It’s been a minute since I’ve visited the U.K. which at one point was a twice a year destination for me to do gigs and to catch up with old friends, but with the cheap rates of international calling plans these days and social media, there’s no reason not to stay in touch. One person that I seem to keep up with more often than not is heavy record spinner, Star Wars and vintage toy memorabilia collector, John Paddick aka JP. When it comes it comes to playing records and holding the crowds attention, he does it like a champ. But when it comes to collecting hard to find, especially in as mint as possible condition toys from our youth, he’s put together a fine showcase of hard to get gems. With the new Star Wars Rogue One film in theaters and the holidays finally over, I thought it was a good time to talk shop with JP about the franchise, his collection of authentic props from the original trilogy and of course, his toys which any young boy would’ve wanted under the tree back in 1978!
Skeme: You’ve been a serious fan of Star Wars since the original release back in 1977. Like most young lads it was the combination of sci-fi, lasers, ships and characters that caught their attention, but what made it special for you?
JP: Hey Skeme, well to be honest with you, I never got to see Star Wars at the cinema on it’s release (I know, I know the shame of it). And to add insult to injury I remember my mum taking me to see Grease instead a little later on, ouch! But when I did finally get to see it I was hooked, I mean as a 7/8 year old what was there not to like! I think the toys played a big part in the love for it too, a golden time of my youth.
Skeme: I’ve always chosen Star Wars (A New Hope) as my favorite mainly because it was the first but logically, Empire Strikes Back is of course the better of the three, do you agree?
JP: I do. I always state Star Wars is my favorite but inside I kind of know that Empire is better but to me Star Wars is the easiest to watch and will always stand the test of time. I struggle a bit with the Dagobah scenes in Empire and let’s not mention the Ewoks in ROTJ!
Skeme: Most DJs from a certain era that I know are into collecting other things besides records and you’ve definitely collected some great (and rare) pieces over the years. What got you into collecting various toy lines and are these things that you had as a kid or things you finally could obtain as an adult?
JP: Oh man where do we start, like most, I think it’s basically wanting what you had as a kid and to relive some of those memories. I always had some remnants of my old toys packed away but not a lot. I never lost my love for Star Wars related stuff and started picking up figures and the odd ship at ‘boot fairs’ (swap meets to you guys!) in the early 90’s for peanuts and around the same time some local toy fairs popped up and I really got stuck in. I was DJing quite a lot then and used to get in from the club at 5am and be at the toy fair at 8am early bird entrance style! Bleary eyed and with a pocket full of cash I started rebuilding the collection, mainly Star Wars, Six Million Dollar Man, Action Man, and Evil Knievel related stuff with a few other smaller lines that I remembered, I loved them days! I even used to meet my future wife there and bore her with it all, how on earth did I get away with that? Sorry ladies I’m already taken! And then eBay came along and we all know what happened then, worldwide availability (help!).
Skeme: Every serious collector has a rare gem with a backstory that isn’t known or spoken about but I’m sure you have a few. One of the items that really blew my mind in your collection is the authentic Jawa costume. Of course as DJ’s we’re always on the hunt and digging but you scored the ultimate dig with that! How did it find it’s way into your possession?
JP: I can’t really comment on that too much but yeah it’s the prized possession along with some Rebel goggles I have from the Hoth scenes in Empire. When we finally meet up I’ll give you the low down, oh man the stuff I missed!
Skeme: I’ve got a few original boxed vehicles and sets that were made here in the states by Kenner. But just like with variations in records pressings that were done at different plants and countries, the ones in the U.K. were produced by Palitoy and definitely differ than those made here like the Death Star and Droid Factory. What’s the history of Palitoy and are they more collectible for you than the Kenner versions?
JP: Yeah I suppose Palitoy was our version of Kenner but on a smaller scale. They manufactured the Star Wars toys and Action Man (our version of G.I. Joe) so business must have been doing real well back then with them. When it comes to carded figures I didn’t even start with Palitoy as they sell for way, way more than the Kenner versions due to a much smaller production run I would think but I do love that Palitoy logo…has anybody put that logo on a tee shirt yet? I want one, now! I have a Palitoy Death Star and Cantena and they are completely different to the U.S. versions. What about that kooky lil garbage compactor monster in the U.S. Death Star, Dianoga to his friends I think!
Skeme: While we’re on the topic of variations, one of my favorite toy lines was the Adventure Team G.I. Joe figures with the Kung Fu Grip, which over in Europe, you guys had a completely different yet similar line. I think the only one that’s really identical with the exception of the packaging is Bullet Man.
JP: Yep as mentioned before Palitoy’s ‘Action Man’ line which I had a LOT of as a kid pre and post Star Wars, my older brother had it too in the late 60’s/early 70’s so was always in the house. I have a nice small collection of them now, just boxed figures really and few loose dressed ones. From the original painted head 60’s ones up to the ‘Gripping Hands’ and ‘Fuzzy Hair’ 80’s ones. There’s a nice mint Bullet Man in there but I think he needs to be restrung as over time the rubber bands perish inside and he loses his limbs (bit like me some Friday nights!).
Skeme: Here in the states, the Black Adventure figures are valued more than the others, is it the same over there?
JP: Ah not sure, I have him ‘Tom Stone’ as he’s known here but never really checked prices against the others.
Skeme: One line from your collection that sort of surprised me was the Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman stuff. Those are usually expensive especially when wanting mint in box but you’ve got the whole kit and caboodle, even the ever so rare Big Foot figure! Not that I put that much thought into it but I never knew that they aired over there in the U.K.
JP: Ah yeah another fave of mine! A massive television show here in the 70’s and the toy line too. Every kid had a Steve Austin and the playground at school was full of kids doing that slow motion shit (makes the bionic noise). A good school friend Colin and myself used to always reminisce about Oscar Goldman’s exploding briefcase and how good that was as a toy, I think that pushed me into finding them all. Maskatron too, loved that! Have to say most of my collection of these came through eBay, probably at their height, so paid up for them. Sell a few records, buy a few toys you know how it goes!
Skeme: The most rare and sought after piece from that line was the Venus Space Probe. It rarely shows up and when it does especially in the box, it usually fetches about $3,000. Was that available for sale over there?
JP: Nope never see that but maybe it was around.
Skeme: There’s something about the era that we grew up in where certain childhood things became adult must haves like your 1979 Chatsworth Team Mongoose BMX. I had a mongoose Expert as a kid and bought another later on as an adult. Was this what you were riding as a youngster bunny hopping and hitting ramps?
JP: Actually no that was a later purchase in the early 90’s. My stats were a Moto One budget bike to start, then I had a Kuwahara KZ-1 (which I loved), then a 1st gen Haro Fresstyler which I would like back in my life and then onto the Hutch Trickstar which I still have all minted up. BMX was my life for them years and I always look back to it with fond memories. One of my good friends from back then John Dye still runs London’s only true BMX shop Volt BMX, he never gave up riding, a BMX hero! Loved to build ramps, had a quarter outside our house for a while, how the neighbors put up with it I’ll never know. We used to ‘get into’ a furniture factory near us at night and liberate all the wood. Cheers Igoe’s!
Skeme: Man, I had a silver and black Hutch Trickstar which might have been the most expensive bike that I owned back in the days. What I really wanted though was the pink and black Trickstar, it just looked so Cali and fit that time period. No collector can legitimately say they have it all, so what are you on the hunt for these days, toys or records wise?
JP: Hmmm don’t really know until I see it. I have calmed down a lot on the toy front but would like to complete my 12 Back’s (first run of Star Wars figures produced) but the ones I still need are the most expensive. Not a great time to be buying either with all the hype of the new films. A bit like buying promo disco 12”s 15 years ago (haha).
Skeme: Yeah, the collectors market and hype really gets jacked up especially with social media and big promo ads. In the early 2000’s it was easy to secure what was considered rare Funk / Soul 45s still at good prices but now things are through the roof because of the hype and trend. I’ve actually cut back and started filling in gaps on my Disco 12” collection and let the vultures fight over the 45s. You’ve been playing and collecting records for a long time, what are your Top 5 45’s that’s always in your box and guaranteed to work the dancefloor?
JP: Gawd that’s a hard one. I play all styles of music so depends what tip I’m on.
Soul wise there’s a few I never tire of and are always in the box –
Arnold Blair – Trying To Get Next To You
Bobby Reed – Time Is Right For Love
Tony Drake – Suddenly
Dee Edwards – I Can Deal With It
Flowers – For Real
Over played? Probably but there’s a reason for that!
Skeme: Any last words, shouts or parties you want to plug?
JP: Ah just to thank you for having me pass by and your efforts for keeping our dreams and memories alive, you work hard brother! I also had the pleasure of DJ Cash Money passing through my place the other month and we had a fine 45 session but never got onto the toys! I heard he has a few too. Remember, beer and beef gives a man shape. Peace!