trilogo.info Johan! Lets start at the beginning, how did you get into Vintage and what led you to Trilogos?
Johan – Thanks for having me on the site Joe!
Well, Star Wars toys were the toys I played with the most when growing up as I was born in the late seventies. Then when the POTF2 figures was released I got bit again! I started collecting these figures but didn’t really like the design of the new toys and when I moved to my first own apartment I stumbled across some of my childhood Vintage Star Wars toys, actually the first figure found was my original Leia.
After that I knew where I wanted to go with collecting, for me the Vintage toys were the “real” Star Wars toys. I simply love the packaging designs and both the look and feel of the vintage figures are hard to beat. Of course it’s also a nostalgic thing for me as I grew up with these figures spending lots of hours playing with them.
The road to collecting trilogos wasn’t that exciting as you may think really. I purchased a couple by random and realized that I really liked the design with the multiple logos and thought it was quite fun as Trilogos were released for the European market as well. When I started collecting Trilogos they where rather cheap in comparison to other things like Kenner figures but unfortunately this was during my years at the university so I didn’t (nor couldn’t) buy as many of them as I now wish I had!
Trilogo.info – You know, whenever someone I interview mentions the “cheap” Trilogo days I can almost see them doing a facepalm moment and repeatedly shouting “Why didn’t I buy more??” lol! Don’t worry you aren’t the only one going through that! So Johan, when you started collecting Trilogos where were you finding them and did you have a hard job acquiring them?
Johan – Yeah The Trilogo facepalm! Well, when I started buying Trilogos I guess I got them from eBay mainly. I didn’t set up a plan on which figure to get in what order so I mainly cruised the auctions looking for goodies. Still do but now it’s for sure a tougher job to find them and when you find ones you are interested in you can be sure that you aren’t the only one… Unfortunately there aren’t many sealed figures bought in Sweden still floating around so when getting Trilogos you need to purchase from abroad and so eBay has been the best provider until now. Although I got some from forums such as Rebelscum as well…
Speaking of Trilogos being hard to find in Sweden, I have some cool Trilogo cardbacks with Swedish store stickers on, check them out –
I also have a Rebo band with an awesome Swedish store sticker on it!
Trilogo.info – Great Swedish market Trilogos there Johan! I love the European distribution, at times countries were getting stock in from almost everywhere and store stickers are a great way of finding out where they ended up! How long did you actively collect Trilogos for then Johan? I believe you took a break from collecting in the last few years as well didn’t you? Was that a welcome break and now you are back have you noticed any big changes with collecting?
Johan – I collected Trilogos for many years in the late 90’s and in the beginning of the new millennium. Then in somewhere around 2004-2005 I stopped collecting for about 5-6 years. This is a pretty old shot of a bunch of my carded figures before I stopped collecting –
The reason for me quitting? Well, life made me prioritize differently and put my collecting aside for a moment. At that time I was a bit fed up with collecting but I didn’t sell up and managed to keep most of my collection. I now realize that during this period I did indeed lose some good opportunities to acquire nice pieces, mainly to my White Bespin Guard figure focus, but looking back it was the best decision for me to take.
After my “comeback” I realized that I needed to narrow down my focus and when I once again saw my Trilogos packed away in the closet I made the decision to give up the goal of completing a full set and only keep the more expensive ones…sounds easy but it’s not I can promise you! When looking through the figures every single one of them felt like a figure I should keep which didn’t really pan out with the new goal I set up for my collecting.
The biggest changes I have noticed is first of all that the prices have gone up a lot! Both when considering normal/Trilogo quality stuff and pre production stuff. I also get the feeling that there nowadays is a lot less available on the open market.
A lot of stuff changes hands directly between collectors, never hitting eBay or Rebelscum. The collecting community in whole is pretty much the same otherwise, it’s still a big bunch of old little boys admiring each others toys! I don’t complain because I simply love browsing through others collections but sometimes it gets a bit too much.
Another thing I have noticed about collecting is the amount of new “focus Internet sites” containing interesting articles and other facts about special areas within the Vintage Star Wars collecting area that have emerged. I just love that people like yourself Joe take the time and effort to create well designed and INTERESTING web sites for the world to read! Big cred to you!
Trilogo.info – I agree about prices and the general availability of nice items, it does seem as though a wave of hungry hippo black hole collectors have come along and hoovered everything up in the last few years and taken it with them to god knows where, perhaps that just means all the cool stuff is being appreciated? I don’t know – I do know I wish a lot of it would come up for sale again! Thanks for the compliments on the site, if Trilogo.info has been a good read for you then it’s mission accomplished for me and the team! Now, you mentioned that there was no real method to the madness when you started collecting Trilogos but surely when you began your quest to collect Trilogos you had thought about figures like Madine, Fett, Jawa etc? What was the plan?
Johan – Honestly..when I started collecting Trilogos I had NO idea that Madine and a couple of others would be that hard to obtain but when I did realize that Madine and the others were quite expensive and hard to find figures my goal was still to get them all, I wasn’t put off at all. You see, I view collecting as I probably would run a marathon; kind of slow, I rest a lot and I would probably get to the finish line when it’s time to say good bye so there is no rush at all in my opinion.
To me collecting vintage Star Wars is for life! So it would be pointless to do things fast, it’s a passion after all and something I want to continue enjoying!
Maybe one day a Madine or Jawa will cross my path and I would most probably pick it up if everything else (such as real life) allows it. I would rather have a trilogo Madine than 25 other trilogos, for me that would be a cooler collection. It’s not really about the quantity, I can enjoy a piece that I know is really rare and that not many others out there have in their collection
Trilogo.info – How has the liquidation of your collection been going, you mentioned prices have gone up but how has the market changed exactly in your opinion? What are people looking for? Personally I think quality seems to be where the big bucks are being spent in the Trilogo market just recently.
Johan – Well, I quickly sold of some of the “rarer” ones that I had. As you say, real quality stuff equals big bucks!
Then after that first initial sale I have been quite reluctant to just sell the rest of in order to get rid of them. I mean, everything sells at the right price but I am in no rush to sell otherwise they would all be gone by now!
In fact I think I actually have sold my last Trilogo now and the ones that didn’t sell I am quite happy to keep in my collection. I only need to acquire some acrylic display cases for them but then again that is another story of it’s own…
Trilogo.info – Ah! So you want to keep them now? Haha! Well, why? You just changed your mind or?
Johan – Haha, right now it feels like I will keep most of them! I don’t have any list but I might have sold like ten of them, not more. I’m just that kind of guy that is more comfortable with buying and that have a hard time letting go of pieces..and as I said earlier all of them are quite dear to me. I know I must sound like a scary person right now! :D. I have a special thing for the alternate cardback ones like IG-88 and AT-AT Driver, glad I kept the ones I have! Another one that I will never sell is my White Bespin Guard Hybrid Trilogo in fantastic condition. Those hybrid ones are quite cool as well even though I prefer seeing the triple logo one the front as well as on the back.
Trilogo.info – Awesome news! You can keep your Trilogo collectors club badge now man! So being a Swede (and an old one) do you have any memories of the Trilogo period in Europe and your country back when the figures were hitting the shelves?
Johan – Lol thanks, I will wear the badge with pride! Actually, I don’t have that many memories but I have one that is still really strong. It was when I got a POTF Trilogo Imperial Sniper, I can still remember where I was and how I felt when I got it. I was with my Mom and sister at a train station waiting for my Dad to come back from a business trip to Finland. When he finally arrived at the station he had presents for us kids. I can still remember the joy I felt when he handed over the box to me outside the station, it was for sure pure joy! My sister got Madonnas “Like a virgin” album (which I now have in my vinyl collection LOL) so I scored big time! Now the box is gone but I still have that particular Imperial Sniper and it will for sure stay in my collection forever. Other than that I don’t have any memories related to trilogos in specific. But for sure, me being European, I think trilogos are a really cool area of the vintage Star Wars toys that deserves the limelight you give them with your eminent web site Joe.
Trilogo.info – I did ask you to come here to talk about Trilogos man, Madonna records? Really? 😀 Moving swiftly on, I heard that you had the misfortune of buying a rare Trilogo ISP-6 once only for it to be sent through the post without a box? Not only that but apparently the seller had written your address on the box of the toy??
Johan – Unfortunately that is right Joe. I actually have bought two trilogo ISP-6’s during the years. My first I got at a bargain price on eBay. I outbid another collector (who is quite a big name these days) and didn’t realize it was such a steal until I read up on the Trilogo version. That one never made it to me so that was the start of my ISP-6 hell..the seller claimed it was shipped but I got a big fat nothing..
The other one (the one that was indeed used as a shipping box) I got in a bid war with another Swedish collector at a Swedish auction site. He was collecting mini rigs at the time and I just needed that lovely ISP-6 with a swedish price sticker! I luckily managed to get it for quite a good price and of course asked the seller to pack it carefully in a larger box.
He confirmed and told me that he would so I was quite surprised when I got home from work one day with quite a wrecked ISP-6 box waiting on my door step! Yes, I could see the box as the seller just applied some scotch tape around the box, applied an address sticker and a couple of stamps. Directly on the box!
I literally cried out loud! I immediately called the seller up and gave him a shout. He claimed the lady at the post office told him this was the best way to ship it…yeah right. I ended up with a refund but kept the box. I don’t have the guts to purchase one more of these little suckers so this one will do fine for now..
Trilogo.info – Ouch! I feel fortunate to have never had the pleasure of the box of a toy I’ve bought being used as the shipping box..I hope it never happens! Oh Johan, as you have already mentioned your figure focus and your interest in pre production items I must ask – would you pick up a piece of Trilogo photo art if it ever came up for sale to add to that particular side of your collection? I hear there is a guy who collects Ewoks that might be selling one!
Johan – Haha, if Mattias would let it go without me having to sell my house I would probably pick it up! As a matter of fact, if I can’t get “the grail”, the white bespin security guard photo art, I would be extremely happy landing a Trilogo photo art one day. Especially an alternate photo art….That would be truly awesome…One can dream, right Joe? Actually I have something really interesting in my collection that kind of covers pre production, Trilogos and it’s also linked to the photo art! Check this out: It’s a 35mm transparency of the Romba Trilogo photo art, as most people know the Ewok picture is actually Paploo (you can even see on the slide it has the correct Ewok’s name down the side!)
Trilogo.info – It’s ok I was lying about Mattias selling it just to see your reaction 😉 I hope you didn’t speak to your wife about that second mortgage yet? That Romba/Paploo slide is great! Thanks for the share! So..I can’t not talk to a Swede without mentioning the Swedish flair for displays! Over the years I have noticed that Swedish collectors take real pride in their displays, is that just because you have easy access to Ikea? 😉
Johan – Well it sure could be! As a matter of fact IKEA nowadays have some really affordable and quality solutions in order to get a collection well displayed. This wasn’t really the case like 10 years ago but now IKEA makes it quite affordable.
Personally I think it’s a bit of an age thing. As I got older I have noticed that I am a lot more picky about the way things are displayed. When I was younger I would rather spend all the cash I could afford on SW stuff instead of glass shelves and lighting. Now I cringe when seeing top dollar pieces being displayed in a homemade wooden bookcase in a cellar with the dry walls visible…the way you chose to display a piece for sure decides the outcome of the total impression. And of course, we Scandinavians are known for our beautiful girls, ABBA, the polar bears and of course our well displayed vintage Star Wars collections! LOL
Trilogo.info – To be honest (and thanks to Skye/Steve @ the SWCA chive cast) whenever I think of Sweden – the ABBA soundbite plays in my head, they use it as Mattias’s theme tune lol! Anyways, where is your collection heading at the moment and are there any Trilogo items on the radar for you?
Johan – Money Money Money! Well, lately I have been picking up different pre production pieces, quite a mix of different things actually. Some logo type related material as well as some proof cards and a Palitoy Ewoks signed sample moc. I will most definitely continue to focus on my small Playmix collection (Swedish distributor of vintage Star Wars toys) as well as my White Bespin Guard focus. No special trilogo items on my radar but I would love to add the POTF trilogo boxed mini rigs in the future!
Keep up the good work with your site Joe, you are doing a great job! Cheers from Sweden!
Thank you kind sir, Johan we salute you!