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The_Dark_Artist
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PostSubject: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeSun Oct 21, 2012 11:47 pm

Ok, so I don't want to start wars with this topic but I wanted to get collector's opinions on this because I believe it is a worthy subject to discuss. After doing a lot of research on my first shot Ben I went back in history and saw how his original blue DT saber was separated from him and a prototype translucent yellow DT saber was stuck in his arm. I still don't know if the blue production DT saber was removed because of the value and sold off? To me this is sad! Some of you may be saying it doesn't matter because the first shot Ben was given a prototype DT saber, but I do have a problem with it. The original blue DT saber was taken from a pretty historical figure, from a pretty historical find (Earth find in 1994). That does bother me! It takes away from the history of these prototypes. Even though the saber that was replaced in his arm came from the Earth 2004 find and it was a prototype, it still did not come originally with this Ben.
With that said, I don't like how some collectors think they have lego sets that can be disassembled and reassembled with other parts. It's like rewriting history in this hobby. Yes, the parts may be truly rare and expensive as hell but they aren't the original items that came from the original Kenner employees together. Such as sabers, capes and blasters.... It bothers me.
I'm just curious if other collectors feel the same way?
I will post a picture of my original Ben when he was found in 1994, as you can see he has a blue production style DT saber that has been replaced by a yellow translucent prototype DT saber.
Another problem I have is that some collectors got confused seeing my pictures thinking Ben originally was supposed to come with a yellow translucent prototype saber. I never meant to confuse anyone and I apologize for that. I certainly would have liked to represent my figure the way he was originally, but that was out of my hands... I have separated the prototype yellow DT saber from my first shot Ben and display them separately now... I'm glad though his cape is the original when found. I guess all I need to do is purchase a production blue DT saber to make him the way he was originally but I feel it's a shame it has to come to that.
-Steve

Original find pic:
Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... Front_10

2012 replacement prototype DT saber pic:
Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... First_18
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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeMon Oct 22, 2012 12:00 am

It's unfortunate but they're not common items ( some maybe just a handful exist) so replacing them will be near on impossible. At least they're not replaced with reproductions Razz
Good luck in the hunt for a DT Ben saber.

I guess at some point people have to sell parts of their collection so splitting items is bound to happen. (especially if it's finanacially beneficial ie. the parts are sometimes worth more than the whole.)
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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeMon Oct 22, 2012 12:11 am

That's the problem AJ "parts are sometimes worth more than the whole".... no matter the history of the find in the hobby.
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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeMon Oct 22, 2012 4:22 am

Due to their historical importance, I agree that as custodians, we should aim to keep these prototypes matched with their original accessories. Even if the accessories were damaged or missing, I'd be far happier knowing that what I have got is 'original'.

I know people mix & match accessories with production figures all the time, but prototype/preproduction items should definately be left as they are!
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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeMon Oct 22, 2012 12:58 pm

Hi Steve

Was it the earth that did the switch on this? You bought it from there right?
You obviously assumed the yellow was correct when you first purchased it
from them and only found out different from your recent searches about it?
Is this correct?

It's a shame whomever switched it and it would have been totally money motivated.

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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeMon Oct 22, 2012 1:13 pm

Hey Lee. Long story short the Ben came from a 1994 Earth find. It came with a blue production saber at that time. Down the line the blue production saber was removed and sold. Then it was sold with a prototype translucent yellow DT saber from the 2004 Earth find. They were grouped together because they were prototypes but they did not originally come together. I hope this explanation helps. The problem I have is both parts are authentic but the Ben is not complete without his original blue DT saber. Because of the historical find and pieces in it, I feel it is unfortunate the Ben was not kept as he was. I also have had collectors making statements about the first Ben's being designed to come with a yellow DT saber. I can only think my pictures added to this incorrect theory....
My other point was about prototype collectors grouping figures and accessories that were never meant to be grouped together. That I have a huge problem with. It makes the history of these pieces inaccurate.
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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeMon Oct 22, 2012 2:12 pm

Assemblage and reconditioning are extremely important in most other hobbies, but very rarely do you find any dialogue or discourse surrounding the types of tactics being used. The only reason I can think of is that people like to make money from people's naivety and bringing it out in the open will hurt profits.

When I posted a thread about the need for assemblage to be disclosed on RS, it got no comments.

How this plays into the topic of reconditioning is that there have been examples where an items entire provenance was scrubbed in order to gain from reconditioning an items grade. The reason is that the people doing the reconditioning didn't want people to make the connection to the grade jump from it's previous recorded grade. This has happened with CGC graded comics of a certain pedigree numerous times, and only because of good detective work did people make the connection.

It's a shame really, but I can tell you that it absolutely needs to be disclosed not only because of the ethical dilemma with trying to erase or scrub an items history for the sake of making money, but because assemblage does negatively impact the value of an item if it does not have period or historically accurate accessories when it is resold on the market. In some cases of antiquities and collectibles, knowing that an item was assembled with parts not originally belonging to it could make the item practically worthless.

Coincidentally I had a discussion with Stephen Ward of UKG about this very thing earlier today, as we he was describing how they had to refuse an item because the person sent in a 12 back card with a loose DT Vader, wanting them to make a custom case that married the two items. It's one thing when you want a cardback presented with the loose figure, but when you start trying to pull this type of stuff with certification, it only opens the door for people to start abusing certification as a means of marketing items as having derived from a package or card when the reality is that the loose item and packaging have absolutely no connection whatsoever.

If certification companies understand the issues with people attempting to assemble things with no historical connection, then I see no reason why the hobby as a whole can't follow the same protocol, and not just for prototypes or first shots, because if value is the reason why it should be disclosed, then there's no reason production toys, especially those of a higher value, should be omitted from the discussion.
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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeMon Oct 22, 2012 3:09 pm

Steve

Honestly I always thought prototype figures only came figure only and prototype sabers were unique to themselves. I guess I'm saying that the original find (proto Ben w/ prod saber) seems more off than the combo you have now. Personally I think it's better as it is now.


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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeMon Oct 22, 2012 3:34 pm

Thanks, I appreciate your opinions guys.
Yea John, I get what you are saying and I respect your opinion buddy. My main thing is I just hate to see history rewritten. Because of the provenance of this piece I was able to do a lot of back tracking. I was able to see when the two were separated. Then I found when the yellow DT proto was added. If this Ben did not have the provenance people would probably question why the piece is the way it is... I don't know. I'm just trying to preserve the history of the piece and the find. That's why I have a problem with some prototypes being put together like legos...
-Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeMon Oct 22, 2012 3:56 pm

Prototype figures frequently come with accessories, the thing is that most of the time they cannot be differentiated from common standard production accessories so an argument could be made that it doesn't matter so much. Or more importantly it would be very difficult to keep them paired up. It's only when it comes to very unique or rare accessories like DT or MT sabers or weapons/accessories with a specific mould, capes with a different colour, texture or cut that you have a really legitimate pairing. In these instances they really shouldn't be separated or replaced, otherwise you are misleading people, collectors start making wrong assumptions and before long history starts rewriting itself. The worst part about it is when the separating or replacement of these accessories is not disclosed deliberately or when the authenticator doesn't bring it to light.
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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeMon Oct 22, 2012 4:24 pm

Steve

A very fair point. I guess the best thing to do is try to track down a DT Ben and then put the saber in but obviously that's an expensive proposition.

Either way, it's a kick ass piece though.......

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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeMon Oct 22, 2012 4:56 pm

Yes, restoration would be the only way to make this Ben historically correct not to mention expensive : (
I love the figure and obviously by me starting this thread I love the history too. On a side note I was informed from the beginning the yellow saber did not come originally with him. I just question why a piece like this, or any historical prototype, could have items removed and replaced in such a way. But I think AJ hit on a few of the reasons above...
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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeMon Oct 22, 2012 5:31 pm

This is my original answer to this:
I know we have discussed this before, and I've also posted about this type of behavior over the years - these pieces should be left in situ, and this Ben is a great example of that. It's simply a question of authenticity and provenance, and in this case it raises huge questions from a historical perspective.
1) I have the documentation for this and the "brother" Vader FS that dates back to the original find. It clearly states the
description and the condition of the Ben with a "blue double telescoping saber". So at some point someone removed the saber, and it was swapped out for the translucent example. Are both pieces authentic ? Absolutely - Is it now an original piece - NO
So anyone doing the research on this piece is now facing a break in the provenance, which must be reconciled. If the original documentation didn't exist, I don't think it's too difficult to see how much damage this would have done to this figure. It's already leading collectors into making false assumptions, which is affirming my position on these pieces as historical, rather than some simple "objects" to be mishandled.
2) I've also called this the boomerang effect when it comes to high end pieces. If they aren't preserved and
kept original, at some point this IS going to come back to you. Even AFA accepts and promotes the idea of
swapping out DT figures and sabers to achieve a higher grade - where is the logic in this ? They are supposed
to be an "authority", yet promote and accept things like that no true authority would ever deem remotely acceptable.

The end result is exactly what you went through with the Ben. It's a considerable investment on an amazing piece,
and once these details and history come into play, you are immediately trying to tread water to keep your head up
so these issues can be reconciled. Given a worst case scenario, and someone bought this piece thinking it is was completely original, imagine spending this kind of money and they speak to me about it. How would anyone feel
when I write/call back telling them it's no longer original, and doesn't match the documentation I have from the
day these were discovered ?

Probably the most egregious display of this has been the mixing and matching of the pieces that came from the
massive Earth find several years ago. I have no idea why people think it's acceptable to mix and match prototype
accessories with figures. It shows a lack of education in the process and the pieces, but it's also someone who doesn't
understand how important these pieces are. (ie, taking a first shot, or hand made accessory and just matching it up
with something like an EP. How does that make any sense ? It doesn't. We can go back to the original Earth pictures
and see these pieces as-found, then now it magically has a cape and other accessories 5 years later ? Good work on
destroying the original provenance on these historical items. Then again, the mark of a true collector is maintaining and
preserving items vs. someone who just a buyer. A collector will preserve these pieces, a buyer will think nothing about
turning them into a Franken-proto.

Bill

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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeMon Oct 22, 2012 6:06 pm

I think the answer must be found somewhere around the idea of encumbering a buyer with financial loss rather than gain. Awareness is one thing, but the biggest obstacle is the demand for these items. Just look at how the DT saber post on RS turned from it's a fake to the OP getting a PM asking to sell.
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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeMon Oct 22, 2012 6:31 pm

I think the "answer" is just standing on the principals of preservation, and helping new
collectors in understanding the historical significance of thiese pieces.
When you get into this level of prototype, and for such an early character, it's actually
common to find that these were used for photography work, Toy Fair, etc. There is
not only a paper trail, but also original pictures as part of the provenance. In the case
of Steve's Ben, it's the "brother" piece to my Mushroom Tip Vader FS. I have all the
original documentation, and spent years compiling a vast amount of paperwork on these
items. In the case of the Vader - it was also used in early for catalogue pics and is the same
figure that appears on the early 12 Bell hangers and displays. (here is the figure and write
up from my site - http://www.sithtoys.com/MTVader.html

This figure has been preserved, in tact, since the day those pictures where taken at Kenner. That is an
established history and documentation that spans well over 30 years. Now imagine is someone would
have swapped the sabers out, or replaced the cape. It's horrifying actually to even consider it.

Bill

~ In regards to the other thread on RS, I made my position clear with the seller and the other parties
involved. This is another area of the hobby I've spent 20 years studying and documenting. Of course I
take a hard line over items like this. These are more rare than Rocket Firing Boba Fetts, and I feel being
proactive on that issue really does discourage people from making reproductions and fakes.
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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeMon Oct 22, 2012 7:09 pm

The rocket Fett is a fascinating subject for me. Until I started actively looking for one, I had no idea how hard it would be to find one that was complete (not missing a rocket) or undamaged (i.e. missing springs or non-working/broken slot).


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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeMon Oct 22, 2012 7:14 pm

Hey Bill. You wrote....
"If the original documentation didn't exist, I don't think it's too difficult to see how much damage this would have done to this figure."
Because of this I am in debt to you. You spent years collecting, researching and saving important documentation of provenance. One piece of documentation was the original COA for your MT first shot Vader and my DT first shot Ben (which they shared). With out this and the old auction articles (and the SWCA site) I would have been at a loss of where this figure came from or even if it was the correct prototype in that auction period. So again, thank you for going out of your way to share that documentation with me.
This is the main point of this thread. I just wanted to show the importance to the history of these prototypes and at the same time question why such rare and historical items sometimes get mixed and matched together... It does really make you think more about historical preservation and less about having a really rare item in your collection...
Again, thanks...
-Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeMon Oct 22, 2012 7:27 pm

I think the role of custodian is important, but even then there's the human lifespan aspect, and generation/cultural gap can make it difficult for the items to be curated in such a way where they are placed into the hands of someone equally capable, responsible and willing to preserve them and treat them as historical artifacts.

Too often, the heirs of such items have no interest in them. I lost out on perhaps one of the most exciting collections because I respected the persons wishes to hand them down to their grandkids. I was both respectful and mindful of how it might have been a desire of this person to curate the collection in the hands of immediate family. This was a collection amassed by a single person for nearly 40 years. Over the summer, by complete coincidence, I happened to meet someone at a garage sale that worked for an auctioneer. When I told them about my background in comics, he started telling me about a collection their company just received. It turned out to be the collection of this person I knew who had passed away, and the grandchildren had no interest, and my guess is with all the hype of million dollar comics and the blockbuster success of superhero films , they thought the best thing to do with the collection was sell it.

I've seen this happen over and over again in the comic hobby. Historically important collections being broken up because they just couldn't be absorbed by a single individual, or the way they are perceived by the mass market makes people think they are commodity before any thought of their historical importance.
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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeMon Oct 22, 2012 7:46 pm

Interesting mention on AFA and prototypes. When I was looking for a first shot Hammerhead I contacted AFA in the case that if I find one I may get him authenticated and graded. I asked if he could be without a blaster and they said "no"! They went on to tell me I could send any black production imperial blaster, but I would have to send one. That made me take a step back. I honestly didn't want to have a first shot together with a random blaster that came from who knows where... Interesting thing is I have a first shot Blue Snag that was already graded and came without blaster, just like it was sold in the 2004 Earth find. I preferred it that way... Not sure why they now ask for any random blaster to be included? But it shows the inconsistency as Bill pointed out above about grading DT figures. Makes me want to crack my graded figures right out of their coffins but that is a whole other subject.
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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeTue Oct 23, 2012 8:47 am

I don't agree with the comic analogy. I think a better 1:1 comparison to this "level" of SW item would
be original comic cover art. Even then (as highly regarded and collected as they are), you are still
talking about *vast* quantities more than something like an original HC or FS.
I don't think there is any collector/collectible based hobby that the issue of it being passed down, sold
off etc. doesn't happen. The main point is the preservation and more to the point, properly curating
a collection and these types of items, is for the future. The entire reason for establishing, and maintaining
the provenance for these pieces absolutely transcends the individual collector.

Bill
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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeTue Oct 23, 2012 9:10 am

@sithtoys wrote:
I don't agree with the comic analogy. I think a better 1:1 comparison to this "level" of SW item would
be original comic cover art. Even then (as highly regarded and collected as they are), you are still
talking about *vast* quantities more than something like an original HC or FS.
I don't think there is any collector/collectible based hobby that the issue of it being passed down, sold
off etc. doesn't happen. The main point is the preservation and more to the point, properly curating
a collection and these types of items, is for the future. The entire reason for establishing, and maintaining
the provenance for these pieces absolutely transcends the individual collector.

Bill

Sure if you start splitting hairs on the prototype vs OA context, but I'm speaking strictly on the custodian principle. Spend some time reading about Edgar Church and what the Mile High Comics he amassed represent in collectible lore, historically and culturally, and how soon after his passing, the heirs were going to toss them to the curbside before a well-known dealer bought them. The stories surrounding Edgar Church, what they represented as far as his career in commercial advertising, and how those books were sifted through the hobby is the stuff of legend, and definitely relevant in any discussion on the complexities involved with acting as a custodian to important historical and pop cultural artifacts. And although there were other important finds in the hobby, IMHO there won't ever be another Edgar Church collection, or a man as devoted to curating a collection from the "Golden" and most celebrated period.


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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeTue Oct 23, 2012 9:24 am

You are missing the point - the OT was about mixing/matching prototype figures and accessories. The comic
analogy is not relevant, regardless of what collection (or collector) you are talking about. How does a mass
produced/printed comic have anything to do with a documented, vintage Star Wars prototype ? If there are
cases of people cobbling together original comic art, or mixing and matching pieces from those, then that
would be relevant.

Bill
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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeTue Oct 23, 2012 9:37 am

@sithtoys wrote:
You are missing the point - the OT was about mixing/matching prototype figures and accessories. The comic
analogy is not relevant, regardless of what collection (or collector) you are talking about. How does a mass
produced/printed comic have anything to do with a documented, vintage Star Wars prototype ? If there are
cases of people cobbling together original comic art, or mixing and matching pieces from those, then that
would be relevant.

Bill

Wasn't your point about needing to curate/preserve these items in order to properly establish a chain of provenance? Was that something I misinterpreted?

Because I'm pretty certain you said that, and what I'm saying is maybe it's setting the bar a little too high.

You can't benchmark ethics, and even if you try through education and steamrolling any trespassers, you're still going to have renegades.

You keep dismissing comic analogies, but there isn't barely enough history in a 30+ year hobby to forge a lesson, or maybe because you just prefer sanitizing the discussion. Either way, they are absolutely relevant to your point.

Steve Geppi, who is arguably one of the most passionate people to emerge from the comic hobby, follows that textbook custodian example, becoming the biggest name in the comic category, and translating his passion towards opening the Geppi Museum. It is the "benchmark" as far as assuming the role of curating important pieces from a wide spectrum of pop cultural mediums (comic, original art, novelty, etc.) and following ones dream to share his passion with others.

Tying in my point about the realism and ethical benchmarking, there are also numerous constraints with operating such an empire as there have been stories surfacing over the years about his financial troubles, and the negative trickle effect stemming from a certain original art acquisition.

I'm just trying to expand on a talking point you brought up and from my perspective, it's great when the kind of benevolence you are endorsing occurs in a hobby, but there are too many competing agendas which really make it unfair to expect someone to assume the role of custodian whenever they have the fortune of acquiring important pieces.
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PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeTue Oct 23, 2012 9:56 am

I'll have three of whatever you are drinking lol!

I do understand your frame of reference is comics, and largely your knowledge on vintage SW prototypes is zero.
To be blunt - instead of constantly referencing comics, name dropping, and completely inane assumptions and
analogies, YOU should be spending your time educating yourself on this part of the hobby. Do you have any first
hand knowledge about these pieces you can contribute *without* making a single comic reference ?

Bill
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Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... Empty
PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitimeTue Oct 23, 2012 10:08 am

@sithtoys wrote:
I'll have three of whatever you are drinking lol!

I do understand your frame of reference is comics, and largely your knowledge on vintage SW prototypes is zero.
To be blunt - instead of constantly referencing comics, name dropping, and completely inane assumptions and
analogies, YOU should be spending your time educating yourself on this part of the hobby. Do you have any first
hand knowledge about these pieces you can contribute *without* making a single comic reference ?

Bill

Way to take an intelligent conversation down to the level of hurling personal insults.

When you act like the pantload you really are, at least it shows people what you're really about, instead of the charade you put on.
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Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... Empty
PostSubject: Re: Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories...   Problems with mixing and matching prototype figures with accessories... I_icon_minitime

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