Anticipation has been building for months within the Star Wars collecting community, but it isn’t just for new Last Jedi toys. Series fans have been getting ready for the inaugural auction offerings from the Star Wars Collection of Russell Branton at Hake’s Americana & Collectibles. For a decade, Branton cultivated an incredible collection of high grade action figures and related toys, including several very rare pieces.

As excitement for the sale was heating up, Scoop talked to Branton about his collection. He shared his passion for the series, why he meticulously sought high grade pieces, why he chose to sell through Hake’s, and what made now the right time to put the collection on the market.

Scoop: What drew you to collecting Star Wars memorabilia?
Russell Branton (RB):
When I was five years old my mom took me to the drive-in and I saw Star Wars for the very first time with my brother Randy. I was mesmerized and hooked from that day forward. My brother Randy suffered from muscular dystrophy and passed away at the age of 13. Star Wars was our common bond and has stuck with me throughout my life.

Scoop: Have you always been a fan of the series?
Yes, from the age of five

Scoop: How long have you been collecting Star Wars memorabilia?
I played with the toys as a little boy. And always kept them into adulthood! Around 2003 is when I started my actual collection. My first purchase was the vinyl caped Jawa.

Scoop: At its peak, do you know how many items were in your Star Wars collection?
Roughly 700 to 800 pieces.

Scoop: What’s your favorite item or items from the collection?
The double telescoping figures. The prototype Boba Fett. But I’m also very fond of the fact that I have all of the three-packs and also for personal reasons The Return of the Jedi Gamorrean Guard, because as a boy it took me so long to find it in the stores.

Scoop: There are several very rare pieces in your collection. Was it your goal to find those items or was it by luck?
It was absolutely my goal. It took me 10 years to compile this entire collection.

Scoop: I believe the items Hake’s is selling are all still carded or boxed. Did you specifically want carded and boxed pieces? Were you ever tempted to open things?
Yes, I always looked for never opened, always sealed in original condition pieces. And, gradable pieces. And yes, I would always be tempted to open them up.

Scoop: The items are all figures, playsets, etc. Have you collected other types of Star Wars memorabilia? For instance, movie posters, sleeping bags, stuff like that.
I tried to keep it mainly to the toys. However, I do have movie posters in my media room at home and also the Don Post statues that are part of the collection.

Scoop: What else do you collect?
I also collect G.I. Joe, He-Man, Masters of the Universe, Battlestar Galactica, and the original Lord of the Rings figures.

Scoop: Why are you selling your Star Wars collection now?
It was always my mission to obtain the entire collection and eventually sell it off, it will be exciting to see the love and passion others have for Star Wars as well.

Scoop: Why did you choose to sell your collection at Hake’s Americana & Collectibles?
Because of their passion for my toy collection. With a collection of this magnitude I wanted to put it in the best hands possible. And Hake’s, I believe, are the experts in this realm.

Scoop: The items that Hake’s will be selling are all graded. Did you have them graded and if so, why was that important to you?
I did have them all graded to authenticate each piece and also to show the high quality of each piece. I wouldn’t purchase anything that had a low grade. That’s why it took me 10 years to complete my collection.

Hake’s Americana & Collectibles will be selling Branton’s collection over several auctions, beginning with Auction #222 which is currently open for bidding and closes on November 14-16, 2017. To bid on the first portion of the collection visit hakes.com.