Franck Gadal

It’s fair to say that 2016 has been an interesting year for Trilogos. We’ve seen prices continue to increase on even the most common of figures and we’ve also seen a few older collectors returning to the hobby.

Niels pit was a great example of a sleeping giant, but he wasn’t the only one. There was..”another”.

Franck Gadal, or “Dorothée Drouin” as he’s more commonly known on Facebook (where he uses his partners account) is a French collector with a deep love for Trilogo toys. He’s also partial to a Meccano or two. Hi Franck, welcome to! Please introduce yourself!
Franck- Hello Joe, hello to everybody! My name is Franck Gadal and I’m 43 years old. I live in France, near Paris with my partner Dorothée and our two boys. I studied molecular biology & IT and now I’m working in SAP domain at Hitachi Data Systems.

As well as Star Wars I also collect other toys from my childhood such as Goldorak (Shogun), Captain Harlock, Ulysses 31, Alien, Transformers, and Lord of the rings. say your return to collecting has had an impact on the collecting world would be an understatement. In less than a year and without even posting a full limelight yet you’ve got everyone talking! How does that feel?

Franck- It’s been quite a year for me, especially for new acquisitions. I was fortunate enough to find 14 square card Meccanos, a few 12 backs, 4 12″ Meccano boxed figures  including Boba Fett. I also found many Motta stickers and a complete set of Palmito cards so I’m really happy.

I don’t know that everyone is talking about me, or are they? I really don’t take much notice because today it’s me and tomorrow it will be another lucky man. Everyone gets their moment! I’ve been fortunate of late but I know that I cannot find everything that is out there so I try to stay humble. It’s also important not to be jealous of other people too. I’m very happy to have made some new friends from all over the world since I came back to collecting though and I wanted to say thanks to everyone for welcoming me back. I appreciate them sharing their experience, information and of course for trading with me! 

A small portion of Franck’s Meccano collection. Please tell us how you began collecting Vintage Star Wars toys and give us a little background information on you as a collector.

Franck- I began collecting with my father, in 1987 when we found in a garage sale a lonely loose Klaatu. After that I began buying Star Wars toys from my school friends and two years later we met Jean François Roland who then introduced me to Arnaud Grunberg.

At about the same time I met Arnaud Rebmann and few years later Antoine Bardet, Eric Thiele and Arnaud Heyser. I remember those times very fondly as we were all buyings toys from all over the world at the same time. Brian Toy’s, Jeff Bass (space oddities) etc but there was no internet or paypal at that time. Transactions were made by phone, fax and traveller’s check, another world!
At the beginning, my only real goal was to complete a collection of loose loose figures, ships and the playsets. One day however, while at a garage sale, I managed to make a deal for 50 carded Trilogos and that’s how I began to collect the figures mint on card.

Today, I have more than 300 carded figures, all of the ships and playsets MIB and quite a few variations too. Incredible! So why did you stop collecting for so long?

Franck- Quite simple really, to Change my life! At the time I really felt like I needed to do other things, meet other people. Star Wars collecting had become a competition for some and it no longer felt like a hobby full of passion. Which collectors have you maintained contact with over the years and how often do you get the chance to see them?

Franck- From 2005 to 2016 I don’t think I bought a single Star Wars toy but I was still in contact with Eric Thiele (to celebrate New Year etc) and Arnaud Grunberg who invited me to his Star Wars Expo. When exactly did you come back to collecting?

Franck- It was this year in march that I randomly found a Meccano Square card Leia on eBay which reignited things for me. I was able to purchase 8 figures from the same seller so I contacted Eric Thiele and told him that I was back! Two weeks later I found my Meccano 12 inch Fett and even more new purchases  followed. When you started using Facebook as a way to interact with other collectors earlier this year were there any names you were familiar with from your early days of collecting?

Franck- It was Eric who introduced me to FB in order to help me to enhance my collection and it was all new to me but it was exciting to see where the community was after such a long time. To be honest, very few names were familiar to me but apart from Eric I did know Duncan Jenkins, Arnaud Rebmann, Antoine Bardet, Ludovic Bardèche and a few others. They were all people I had previously dealt with many years ago. Lets talk about the Trilogos in your collection. Did you set out to collect Trilogo toys or were you only really interested in them because they were sold in France and an extension of the Meccano range?

Franck- No, I’ve always had a love for Trilogos. When I was a child I actually never saw any Star Wars or Empire Strikes Back French cards in the toys shops. The figures my parents bought for me were all on either ROTJ or Trilogo cards, so I have fond memories of them. Before your return this year, how many Trilogo figures did you own?

Franck- As I mentioned above, when I began collecting carded figures the majority of the ones I owned were Trilogo cards so I had quite a few right from the start. In the 1990’s they just weren’t popular at all. Because of this I was able to continue to collect so many and at very good prices. In 2004 or so I think I already had close to 100 (including duplicates & some variations). Were you aware of the differences between Trilogos back when you first started acquiring them?

Franck- Not really. I remember that the Jawa was not easy to find with French bubble and sticker but back then I don’t think anyone was paying attention to those kinds of variations. I certainly wasn’t. I know you’ve been trying to complete your Trilogo since you joined the FB groups. You recently added a Leia original and a DSD didn’t you? How have you been finding (or adjusting to) the current prices?

Franck- Yes, last summer I found Leia Original and a Death Star Droid all on Palitoy Trilogo cards. The prices are very high of course but the things that were rare 15 years ago still are today, so I’m not surprised that a jawa costs about 10 times more than a basic figure. It was pretty much the same 15 years ago. What I mean is that the price gap is the same now compared to 15 years ago. For example, years ago I sold one of my Trilogo Jawa figures for 400 euros and a basic figure at that time cost around 30-40. Today, the gap is the same with a Jawa at 2000 euros and a basic figure at 150-200, so the prices have changed, yes but they’ve risen for all figures.

With that said, I think it would be difficult to start collecting nowadays. I’m very lucky to have many duplicate figures from my early days of collecting (Trilogos, kenner, harbert, PBP, Meccano & Palitoy …) so nowadays I can just sell one of them to try to buy what I want.

Now I’m lamenting those who started their collection later because they are forced to spend mad sums. As each day passes I understand more and more why some people only focus on one character! Which figures are you still missing from your Trilogo collection?

Franck-  The only figures I need now are Madine and the Hybrid CCP. Wow, so close but it’s always those two isn’t it! I understand you are trading well for a Madine? 🙂

Franck- Yes! I would love to be able to finish my Trilogo collection once and for all. It’s taken many years to get this far so if someone can help me complete my set, please let me know! Now I know there are going to be people reading who are just dying for me to ask you all about what can only be described as the Meccano Trilogo find of the century and I will, but lets start off slowly..

You recently posted this picture on Facebook:

..which in itself is pretty mind blowing..but there is a little more to this story isn’t there? It wasn’t just bagged figures that you came across was it?

Franck- Haha, no not just bagged figures, there were many carded figures also.. Wow..please explain a little more about your find?

Franck-  Certainly, it’s a pleasure to share the story here. I recently met a man who worked alongside his wife in the Meccano factory located near Metz. The factory there was responsible for distribution and dispatched toy orders to the European market.

Fortunately, during his time there he was able to keep a large number of toys that were returned as unsold store stock. They would have been destroyed had he not intervened and taken them home with him.

I was able to purchase 122 Trilogo MOC figures from him including Fett & Jawa. Interestingly a large number of them came from the French special offer 3 packs which was evident from the glue on the front of some figures. I also bought some sealed Meccano ships & dolls, plush Ewoks and 72 baggies with the French red sticker etc The collection itself is astonishing, both in terms of size and significance. Not only were there an incredible amount of figures but there were also some figures that until now, have never been documented before right?

Franck- You are right, it’s amazing to find any carded figures in 2016 but to have found many figures never documented before, well it was a dream come true for me. It was great to see the reaction of other collectors when I posted these pictures of the first confirmed no COO Meccano Tusken raiders sealed on Trilogo cards with the large bubble:

There were many others in the lot I purchased but I am glad you asked me about this because if you and JC are in agreement, then I would actually prefer not to share them here but instead keep them for your Trilogo book project. I feel that would be the best way to share them with the community. Oh wow Franck! I’m sure I speak for JC when I say we would be delighted to accept your offer, thank you very much! Exclusive confirmation that there will be even more previously unseen Trilogo variations included in the Scaled Galaxy “Definitive Guide to Trilogos”! Having seen those great group shots, I have to ask, how do you feel after making such an amazing find?

Franck- How do I feel about my discovery? Naturally I was very happy but I also felt some relief. Relieved to have been able to obtain what I wanted, no more no less. Later on I was a little sad after seeing some of the comments posted as I do not want to inspire jealousy or competition. Unfortunately it happens all too often within collecting and people get upset very quickly when these things do not happen to them. In the end, I am very happy to have found new variants but I’ve moved on. I believe that collecting has no end (in my case) and that it is necessary to set new goals to maintain the dream, the magic and the pleasure of collecting. What has been the overall response to your discovery from those that have seen the extent of it?

Franck- Haha, perhaps they should be asked! What I can say is that the majority were impressed and excited to be able to see and in some cases hold in their hands (through trades etc) items that they only dreamed of. Some told me that it was the discovery of the decade both in terms of size and rarity while others remarked on the fact that all ships (with meccano sticker) & dolls were MISB and in amazing condition. What happens next? Will you be hunting for more collections like this?

Franck- Yes, I will continue to search and collect. Whatever happens I will forever be grateful for the items I have found till now and continue to find in the future.

Funny you should ask this question because I can also announce that I have literally just made a new Meccano/Trilogo discovery at the beginning of this month. Within the find was a Meccano shipping box corresponding to the ROTJ assortment, a Miro-Meccano bag with “La guerre des etoiles” and other toy line names printed on it and around twenty carded figures with Meccano COO stickers including another Trilogo Jawa and ROTJ Meccano Luke Bespin and Leia Hoth. I don’t believe it! Between editing this interview discussing your first find you make another! Incredible! Is it fair to say that your love of Trilogos has grown stronger this year?

Franck- Well, I always wanted to have the entire regular set (without miscards but including the hybrids) many years ago so my love for them is intact. It’s just that now I have a lot more variations 🙂 What are your collecting plans for the foreseeable future? Are you trying to complete any other runs?

Franck- For the future, I will try to complete the following:

– My Trilogo run (Madine and CCP)
– SW Meccano square cards (Death Star Droid, Cantina Aliens)
– I would like to find an X-wing Meccano box with the M logo.

– My Japanese Popy run (I need Vader, Fett and Stormtrooper) and finally some more Motta stickers.

Franck, thank you so much for sharing your collecting memories and fantastic Meccano Trilogo find here on! 


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