Darren Mcaleese is the type of guy that some people would refer to as a “character”! Not only has he got one of the largest collections in the world but he’s a knowledgeable and friendly guy with a great sense of humour too. He’s also one of the only people on the planet that can say they once held three (yes three) different Trilogo Madine’s..here’s his story!
Trilogo.info- Hi Darren, welcome to Trilogo.info, please tell us a little about yourself and where you are from!
Darren- Hey Joe. Thanks for the opportunity to add my skewed view of the Trilogo element of Vintage Star Wars collecting! I’m a 42 year old first generation SW collector. I’m a father of 3 (two girls and a boy) and husband to the most wonderful, patient and understanding better half of 24 years, Maria. I’m a singer/songwriter and regular gigging musician. Been at that professionally since I was 17!! I live in Northern Ireland and I collect Modern SW as well (shock horror!!….I know!!)
Trilogo.info- Are there many Vintage Star Wars collectors in Northern Ireland?
Darren- Yes there are a few other collectors I know of, Robbie Mullan (who is a well known seller) and a few others that I know by name but have never hooked up with.
Of course the internet has made the world very small, so finding like minded collectors and locating items is an easy thing in 2016. So much so that you don’t really have to live close to like minded people to collect or source items from. Having been late to the FB party it definitely seems that social media is a necessity in today’s collecting arena.
Trilogo.info- How long have you been collecting for?
Darren- So I’ve been collecting hard since 2002. After initially collecting the toys as a child from 78-86 (and as a poor kid having a great collection required a lot of chores and entrepreneurial endeavour!) I started with loose and variations, then moved on to MOC and then started to build carded runs. I remember vividly the sheer wonder of attending my first Memorabilia show in 2003. I was amazed to see that so much stuff still existed intact. As a footnote, Trilogos were stacked on tables at £20 quid a pop! Even miscards which now fetch a premium were all dirt cheap. It seemed everyone was into Kenner 12-backs back then…..hindsight….meet me aged 29!!
Trilogo.info- I recall a fun, if slightly sad story you posted over on the Rebelscum forums about how you once went back to an old address of yours in the hopes of finding your childhood collection. Could you retell it for the readers?
Darren- Of course, if I can hold back the tears! So..the reason I have such deep seeded issues (my wife’s assessment….and daughters professional opinion..she has a Masters degree in Psychology) is the very unfortunate tale of the loss of my childhood collection.
Bear with me if you’ve heard it before, it does at least end well! So I mentioned previously that I was poor as a child. This meant that even scoring a playset or figure combo was a twice yearly event (Birthday & Christmas) but with so much product packing the shelves I worked chores, cut grass, cleared out rubbish, did any unwanted work I could find to earn money to finance my hobby.
By 1983 I was keeping the boxes and inserts and not “playing” with my collection (that was sooo ESB) so when the Trilogos hit I was just buying them to keep. I always knew they’d be valuable some day, I just always knew. However. at the time I was migrating into more grown up (lol) pursuits. So with the line rapidly running out of steam, I meticulously started preparing my collection for storage. I bagged and labelled everything and put it all in the loft for storage. I was 13 years old in 1986 and that was when I bought my last item.
Fast forward to 94 and my Mom announced she was downsizing. I was already moved out at the time but assumed she’d take my toys to her new home. She completely forgot.
Technically, that was my fault and even worse..I didn’t go to the new tenant off the bat. Which was a BIG mistake. If I’d maybe went a little quicker, sigh..
When I did finally go I reasoned they’d be intact in the loft where I’d left them. So off I went to my old house and nervously knocked the door. A youngish (late 20’s) guy answered the door, there was chaos ensuing behind him as 3 under 5’s were running amok over his shoulder screaming and yelling. He was obviously not coping too well, so I led the conversation:
“You don’t know me but I used to live here and my mom recently moved. I may have left some items in the loft…..”
He quickly cut me off…”oh, the old toys?”…my heart skipped a beat!”I found them and gave them to my kids….you can have them if you want?”…he led me into my old living room and I was greeted to a horrific Toy Story-esque scene of absolute vintage carnage. My beloved collection was mangled. A rebel transport had been painted, figures had limbs missing and most of it was completely trashed. I basically lost my collection due to a lackadaisical attitude. Gutted!!
That whole experience made me determined to get it all back someday. My only regret from visiting my old house that day is tat I didn’t take at least one single figure from my childhood collection back with me. Ah well…I’ve got them all now 😉 Lol!
Trilogo.info- I love the way you tell it, even though that story is the stuff of nightmares! So do you remember Trilogos at all from your childhood?
Darren- Yes I do, I remember my excitement upon seeing the last 17 Trilogos in 85 quite well. I couldn’t believe we were getting a removable helmet Storm trooper Luke!! Wow! A Star Wars figure no less! Would we be getting Tarkin, Uncle Owen, Wuher..maybe some more Cantina Aliens!!?….whoa! What da heck is an Amanaman?! Those newer figures really threw up so many possibilities. It is hard to believe they were the end of the road followed by a rather slow death, the endless clearance of unsold toys.
The miscalculation on kenners part of the sheer quantity of the ROTJ line is probably why so much stuff still exists actually. So in hindsight I guess the main reason we all have collections now is because of Kenners faux pas. The overproduction ensured the hobby had a future, 30 years after it effectively ended.
Trilogo.info- Very true, everything that happened during production then was ultimately going to impact the way we collect now. Darren, I must say your collection and display room is impressive to say the least. How long did it take to complete the room and do you know how many items you have in total?
Darren- Jeez. This is a hard to answer question. I actually remodelled my home to accommodate my ever growing collection. I’m as fascinated by the Modern stuff as I am with my nostalgic love affair with Vintage so I needed a huge space to hold everything.
My Vintage collection room was custom built to be a Vintage only time capsule, with everything from Star Wars through to Droids and Ewoks. It has no windows, is climate controlled and has no transit (which controls dust).
I’ve never counted how many items I own but I freely admit that I’m a terrible hoarder. It’s multiple thousands. In my Vintage collection I’ve got every production item barring Vlix. A few proofs, a few display items and about 400 MOC. Far too much if I’m honest….lol.
Trilogo.info- What percentage of your overall collection is Vintage?
Darren- I’d say my Vintage collection is about 20% of my total collection. That Modern stuff makes you run out of space real fast!
Trilogo.info- Your collection room also has a name doesn’t it?
Darren- Ah..it does. Andy’s room. My late friend and bloody top bloke who re-started my journey in 2001. Andy was one of the people in life you meet that enriched your own existence just by knowing them. A true gentleman, funny, sarcastic and knowledgeable. He predicted the rise of SW Lego and loved everything ERG, so in homage to his untimely death in 2009 I named the room after him and his Rebel Scum moniker “PhantomShadow”. The plaque I had made is now flanked by his beloved royal guards. My only regret is he never got to see it whilst he was alive.
Trilogo.info- I got chatting to Andy on SWF shortly before he passed away and even from the brief conversations we had, I could tell he was a really nice guy that got a lot out of collecting. I think it’s safe to say your tribute is a fitting one to the King of Royal Guards!
Now, I know you’ve had a complete Trilogo set for a few years now, could you tell us all about your Trilogo journey?
Darren- The Trilogos, I think I probably got into them accidentally to be honest, it was long before the yellow bubble nightmare was as prevalent and common as it is now. There seemed to be so many about. As you have waxed lyrical about here and on the forums, most are easily available. It isn’t until you get to Fett,Jawa and the General that your pocketbook starts to hurt!
I kinda got into the Trilogo game a little late but way before the crazy prices being realised nowadays. I found that rarity and demand don’t always go hand in hand. I mean a Trilogo Fett is not that rare, but it is highly desirable which in turn makes one valuable. I know you are all about the not over paying and whilst I think you’re right in theory, some items may not become available for years so sometimes it’s worth paying the higher price or you may pay more down the line. I know I have.
Trilogo.info- What kind of condition were you aiming for when you were collecting your set?
Darren- Most of mine are graded AFA 80 -85 so about as close as I could get to perfect. I actually have some perfect ungraded ones I bought from an inactive collector called Mike Bamber. He really had some fantastic items that were top quality. I snagged so many graded ships and playsets from him. Again, at the time I thought the prices were a little high but nowadays?? Kerching!!!
Trilogo.info- What was the biggest draw for you with Trilogos?
Darren- The overall look I suppose. Condition wise it’s tough with Trilogos because the flimsy bubbles are rarely undented but aside from the small miscard bubbles those suckers rarely yellow! It’s obviously the most complete run of carded figures you can attempt as well so it’s a set you need to take your time with.
Trilogo.info- How did you finally track down your Madine?
Darren- Oh boy! Well the Madine (whilst rare) turned out to be a wild goose chase that I nearly gave up on. I had hit up many collectors over the years trying to shake one out but it seems I kept hitting dead ends. I was networking with Stephane and Arnaud in France, yourself & Andy Davies in the UK, Tom Derby in the US..literally everyone. I finally acquired mine from a very secretive black hole collector called George (not Lucas). He’s not a prolific poster or social media user but he was a very high end/high grade Trilogo collector at one point.
Trilogo.info- Didn’t I give you the tip off on George?? Haha! I remember feeling quite relieved when for you when it was finally over, congratulations once again! On the subject of Madine, some of our readers will hopefully remember seeing a picture of yourself and Andrew Davies sporting some pretty awesome Madine related t-shirts at one of the Celebration events, please remind us how those came about!
Darren- Haha! Yes..those shirts! OK so when I finally acquired my Madine, after literally years of looking..just like buses..two came up at once! Andy Davies who I mentioned earlier managed to score another in a trade at roughly the same time as George offered me his. So I met him at Gatwick airport with a fat stack and made the deal and then Andy brought his two up and we took those infamous pics.
Three graded Trilogo Madine’s (two AFA 80s and the only AFA 85 in existence) in the same place was just such an amazing photo opportunity. It was probably the only time three would be in the same room together so we kinda had to. We also took some fun pictures too, which then ended up on the t-shirts as you can see haha
I have to say, those tees were a real conversation starter at CE2! Turns out there is probably 20 or so Generals out there but condition wise those were probably the best. He’s hard to find mint in the wild just like the hybrid CCP. He seems crazy rare at the moment.
Trilogo.info- I love the expressions on your faces haha! Are there any Trilogo related items you’ve yet to purchase?
Darren- I still have a thing for the miscards but there is a load of competition nowadays. I do have the highest graded DSC /ATST known, though. Super nice AFA 80 with a clear bubble.
As for other items, I’d also love that nice Ewok Village with the different graphics. That’s an uncommon piece compared to the regular version but I’ve gotta have it sealed though!
Trilogo.info- Are there any other items in your collection that you are more attached to than your Trilogo set?
Darren- Ooh….good question! I would say my 12-back run and my (mostly) clear bubbled ROTJ run. I say mostly because it’s the Russian roulette run of SW collecting. I’ve already bought an R5-d4 and Emperor this year as upgrades to their slightly tinted predecessors. Lol! It’s the run that never ends, I’d advise anyone NOT to pursue it!!
Trilogo.info- Lastly Darren, as it’s literally just around the corner, lets talk about Celebration Europe! I know you’ll be there (you aren’t one to miss a party!) but are you going to be doing anything fun for Celebration this year?
Darren- My fun thing for Celebration this year will be revealed soon and it is General Madine themed! It’s a swag item that’s bound to raise a smile. That’s a scoop too 😉 You heard it here first! Looking forward to seeing all the swag items in London! After the swag-fest that was California I feel that unless your lanyards resemble Mr T in his pomp your doing it wrong! Lol.
Trilogo.info- Do you have any tips for Celebration noobs such as myself?
Darren- As for the Conventioneering?? Having done them now on both sides of the Atlantic, I’d say just try and make a few panels and don’t overspend (no worries with you! Lol)
Trilogo.info- Ahem! What are you insinuating Mr Mcaleese? 😉
Darren- Hahaha! Only kidding 😉 OK Celebration..so just try and plan the things you want to do and be prepared for lines (or queues as they say here in Blighty). For any first timers like yourself, there is always stuff you miss or maybe regret queuing for and you’ll probably be exhausted for a few days afterwards. Talking of exhaustion, whatever you do don’t go drinking with the Swedes! Especially if you have a low tolerance for alcohol because those boys can party hard. Make sure you have Paracetamol and Gaviscon if you do some after hours Swedish styled conventioneering!! Lastly I would advise people try to bring stuff to the room sales. I saw some amazing items in California last April and hope to see some amazing stuff in London.
Great advice! Thanks Darren, it was great to finally get you on the site for a chat and to have the opportunity to showcase your amazing collection! Where better than Trilogo.info eh? I look forward to catching up in London!