Trilogo.info is very excited to bring you an interview with Stephane Faucourt, author of “Meccano To Trilogo”. An avid Star Wars fan and Vintage collector he has a real passion for French toys and of course Trilogos!
Trilogo.info – Hi Stephane! Thanks for taking part in this interview, let’s jump straight in with some questions! How do you remember trilogos being viewed in the earlier days of collecting – the mid to late 90’s? How were the prices back then?
Stephane – Hi! Well in fact, I almost can’t recall much about Trilogos in the mid-90s because there was no particular interest with them, they were just said to be common items, even less desirable than regular ROTJ cards, the only attention they got was thanks to the last 17 figures which were the alternative to POTF cards. At that time holy grails in France were Kenner 12-backs and POTF which were both incredibly expensive.
I remember back in 1998, I saw the first sale of a nearly complete Trilogo set; cards were pristine, and even at 30 euros for the more common ones, it took months to sell-out.
Trilogo.info – I also remember Trilogos being “Z” list collectibles even in the early 2000’s when I got into collecting as an adult and onto ebay in 2002!
Trilogo.info – So when did you really decide to complete a set of trilogos and were you always buying variants or was that something that happened after your set was complete?
Stephane – It was around 2002, my vintage collection had ended up in the same way as many collections – I had “a lot of everything”, so I decided to sell some items and refocus on POTF + ESB for Kenner and to Trilogos for Europe, especially because it was a good way to get the full wave with the same card layout.
Luckily, being in France, I had the opportunity to buy a few lots and also find some rare ones early on. The rest came through ebay auctions, local transactions “at the subway stop”, and trades with foreign collectors.
My Trilogo set was completed in late 2005 and I already had many variants which I was already hunting!
Trilogo.info – So you completed your set including Madine in 3 years! Congratulations, that is a reasonably short amount of time for such a tough set! Tell us about your Madine..I heard you traded some Meccano figures for him many years ago, is that true? Would you do the trade again – no regrets on the figures you traded?
Stephane – Well Madine was a figure I acquired around halfway into the run, when I owned mostly common cards, once I had him it was good motivation to keep on as the rarest one was done so he was definitely an important figure for me.
You heard correct about the trade, I traded the Madine against 3 Meccano carded figures ( R5D4, Power Droid, and a third one I can’t remember..) I try not to have regrets on past deals, in fact since 2003, I had 3 different opportunities to find a Trilogo Madine: one cardback, and 2 carded figures but I would never have spent the amount involved, so definitely no regrets!
Trilogo.info – Well I am sure you can find a home for any other Madine’s you come across haha!
Let’s talk about your book, Meccano to Trilogo which came out in 2006, can you tell us a little about the process of designing and printing a book? Was it self financed and would yo do it again? Perhaps a second edition..?
Stephane – Since Meccano to Trilogo was self-published it was also self-financed, it was a terrific experience in which I had to learn everything related to the printing industry: from software, to printing techniques which is all necessary to understand what the possibilities are and how best to fulfill them.
The book took a full 6 months of sustained work just to synthesize the information, shoot all the pictures, scan documents, and make the page layout. Regarding the process, I started to build a list of all the themes / articles / items I wanted to include, and then I wrote all the articles in raw format while I was making the design for each section. Once this was done, I had to calculate the pages / articles combination and I started editing using InDesign software.
I had started to contact printing companies during the process so I could test a few PDFs just to make sure I was on the good way to deliver a compatible file which was ready to make the printing plates for offset printing.
Here are some pictures of Meccano To Trilogo in the printing stages and Stephane’s tour of the factory
When I received the books, the house was loaded of boxes but it quickly reduced thanks to preorders; I had to ship about 200 books on the first week everywhere in the world.
Trilogo.info – I saw the pictures of the first boxes of books that you had! I bet that was an amazing feeling to see them all ready to go!
Stephane – Yes it was and I would do it again! Of course it was a lot of work, but it was also a real pleasure to be in touch with so many collectors by email or on the forums. I also did shows and conventions in France, Belgium and the UK with Celebration Europe back in 2007, a fantastic opportunity to meet the actual collectors face to face and share experiences and passion for collecting.
(Stephane enjoying a beer while in London with Meccano To Trilogo for Celebration Europe)
I currently have no plan for a 2nd edition although since 2007, I gathered so much material that could easily upgrade most pictures with mint items, add dozens of pages with more variants, new discoveries, some prototypes, diecast, dolls, and other stuff… If that happens one day, I’m not sure I would do it on my own like I did the first time because of having to store and ship hundreds of books. Possibly an electronic book could be a nice alternative but I’m not sure it would please collectors who would probably prefer a paper book.
Trilogo.info – I am sure I speak for many when I say the community would welcome a second edition of your book! Do you think Meccano to Trilogo has had a positive impact on the collecting world? What kind of goals were you aiming to achieve with the book when you released it and what have you noticed about “buying trends” since the release, did prices go up on the items covered in Meccano To Trilogo?
Stephane – After having collected for many years and owning a complete set of Trilogo cards, Bilogo and Meccano vehicles, and a nearly full set of Meccano cards, I realized there was still almost no information about these lines. I wanted to share all the information and pictures I had gathered, but a website (I had stopped mine in 2001) needed a sustained effort over years to keep it updated etc… so a book was finally the best medium to provide information to the hobby, it was a big amount of work, but a “one-time” thing unlike a website.
Although it wasn’t expected (at least on my side), I clearly see the impact that the book had on the vintage collecting field, it tenfolded the interest for Trilogo and Meccano items with selling values and it also created in more recent times a thirst for variants, especially for “French trilogos”. In a positive way, it makes these existing items among the most desirable, on a negative side, some values are so high that I would probably not be able to buy them nowadays and it added a lot of “competitors” hunting for the rare stuff..
Trilogo.info – Yep that’s the only downside of sharing information! You can create some fierce competition..so it’s probably best to complete your collection before helping others haha! Going back to your collection now, which of your own Trilogo figures are your favourites and why?
Stephane – Speaking only of Trilogos, I would say the Madine of course because of its rarity, then all the French variants with different kind of bubbles, I have some Trilogo variants which I have seen only once and they are in my collection lol! I don’t have a specific favourite character or card really, it would be difficult to choose as I have several figures multiple times because of the various packaging variations.
A selection of truly rare French variant cards.
Top Row: Left to Right –DSD on french cardback and small bubble (only seen once, not to be mixed up with the small bubble german cardback), C3PO with double stem bubble, 21B on small bubble, Bossk on medium bubble.
Bottom Row: Left to Right- Chirpa with double stem, Tusken and Rebel commando on medium bubble, and R2D2 saber with French earlier bubble.
I am also really thankful to have a lot of odd and interesting figures in my collection like the Meccano B-Wing Pilot with an upside down bubble, a few PBP carded figures and some hard to find card variations like the 70C Nikto which was until recent years unconfirmed to exist.
Trilogo.info – Great variants Stephane, the condition is outstanding as well! Are there any Trilogo variants you are still hunting for your own collection..you don’t have to reveal which ones!
Stephane – Yes, and I pretty much know which variants I’m searching for and I also know which ones don’t exist, so the list shortens each year but some are really tough to find even for basic characters.
Trilogo.info – So you aren’t going to tell us which ones you need?
Stephane – No 😉
Trilogo.info – Haha well it was worth a try, so which figure do you have the most variations for?
Stephane – There are many of them : Ugnaught, Prune Face, Rebel Soldier, 8D8, At-St Driver, C3po removable limbs, Han Bespin to name a few, in fact because I started collecting variants so early I had the opportunity to get many one of a kind pieces that I still haven’t seen another example of, so while I might have a lot of variants for common characters, these variants are actually some of the rarest cards out there.
Stephane – This shot illustrates some variants for a same card;
At-St driver on small + medium bubble, then 70c. Also Han Bespin on double stem, then medium bubble, then regular… Notice the color differences on the color area printing, on the french cards, the color area is much darker
Trilogo.info – Oh Stephane, I do have one very important question to ask you….Will you sell me your 8D8 PBP Trilogo?
Stephane – No way! haha! I bought this one in a lot a few years ago, even before “Spanish Trilogos” were considered special by collectors and I instantly liked it because of the cardboard insert inside. Now I realize just how rare it is, so the answer is no!
Trilogo.info – Damn you! Moving on (before I get upset about the 8D8) are there any known Trilogo collections out there that have as many variations as you? I have heard there is a UK collector with a very extensive Trilogo collection!
Stephane – I know a few very serious Trilogo collectors with impressive collections although a fear of “competition” makes collectors less happy to share what they have.
I’m also somewhat “pleased” to see that newer Trilogo collectors are spending huge amounts to get certain cards and variants but are still hunting with no luck for many variants that I have 😉
Trilogo.info – I can only imagine how many people are interested in pieces from your collection! Well Stephane it’s been great to speak to you for this interview, just to end I will ask my favourite question because I think wise words are important in this hobby – If you were to give some words of advice to newer collectors interested in trilogos, what would that be?
Stephane – Well, collecting Trilogos is a good choice to get a nice collection of figures with the same card layout and also a terrific challenge which will need a true collector spirit with patience (and money). Only a few will complete the run totally.
I would advise new collectors to start buying figures as they come, do not underestimate some common / reasonably priced characters which are not easy to find (eg Logray) so buy them even if they are not pristine so you can upgrade later in the process, and be prepared to spend a lot of cash when a rare item comes out, or you don’t know when you may see it again! Oh and good luck!
Well there you have it! Arguably the biggest Trilogo variant collector out there (at least the most public) and the man who wrote the book on them stopped in for a chat here at Trilogo.info – Thanks Stephane!
More interviews soon guys!