SPOILER: How did you start collecting official Star Wars prop replicas?
GABE ESTRADA: In the early 2000s, I discovered a company called Master Replicas that had the license from Lucasfilm to make replica lightsabers, blasters, helmets and ships. I always dreamed of owning something like that as a kid, so I immediately became a fan of that company. These replicas were not cheap, and at that time I couldn’t afford most of them. However, one Christmas my wife bought me one of their Stormtrooper helmets and I have been hooked ever since. I slowly started collecting the original trilogy props, and expanded into other licensed companies like EFX Collectibles, Anovos, Denuo Novo and Regal Robot. I’ve now been collecting licensed prop replicas for almost 20 years!
SPOILER: What was the inspiration for your collection room?
GABE ESTRADA: As I previously mentioned, I didn’t have my own room growing up, but displaying my collection was very important to me. I was collecting these prop replicas while I was working full time and going to school but they remained in boxes because we didn’t have the space. After years of hard work and perseverance, I graduated from law school, became an attorney, and we were able to afford our first home. My wife knew that I always wanted a collection room and was very supportive, so I wanted to make my room look as classy and uncluttered. I wanted my collection room to look like a museum, so I made sure that each piece was individually displayed and lit. It took a few months to build, but I finally had the collection room I always dreamed about. My Star Wars collection room represents my “American Dream” because it takes me back to when I was a kid, daydreaming about Star Wars toys, and reminds me that through hard work and perseverance you can achieve anything.
SPOILER: What are your top 3 favorite items in your collection?
GABE ESTRADA: I get this question asked a lot and I always have a hard time answering because I love my collection as a whole. But I would say that the Regal Robot Rancor replica is definitely top 3. Regal Robot was able to digitally scan the original puppet in the Lucasfilm Archives and only made 83 replicas. The piece is not only very exclusive but the Rancor happens to be one of my favorite creatures from Star Wars. Another favorite item is the Illusive Concepts Han Solo in Carbonite replica. Illusive Concepts was given permission to make a cast of the screen used Han Solo in Carbonite in the Lucasfilm Archives and released them as a limited edition. The company disappeared in the early 2000s and this Han Solo in Carbonite is extremely difficult to find these days because it is the only one directly pulled form the original prop. Finally, the Master Replicas Millennium Falcon Studio Scale replica. This is a replica of the 32” model that ILM used in filming The Empire Strikes Back and it has become a grail for most collectors.
SPOILER: Tell us about your passion for sharing your collection and educating people about these collectibles.
GABE ESTRADA: When I started collecting these prop replicas, there wasn’t a lot of references or education about these pieces. I started a YouTube channel called Star Wars Replicas so I could
show other collectors what to look for in the box, since most of these prop replicas were made by companies that were no longer around. I also started posting my Star Wars collection on social media (@ starwarsreplicas) on Instagram and TikTok, which eventually grew to over 600,000 followers. That’s when Lucasfilm started reaching out and I started getting sponsorships. Now I get to work with so many of my favorite Lucasfilm brands to review their Star Wars products. But one of the biggest highlights was when I had my own Star Wars Replicas panel at Star wars Celebration 2022 and Lucasfilm also invited me as a special guest on their High End Collectibles Panel, which was an amazing experience. But what’s really special is being part of the Star Wars community and being able to share my collection with other fans!
SPOILER: What is some advice you would give to a collector that wants to take their collection to another level?
GABE ESTRADA: I would tell them to collect what they love not what they think is worth money. Some of our most cherished collectibles in our collections are toys from our childhood or something that takes us back to a memory in our childhood. The collection is for them to enjoy so they should have things that they have a strong connection.
The other thing we would tell them is to really focus on the display. Try to get inspiration from other collectors but do something original to showcase their collectibles. A good clean display will make any collection look like it belongs in a museum. Most people can do that without spending a lot of money by just giving each piece the respect and focus it deserves. But most important, have fun with your display.