Thanks to the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII, George Lucas’ franchise is back in he news in a big way. But there are plenty of die-hard fans whose love for the franchise has never dimmed. A committed collector recently earned the “World’s Largest Collection of Star Wars Memorabilia” certificate and title from the Guinness World Records. Star Wars enthusiast Steve Sansweet is a former journalist and Lucasfilm employee. He is also currently the owner and curator of Rancho Obi-Wan, a nonprofit Star Wars museum.
For the annual Guinness Book World Records 2014 Edition, the organization accounted for over 91,000 pieces of Star Wars memorabilia, including all sorts of video games, pinball machines, action figures, and other knick-knacks. Although Guinness only audited a third of Sansweet’s sweet collection, the Rancho Obi-Wan owner estimates that he has well over 300,000 pieces of Star Wars memorabilia from over 37 countries stored inside of a 9,000 square-foot facility, which is by far the most of any collector.
The collection spans more than three decades of films, from the original trilogy through the prequels. I guess Sansweet will have to find more room once Episode VII — and the merchandise accompanying it — arrives. Sansweet was very happy to be added to Guinness World Records and shared some of his feelings with Star Wars fans on his website. Sansweet writes:
I’m delighted with the recognition from GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS, which for years has been the authority in these matters. We were really excited to work with the Guinness folks. Preparing the photo shoot set a record in my book for one of the most fun-filled days ever at the museum. We were especially happy to have Craig Glenday, editor-in-chief of GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS in the U.K. and a huge Star Wars fan, with us to personally oversee the shoot. We kept adding so many great items that we don’t even know how many individual ones can be counted in the photo!
Steve Sansweet started seriously collecting Star Wars memorabilia in 1996 after he retired as a journalist for the Wall Street Journal. He later took a job at Lucasfilm as the company’s director of specialty marketing. Sansweet also worked at Lucasfilm as the director of content management and head of fan relations, before retiring in 2010.
Over the years, Sansweet has authored 16 books about Star Wars, including last year’s Star Wars: The Ultimate Action Figure Collection. He now runs Rancho Obi-Wan in Sonoma County, just west of Petaluma, California. The non-profit Star Wars museum offers guided tours, which can be on the pricey side — $200 for two people — but the tour can last between one and three hours, depending on how many questions you have for Mr. Sansweet.
Sansweet says the most popular attractions at Rancho Obi-Wan are the full-size recreations of Star Wars characters. He has a full-sized Battle Droid from The Phantom Menace, Lego-blocked Darth Vader and Boba Fett, and a complete Mos Eisley Cantina from the original film. It’s pretty impressive!
A few months ago, Steve Sansweet’s amazing Star Wars collection was the centerpiece of a Tested.com featured article. Take an in-depth look at Rancho Obi-Wan, then I’d recommend watching the below 17-minute video (one of the best collector’s stories is at the 6:43 mark). It includes a guided tour of the facility and features some great stories about the joys and pitfalls of collecting memorabilia. If you’re a GFR reader, then I’m sure you can relate to Sansweet’s love for collecting and Star Wars.
This is the first time that Guinness World Records has included the Star Wars Memorabilia category in its book. Pick one up today!