Thorsten Greth

Ever wondered how you would feel if you completed your Trilogo collection? Lets ask someone who has! interviews Thorsten Greth AKA “Battletank”! – Hi Thorsten! It’s great to have you here for an interview finally, you go by the name of Battletank on the collecting forums and I am sure many people reading will be aware you have a complete Trilogo collection, but we want to hear the story behind it and just how long it took to complete! 

Thorsten Greth – Hi Joe, first of all thank you for inviting me for an interview on your superb homepage. I highly appreciate the site and the work that goes into it, great place for Trilogo collectors! – Glad you like the site and as I said it’s great to finally have you on here. We spoke about this interview a long time ago! So let’s start at the beginning. Why did you decide to start collecting Trilogos and when exactly did you begin your quest?

Thorsten Greth – Like many European collectors I began to amass US related toys and figures. After I finished my Kenner US collection including the Droids line by end of 2008, I was after something new, something challenging. I reached out for different areas, e.g. German ESB MOCs. But it was quite frustrating due to so many rare cards, so I quit with it very soon.

Then I remembered the few Trilogo MOCs I had right from the beginning of my collectors´ life..and that was the beginning of the end!
Stephanes book “From Meccano to Trilogo” played a vital role as well in my decision, it is a very influential book and it was great to see a full set pictured inside. – What were the first figures you purchased?

Thorsten Greth – As I mentioned I had a handful of Trilogos already before I even collected them. Most were bought just as place holders for Kenner counterparts really! Among the ones I already owned was my favorite: Luke Stormtrooper. I purchased him personally late 1985 or 1986 for five “Deutschmark” (app. 2,50 Euro). It was the time of Star Wars clearance sales all over Europe. I love remembering those days!
When I decided to collect Trilogos properly I had probably eight figures or so. You can see a few of them on one of my first Trilogo MOC pictures from late 2008/early 2009. – It’s great to see your starting point Thorsten! You had some great figures to start with and that Luke Stormtrooper from your youth looks like a peach! So now you were on the Trilogo path. Were you finding Trilogos easily at that point and how many did you collect in the first year?

Thorsten Greth – Good question, Joe. To be honest I can’t remember exactly! As most collectors I tried to hunt down the more common ones in the beginning. Not only because they were easier to come by, but also to get a feeling of prices and availability in general. Although I started off with the common figures I was actually lucky enough to track down some of the rarer characters in the first year like my Jawa. They crossed my way by chance really and I am glad I didn’t pass on them at the time.

In 2009 I had also the opportunity to buy a rather large Trilogo collection from another German collector. Which really boosted my own collection. I have a picture of that collection actually, so you can take a look. It was a great purchase!

So after buying that collection, and with the ones I already owned, I think in the first year I probably had about 50 or 60 Trilogos, which was a great start.

In the next year I took count a little better and I remember clearly that by August 2010 I had tracked down 86 Trilogo MOCs with only a handful missing (Madine, Imperial Gunner, Hammerhead, Lando Calrissian and some others). – Stating the obvious here, but wow that was quick! So in less than two years you had 86! you have any old pictures of your Trilogo collection from that period so we can see how it grew?

Thorsten Greth – Only a few, but sure have a look! You already saw one of my earliest pictures, which as I said was the start-up picture so to say for serious Trilogo collecting. The one below is of a few new acquisitions in 2010.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of space in my collection room, I could only store them on a shelving unit, but here is a picture of them together from a while back.

And finally, a year after acquiring the majority of the collection I was able to complete the run with Madine,  which was the only one I was missing. Eventually I acquired him in November 2011! -That really is an incredible recollection of your Trilogo journey Thorsten. I take it that the intent was always to complete the set even though you knew finding some of the figures was going to be incredibly difficult?

Thorsten Greth – Yes, I definitely set out to complete the Trilogo set, I just didn’t know if I would. I was fully aware from the beginning that there were a couple of rare ones, but due to the fact that I was able to purchase some hard to find figures very early I was quite confident and kept going. Actually, I didn’t think I would ever own a Madine if I am honest. The figure seemed so illusive and the fact that I started to collect Trilogos quite late made me believe it would never happen. When it did happen though, it was pure luck!
Another thing that helped me personally is that I put my set together regardless of bubble type or card variation. I wasn’t looking for certain variations, which allowed me to pick up the figures when they came up on whatever card they were on. – So although it took you such a short time were there any moments when you wanted to give up or take a break? You mentioned that Madine was elusive, but you did track one down so you must have been very determined!

Thorsten Greth – No, I never felt like it was time to give in. That was possibly due to the short period of time it took to collect as many as I did. You can say that the force was always with me! – Looking back on the years when you actively bought Trilogos, which figures were the hardest to find for you? Any surprises there or just the regular tough ones?

Thorsten Greth – The rarer ones (except Madine and Hammerhead) were more or less not the problem. The Jawa, I mentioned earlier, I picked up  from a collector in France. An amazing experience in retrospect! Also figures like Boba Fett, Luke Hoth and Luke Bespin popped up within the collecting community without major efforts from my side. Interestingly though common ones were hard to find in good condition: Admiral Ackbar or Lando Calrissian for example. I found it especially hard to find Ackbar in nice condition. I had to pay a premium for a c9 MOC and I remember some collector friends thought I’d be crazy to pay way more than 100 Euro for him, but I still did it. – A lot of people mention Ackbar as not only hard to find in nice condition but hard to find in general. It’s a very cool figure too and I don’t think you overpaid, given the condition you were looking for. I have to come back to Madine again Thorsten, sorry haha. If I remember rightly, your Madine is THE 90 Euro Madine, isn’t it? (featured here – General Madine)

Thorsten Greth – Yes, it is actually! Here is the story of how it ended up with me: I missed the figure on ebay by a couple of hours and as you know the figure was quickly discussed on various forums. I tried to get as much information about that deal and where the figure finally ended, but it seemed nobody knew. A little while later, by chance, I got in contact with a Spanish collector about a Hybrid Hammerhead. I asked him if he knew where I could find a Madine. Then the miracle happened: one of his fellow Spanish collectors had one for trade or sale and it was the same figure! This was early 2011. Unfortunately, our negotiations were not fruitful so I had to pass on the Madine. A few months later I was thinking of the chance I let go and thought maybe owning a Madine was going to be impossible, but it was not over! 

At the end of 2011 I got an extremely lucky second chance to buy the exact figure again and this time negotiations went well. My offer was accepted and I now had him! – Wow what a story! Great to hear how you acquired him to complete your Trilogo collection. It’s a moment most Trilogo collectors will unfortunately never experience. So when Madine arrived with you what did you think of the figure itself? Is it something that lives up to the hype surrounding it?

Thorsten Greth – If I am, not really. It is an unspectacular character, quite boring, but of course I’m happy to have him. If I were to choose a favourite, it would not be Madine. There are so many other cooler characters with nicer cardbacks to choose from. – I think many would agree with you yet everyone is still looking for him! The fact that the rarest Trilogo figure is such a boring character is actually quite funny ha! So would you ever sell them off and start over just to enjoy the hunt again?

Thorsten Greth – The market has become more difficult and figures in good condition are more and more harder to find, so I think it would be a lot harder to complete the set nowadays. I am thankful mine is complete. Another reason it’s hard to find figures lately is that a lot of good condition Trilogos have been AFA graded and therefore the prices are really high, even on common figures. I’m not into AFA personally, so finding the right figure ungraded is getting exceedingly more difficult. – AFA inflated prices are something the community complains about quite a lot actually, but that is something we all have to live with as more and more dealers grade their nicer conditioned figures. So moving on from Trilogos, did you find something else to occupy your time now that the set is complete?

Thorsten Greth – Of course I have, you almost have to move on to something else, it never stops haha. Vintage Star Wars collecting is so versatile and I love that about it. A collector can always find a new niche.

Trilogo-wise I’m actually still after some vehicles (e.g. the Y-Wing Fighter) and a handful MOCs just to upgrade the ones I have. Outside of Trilogos, I am trying to get my hands on some German “Kraft der Macht Sets”. They are very rare so it’s challenging, but hey, I have time!

Another project that I am currently working on, is to complete a vintage run of all characters released on a Kenner POTF card. – You are one of only a handful of collectors worldwide who have a complete Trilogo collection, so it would be a wasted opportunity to ask you to give our readers some advice on collecting Trilogos! Oh and to ask to see your full collection of course!

Thorsten Greth – Sure thing Joe, happy to share pictures of my collection!

Here is my complete set:

As for advice: Well, I think a good portion of luck is the most important factor. The next thing you need is to network with other collectors, ask around, speak to other collectors and make friends.
I was lucky to complete the set in a very short time frame, but you should not try to complete the set as quick as possible. Time is not a factor, just collect and buy things when the opportunities arise. For many a Trilogo collection is a very long road, so stamina is key!

Depending of what kind of Trilogos you want (blister variations, cardback variations etc.) you should read respective books or study websites (like this one) before starting such a project. This of course in order not to pay premiums for figures, which are not worth it.

Finally, money is of course a key factor too, if you’re after the real rare ones. But keep always in mind: money is not the most important part. It’s just one among many! – Thank you, Thorsten! It’s been awesome speaking to you and seeing your great collection. A final question before we finish up: Are you going to Celebration Europe 2 and have you seen the “Trilogo Star Tots” which will be available for collectors? (check them out here Star Tots )

Thorsten Greth – I will attend CE in Essen, of course! I hope to get in contact with a lot of new collectors and meet old friends. I attended Celebration VI in Orlando last year and was amazed by these Star Tot collectibles. A very creative idea and awesome craftsmanship! I think Mattias Rendahl, who worked on the first run, is part of the team producing the Trilogo Tots as well which means they will be very well designed. I hope I can complete them in Essen. Although I won’t make it to every collectors panel for the personal handout, I still hope to get a whole set including a display!

Bring us some back, Thorsten! Enjoy your time in Essen and once again thank you for being a part of!

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