Chris Botkins & Shawn Kemple
You read that right! This is the first ever dual collector Trilogo.info interview!
Introducing two of the nicest guys in the hobby, Chris Botkins & Shawn Kemple!
(AKA Galactic Hero & The Space Cadet)
Trilogo.info- Welcome guys! I’m really happy I could pry you away from all your other projects to answer some questions! Please introduce yourselves to the readers and tell us a little bit more about what you enjoy collecting!
Chris- Sure thing Joe! My name is Chris Botkins & my main focus is the Rebel Commando and Endor Forest Ranger.
I started collecting vintage seriously when I first graduated college and started my first job, around 2000 sometime. Rebel Commando was always my favorite figure growing up because he could cross pollenate with GI Joe’s as well (another favorite of mine growing up)
What really kicked it off though was a rather large purchase (not that I realised how significant it was at the time) of a hand painted Rebel Commando protomold, HC head and figural blueprint. My wife (girlfriend at the time) helped me procure these items and also encouraged me to finally cave and buy them.
That’s why I have a dynacast Rebel Commando tattoo on my chest that says “True Love” under it.
It’s been full on Rebel Commando ever since that big purchase really (with a few gungans on the side for good measure).
When I’m not collecting RC or EFR related items I collect things like Oral-B Toothbrushes, animation art and yes, the rumors are true..Jar Jar Binks!
Trilogo.info- I didn’t think you were going to admit that last one! Awesome RC tattoo by the way! Shawn, your turn!
Shawn- Haha! He promised me he wouldn’t mention Jar Jar..I don’t know I want to be associated with this interview now!
I’m Shawn Kemple, self confessed computer geek and Star Wars collector. I focus on a few areas in collecting but the main ones being my Luke Jedi character focus, Kenner Mail Aways, and Power of the Force coins.
I started collecting vintage items right around ’94 as a teenager and during that time mainly worked on my basic loose figure set. It wasn’t until around the mid 2000s that I started to branch off into those other areas, but I always had an interest in them most of my collecting journey.
Trilogo.info- So you’ve been focused on a few specific things for quite some time now, how do you think focus collecting has changed for both of you over the years?
Chris- Man, I don’t know about Shawn but focus collecting has changed a ton for me! I think there’s a natural progression that all collectors go through before you end up as a focus collector. It seems everyone starts off trying to complete their loose set, then on to variants and that’s when the early seeds start developing for a focus collection. Then you buy a few MOC’s and finally deciding to either branch off yet again or go full bore with a focus on a certain character.
Arriving at my main focus was always kind of a no brainer for me but I still went through those other “steps”. The Rebel Commando was always my favorite figure growing up, I don’t really know why, but he always seemed to be my go to figure (it could’ve been my fascination with GI Joe’s and going camping in the mountains with my family I suppose). It wasn’t until the early 2000’s after I got out of college that I really decided to concentrate on him though. It was at that time that I stumbled onto eBay and bought those key pieces I mentioned earlier from Jordan at Hollywood Heroes. Then a few years later (2006ish) is when John Grant (an old Snowtrooper focus guy) talked me into picking up carded figures too, which I started doing in 2007.
Shawn- Yeah you definitely go through the stages Chris spoke of. I think I was destined to be a figure focus guy long before I even knew what a focus was though. I only have two loose figures that survived my childhood, a Luke Jedi and an Obi-Wan. I guess it’s pretty obvious which one was my favorite as a kid and that was the figure I went with as a collector. I’ve posted this on the boards before, but even my one and only post on the old newsgroups mentioned him being my favorite so it was meant to be.
I originally started out just seeking loose versions as Luke Jedi is one of those figures that has quite a few accessory and paint variations. That was when variant collecting was starting to become a big thing too. Initially I wasn’t that concerned about carded figures other than having just one. However, that really changed once I had that first carded one in hand. There was just something amazing about finally having a sealed version of my favourite figure in my collection with that great picture on the front of Luke with the palace blaster drawn for battle. I’ve been hooked ever since.
Trilogo.info- Those are fantastic recollections of how you became focus collectors! Now lets talk Trilogos 😉
How much interest in Trilogos and Trilogo variations did you have when you guys started out? Did you even know there were variants back then?
Chris- I had always wanted a Trilogo Commando when I first started out. However, it was never really a priority per se. Just seemed to always be a “when I get around to it” type of thing. Then one year I just decided that I’d pick one up. And truth be told no I had no idea there were other “Trilogo variants” out there! Once I made that decision to find a Trilogo Rebel Commando it seemed near impossible to actually find one! I searched for what seems like years before I finally noticed one and it just happened to pop up on eBay one day at a good BIN price too so I snatched it up. It wasn’t until much later that I was browsing the Archive that I found out there were bubble variants on Tri’s (which I still to this day think need to be renamed, but that’s a war you and I have quite frequently. I’m still right by the way 😉 ).
After I started displaying my Kenner collection it was quite apparent to me that they really all looked the same. But once that Trilogo was in there, your eye instantly went to it! There was just no denying how different it was from the other carded figures. My wife would even comment about how she liked that one the best because it stood out.
It’s funny, you have to explain TolToys, Palitoy, 65A/B, etc. But that Trilogo is a show stopper sitting on a shelf. You know right away that it’s different.
Shawn- I remember seeing Trilogos for the first time in one of the earliest price guides I picked up in the early 90’s. I think back then they just called them “Triple Language Packaging”. I always thought they were kind of neat and wanted to own at least one for my own collection, that was even before I started up with the character focus. When I decided to stick with Luke Jedi I initially just planned on owning one at the time as I thought they were all the same. Boy, was I wrong.
Trilogo.info- Actually Shawn that’s one of the reasons I wanted to talk to both of you on Trilogo.info. Over the years, I’ve noticed that you’ve both turned to Trilogos to give your focus collections more depth and I wanted to hear more about that.
Chris- I’ve really enjoyed learning more about Trilogos and all the different variants over the years. When you focus on a single figure I think you tend to look at packaging variations a little more than the average collector too which makes Trilogos a little bit more appealing.
It wasn’t until I made a purchase of a lot of Rebel Commando figures from another collector that I discovered there were “miscards” too actually, which is another fascinating thing about Trilogos. The miscard I picked up certainly made me scratch my head a bit, but I was just excited that I was able to add another version of a Trilogo RC to my collection.
It wasn’t until I started working with you, Joe, on this website that my mind was expanded into all the different variants of Trilogo out there. Not just for Rebel Commando but Trilogos in general.
I went back and checked out a few different Trilogo limelights and found out there was a small bubble Meccano variant and a “German” one too..my mind was blown!
I still can’t believe that I’ve gone from just wanting a single Trilogo to owning all of the variants I was drooling over a just a couple of years ago.
Shawn- Yeah I agree with Chris about the variations being a great area to explore. I think many collectors believe that Trilogos are all the same, I know I did. But once you start looking a bit closer you really get hooked. There really is a story to them as well and Trilogos are a great way to add some new and interesting pieces to a collection, especially for a focus collector.
I don’t think I even realized half of that until I was helping proofread trilogo.info a few years ago when we were getting the site ready to launch actually. I’ve definitely learned quite a bit about them myself thanks to being a part of the site.
When I think about how many variations there are for Luke Jedi alone with all the bubble, punch, stickers, cape on or off, and miscard variations it certainly gives collectors plenty to hunt for.
Trilogo.info- What are your favourite RC and LJ Trilogo variants and which ones (if any) are you still hunting?
Chris- I think my favorite Trilogo variant is the “German” variant. I can’t explain it, but that different punch is just too cool and the colours are a little different to my other Trilogos. I actually have to thank you for that one of course! I had been looking for one for a while with absolutely no luck and then out of the blue, a package arrived at my house from a seller I later found out you had been in contact with. I opened the box and there it was! It was in great condition too!
Trilogo.info- Happy to help! It was a bargain as well if I remember rightly. I’m just glad I finally found one for you!
Chris- I love it! Thanks again Joe! I’m not really actively looking for any other Trilogo variations right now as the last variant I picked up myself was the Meccano small bubble which had evaded me for while. Now that I have that one I think that’s all there really is out there. I’m not sure a 70C Commando exists but you never know, I’d love to find one someday.
Shawn- I can think of two off the top of my head that I don’t own, but certainly would love to pick up at some point.
The first would be a Clipper with the Star sticker on the front. I hesitated on one of those, several years ago now, for a great eBay Buy It Now and I’ve regretted not snatching it up ever since. Most of the Clipper offer stickers are always on the back of the card, so I liked the fact that you could tell it was a Clipper right away from the front because of that Starburst sticker.
The other would be the extremely scarce blue saber version.
I’d obviously love to own one, but for what the last few have sold for, I think I’d rather put that kind of money into pre-production pieces, so I’ll probably never own one unless by chance.
Trilogo.info- Which Trilogo variant would you say was your grail?
Chris- If it exists then it’s the 70C for sure, I guess there’s something about the mystique of finding something not previously known. A little while ago I would have said the Meccano though, that was a really tough figure to find.
Shawn- The Luke Jedi Trilogo grail for me was always the Ben/Luke miscard version. It was a favorite of mine ever since I saw it on the archive. The one I now own came up for sale originally at a time when I couldn’t afford it and due to it changing hands quite quickly it actually went between two continents twice and even had a trip to AFA all in the space of 6 months.
I’m really glad I ended up with it because I think the combo of Master and student is great, but also the fact that Luke is even still in his baggie. It makes me wonder if the factory worker who put those together didn’t want to bother with all the accessories and just decided it’d be much easier to do his job leaving them sealed up like that.
Trilogo.info- Given that most Trilogo figures have more than one card or bubble variant, would you recommend other figure focus collectors research and learn more about Trilogo variants if they haven’t yet?
Chris- Oh definitely! Trilogo variations aren’t for everyone but it’s a really fun area to explore for a focus guy. My biggest piece of advice when starting down the tri-variant path though is to look at as many photos as possible. The biggest thing that confused me when I was starting out was difference between “Etched” and “Rounded” if I am honest. It wasn’t until I was speaking with you about it and you showed me photos of the differences, that it became clear to me. I still think there could be a better term out there, but I digress. I think your site has done about as good of a job as possible in showing the difference between the bubbles. The cards are a bit easier to tell, so I don’t think there’s as much confusion there. Another thing I would say is try and talk with your fellow collectors, it’s amazing what all is out there that you didn’t even realize until you begin networking.
Shawn- Like Chris said, if you haven’t thought about Trilogo variations before then I would recommend them. It’s a great way to add to your focus and learn about Trilogos at the same time. With the great info on this site, even if a figure doesn’t have a sticker or whatever, you can still get a general idea of where the figure actually came from, even though it is on more generic Trilogo packaging. For me one of the fun parts of focus collecting is seeing just what countries you can acquire items from that sold your character. One of these days I’d like to put all of my figure locations into a google map and just see what all I’ve been able to represent in my focus.
Trilogo.info- You have both added a Trilogo miscard to your focus, what would be your dream miscard combo?
Chris- It’s funny you ask that question Joe. I think miscards are akin to ROTJ 2-packs. And I think a dream combo for me would be a Rebel Commando cardback with any figure from what represents my closest friends in the hobby (Luke Jedi, 8D8, B-Wing Pilot, Stormtrooper etc.). That would just be a fun way to have a piece of your collection combined with a friend in the hobby. Maybe one day I’ll find a Thall Joben/Rebel Commando miscard haha!
The miscard I own is the Hoth Rebel Soldier on the Rebel Commando cardback but I would love to find another!
Shawn- That’s really a tough question as I feel the Ben miscard I own is an already awesome combo. I guess maybe a Luke Jedi on a Vader card would have been neat to see with the father son connection and Luke’s temptation of the dark side.
Trilogo.info- What’s the biggest turn off condition wise when you see a Trilogo?
Chris- You know, I’m not sure there is a big turn off to me. I love the card art and the bubbles generally stay clear too which is a plus. I guess if I were to point out one annoyance it would be the bubbles tend towards becoming dented, but that’s almost part of their charm. It’s like the Jedi 2-packs on the US side. You just know going into it that you are going to have to accept a certain amount of damage. It gives them their character, IMO.
Shawn- I guess it’d have to be a price sticker tear. Part of the charm for me is seeing those blow out prices that these were sold for back in the day, so when I see the tear it always makes me wonder what sticker it had. It could have been an interesting original foreign sticker or the Kaybe 2/$1.00 sticker which are always cool to find.
Trilogo.info- If you could sum up Trilogos in one sentence or paragraph, what would it be?
Chris- Trilogos are a very challenging but rewarding area of the hobby. The subtleties of the various foreign releases, combined with the rarity of some of the variations makes them tougher than a lot of folks give them credit for. Not only that, but just trying to assemble a run of all trilogo cards is going to run up your bank account in a hurry. And you still probably won’t be able to do it in any fashion of a hurry. I’ve really enjoyed hunting out the few I own and I honestly wish there were a few more to keep searching for like some of the other characters.
Shawn- There’s more to them than meets the eye. A little reference there to one of my other favorite franchises! On the surface though Trilogos were considered a way to generalize the line across Europe, but when you dig deeper you find out about all the card and bubble variations that are specific to certain regions, so there’s a lot more to explore there what you originally might think.
Trilogo.info- Great stuff guys! Before we go and as Celebration Anaheim is just around the corner, could you tell us what you are both looking forward to about Celebration the most this year?
Chris- Outside of meeting up, enjoying the company of fellow collectors and hanging out with everyone, I am most looking forward to just wandering around the exhibition hall actually! To me, there is nothing better than just getting swept up in all the sights and sounds of the convention floor. There are some booths you can walk into and spend a good deal of time just going through all of their stuff. It’s a great place to walk around and look at all the cool stuff. It brings back lots of nostalgia of toy stores and “oh I remember that” moments! Nine times out of ten, that’s where you’ll find me during Celebration. Just wandering around soaking it all in.
Shawn- First and foremost it will be hanging out with Chris and Aimee. These trips are a great time that we all get together and catch up in person. At the convention itself I typically like to sit in on a few of the collectors panels to show my support there. I also love attending the room sales with the atmosphere of all these collectors wheeling and dealing late at night at the hotel.
Trilogo.info- Many of the Vintage collectors will be bringing along collector “swag” for the event in the form of badges, cards, stickers and patches. Have you decided to get involved again this year and if so what are you working on?
Chris- Hahaha! I’m not going to tell..just yet. Last time around that was one of the best parts of Celebration, all of the collector swag. Heck that’s how our wives got to meet Seth Green. But yes, we are going full on this year. I’m going to have an extra special treat this year, with something that covers two of my passions within the hobby. I’m really hoping folks will enjoy them. All will be revealed very soon, I promise.
I will also have a puzzle patch piece for the Darth Vader case patch. I was very fortunate to get the Return of the Jedi piece. And I can’t wait to help folks work towards completing their patches.
My wife, Aimee, is also going full on this year. She has two crocheted buttons she is doing. In fact she shared a sneak peek at one of them, Jabba the Hutt, the other day on Facebook. She also has something extra special up her sleeve that she’ll be giving out. I won’t spill the beans here, but they will be very limited and a huge hit on Wednesday night..or the Archive Party.
And speaking of the Archive Party I am really happy to have been able to help design the parody cardbacks again this year. They are turning out really great and I think people will enjoy them. I’ve tweaked the designs quite a bit to get closer to the original cardbacks and I’m going to do my very best to get the stock closer to the real thing as well. They should be a lot of fun this time around.
Shawn- Yep we are also joining in again. I will have a few different buttons that I’ll be handing out featuring a couple of variations on my favorite character 😉
I thought they came out really well and I hope people like them!
I’m also involved in the puzzle piece Vader case patch that Chris mentioned. I’ll be handing out The Power of the Force logo patch.
I might also have another surprise too and I know Sarah has something planned that she isn’t quite ready to announce yet!
Trilogo.info- Sounds like there is going to be some seriously awesome Rebel Commando and Luke Jedi freebies to be found at Celebration! If you are going to Anaheim and want to track down Shawn and Chris, here is a tip..you can usually find them at the AFA section looking for trouble..
Thanks again guys and if anyone wants to check out the great websites these guys run click on the following links: