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Star Wars’ Collector Shows Smaller Side Of Comic-Con

Video by Nicholas Mcvicker

While others look forward to the latest blockbuster trailers, some are on the hunt for Comic-Con's exclusive merchandise. Ramie Tateishi, who has been collecting R2-D2 robots for 40 years, explains why he attends the convention year after year.

Ramie Tateishi, film professor at San Diego’s National University, was about 8 years old when he first saw Star Wars. Like millions of others, he immediately became a fan. When he got his hands on the franchise’s first toys, he fell in love.

“R2-D2 was the first robot who looked like it could really be a robot and not just a guy in a costume,” Tateishi said.

Almost 40 years later, Tateishi’s collection of the space droid has grown to nearly 100 items. He says it even won him second place in the 2012 San Diego County Fair collectors exhibit.

Smaller collections of Yoda, musicians in the "Star Wars" films and "The Simpsons" also rest on a shelf in his living room.

But his white and blue droids are everywhere — filling shelves and boxes at home and brightening up his office at work. Tateishi says collecting offers an alternative avenue to channel his enthusiasm for the famous galaxy far, far away.

“It’s a way you can have your passion for the film on display,” he explained.

Tateishi has been attending San Diego’s Comic-Con for about 20 years. He started going when scoring convention tickets was as easy as sending a check by mail and picking them up at the door. He says he often seeks out the latest merchandise at Comic-Con to add to his collection.

“Seeing all the stuff that you love concentrated together in one space,” Tateishi said. “It’s a great thing.”

However, more than a chance to shop, Tateishi says Comic-Con gives him the opportunity to forge friendships with collectors from around the globe.

The convention has grown to attract more mainstream pop culture fans over the years, but Tateishi says Comic-Con’s success has also made it easier for smaller fan communities to flourish.

“There’s still avenues for smaller stuff,” Tateishi says. “Now it’s so much easier to do stuff like that, for the people who have smaller, more focused interests to meet up and get to know each other.”

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