Remembering Vintage Star Wars: An Interview with Skye Paine & Stephen Danley of The Star Wars Collector’s Archive: The Chive Cast
By Shawn Marshall| April 25, 2012 | Comments Off
Any child of the 70’s or 80’s must remember toy aisles filled with Star Wars. Similar to the way George Lucas and Star Wars took over the theaters, Kenner and their line of Star Wars toys took over the aisles of stores all over America. Who didn’t want a Death Star playset under their Christmas tree and a one-piece-bathing-suit-wearing-Hammerhead in their Easter basket? It was a simple time when Han shot first and Darth Vader was…Darth Vader. However you might feel about the modern era of Star Wars, it is undeniable that the foundation of the franchise carries with it some of our best cultural memories and that a major part of these memories ties back to those beautiful little figures that dangled from the shelves of our favorite Zody’s, T.G. & Y., Service Merchandise or Toys r Us.
So, what do we do if we want to relive those days? Where do we go if we want to really debate the true ethnicity of that fu-manchu-wearing Bespin Security Guard or to lament the absence of an actual Cloud Car Pilot on the box of the Cloud Car? Who do we go to if we’re lost in our own existential crisis like that of the lone “Sand People”? What if we just want to remember what it was like to walk down a “boy’s” (or as I refer to them now, a “Man’s”) toy aisle? Simply, we go to the Chive Cast. This monthly show delves into the toy line that many of us associate with as a simpler time in our lives. The Chive Cast reminds us that toys and collecting are fun and that despite Kenner making some crazy choices in their line (see Walrus Man’s sleeveless turtleneck), there are thousands of us that still dream of stockings filled with cantina aliens and droids. It is for these reasons (and many more) that I set out to interview the creative minds behind the show, Skye Paine and Stephen Danley:
SM: First off, I love the Chive Cast and always find it at the top of my list to listen to each month. How did the Chive Cast come into existence? What was the process of going from idea to implementation?
SP: “I literally listen to over 20 hours of podcasts every week, so I am obviously a fan of the medium. I have always wished that there was a monthly magazine for Star Wars collecting. Put the two together and there is the genesis of the project. Basically, I just thought of a product that I wish existed and tried to make it. At first I went to the ForceCast guys to see if they wanted to publish the “VintageCast.” I love their PodCast and they were branching out to become more of a “network” of Podcasts. They were interested and asked for a demo. I called Steve in as a co-host because we were friends and he lived nearby. The guys at the ForceCast liked it, but ultimately decided it was too niche. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I then went to Gus and the Archive. It is the perfect place for us and our favorite site on the internet in any event.”
SD: “I thought I would only be making a fool of myself for one episode, but somehow people have endured me for two years now and for that I’m extremely thankful. As a collector who had always been on the quiet side, I was happy to give it a try but man was I nervous. Nevertheless, the structure of the show that he had pitched to me sounded like a lot of fun. Implementing it was something I had no clue about, but Skye had a head start with a microphone, some excellent sound drops, and the ability to piece things together. Luckily, the recording time and editing load don’t seem to be as long-winded and complicated as they did in those early days. It’s amazing that we are now able to record from locations on opposite coasts. Thank the Maker for Skype!”
SM: One of the things I enjoy most about your show is the way that you take a very niche topic and make it accessible to all. Segments like “vintage vocab” help to bring new collectors up to speed on the
nuances of Star Wars collecting terminology, but beyond that the entire podcast is put together in such a way that any newbie could totally enjoy and learn. How important has it been to both of you to
produce a show that meets the needs of a very educated group of veteran collectors, while still keeping the show accessible to those new to the hobby? How much is this something that happens organically
and how much of it is planned?
SP: “This is very much planned, though it is a very difficult balance to maintain. I have to constantly remember that people may not know what a “Cromalin” is. At the same time, most of our audience either owns one or is hoping to buy one in the future. My general rule is to explain something if in doubt.”
SD: “One of my favorite things about the podcast is that I always learn something new with every episode. Having an educational component has been there from the beginning, but it’s not always planned. We oftentimes end up raising new questions right in the middle of recording, which is always fun. With the Star Wars Collectors Archive as a long-standing and rich resource to draw from, the possibilities are endless. Long-time contributors to the hobby gathered and shared so much great information on that site (from silicone molds to pop-up combs) that new collectors can be introduced to and veterans can remember fondly. Bringing its content to collectors of all levels of experience in an alternative format helps keep things fresh.”
SM: Seeing as how your podcast is one of my favorites, I’m curious what are some of your favorite podcasts? Are there any that you use for inspiration for your own show?
SD: “To be honest, I had never listened to a full podcast before I started with the ‘Chive Cast. I was only slightly familiar with the format going into things, but have come to appreciate how much freedom they give to niche topics and the people that love them. I have been somewhat of a regular listener of Los Angeles AM sports radio, and particularly enjoy the Dan Patrick Show (which is also simulcast on television). The camaraderie the guys have on that show (along with their ability to make fun of themselves and their subjects on a regular basis) is something I’ve found inspirational.”
SP: “My podcast rotation is pretty crazy. The ForceCast has been in constant rotation since 2005. These days I mostly listen to their Clone Wars Roundtables. If I’m in a very “Star Warsy” mood I’ll listen to Star Wars Action News as well. I like their collecting stuff. On a similar note, I listen to everything Curto and Burns put out even if I don’t collect modern. Beyond SW I have listened to Adam Carolla since his first week, even though I was wary because I didn’t even really like him at the time. Being from Boston I love Bill Burr and astute listeners may notice that I copy some of his mannerisms from time to time. The Dana Gould hour is new, but it may turn out to be the best comedy podcast out there. The production is outstanding. Finally, during baseball season, I listen to at least 3 hours of Baseball podcasts a day. Yep, you could say that I have an obsessive personality and like to multi-task!”
SM: Although I know you’ve been tinkering with your “lightening round” questions, I love them the way you’ve had them from the start. That being said, your question n which Kenner figure a guest would be never fails to bring awesome responses, but I have a question for the two of you. If you were a Kenner Star Wars figure, vehicle or playset, which would you be?
SP: “To be honest, this question is very difficult for me to answer, which is why I love to ask it. I think that I would have to be something that I could over-analyze. I guess that it would have to be a Return of the Jedi Darth Vader with a “Free Anakin” sticker on it. I have one of these and I find it to be a wonderfully symbolic piece of merchandise. “
SD: “I think I’d have to go with the Ewok Village. Ron Salvatore’s write-up along with the original catalog entry won me over (http://theswca.com/index.php?action=disp_item&item_id=39657). I’d have my master hut (and spare hut for guests), campfire (seems dangerous for a wooden structure based in treetops, but I’d invest in some fire extinguishers) rotisserie for s’mores and Dodger Dogs, net trap and rope elevator “for supplies and prisoners” (the catalog doesn’t really specify which is for which, so I’ll leave that open, pending circumstance), my secret escape hatch, and most importantly, my random boulder hanging from a tree branch.”
SM: As you might know, conventions are a bit of an addiction of mine. I know you have both been regulars at the Star Wars Celebration convention scene, so I’m wondering what do each of you enjoy most about con culture?
SD: “By far, the chance to hang out with friends from across the country and around the world that I would never get to see otherwise. I have come to learn that the social aspect of the convention culture is really what it’s all about. I’ve met so many great people at each Celebration and look forward to renewing old connections and forming new ones this summer in Orlando. The insanity that is the “room sale” at the hotel is a close second. You just never know what you may be trying to fit in your suitcase for the flight home.”
SP: “My favorite part is definitely getting to hang out with my “vintage” friends. It is something that I look forward to as soon any convention ends. That said, I enjoy just about everything at conventions. I love shopping for my kids. I love looking for deals. I love buying art. I love attending collecting panels. I love the bad food and the good dinners. I love the obscure conversations and room sales. I love exclusives. The only thing I don’t like is waiting in the lobby for people to come down for dinner.”
SM: In reflecting back on your podcasting lives, what are you most proud of? How do you feel about where you are at as a show, relative to how you began? Is it as much fun as you thought it would be?
SP: “Every single time someone tells me that they listen to the show it is what I am most proud of. It sounds silly, but it really means something to me to make something that people listen to. Some months I get discouraged about the amount of work and the relative lack of response. But it has opened up doors for me that I could never have imagined, so that makes up for no calls on the “wampa-line”
It is more fun than I thought it would be. The first couple of episodes were torture to edit. Now it goes fairly quickly. It doesn’t hurt that Steve is a good friend and getting to talk to him is enjoyable.”
SD: “Things really set in at Celebration V when Star Wars fans that I had never met before would approach us with a “Wampa Wampa” greeting. I couldn’t believe how many people knew about the podcast. I’m most proud to simply have a small part in it, and to contribute something to the collecting community that people enjoy. When we first started, I really wasn’t sure what to expect, or how long things would last, but I feel like the show continues to improve with each episode as more collectors become involved with interviews and as “correspondents.” The more the merrier! The last few episodes have been some of the most fun yet. As a good friend once told me when I was in an awkward social situation…”embrace the strange.” With all of the ridiculous and funky characters that the vintage line has to offer, things will only get better in that regard.”
SM: For those that might be thinking of producing their own podcast, what are some suggestions you have for them? What should they know before getting involved?
SD: “This is likely a question best answered by Skye, but the one thing I will add is to put as much preparation time in as you can. Having a well-researched and solid outline helps incredibly, and though it doesn’t have to be followed strictly, it allows you to branch off on fun tangents while maintaining a decent flow to an episode.”
SP: “1: Buy a microphone, 2: Know that RSS is the hardest thing about getting it set up, but it isn’t too hard to maintain, 3: Don’t have any expectations for how it will be received.”
SM: What are some goals for the Chive Cast in 2012? What are you most excited about for this year?
SP: “Just want to keep on putting out the show. I hope to have more “world tours” and more interviews. I’m most excited about CVI.”
SD: “Celebration VI is the apex of 2012 for the ‘Chive Cast, and as a collector. Having the chance to see old friends, interact with listeners and celebrate vintage absurdities is going to be a blast. As far as goals for the podcast, I would love to have some new stops on the “Vintage World Tour.” Also, upgrading to an “enhanced” podcast with accompanying visual materials will be a huge improvement.”
SM: Is there anything else that either of you’d like to add for our readers?
SP: “One of the things we like to talk about is the fact that collecting vintage does not have to be expensive. There are ways to collect without draining your bank account and it is a very satisfying thing to collect.
SD: “Thanks for giving us a try and I hope to meet many of you who may be attending Celebration VI this summer!”
I want to thank Skye and Stephen for taking the time for this interview. Like Skye, I have a healthy rotation of podcasts, but there are none that I look more forward to than this one. If you read my interview with the Cape Town Community guys, you’ll remember that my favorite thing about their show is the marriage of thoughtful analysis and cheerful banter. Well, this goes the same for the Chive Cast. The insights they provide on the toys of my childhood are so interesting and fun. To go behind the scenes at Kenner HQ 30 years later is quite a treat.
As Star Wars Celebration VI gets nearer, we’ll be catching up with these two more to hear all the details panels and the Star Wars Collector’s Archive party so keep an eye on this site for more news. Also, make sure to stop by www.theswca.com to visit their site and to listen to their show. Lastly, remember to follow me on Twitter so you can get all of the updates on the world of cons: @The_Con_Fluence.