Earlier this year, a collecting giant awoke from a 15+ year slumber.
From out of nowhere, Niels Pit burst onto the Facebook groups and forums after unpacking his Vintage collection for the first time in almost two decades and it was a sight to behold!
Was it the Force that woke him or something else? Trilogo.info finds out!
Trilogo.info- Hi Niels, thanks so much for joining us! It’s fair to say you made quite the entrance a couple of months ago after deciding to jump back into Vintage Star Wars! My first question is simply this “what brought you back?”
Niels- Hi Joe, first of all I am honoured that you thought I was a suitable candidate for an interview on Trilogo.info, love the site!
What brought me back? Well, I hadn’t really thought about Vintage for a long time but a couple of months back in February I got some random Facebook friend requests from Dylan Abram and Stefan Boeyen, two vintage collectors. They immediately started asking me if I was that Niels guy from way back that had a large vintage collection and if I was..did I still have any clippers?
It was a shock to be contacted about Vintage after all that time but I explained that yes, I was “that” guy but I had just moved to a new house and most of my stuff was still packed away and had been for nearly 2 decades. I wasn’t selling either haha!
It was while later while I was unpacking things that I fell in love with the vintage stuff all over again and that kind of lit the flame once more..or rather, added a can of gasoline.. 🙂
Trilogo.info- And it wasn’t long before we were seeing pictures like these..
Niels- Yeah I got a kick out of setting up my collection room and sharing some pictures with people, it’s been really fun getting back into things!
Trilogo.info- How long were you actively collecting Vintage for and at what age did you start?
Niels- I started really early, when I was a young boy. I think it was somewhere at the tail end of the ’80s. Perhaps ’89? I must have been about 13-14 so yeah I was pretty young. While most kids were tossing their toys away, I was buying them! I guess I couldn’t come to terms with the fact that I had never got certain figures as a kid so I just went looking for them.
Trilogo.info- 13! Wow! So, I guess you consider yourself a “pre-internet” collector too, is that right? What was it like collecting in the Netherlands at that time? I can’t imagine it was easy for a young kid trying to source rarities with no real on-line community or platforms to trade on?
Niels- Well its funny that you mention it because collecting nowadays is almost like a new world. Pre-internet was kind of hard for *anyone* to find *anything*, let alone a teenager who wanted to track down rarities. There were a few ‘go-to ‘places of course and a handful of people who were dealing in Star Wars. Jeff Bas was one guy that was around back then for example, he still owns a store in Amsterdam. I still have faxes and old copies of his sale lists from 90- 91, 92-93 etc, way before he even had a proper shop.
Looking back I think the hardest thing about collecting back then was actually just understanding what was out there and what existed, you know? I mean when I first saw a Kenner POTF carded figure I literally didn’t sleep for a week! I had never seen anything like that before. Those kind of things have an effect on you and of course it meant that I had to have them all! That was a challenge of course because they were hard to find and not readily available where I lived in the early days.
In my country there were really only two toy fairs that collectors could attend with a few more in Belgium. There were others in the UK too of course but as you might imagine, those were a bit harder to get to for a young guy with no drivers licence!
There were a few collector magazines available from the states back then but when we finally got them in Europe 3-4 weeks had passed and most of the stuff was already gone.
When the first collectors guide I ever owned (Space Adventures by Tumbusch) came out in 1990, I literally fainted. There was so much more in that book than we ever knew existed.
Trilogo.info- Which collectors were you friends with back then and how many of them have you managed to reconnect with since returning to the hobby?
Niels- Well my first and longest lasting collecting buddy was Lester Fontijn. He’s always been my closest collecting friend, since the day we first met at a collectors fair in Utrecht. We used to call each other on a weekly basis whenever we found new stuff and I used to ask my Dad to drive me to the Hague where Lester lived just so that we would trade stuff. I got my first Ewok village from him actually.
Lester was also the first person I spoke to after Dylan and Stefan contacted me because I felt I needed to get up to speed about what was hot and what wasn’t etc. Two days later, he was sitting in my brand new collecting room trying to pry an R2-D2 on ESB clipper card out of my collection haha! Luckily I had two of them so he got away with it! I was very surprised when he told me just how much the collecting world had changed. All of the Clipper and Euro stuff was the stuff to get now? Kenner was no longer hot?? Wow..
(Niels & Lester discussing toys May 2016)
There are a few people around that I still remember but I’ve noticed that a lot of the old collectors are now long gone. I guess many sold off their stuff due to the crazy prices that Vintage Star Wars currently commands.
Trilogo.info- I would love to know if you were finding many Trilogo toys locally in the 90’s and if you had any interest in them at the time?
Niels- Well, back then there were a lot of Trilogos around yes, people just weren’t interested in them. Like I said, it was a totally different world. Trilogos were the unwanted children of the hobby and anything with the Kenner logo was the stuff to get for us Europeans.
Clipper? No thanks.. Palitoy? Ha! Kenner…hell yeah! That was the way most people thought back then but I always had a love for the Euro stuff, even though I admit I also had Kenner fever 🙂
Trilogo.info- I noticed from some of your recent pictures that many of your Trilogo figures have Clipper stickers & mini catalogues, I assume they were all local pick ups? What kind of prices do you remember buying them for back then?
Niels- Sure I recall the prices from back then and I even have a lot of old sales lists to prove them. You could buy 8D8’s for less then 20 guilders in the 90’s which is roughly €8 now. There were so many for sale. Interesting that you mentioned the catalogues because when I bought Trilogos I always went for the cards with the catalogues on the back.
It was a preference of mine to only buy the best examples too, the best I could find. POTF figures were the most expensive at the time since there was a lot of demand from American collectors. They filled our market with Kenners and all our Trilogo POTF figures would go to the states.
I can recall Yak faces on Trilogo cards priced at around 150-200 guilders back in 92-93, which was really steep back then. Bobas, Jawas and other hard to find figures were all much cheaper. Much much cheaper.
Trilogo.info- You’ve also got quite an extensive non Trilogo Clipper collection haven’t you? Could we see a few of those?
Niels- Yes of course, I’m a huge Clipper fan and I’m always on the look out for any ESB Clipper offer figures that I don’t currently have, here are a few pics:
Trilogo.info- Do you remember ever seeing or having the chance to obtain some of those hard to find figures like Fett, Jawa or even Madine?
Niels- Yep yep and yep..all three! Everyone reading this will call me a heretic but I really disliked the Trilogo Boba Fett figure and card, I thought it looked silly so I never bought one! I was more of a Snaggletooth or Greedo type of guy..:) so I had a Kenner carded Boba and thought it would be fine. Since Kenner was the stuff to have and all..oops! I saw quite a few Trilogo Fett’s too.
Jawas were around but I already had one on both a SW card and an ESB card so left the Trilogo version alone. Prices were not so high back then either. I have a list somewhere stating a Jawa on Trilogo for €18 in ’93 with four in stock..go figure.
In November ’96, just before my Star Wars collecting break, I was offered a Trilogo Madine at the Jaarbeurs Utrecht, the only collectors fair in the Netherlands. The price was 1000 guilders so about €400. I declined, since it was frigging Madine and he’s like the kid that gets picked last when creating teams at school, who wants a figure like that? The guy who sold it had six of them if my memory serves me right..yes, my head is in my hands right now.
Trilogo.info- Whoops..I think it’s time to move on (or perhaps pour you a stiff drink!) OK so, apart from standard Trilogos/Clipper offer Trilogos which other Trilogo items do you have in your collection?
Niels- I’ve got about five miscards and an EV-9D9 with broken limbs. I’ve got all the POTF figures on Trilogo cards all factory fresh and an Italian 4 pack.
I think I have about forty other Trilogo figures and 95% of them look brand new. I don’t do AFA but I guess they all would score high if graded. Got a few German variants, few Meccanos, all different types really. Trilogo.info came in handy recognizing which card is what.. 😉
I also have a few MIB and MISB Trilogo ships, minirigs and POTF boxed stuff.
Trilogo.info- Now that you are officially back, what would you say has changed the most about collecting and will you picking up more Trilogos?
Niels- Yes I will definitely be picking up more Trilogos! I actually already bought five since I got back and that brings me to the other part of your question. The biggest change for me personally is that these days, everything is available whenever you want it. Nothing is rare any longer. If I go to Facebook or eBay, I can literally buy ANYTHING I want. There are exceptions of course, 12 back Clippers aren’t exactly abundant but Trilogos? I have seen almost all of them for sale in just the last 3 months. Every single figure apart from a Madine for sale..and that’s probably just because I’m not actively looking for one right now!
Actually I don’t think I’ll ever be looking for a Madine, he will always be the last kid I pick..:)
Trilogo.info- Even though you’ve got some fantastic Trilogo figures I know you aren’t totally focused on them and have a very diverse carded collection. Would you share a few pictures with us and tell us more about the rest of your stuff?
Niels- Sure! At the last count I have around 270 carded figures. Due to the various house moves over the years a few are missing but I guess they are in a box somewhere, just have to find them!
I’ve got almost every figure on at least two different cards. For most figures I have the debut card and then some variations. I’ve got Palitoy figures, Clipper figures, UHU carded Ewoks, the walking R2-D2 MOC and several other foreign carded like Harbert, PBP and French Meccano ROTJ.
I was lucky enough to acquire the bulk of my collection quite early on with a little help from my parents. My folks always had a stall at the Jaarbeurs Utrecht, the collectors fair I mentioned earlier and when I was 15 or 16 they let me have a little square meter section all to myself where I could sell some of my doubles. Needless to say, my tiny section was the busiest of our entire stall, so my parents knew Star Wars was hot (which helped me out later!).
So around 93-94 I met this old collector who had shop bought most of his collection. It was a collection of 121 carded figures and he wanted 6,000 guilders for the lot which is about €2800. Since they knew I might be on to something my parents agreed to lend me the money I needed and that’s the story on how I acquired most of my current collection. I’ll always be grateful to them for that great start but I definitely had to work hard for the next few years to pay them back! It was worth it though!
Trilogo.info- Amazing story Niels! OK so, I usually try to keep these interviews strictly Star Wars but this time I think I have to make an exception. You recently told me that you also have an interest in other collectables including Nintendo rarities and prototypes. I’m sure most of our readers would get a kick out of some video game talk so would you tell us more?
Niels- Yes sure, I love Nintendo! I quit collecting Star Wars for all things Nintendo actually. I started out with an interest in the 8-bit NES system but I quickly found I couldn’t help myself and basically sought out & bought everything rare, extremely rare and near impossible to get for all Nintendo systems.
I devoted most of my time to collecting Nintendo items and these days I’m sitting on a huge collection of prototypes, demo cartridges and even a Golden NWC 1990 NES cartridge.
I’ve also got tons of extremely rare games too, not just prototypes. I knew from my experience with Star Wars collecting that if I wanted to amass a great collection I needed to go after the uber rare stuff first.
I’ve not been super actively collecting Nintendo for a while now either but from what I’m seeing these days, prices have gone through the roof, much like Star Wars. I’m at a point now with my Nintendo collection where I feel I am happy with it and can concentrate on something else..like Star Wars (again!).
Trilogo.info- Thanks so much Niels! It’s been great talking to you about your amazing collection!