Australia’s Most Enthusiastic Star Wars Collector’s Collection of Collectibles Sure Is Something
Luke Buckmaster Interviews Mick Fett, Australia's biggest Star Wars merch collector.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
To celebrate the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Blu-ray and Digital HD, we chat to Australia’s ultimate Star Wars collector.
For a Star Wars fan, exploring Mick Fett’s five bedroom house offers so many delights it’s hard to know what intergalactic analogy might do the experience justice. It’s like sipping on a cocktail at the Mos Eisley Cantina, perhaps, or dancing under the stars on a moonlit Endor. Or, better yet, like stir-frying an Ewok.
Mick, whose day job belongs to the real-life force (he’s a police officer), owns Australia’s largest collection of Star Wars merchandise. Every bit of it is kept in the 38-year-old’s home in Sydney’s outer south-west. In collecting circles, the man is a legend. After inspecting his place, a certain Harrison Ford line from The Force Awakens comes to mind: “it’s true, all of it.”
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Every room in Mick’s house is stacked from floor to ceiling with tubs, boxes, shelves and cabinets of paraphernalia. It is so cluttered, the space so Force-ified with bits and pieces and galaxy-far-far-away-thinga-me-bobs, you’d be forgiven for thinking nobody lived here at all. Or that the property was owned by George Lucas and used as a kind of personal shrine to self.
Mick acknowledges his hobby only just walks the line between collecting and hoarding. This is the reason he hasn’t contemplated moving his tens of thousands of items, valued at well over half a million dollars, into a professional storage facility: “I need to have it around me. I guess that’s the hoarding side.”
Of his ultra-heightened need to own as much of the Star Wars universe, he says: “I call it super-collecting. But super-collecting and hoarding, there’s a very thin line between the two. It also comes down to space. If you don’t have the space and you’ve got a big collection, it definitely becomes overwhelming and looks very much like a hoarder’s place. If I had the space to put it all out, it would have more of a museum quality.”
Much of the space in Mick’s Star Wars-onian consists of boxes stacked on boxes stacked on boxes, but there’s also a display element. The large fish tank with a (real) eel swimming in it, sharing his underwater abode with a miniature AT-AT Walker and an animatronic crocodile, is a nice touch.
The room populated by busts of famous Star Wars characters, including around two dozen variations of full-sized Storm Trooper helmets, is quite something. Next to the array of helmets is a Millennium Falcon model personally approved, complete with autograph, by Harrison Ford, worth about $12,000.
The room dedicated to arcade video games will make a certain kind of person (men who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s gripping joysticks and whacking buttons come to mind) actually salivate. In addition to the big and elaborate Star Wars arcades there’s also, because what the hell, Street Fighter 2 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles machines.
Mick started seriously collecting in the late 1990s, in the lead-up to the release of the Star Wars Special Editions. His tactics back then were primitive. “I used to drive around to all the Targets and Woolies and Big W’s and try to make a set,” he says. “But I also bought vintage toys as well and slowly the collection just grew and grew.”
What started as a shelf in his bedroom expanded into his lounge room. The allocated area in the lounge room took over the house. As the space expanded, Mick’s strategies developed.
“I’d buy a collection for a couple of thousand dollars, then break it up and take out the things that I need, then resell the other items and make maybe five times what I paid for it,” he says. “It’s very addictive. You do get a rush when you find something that you’re looking for. And then, after the rush is gone, you wait for the next one.”
Among Mick’s most prized possessions are three Star Wars pachinko machines imported from Japan (these are like pokies crossed with pinball machines), a life-sized podracer from Sydney’s Fox Studios (outside in three parts – it’s 12 metres long), one of the world’s largest collections of loose Star Wars figurines and 13 ultra-rare Toltoys vinyl cape Jawa figures.
With this sort of collection comes great responsibility and, shall we say, certain lifestyle changes.
“I’ve given up the alcohol,” he says. “At least at home. If I go out it’s okay because I’m safe, away from my toys. I wouldn’t trust myself in this place because if I get too drunk I might open up something or drop something by accident.”
Mick and his girlfriend have been together for three years. When he brought her back to his house for the first time, as he was turning the key to the front door, he issued a last-minute warning.
“I said ‘look, before you come inside I just want to tell you, that Star Wars collecting I told you about — it’s a bit more extreme’,” he says.
“She was a bit surprised at first, but ultimately I am who I am. It doesn’t change me, the person she got to know. In the end it’s just a hobby. But for me, it’s more of a lifestyle as well. Live and breathe Star Wars.”
With the hype now on the all new bonus content available on Star Wars: The Force Awakens Blu-ray and Digital HD release we’re pretty sure we know how Mick and his brethren spent the weekend.
Luke Buckmaster is a film critic for Guardian Australia, Daily Review and contributes commentary to a range of Australian publications. He tweets @lukebuckmaster.
All images by Lowanna Daoud-Opit.