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Mystery of John Kellerman Star Wars Action figures book

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Mystery of John Kellerman Star Wars Action figures book

Postby retrotoyinfo » Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:35 am

I am sure the Kellerman book has been covered on the forums before, but I still find it a bit of a mystery why this has not been republished.

In 2002/2003 I contacted John Kellerman directly. I did have a chat about Star wars, but can't really remember much about it now other than I pre-ordered the book from him, and received a signed copy of the book in 2003.

The book is superb and was my bible for many years on collecting Kenner figures. I subsequently moved a few times, and inexplicably the book seems to have disappeared.

The book was originally published by Frontback books in the USA on January 1st 2003 (259 pages) with ISBN 0972378006 (ISBN13: 9780972378000)

It was Published again on May 19th 2005 by Reynolds & Hearn Ltd of Richmond, UK (extended 268 pages) with ISBN: 1903111307

It's possible the Frontback books edition was not actually available until October 2003, and the Reynolds not available until June 2005.

Both of these editions definitely were published.

Frontback Books was due to publish a new edition on August 1st 2010 with an enlarged book of 320 pages. The book even received a ISBN number
0972378014 (ISBN13: 9780972378017)

The book was even notified here http://www.theforce.net/latestnews/stor ... 131493.asp and here http://booklikes.com/star-wars-vintage- ... ok,1005223

I did a search on all the ISBN numbers and whereas the 2003 and 2005 refer to the book format as 'Hardcover' the 2010 edition is referred to as below

Star Wars Vintage Action Figures: A Guide for Collectors John Kellerman
ISBN: 0972378014 ISBN-13: 9780972378017
Publisher: Frontback Books
Format: TRADE CLOTH

This seemed a little odd to me.

It's obviously clear this book was not actually published. Does anyone know why?

Raymond & Hearn Ltd are still running as a company http://www.rhbooks.com/ but Frontback Books seem to have gone out of business

John kellerman did have his own website but this has long been dormant.

The prices I have seen asked for this book beggar belief. Have seen it priced from £300-£3,500! I can't understand why someone has not tried to republish or just redo the original book.

If you have any thoughts or advice/knowledge about the book would appreciate it.
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Re: Mystery of John Kellerman Star Wars Action figures book

Postby Mr-shifter » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:07 am

There are a couple of things.

Word across the community was the second edition was delayed and then effectively shelved because johns health had deteriorated considerably. I believe he was losing his eyesight, and understandably this caused the second edition to go on hiatus as this medical condition took priority. I don’t think it’s something that will ever get better from what I read so the second edition will probably never be.

Also, the first edition was a very slow sell. John ended up with a lot of leftover copies and was struggling to get rid of them all. The high prices seen today are as a result of new collectors and the secondary market. Horrible to think really, people are selling his book for hundreds of pounds of profit and yet the author almost couldn’t give them away.

What has happened in the meantime though, is a number of more specialist books have been published by individual authors, focusing on their niche subjects. It does seem to be a very difficult thing though to get the book published. Stephane has published books on French collecting, javier has written a book on pbp and poch, and Daniel Segovia has written a book on top toys, that covers a little bit about other collectibles in south am rich like yupi, ledi and basa.

I know joe and Jc were well on the way with a trilogo book and there has been a bootleg book in the offing for a long time. Hopefully both of these projects will be completed.
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Re: Mystery of John Kellerman Star Wars Action figures book

Postby spoons » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:28 am

Sad thing is that the Kellerman only attracts such high prices as a collectible. The SW collectors mentality

Bet half of them aren’t even read
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Re: Mystery of John Kellerman Star Wars Action figures book

Postby SAVORY100 » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:32 am

spoons wrote:Sad thing is that the Kellerman only attracts such high prices as a collectible. The SW collectors mentality

Bet half of them aren’t even read


Never a truer word spoken!
I actually have to admit that I bought mine and left it unread for maybe 6 months!!! It cost a bunch and I didn't want to mess with it... on reflection a totally ridiculous situation.
I'm more pleased to admit that it is now so well read its getting close to falling apart!
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Re: Mystery of John Kellerman Star Wars Action figures book

Postby TheJabbaWookie » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:34 am

I’d love a copy of it but prices are like you say astronomical. I have a copy of Javi’s Made in Spain book and can highly recommend it though.

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Re: Mystery of John Kellerman Star Wars Action figures book

Postby theguiltyone » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:29 am

Can't remember who it belonged to but I saw a copy with owner mark ups as his quick go to reference guide to what he had or needed, it actually looked brilliant.

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Re: Mystery of John Kellerman Star Wars Action figures book

Postby theforceuk » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:31 am

Same here, would love to get a second edition copy. Still not sure how I missed out on the first edition, just never got around to buying it. :(
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Re: Mystery of John Kellerman Star Wars Action figures book

Postby spoons » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:34 am

SAVORY100 wrote:
spoons wrote:Sad thing is that the Kellerman only attracts such high prices as a collectible. The SW collectors mentality

Bet half of them aren’t even read


Never a truer word spoken!
I actually have to admit that I bought mine and left it unread for maybe 6 months!!! It cost a bunch and I didn't want to mess with it... on reflection a totally ridiculous situation.
I'm more pleased to admit that it is now so well read its getting close to falling apart!


Mines well used too, but I do flinch when visitors browse through it. Mine was a present from my dad when it can out so sentiment outweighs cost in any case.
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Re: Mystery of John Kellerman Star Wars Action figures book

Postby Mr-shifter » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:44 am

Totally agree. As a collectible i see it as worthless. It’s not licensed and it’s not vintage. It ticks no boxes for me.

As a resource to aid collecting though, it is a fantastic tool. That’s what it is and should be.

It’s a bit of a modern collecting mentality. Consume and purchase everything that you can with little regard to underpinning knowledge of the hobby you pertain to be so passionate about.

That’s why Facebook will never replace forums for me.
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Re: Mystery of John Kellerman Star Wars Action figures book

Postby subzero » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:00 pm

It's an insane price for a bit of toilet reading, I got the Action Figure Archive for like £3.50 and my bum has never been happier. :lol:
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Re: Mystery of John Kellerman Star Wars Action figures book

Postby Dannywhiteley » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:55 pm

I sold mine recently. It's a great looking book, but these days with all the internet resource its actually pretty basic. Lovely visuals but not worth £250+ imo so I cashed in.

I kept the letter that John wrote me at the time though which was nice, I helped him out with some info at the time he was writing the book.

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Re: Mystery of John Kellerman Star Wars Action figures book

Postby retrotoyinfo » Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:07 pm

I don't understand given the demand why somebody doesn't just republish the original book somehow
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Re: Mystery of John Kellerman Star Wars Action figures book

Postby SAVORY100 » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:32 pm

retrotoyinfo wrote:I don't understand given the demand why somebody doesn't just republish the original book somehow


I'm not sure the actual demand is as great as the perceived demand... the price is high (as noted above) because its seen as a collectable.

The majority of a major publisher's money is made through paperback fiction (summer reads) and through Non-Fiction Christmas front list (Jamie Oliver cook books and 'celebrity' autobiographies). Specialist titles like these have high production values and make the whole thing both broadly unattractive financially and generally needs a minor / specialist publisher to have a gap in their list and a passion to do it.

To get a sensible price when publishing a book (for a publisher rather than self published) and where a publishing house will take it on to make money is at least 10k units. Below 5k units it becomes a bit of a vanity project for them and the returns become part based on the promotional benefit.

Anything under 1k units is usually self published as there is little to no profit available at all... hence why books like the brilliant Poch/PBP one was very high priced. They become a love affair and passion over profit and to make that work you need an active author to push for it to be printed/reprinted. If JK is unwell and possibly disinterested in pursuing it himself there is likely little to motivate a reprint.
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Re: Mystery of John Kellerman Star Wars Action figures book

Postby retrotoyinfo » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:16 pm

SAVORY100 wrote:
retrotoyinfo wrote:I don't understand given the demand why somebody doesn't just republish the original book somehow


I'm not sure the actual demand is as great as the perceived demand... the price is high (as noted above) because its seen as a collectable.

The majority of a major publisher's money is made through paperback fiction (summer reads) and through Non-Fiction Christmas front list (Jamie Oliver cook books and 'celebrity' autobiographies). Specialist titles like these have high production values and make the whole thing both broadly unattractive financially and generally needs a minor / specialist publisher to have a gap in their list and a passion to do it.

To get a sensible price when publishing a book (for a publisher rather than self published) and where a publishing house will take it on to make money is at least 10k units. Below 5k units it becomes a bit of a vanity project for them and the returns become part based on the promotional benefit.

Anything under 1k units is usually self published as there is little to no profit available at all... hence why books like the brilliant Poch/PBP one was very high priced. They become a love affair and passion over profit and to make that work you need an active author to push for it to be printed/reprinted. If JK is unwell and possibly disinterested in pursuing it himself there is likely little to motivate a reprint.


That is interesting about an insight into publishing. It doesn't make it easy publishing specialist books that we Star Wars fans need. I still think the demand for the Kellerman book is large enough. I accept the book has entered some weird collectable status, which makes no sense to me as it's knowledge is far more important. As I am concerned, the knowledge in this book is needed by many, but made unavailable and nothing has come out that compares to it as regards Kenner action figures. Why can't it just be put online as an e book or just scan the pages. After all there are still many people that have the book, but no one seems willing to share it. There is a guy that put a 22 minute video on you tube, showing every page, but it is blurry and he races through with a shaky camera.
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Re: Mystery of John Kellerman Star Wars Action figures book

Postby dienstuhr » Fri Jan 12, 2018 10:14 pm

I echo the sentiment of those above who wish the best for John in his health struggles.

There is a lengthy thread on Rebelscum on the topic as well, I've linked to the page where John himself gives the update: http://forum.rebelscum.com/showthread.p ... 112&page=7

His website, Frontback Books, formerly hosted images of some of the new pages, and they looked fantastic. The website is now down.

We can only hope that one of John's friends in the collecting community can help bring this to fruition. I can't believe that if completion of the job was as close as this, someone can't move it forward. As noted above, there are loads of books out now about more niche collecting topics (Mattias Rendahl's for example) and even broader ones (Stephane Faucourt's excellent books about French collecting) and those got published somehow... bringing out the book in softcover would be the way to go expense-wise.

Finger crossed,

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