It's 4 May 2022, otherwise know as Star Wars Day (May the fourth be with you!)
We have lots of amazing Star Wars related records in the Guinness World Records archives, including the highest-grossing film series at the global box office, most appearances in Star Wars films (Anthony Daniels as C-3PO) and even the largest Star Wars toothpick sculpture.
But one of our most iconic Star Wars records is the largest collection of Star Wars memorabilia, which has been amassed by Steve Sansweet (USA).
Steve has held this record since 4 May 2015, with 93,260 items audited and catalogued.
However, Steve's total collection is closer to 500,000 unique items, but he doesn’t have the time to catalogue them all. He's busy running the Rancho Obi-Wan museum, which allows members of the public to peruse his epic collection.
Although it's hard to pick the top items out of such an extensive and varied collection, we've pulled out fifteen seriously cool items – whether they're rare, expensive or just darn extraordinary.
Which one will be your favourite?
1. Darth Vader’s codpiece
This codpiece is an original, screen-used piece of Darth Vader’s iconic black costume. It still retains the costumer's tag of Bermans & Nathans on the inside.
This costume house, which had its start in outfitting London's West End, went on to create costumes for huge blockbusters such as Dr Zhivago (USA, 1965), Lawrence Of Arabia (UK, 1962) and of course, the Star Wars films.
2. The Empire Strikes Bike
Described by Steve as a "one of a kind treasure", The Empire Strikes Bike is a one-off fan creation by Pete Vilmur. Built in a residential garage, this bike was a labour of love, crafted from carefully procured vintage items. Posting on Facebook, Steve explained how this unique bike came to be.
"The frame, wheels, and crank were acquired directly from an official Skywalker Ranch staff bike." (Skywalker Ranch is the headquarters for Lucasfilm and Skywalker Sound, forty minutes from San Francisco, USA.)
The frame of the bike was then accessorized with pieces from 1940s cruisers, a 1960s Sears Spaceliner and a 1960s Roadmaster body.
Other features include reworked Master Replicas FX lightsabers for the headlight and taillight, lights and sounds activated by switches (including a chrome Darth Vader handlebar which plays popular quotes such as "Your destiny lies with me, Skywalker") a chrome tail and leather streamers.
"I fell in lust with the bike when I first saw it early last year. The over-the-top geek and nerd credit, not to mention bonus Star Wars points, should last Pete a lifetime" – Steve Sansweet, 2011
3. Steve’s original 1978 figures
Steve bought this figures when they first came out in 1978. Like many others, he went right ahead and opened them up, and then like many others years later probably regretted it!
However, Steve now has another version of each of the figures, this time unopened and in mint condition. These include characters such as Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi and a Tusken Raider.
5. Scraps of Qui-Gon Jinn’s costume
This item is the rarest in the collection and was the hardest to obtain, according to Steve.
"I was on the set of Episode I at Leavesden Studios when the Qui-Gon Jinn wax dummy was burnt at the funeral pyre."
"When the set broke, when everybody was dismissed, I followed the guys out the back. They were long gone, but there in the grass I saw they had sprayed the dummy with a fire extinguisher."
Steve gathered up the remaining pieces of unburned fabric from Qui-Gon Jinn’s cloak, boots and belt and put them in his pocket.
4. Darth Vader gargoyle
This peculiar item is a copy of the limestone "grotesque" or gargoyle that can be found on the spires of the National Cathedral in Washington DC. It is located on the cathedral's northwest tower.
The fearsome Darth Vader ended up as a feature on the cathedral after a design-a-carving competition for children that ran during the '80s. Christopher Rader secured third place with his Vader entry.
The head was sculpted by Jay Hall Carpenter and carved by Patrick J. Plunkett.
6. Figures from Robot chicken
These figures are altogether different from other mass-produced collectables.
Steve procured three stop-motion animation figures from all three of the Robot Chicken Star Wars parody specials; Robot Chicken: Star Wars (2007) Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II (2008) and Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III (2010).
Along with the figures of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Emperor Palpatine and "nerd boy" is a note from the show that reads "Steve! Ask and you shall receive. Well, not always, but this time."
The figures and note are displayed in a glass case.
7. Padmé Amidala and Princess Leia bowling ball
While this bowling ball may not appear to be a super-exciting item, did you know it was used in a Star Wars bowling league? That’s right. In 2005, the Star Wars Strike Force Bowling League was created. At that time, there were over 1,000 centres in the US and 100 centres in the UK participating, however it only lasted for roughly a year and a half.
One of the pulls to join the league was an exclusive opportunity to purchase these bowling balls created specially by Strike Ten/Leading Edge Promotions.
"Our seven-ball collection features a design from each of the six Star Wars films episodes plus a seventh design that features the courageous women of Star Wars - Padmé Amidala and her daughter Princess Leia," John Harbuck, Executive Vice-Present of Strike Ten/Leading Edge Promotions, said at the time.
The other balls featured C-3PO, Jar Jar Binks, R2-D2, Yoda, Darth Vader and the duel between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar.
8. Purple and gold LEGO® Millennium Falcon
Talking of rare items, this purple and gold LEGO® Millennium Falcon is the only one in existence.
It has a figure of Lando Calrissian standing atop it, holding an umbrella and a paint roller. It was created by an intern at the LEGO® headquarters in Billund, Denmark.
This blingy R2D2 appeared on the Conan O’Brien Show in 2007, the same night that George Lucas made a guest appearance to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Star Wars.
Lucas was asked to audition some potential new characters for the films, and R2-MrT2 made his stage debut. Despite getting a thumbs up from Lucas on the show, that is where his TV career ended.
He now sits next to full-size LEGO® statues of Darth Vader, Boba Fett and a fellow R2-D2, entertaining guests at Rancho Obi-Wan.
10. Iconic rocket-firing Boba Fett figures
These actions figures are some of the most sought-after from the Star Wars franchise. This prototype was revealed by toy company Kenner at the 1979 toy fair, but safety concerns kept it from production.
Steve has both versions of the rocket-firing Boba Fett available, the unpainted version with the so-called "L slot", and the painted version with the so-called "J slot". The slots refer to the shape of the locking mechanism for the rocket launcher. It's estimated there are only 15 - 20 of the unpainted version, and only half of that number for the painted version.
One of the painted versions holds the record for the most expensive Star Wars action figure sold at an online auction, fetching $185,850 (£144,939; €168,304), including premium, on 7 November 2019.
11. Star Wars bid book
This item was the very first collectible Steve acquired – though it was somewhat by accident.
Copies of this bid book were sent out to movie theatre managers and owners to get them to bid on running Star Wars: A New Hope (USA, 1977) at their locations. They were also sent to journalists to drum up interest and coverage of the film.
"I got it because I was working at the Wall Street Journal at the time," Steve shared.
"It went to the guy who covered the movie business and he looked at it and threw it in his trash can. At the end of the day I sort of rescued it from the wastebasket."
12. Pieces of the Death Star
These items formed parts of the Death Star as features in Star Wars: A New Hope (USA, 1977). Steve also has prop snow from the Wampa cave and a piece of the Millennium Falcon that was built for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (USA, 1980).
"Anthony Daniels, who played C-3PO, walked through the scrap heap and picked up ten different pieces gave them names like 'reverse power-flux coupling cover', put then in acrylic cases, and sold them to ridiculous collectors… like me."
13. Massive Star Wars painting
This colourful and detailed painting depicts various characters from the Star Wars movies.
The oil on canvas painting, named The 20th Century Space Opera, was created by Robert Xavier Burden, an artist based in San Francisco. It took Burden 2,000 hours of work over 18 months to complete this epic 15 ft by 8 ft painting.
14. Engraved mastodon bone
This 11,000-year-old mastodon bone engraving was commissioned by Steve himself. The artwork was created by Noel Green.
Mastodons looked very similar to woolly mammoths, but had a smaller, stockier build with shorter and straighter tusks. They went extinct at the end of the Pleistocene era, roughly 11,000 years ago.
It’s described by Steve as "probably the only piece of Star Wars scrimshaw you’ll ever see".
15. Star Wars banner from 1976
This canvas banner is the oldest item in Steve’s collection, and is what he would save from a fire if he could only leave with one thing – so you know it’s a good one.
Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that the year the banner was made, 1976, is a year before Star Wars: A New Hope opened in movie theatres. Others will have noticed the font is different to the iconic Star Wars one we all know today.
That's because the banner features conceptual artwork by Ralph McQuarrie, who worked on all three movies in the original Star Wars trilogy as a concept artist. Along with the text, the banner features an illustration of "Starkiller", a composite character included in the early drafts for Star Wars.
This name was even used in the first scenes ever shot for the franchise, before George Lucas decided to change it to Skywalker.
So there you have it, fifteen amazing items from the world’s largest collection of Star Wars memorabilia.
See even more unique items from Steve’s epic collection:
Of course, you can always see the items in real life at the Rancho Obi-Wan museum in Petaluma, California.