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When in 1977 Miguel Ángel Jimeno saw Star Wars, he was snatched away by the immense universe created by George Lucas. Such was his addiction to the fictional saga that, over the years, he has managed to gather the best private collection of Star Wars that exists in Europe. Now he presents it in an interdisciplinary way in the excellent exhibition space of the Tomás y Valiente Art Center in Fuenlabrada under the name of Star Wars Universe. He will remain there until the end of July. "Star Wars is a global cultural phenomenon that encompasses all the arts," Jimeno says. And in that direction he has focused his Herculean project.
QUESTION.- When did your passion for Star Wars begin?
ANSWER.- The children born in my generation were lucky enough to go to the cinema, to the premiere of the first film, and we got hooked on a wonderful universe that for many years has given us joy, has made us enjoy, has made us excited ... My love of Star Wars goes back to then, to the year 77. Then we were lucky that in Spain, where there is a great toy industry. We had, above all, and some important manufacturers of that time began to produce Star Wars toys, so for many years I was playing with the ships, with the figures ... What happened when I got older is that there were many toys that I had not been able to buy, because the Magi had not given them to me, I had not behaved well or I had not passed all the subjects I had to pass, and I said: well now I am going to take revenge. And I started in the second-hand market. We are already talking about the late 90s, early 2000s. It also coincided with the Ebay boom, with the Internet boom, and that gave a boost to the secondary market. And well, at the beginning that little figure of Darth Vader that I was missing, because I got it, and I did not have enough. Then appeared a series of multinational companies, especially American, which began to buy the rights and manufacture figures in resin, or in other materials, on larger scales, at 1/6. Well, then they moved on to full-scale figures and almost, almost without realizing it, I transitioned from my childhood toys to real collecting. And very little by little because I started buying that type of figures.
Boba Fett at full scale 1/1. It has so many accessories that we can't even notice them all in the movies.
At first I kept them at my mother's house, because I was still single, when I started, and there came a time when I got married, but I kept them in my mother's house. And the collection began to grow, to grow and I began to distribute the figures in friends' houses. And there came a time when my mother and my friends told me: this can't go on, you're blocking us. And in particular my mother I remember saying to me: you, my son, have Diogenes syndrome and gave me an ultimatum. Either you take all this from here or I'll put it on the street. Of course, I had to wake up and started by renting spaces in furniture storage to keep the collection, and the transition from collector to exhibitor had to do with that moment in which the furniture storage was also running out, being small. I began to consider taking space in a warehouse, and I met someone who was giving me a hand with that transition who told me: hey, have you never considered doing an exhibition? And the truth is that I had not considered it, but for a very simple reason, because the world of collecting has a rule: when a figure comes out of its box, when a figure is manipulated, even if one does it with infinite care, even if the box does not suffer, the price of the figure falls drastically, And that worried me. But this person I met, who is also fond of photography, told me that he thought there would be a lot of people who would want to see it, and that's how it started. We had to manufacture specific furniture, because as acollector I always prioritize the integrity and well-being of my figures. Almost, almost as if they were living beings. So, when exhibiting it is not enough to have the figures, it is very important to have the furniture. For what? Well, so that accidents do not occur.... Also the world of collecting is a very peculiar world. And well, that exclusive piece can become a dark object of desire and you have to eliminate some temptations, right? So, well, a piece of furniture was designed and that's how Star Wars Universe was born, which is the exhibition that is now at the Tomás y Valiente Art Center in Fuenlabrada. It will remain here until the end of July. Access is free and thanks to the City Council of Fuenlabrada all Star Wars fans can enjoy the collection. It is the first time that Star Wars Universe is exposed with these dimensions, in such a large space, and with this number of figures. Here are 30% of pieces that have never been exhibited before. It is a unique opportunity to enjoy the Star Wars Universe, all the characters of the saga, and there is also an extra incentive, that from Friday to Sunday there are free activities for everyone, of course related to the Star Wars saga: virtual reality, a drone flight academy, a Padawan youth school to fight with lightsabers, Fights of blasters, robots... Lots of things for people to enjoy.
Star Wars Universe presents the figures recreating scenes from the films and series of the saga in a didactic way.
Q.- So 30% of the pieces here are unpublished. How many are there in total?
A.- Here is 100% of my collection, because this is an Art Center with very large dimensions, and for the first time I have managed not only to exhibit everything I had, but even pieces have been manufactured specifically for this exhibition. The exhibition consists of two types of pieces: on the one hand there is the licensed product, the product that is manufactured on the other, by the great specialists such as Sideshow, Gentle Giant... Let's say that of that type of figures in different scales, because there are figures of scale 1/6, scale 1/1, scale 1/2 ... Of those types of figures there are more than 100, between 100 and 110. The truth is that I have not counted them. And then there is another type of figures that have been manufactured specifically for this exhibition. And not only have these figures been manufactured, the scenographies have also been manufactured, because the figures are not alone, the figures are reproducing scenes from the films. I wouldn't judge the value of the exhibition or collection by the number of pieces. It is true that there are more than 100 licensed pieces, but we can not forget that maybe there are another 25 figures at 1/1 scale that are accompanied by scenarios ... Now we will see, for example, that there is a Millennium Falcon of such a large scale that it has to be suspended from the ceiling pursued by two Tie Fighters, or we will see a Jabba the Hutt on his throne at 1/1 scale that counts as a figure, but maybe the work and cost of that figure corresponds to many others of 1/6 scale, For example.
Jabba el Hutt, along with R2D2, C3PO and Salacious B. Crumb, all on a 1/1 scale.
Q.- Show us some of the figures in the exhibition.
A.- For example, in this space here we have three Sith Lords, we have a very special one, which is this one, by Darth Maul, and it is special because it is a limited series manufactured by people from Gentle Giant, which is a German manufacturer. It is a limited series of 25 units, and this one in particular was a gift from George Lucas himself to someone who I will not say who is, because it was not me. All collectors have our little secrets that we should not reveal. And this in particular is the 14th of a limited series of 25. But here we have another Sith Lord, and of all the Sith Lords he is obviously the best known, because he is Darth Vader, and this figure is very special. It is a bust in 1/1 scale, a limited edition of 50 for everyone. And it also has the particularity that we can see Darth Vader himself as Anakin Skywalker, and we can appreciate the aftermath of the accident, let's say, that he suffered fighting with Obi-Wan Kenobi. But of course, perhaps what attracts the most attention of the public are these scenographies that reproduce scenes from the movies. In this case it is a scene of the best known of the Empire Strikes Back, and we have Darth Vader, Boba Fett in a figure that is worked by Sideshow in great detail. It lacks absolutely nothing. There are many elements that one can appreciate, so many accessories that the bounty hunter handles thatwe can not even realize that he has them in the movies. And of course we have to have Han Solo himself, who is frozen in carbonite. They are scenographies where figures are purchased from licensed suppliers, but logically when they are integrated into a scenery with light, they are integrated into a scenario trying to reproduce scenes from the films, the effect is much greater.
Here in the background, what we have is a showcase on heel with product from Hasbro, which is a supplier licensed by Disney, or we also have a collection of helmets that reproduce helmets from the movies, and that is very difficult to see all together in any exhibition. And then we have some of the most emblematic swords from Hasbro. And not just sabers. There on the right we have a piece that is a very recent addition, the dark sword that appears in the second season of the Mandalorian. For the years I have, I have focused mainly on collecting pieces related to the first trilogy, and when I say first I say it according to the order of premiere. But over time I have also tried to incorporate figures from the other films, and even from the television series that are appearing.
Aerial view of one of the rooms of the Star Wars Universe.
Q.- Have any of the protagonists come to know the collection? For example, Diego Luna, protagonist of another Star Wars series, Andor, has been in Spain doing theater, the play Every time we say goodbye better, by Alejandro Ricaño.
A.- Well, it seems that here, in the Tomás y Valiente Art Center, which has its own theater, because this is a multicultural space, it is not just an exhibition center, there is an auditorium and theater, because it seems that it comes to interpret here, in the Tomás y Valiente Art Center, so hopefully we can get to know each other. I would love to, of course. One of the things about this Art Center is that the dimensions are spectacular. So we have tried to take advantage of that monumentality that the space has so that all the pieces are framed by an environment that breathes Star Wars. Here, for example, we have in the background a canvas of 50 square meters that reproduces the Death Star, and on that background we have hung from the ceiling two Tie Fighters of quite spectacular dimensions. And of course, the effect is impressive. If we also take into account that if we go to the other exhibition hall, there is suspended from the ceiling a Millennium Falcon of spectacular scale, because the overall effect is brutal. And that's very important because not only are we going to see unique pieces and very, very rare pieces to find, but also the whole environment, the entire Tomás y Valiente Art Center is set and decorated so that everything breathes Star Wars.
Explain at this point that the City Council of Fuenlabrada has created a concept that is Fuenlabrada Friki!, which is a space that is permanently dedicated to the world of collecting, to the world of fans. Before Universe Star Wars has been Superman, the Transformers, and we are preparing an exhibition dedicated to the world of comics in a very limited era, which is post-war, the Transition. So we hope that soon all lifelong Spanish comic fans can come to Fuenlabrada Friki! to enjoy that exposure.
Bronze figures made with the lost wax technique. There are only ten in the world of each of them.
Q: How long have you spent a total time on your Star Wars collection?
A.- Here there are more than 20 years of collecting and there are 20 years of sacrifices. Collecting is a passion. Sometimes I think that more than a passion it is an addiction, and when you want to buy a very special piece you do not take it out of your head. Until you buy it, you're willing to make all the sacrifices you have to make. There are those who prefer to invest in a great car, there are those who prefer to go on vacation and enjoy with the family. And well, what this collecting thing has is that sometimes you argue with the family and you have to have an environment that supports you, and if it does not, at least it does not throw you out of the house. And I've been so lucky that in my house they also share a passion for Star Wars and this incredible world. And well, today today, and we will knock on wood, I have come this far. We'll see what happens from tomorrow.
Q.- What are we seeing now?
A.- Well, in this second room, which would be the main room, as soon as we enter we have two spectacular pieces. We have Jabba, the lord of the galactic underworld at 1/1 scale sitting on his throne, and as you can see, he does not lack any detail, because there is Jabba, but there is Salacious B. Crumb, who is that horrible and unbearable character that appears in Return of the Jedi, and we also have 1/1 scale to R2D2, to C3PO, and we have reproduced even the gargoyles and rings that appear in the film at the foot of the throne of Jabba, and of which Jabba held his slaves with chains. But if we look above, there we have the Millennium Falcon that has been reproduced on a very important scale. Surely in Spain a Millennium Falcon of these dimensions has never been exposed.
This Millennium Falcon suspended on the ceiling is the largest that has ever been exhibited in Spain.
Q.- Michelangelo, tell us a little about the process of creating the exhibition.
A.- A very important thing is that we in the Star Wars Universe have the support of Disney. If it hadn't been for Disney, which supports us, and allows us to do this exhibition, we wouldn't be able to do it. Disney's support is materialized, of course, in an authorization to use logos, images ... The creative process always begins with the movies. Apart from exhibiting the pieces in the showcase, we can frame that showcase with images from the films, which in turn serve as inspiration to develop these scenographies and these scenes of 1/1 scale. As for the manufacturing process, it takes time and is expensive. And it is important to say that everything is produced on a 1/1 scale, and the scenographies are all produced in Spain by local artisans, by operators who manage to reproduce, as is the case of Yabba, the original character of the film in detail. But we are always inspired by scenes from the Star Wars saga.
For example, here we have a scene in which Yoda appears, but Yoda Jedi Knight. That is, this is a scene that is taken from the first trilogy. We have mixed Chewbacca, who appears fleetingly in the film, but of course, Chewbacca is an emblematic character. And again, there is nothing that is invented by us. That is, all this is the result of the imagination of George Lucas, and we, humbly, what we have tried is, with our means, with great enthusiasm and great enthusiasm, and thanks to the support of Disney, try to make it a reality so that, beyond what can be enjoyed on a screen, because people can come here and see it physically. This is a hobby, this is a hobby that requires many hours, many hours of work, a lot of enthusiasm and economically a very large effort, so I hope people enjoy it. Now I would like to show you some pieces that may not be as spectacular as the 1/1 figures, but that for the collector have a special value. For example, if we pass by here, in this showcase there is a figure that has a trick. When I say that it has a trick, it is that it is not manufactured under license. It is the manual work of an artist who works from scratch and creates from elements often recycled. Specifically, it is this figure of Boba Fett. This is a showcase that is dedicated to Boba Fett. At different times we have the Boba Fett of the book, of the series that has just been released. We have a Boba Fett who is a Boba Fett from Concept Art, who does not appear in any of the films. But above all we have this figure here, which is a figure that is made entirely by a craftsman, by an artist. However, the level of detail is even higher than what we can find in a figure that is limited series, very difficult to find, but is manufactured in series. This is absolutely unique, and the entire scenery is made with items collected from the trash. It is not the only one. If we pass through here, we have another figure that is manufactured by the same artist. In this case the R2D2, obviously, because it has customized it from a purchased doll, if you look at Luke's face you will see all the detail with which it is achieved. It's properly Mark Hamill in his prime years. It lacks absolutely nothing, and has managed to reproduce Mark Hamill's expression perfectly.
Hyperrealistic figures created by an artist with waste materials.
I also want you to join me to see this showcase, because this is a novelty in this exhibition. He is one of those unpublished figures who had never been exhibited before. These five figures that are here are manufactured by Lladró, the famous multinational that has reached an agreement with Disney to manufacture under license five exclusive figures and in a very limited series. He has made a series of four female characters: Ahsoka Tano, Princess Leia, Rey and Padmé Amidala. And of course, we could not miss Darth Vader, who as we all know is perhaps the most iconic character in the saga.
Figure made of porcelain by Lladró de la Reina Amidala.
This other showcase I think what it shows is that Star Wars has broken the boundaries of cinema, fantasy and science fiction. It has become a full-fledged cultural phenomenon and that is why it is important that a city council like the City Council of Fuenlabrada has been able to see that side of the Star Wars universe that goes far beyond the freak of collecting, because it has become a phenomenon of popular culture that covers all aspects of art, The image, but also the sculpture, the painting, because all the showcases are decorated above with images of the storyboards of the films that, as you can see, are simply works of art in themselves. So, that's why it makes so much sense that the Star Wars Universe and the Star Wars saga is in an Art Center, because this is no longer collecting, this is not cinema, this is already a global cultural phenomenon that is encompassing practically all the arts.
Q.- Where are we now?
A.- This is the third exhibition space. And here, in addition to the 1/1 figures, for example, here we have a 1/1 scale Yoda that is spectacular, but it is the Yoda of the Empire Strikes Back. It is the mature Yoda, who is at the end of his days. And well, as we have always tried that the figures are accompanied, and in the environment that corresponds to them. Here, for example, that we have the planet Dagobah, we have sought that the figures are on a green background, so that spirit, let's say wild, of the planet Bagobah reaches all visitors, and that is why we have combined it with two figures of the Return of the Jedi, but they are also very greenish and very wooded, because here we have Chewbacca and a Biker Scout in his Motojet, who are also part of that slightly wild world of the moon of Endor, and to give it continuity, here we have reproduced some scenographies of the Return of the Jedi of that famous combat between the Ewoks and the imperial troops, and in particular we have up to four Ewoks at 1/1 scale. Of course, in this diorama they appear facing the imperial Biker Scouts. We even have a 1/1 scale Motojet and a couple of Bike Scouts. This for example has already known better days, because he is about to be dispatched by one of the Ewoks, who are figures who deceive. There are many fans of the series who do not understand the role played by the Ewoks in the films. But here we have them because they deserve their space.
Q.- What reactions do visitors have?
A.- Well, people are coming from all over Spain, and the truth is that they are surprised, because I think that advertising or comments from other users do not give a complete idea of everything that is here. I have already spoken with people who are moving expressly to Fuenlabrada, to here, to the Art Center. And they don't leave disappointed. For example, they love to discover that George Lucas, especially when he did Episode IV, what we all know as Star Wars, had a limited budget, but since he was a genius, what he did was resort to waste material from the American army to give more wealth to the characters. Specifically, the jawas carry cartridge cases and all kinds of elements that are recycled from waste, in this case from the Spanish army. Although there is also something of the German army, but even weapons. It is very important to know that all the weaponsthat appear in, especially in the first trilogy, are inspired by real weapons. For example, the Stormtroopers blaster is a British machine gun from World War II.
The exhibition reserves a space for the toys that populated Jimeno's childhood, such as Kenner's.
Q.- What do we find in this space?
A.- Here, to finish the visit to the exhibition, we have an area in which we have given his space to one of the most important Disney licensees, Lego. For about 20 years he started a series of articles of products dedicated to Star Wars, and the truth is that we must congratulate Lego because it has managed to combine what is the essence of Lego, which is the construction with blocks, with an impressive level of detail. I also want to take this opportunity to thank my wife, because the one who has the patience to mount them, to take care of them, is my wife. It takes a lot of skill. The instruction books are immense. Also to end the tour, in this space I did not want to stop making a small tribute to those toys of my childhood that were the ones that hooked me in the world of collecting, like these Kenner figures that were manufactured in those years.
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