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May the Fourth Be With You: The Biggest Star Wars Collections in the Philippines

Their collections can rival Jabba the Hutt's haul.
IMAGE Lopie Guzman
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Not so long ago, from a galaxy nearby, there were three people from different backgrounds who shared a common goal. No, we’re not talking about Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron. We spoke to  hardcore Star Wars fans, Chito Ines, a BPO consultant and event photographer; Earl Madriaga, a businessman; and Lopie “DJ Ouch” Guzman, a DJ and businessman, who are on an endless quest to expand their collection. Not only do they enjoy hauling merch but they’re also united in their love for Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

And with highly detailed figures such as the Black Series and more affordable variants available in the mainstream market, Star Wars is one of the most accessible fandoms for newbie hobbyists. Chito thinks that through collecting, he can have a piece of the Star Wars universe no matter if it’s a shirt, toy, or keychain. Earl feels that most collectors got drawn in due to pure nostalgia. Lopie shares that he enjoys channeling that inner child. He feels at ease whenever he stares at his collection.

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We tried unboxing what goes behind the life-long hobby as we discussed further with these dedicated collectors/nerf hoarders.

CHITO INES

What got you into the Star Wars fandom?

Chito Ines: When I was four years old, my uncle made me watch A New Hope and ever since then, I got hooked!

Do you recall the first Star Wars item that you’ve ever had in your possession?

Chito: A Bespin Security Guard action figure.

What was the toy that inspired you to start collecting Star Wars merchandise?

Chito: The action figures [that I had growing up]. As a kid, it’s a different thrill to be able to play with your favorite characters, recreate scenes, and start new adventures. That feeling never really leaves you even as an adult.

Can you tell us more about your Star Wars collection? Are you focused on a specific product line, character, or Episode?

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Chito: I used to buy anything and everything [Star Wars] until  Revenge of The Sith was released in cinemas. [The film] featured Clone Troopers in different squad colors, which appealed to me. I decided focus on the Clones, which also helps decrease the damage on my wallet. I’ve been building my Clone army since 2005 and it includes 200 figures and counting.

What’s your favorite item from the collection?

Chito: The Republic Gunship, which I nabbed at SRP.

What’s the most valuable product in your collection?

Chito: The ARC Trooper Republic Gunship, which was worth $39 from Amazon when it came out. (Its current value ranges from $150 to $514.83, depending on condition.)

What’s the oldest collectible that you own?

Chito: I still have two vintage Return of the Jedi Speeder Bikes bought from Nova Fontana in Ali Mall.

What’s your go-to method for tracking down hard-to-find merchandise?

Chito: I use the Force! (Laughs) Most items are produced in large quantities so there’s no need to rush. These items will come to you when you least expect it. I’ve had several opportunities to buy some stuff but opted not to due to the high price. Eventually got them somewhere else and cheaper. Just be patient and try searching Facebook collector groups and eBay.

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What are some underrated locations or methods for scoring valuable finds?

Chito: You’ll be surprised at what you see on the shelves when you visit low-traffic malls.

How do you take care of your collectibles and display them in order to maintain its pristine condition?

Chito: Every couple of months, I use a damp rag to wipe off the dust and a light brush. I use shelves to display my Clone army and keep my figures away from direct sunlight.

How do you arrange your collectibles for a photo?

Chito: I usually think of a theme then with that in mind, I’ll either just play with the lighting or use a screen (iPad or computer monitor).

How do you determine the quality of a collectible? What’s Your advice for identifying authentic items from counterfeit ones?

Chito: Look for completeness of the accessories. There are lots of references available online where you can check what comes bundled with the figures.

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What were the challenges that you faced while building your collection?

Chito: Apart from [impulsive] spending, it’s really the competition among fellow collectors who want the same item. I’ve lost out on some figures by a few minutes from someone else calling “dibs” on them. But they’ll come around again eventually

What’s the Star Wars merchandise that’s currently on your radar? What would you deem worthy to add your haul?

Chito: I’m on the hunt for the AT-TE, another Republic Gunship, and the Clone Turbo Tank. And I’ll always be in need of more 3.75” Clone Troopers!

Are you looking forward to any upcoming Star Wars title?

Chito: The final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. It’s the closure that we need as fans.

What are your expectations for Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker?

Chito: I’ll just enjoy the movie for what it isthe last episode. I’m impartial to having old footage of [the late] Carrie Fisher used but I’m sure they’ll treat [the scenes] with care.

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What does the entire Star Wars franchise mean to you on a personal level? How has it impacted your life?

Chito: It’s one of the first interests that I bonded over with my sons. They both grew up on Clone Wars so they’re also excited to watch the final season.

IMAGE: Chito Ines
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IMAGE: Chito Ines

IMAGE: Chito Ines
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IMAGE: Chito Ines

IMAGE: Chito Ines
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IMAGE: Chito Ines

IMAGE: Chito Ines
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IMAGE: Chito Ines

IMAGE: Chito Ines
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EARL MADRIAGA

What got you into the Star Wars fandom?

Earl Madriaga: I basically grew up with the Original Trilogy!

Do you recall the first Star Wars item that you’ve ever had in your possession?

Earl: Yes, it was a 1983 X-Wing Fighter.

What was the toy that inspired you to start collecting Star Wars merchandise?

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Earl: It was 1995 Power of the Force Boba Fett action figure!

Can you tell us more about your Star Wars collection? Are you focused on a specific product line, character, or Episode?

Earl: I’ve been collecting characters from the entire saga since 1995. My main line are the 3.75” action figures. I have no idea how many items there are in my collection so far.

What’s your favorite item from the collection?

Earl: My favorite is the Vintage Collection toy line!

What’s the most valuable product in your collection?

Earl: I’m not particular with valuable stuff since it really depends on the item.

What’s the oldest collectible that you own?

Earl: It’s still the 1983 X-Wing Fighter, which was bought from the States.

How do you take care of your collectibles and display them in order to maintain its pristine condition?

Earl: To protect them from damage, I sometimes leave it inside the box or display them in a glass cabinet. I clean my collectibles by wiping with a dry cloth and dusting it off with a paintbrush or using compressed air.

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How do you arrange your collectibles for a photo?

Earl: I usually use a plain white background.

What were the challenges that you faced while building your collection?

Earl: It can get too expensive!

What’s the Star Wars merchandise that’s currently on your radar? What would you deem worthy to add your haul?

Earl: Jabba The Hutt’s Sail Barge, which just came out but unfortunately, didn’t reach our shores.

Are you looking forward to any upcoming Star Wars title?

Earl: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, The Mandalorian, and an untitled Star Wars project from the Game of Thrones’ showrunners.

What are your expectations for Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker?

Earl: Rock-bottom expectations.

What does the entire Star Wars franchise mean to you on a personal level? How has it impacted your life?

Earl: It’s gotten to the point that I named my children after Star Wars characters.

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IMAGE: Earl Madriaga

IMAGE: Earl Madriaga
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IMAGE: Earl Madriaga

IMAGE: Earl Madriaga
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IMAGE: Earl Madriaga

IMAGE: Earl Madriaga
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LOPIE GUZMAN

What got you into the Star Wars fandom?

Lopie “DJ Ouch” Guzman: The characters, unique names, Soundtrack, the iconic logo, the visual and audio effects,and of course, the Lightsabers. That whole experience got me into the fandom.

Do you recall the first Star Wars item that you’ve ever had in your possession?

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Lopie: I still have my 1977 Star Wars Topps Trading Card. I even remember the smell of the gum [that comes bundled with the card].

What was the toy that inspired you to start collecting Star Wars merchandise?

Lopie: The Topps card definitely started it all for me!

 

Can you tell us more about your Star Wars collection? Are you focused on a specific product line, character, or Episode?

Lopie: I have collectible statues, articulated action figures, helmets, vehicles/ships, posters, paintings, lightsabers, trading cards, store displays, drones, and so on. My guess is that 98% of my collection was amassed from 2015-2019. I’m a completist in general but have focused my efforts on the Original Trilogy or OT characters and vintage vehicles that are mint-in-sealed-box or MISB condition.

What’s your favorite item from the collection?

Lopie: The Ben Kenobi Polystone Statue from Sideshow Collectibles’ Mythos line because of its craftsmanship. The attention to detail is unparalleled!

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What’s the most valuable product in your collection?

Lopie: There’s the Sideshow Darth Vader life-size bust ($999.99), Yoshitoku Darth Vader Samurai Doll ($1,950 to $2,467.67), and Gentle Giant Darth Maul Spider With Mecha Legs Statue ($399 at the time of purchase and $799.99 on eBay).

What’s the oldest collectible that you own?

Lopie: The TOPPS card!

What’s your go-to method for tracking down hard-to-find merchandise?

Lopie: Keeping in touch with fellow SW collectors, resellers, eBAY, Amazon, and social media. My advice for other collectors is to try comparing prices before pulling the trigger on a particular item. 

What are some underrated locations or methods for scoring valuable finds?

Lopie: Ask your relatives and neighbors to help you find SW items. You never know, they might know someone who’s trying to downsize their collection.

How do you take care of your collectibles and display them in order to maintain its pristine condition?

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Lopie: I try to keep the room cool, clean as often as I can, and place the items inside glass cabinets to prevent dust from accumulating. I advise fellow collectors to use an anti-static duster. I clean battery compartments with a DeoxIt Gold G5.

How do you arrange your collectibles for a photo?

Lopie: I recreate moments from the movie or use my imagination. I have a favorite backdrop called the NOVA Ubiquitous UB-01LS Diorama Set.

How do you determine the quality of a collectible? What’s Your advice for identifying authentic items from counterfeit ones?

Lopie: Make sure that there’s no damage or alterations and look for a certificate of authenticity. Most knockoff items can be identified due to flaws and lack of quality control.

What were the challenges that you faced while building your collection?

Lopie: Trying to find the space and properly organizing my collection. My wife was worried at first because she wasn’t really a fan of my spending. It’s slowly growing on her now because she sees that I really do enjoy my hobby.

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What’s the Star Wars merchandise that’s currently on your radar? What would you deem worthy to add your haul?

Lopie: I’m eyeing either the Attakus Collection or De Agostini version of the Millennium Falcon. Most of the time, I go for the rarity of the item but as long as it gives me a sense of fulfillment then it’s definitely going into the collection.

Are you looking forward to any upcoming Star Wars title?

Lopie: I’m looking forward to The Mandalorian!

 

What are your expectations for Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker?

Lopie: I’m hoping to see more lightsaber duels in this film. I believe that Episode IX will open new doors and reveal a lot of surprises since it’s the closing chapter.

 

What does the entire Star Wars franchise mean to you on a personal level? How has it impacted your life?

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Lopie: It gave me hope and taught me how to balance the ups and downs of life.

IMAGE: Lopie Guzman

IMAGE: Lopie Guzman
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IMAGE: Lopie Guzman

IMAGE: Lopie Guzman
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IMAGE: Lopie Guzman

IMAGE: Lopie Guzman
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IMAGE: Lopie Guzman

IMAGE: Lopie Guzman
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IMAGE: Lopie Guzman

IMAGE: Lopie Guzman
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IMAGE: Lopie Guzman

IMAGE: Lopie Guzman
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IMAGE: Lopie Guzman

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