More Than Meets The Eye: An Interview With Eddie Crooks

star was dealing

Eddie Crooks: No Joke

As part of our expanding coverage of the hobby, we thought it might be fun to occasionally shine a light on other aspects of fandom that we are interested in, beyond the usual Corehammer parameters. With that in mind, let me introduce to you Eddie Crooks, an English coreman now residing in Scandinavia. Via mutual follows on Instagram of all places, I became aware of Eddie’s interests and encyclopaedic knowledge in the realm of vintage toy collecting, something I have dabbled in sporadically over the years. Eddie also runs Droid Rage online fanzine and Utter Garbage, a dedicated Garbage Pail Kids fanzine. Here’s what he had to say:

Eddie, tell us a little bit about your history as a Star Wars collector. Did you collect anything growing up, were you into comic books or trading cards or owt like that? How did you start out with Star Wars, and was Star Wars the first area of collecting you got into?

I have always been pretty insane for collecting. I was deeply into MOTU then Action Force and Transformers were my favorite with Star Wars following very close behind, but pretty much any new action figure line that came out, I started collecting to a certain extent, ie Visionaries Swamp Thing figures, Beetlejuice figs… you name it, I had it. As for trading cards, I was and still am very into Garbage Pail Kids. I was crazy for them. I think there was a point where they were all I thought about, haha, even when you couldn’t get them anymore in the UK, I used to talk about them and other kids would be like “dude shut up, they are so shit and over man” haha, my Dad used to let me have them but my Mum wasn’t so keen. I remember coming home with like 10 packs of series packs and the empty box and my mum made me throw the box in the bin. I used to get a couple packs of Alf stickers too, so I could mix them in the pile so my mum wouldn’t know they were GPK’S. I carried a stack of GPK’S around with me for years. I’m also into old horror movie and other movie trading cards and was as a kid. As for Star Wars collecting, as an adult I felt that I needed to start collecting something again, something with substance as I had lost all my childhood toys, but had started collecting allsorts of lines but going anywhere with them… Japanese and Aliens (Movie) toys mostly. I decided to sell all of that stuff off and start collecting one of my old favs again. I had been living in Spain and talking lots at night with a fellow chef and nerd about toys and I was adamant when that last season was over I was going to collect something vintage again. I was never massively into comics but I had tons of vintage Horror comics at one point… Puppet Master, Friday The 13th, Nightmare On Elm ST, Aliens, Predator etc… they all got lost too or stolen from my Dad’s unit.

image (13)Given your investment in the Star wars universe, how are you feeling about the upcoming Star Wars movies helmed by JJ Abrams?

Not really fussed about owt new Star Wars wise. The toy line always came first for me then the movies second, so I’m not really interested. It has bumped the prices of the vintage toys up though as it always does. I’m original trilogy or nothing!

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When I was an active toy and comic book collector, the thrill of the hunt was often just as exciting for me as finally getting the toy or comic book in my hands. This was before the internet/ebay etc changed the game somewhat, and I had to actively build and nurture a network of real world contacts from storemen in toy shops to the kinda shady sketchball characters that hung around toy and comic shows. Can you relate to the thrill of the hunt, and do you have any similar experiences, or are you a child of the internet generation?

Yeah, I’m exactly the same. I love the hunt. I’ve checked out vintage toy and comic shops all over the world. No, I’m certainly not a child of the internet generation. I didn’t even get the internet until like 2005, haha, then loads of places I lived after that didn’t have it but now I’m pretty glued to the fucker, I must admit. I’m a real forum junkie, I’m very involved in the hobby forums.


Tomax & Xamot. A real pair of dickheads

As licensed properties with well distributed movies/animated series to move them forward ,Transformers and Star Wars toys enjoyed pretty much universal appeal upon release, and that’s only grown as the internet makes the fandom community and the pursuit of collectible items more accessible. GI Joe however is less of an easy thing to get into as a Brit, the show wasn’t particularly visible in the UK and Action Force always seemed a bit watered down, so how did that fascination with GI Joe spark for you?

Action Force was probably my favorite as a kid. I spent a lot of time at my 2 sets of Grandparent’s houses with cousins when I was younger and I always hung out with the older kids out on the street, and those dudes usually had the best stuff. We used to have almost everything you could image from the early Action Force line set on my Nan’s lawn back in Hinckley in those summers, with Star Wars and other figures mixed in. It was next level fun. My other Grandma used to make a conscious effort to get me and my cousin James all the new bits that were around. She’d know which ones we’d need and shit and take us to the store and just buy us tons of figures, it was gnarly. Action Force was the one I craved most, but I’d get a healthy selection of all the classics for Xmas, Transformers would always be the least prominent. I’ve only recently started collecting Joe again. Actually, I’ve been trying to stop myself from being into too many lines, but caved in and decided to collect Japanese and Nordic boxed and carded Joe and loose mint complete ARAH. I also love the cartoon.

sky storm

Can you talk us through a couple of key pieces in your collection?

That’s hard really, as I collect so much, but I do own a Bukimi Kun Card in almost mint condition (Japanese Garbage Pail Kid). They are insanely rare and go for 100’s in that condition. At one point people were paying like 500 bucks for ones that had been stuck on a piece of paper or cut out of an album, its nuts. I also own a series 2 Garbage Pail kid cheap toy, another very rare piece as they were only released in Canada and in very small quantities, that’s also in mint condition which makes it even rarer and I also have its packaging and checklist. I have owned a few rare Star Wars bits but sold them on. I had a vinyl caped Jawa in my possession earlier this year. I have some pretty nice Japanese G1 Transformers too. I did have a lot more, including some of the Rarer Masterforce line, but decided to sell them all before I moved to Sweden, so I’m now re-collecting for the third time, haha. I also have loads of other rare Garbage Pail Kids cheap toys and foreign cards. Most of my stuff is in near mint or mint condition, which is how I like it incase I ever want to sell anything or trade, plus I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I have some nice boxed Takara Battle Beasts and some lovely foreign factory sealed Joe stuff, as well as factory sealed vintage Star Wars vehicles and playsets plus did own a couple of rare Mexican Lilly Ledy Figures and not massively rare but getting there a couple of mint Yak Faces.
japanese transformers
Most serious collectors I’m aquainted with have a Holy Grail item that they pursue doggedly, sometimes to almost psychotic lengths. Is there a particular item out there that you would do anything to aquire?

I really want a boxed black Zarak (Japanese Transformer), but they go for like $2000. I would also love some nice carded Takara Star Wars figures, but they didn’t even have one in the vintage Star Wars shop (Star Case) in Tokyo, so I think they are even more rare these days and probably cost a bomb. I’ve not seen one for sale in the 3 years I’ve been using (biggest vintage star wars forum on earth). Plus there’s loads of foreign Joe I want that’s pretty rare.


You recently took a trip to Japan and you mentioned to me that one of the key focuses of that trip was to search out toys, how did you make out? How is the collectible toy market different over there, were there many specialist shops?

Yea Japan is awesome, Tokyo is the best city in the world. They have everything we have here and more and they obsess over stuff. Most of the vintage toy lines if not all of them, had a Japanese version, from Star Wars to Madballs. Transformers is king in Japan though, lots of gnarly vintage and modern stuff about, but it ain’t cheap, haha. Theres tons of specialist shops- the Manadrake chain of stores is heaven, they have a few locations in Tokyo, I went to 3 of them and they just have floors and floors of cabinets full of vintage toys, comics, books, dolls, allsorts man. There’s also loads of others all around the city. No one speaks English though really, so make sure you do plenty of research before you go for anyone planning on it. Plus stuff is pretty hard to find some times, so you will need mobile internet, as I didn’t find one bit of free WIFI anywhere in Tokyo. I have friends there though, so got shown round a few places.

photo-2I like to ask everyone about their gateways into hardcore, what can you tell us about yours? First record/pivotal show/ shit like that?

Well I was into Thrash and Metal as a kid. I had some older lads at the top of my street that would lend me Slayer Tapes and Suicidal etc. I fucking loved Megadeth and Metallica (still do). I have been into Skateboarding since the early 90’s too, so it was real easy for me to find out about good music at Radlands and through other skaters. I started listing to Wu Tang, Gravediggaz and other Rap, then it was a bit of shitty Punk like Lagwagon and stuff. I also listened to Misfits, but I wasn’t into that Fat Wreck stuff for long though. There was a couple of dudes, Stan and Neil, both loads older skaters and snowboarders. I did both with Stan. One day he lent me a mix tape that had Gorilla Biscuits, Bold, Project X and Cro-Mags on it and that was pretty much it. I started asking them about bands constantly like Chain, YOT, Judge etc…. I’d been to loads of punk shows by this point but had totally dropped it for HC. I think one of my first HC shows was a SOIA show in Leicester, followed by H20 in Birmingham 1999. I think I saw Shelter and Better Than A Thousand around that time too, as well as some Euro and UK HC bands. My first HC record was a Point Blank 7 on Red vinyl, I bought it off Stan for like 50p.

GPK Cheap Toys rares and commons

Garbage Pail Kids Toys

Obsessional behaviors (with straight edge, records, trainers etc) are not uncommon within hardcore punk so it comes as no surprise that many toy collectors have punk backgrounds. What do you think is the common thread between the two?

I have always thought people who find themselves immersed in HC are real interesting people, and it’s kind of a hobby as well as a lifestyle and a music scene. There’s also a lot of stuff you have to have in the HC scene, like shirts and records, so you find yourself adding to it all with other stuff like trainers and crap. Next thing you know you fucking collect old toy lines again, old shirts, records and all manner of other rubbish. I’m also a trainer collector, I have owned tons of shit hot kicks since I was a young kid- I always had an eye and interest for sneakers. I only have about 20 pairs at the moment but have some high end bits, I’ve had 3 pairs of Jordan 3’s in my life and I have the 2009 release white and red ones in mint condition right now. I used to collect records- had some gems- first and second press Floorpunch and Chain 7’s, but sold and traded all of them away when I moved to London for the second most recent time.

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Five Mandalorian Commandos Walk into A Bar…

You live in Scandinavia but are originally from the UK. How did you end up in the land of frost giants?

Yeah, I’m originally from Leicester, but I have also lived in Birmingham, London and spent 3 years working in Spain. I also spent some time in Austria for a winter season. We moved here because we were sick of London and wanted a change. I’ve had a lot to do with Scandinavian people in my life so I knew the pay was great here in my main trade (Professional varied cuisine chef). Also its a safe place to live and bring up children as well as having some very nice countryside. I reside in Malmö, south Sweden. It’s also only 20 mins by train to Copenhagen, Denmark. We have traveled around Norway, Denmark and Finland too, so know the drill all over Scandiland. I fucking love Oslo and have some very good friends there. It’s my favorite city in Europe.


Dreadnok Ripper: Modelling Hasbro’s classic Summer ’85 ‘Camp Henchman’ line

What’s the motivation behind Droid Rage zine. Have you ever participated in bands or any other creative endeavours within HC?

It’s going to sound really sappy, but I basically felt like I’ve taken so much from the Hardcore scene that it was time to give something back. It has been in the making for about 10 years. I love Hardcore and its always been there for me. I will always be into Hardcore. No, I’ve never been in any bands- went to practice once with some lads that were into a bit of metal in like 2003, but I wasn’t into their ideas. I would have sung as I can’t play any instruments.

What is the best Floorpunch song?

All Floorpunch is good.

Mosh or stage dive?

Used to do both constantly, but I’m a fat fuck now, so neither most of the time. I did mosh for Keep It Clear and Stick Together recently though.

Last words/shout outs?

Thanks for the interview keep up the realness on CH! Yo to all my nerd family. Check out DROIDXRAGE if you like Hardcore. And check out Utter Garbage HERE

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