This past Friday, we had the opportunity to tour Rancho Obi-Wan. The museum, founded and operated by former Lucasfilm head of Fan Relations Steve Sansweet, is the largest private collection of Star Wars memorabilia in the world, all of which was bought by or gifted to Steve. The group that went included me and Brian; Wookieepedia co-founder Steven Greenwood; Wookieepedia admin Britt Roth; and Eric Moro, Nate Blonkenfeld, Matt Hadick, Trevor Bolliger, and Steve Profumo from Wikia.
When we first arrived, we met Anne Neumann, the General Manager of Rancho Obi-Wan, who showed us around the outside of the property. It was once a chicken farm, one of many in the area before chicken farming transitioned from small farms to large corporations back in the 1960s, and they still have a few chickens there. As we moved away from the chicken coop, Anne showed us the outside of a storehouse that contains all of the collectables not used in the museum itself. She didn't open the door since there wasn't enough room to even so much as walk through it, but Steve later described it as the warehouse from the ending of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
We then went into the main building, where we met Steve. He showed us around the first area of the building, including the bathroom (nicknamed the Great Pit of Carkoon) that houses Star Wars bathroom amenities, as well as his office. The first area of the collection is rather small, and it made me think at first that Rancho Obi-Wan wasn't as big as I thought it would be. We saw a hallway with all of the posters for the Star Wars films, as well as Anne's office that has thousands of posters in drawers and other memorabilia. One of our favorite things there was a figure of Obi-Wan Kenobi with changeable heads; one was an older Ewan McGregor, and the other was a younger Sir Alec Guinness. It was essentially "Choose Your Obi-Wan."
The next room we saw contained, from what I recall, every Star Wars book ever published, plus a number of non-fiction and foreign language books. The full collection of Star Wars books was smaller than I thought, but perspective is important—it was still incredibly big. One of the funniest books we saw was filled with pictures from a Japanese event in 1993 called George Lucas' Super Live Adventure. The pictures didn't do it justice, though, as Steve told us all about how ridiculous the show was.
Finally, we arrived at the main event. We stood outside a door, and Steve yelled out to John Williams on the other side. I won't lie, there was a moment there where I wondered if John Williams was actually on the other side of that door, but at the end it was a gag—an effective one, though. As the door opened to show row after row after row of Star Wars memorabilia, the main theme to Star Wars started to blare.
That's when I knew that Rancho Obi-Wan is as big as I thought it was.
Words don't really do this justice, so I'll be brief and then show you some of the pictures we took. Steve told us all about his favorite memorabilia, all in colorful and entertaining detail. One of my favorites was a lightsaber that was actually used during stunt training in the original trilogy. That was pretty awesome.
That wasn't the most awesome part, though. As we walked through a final hallway, a recreation of the famous white corridors from the Tantive IV, we got to a new room lined with Star Wars art, much of it sent to Steve from fans. In the corner, though, was a whole host of Star Wars arcade games dating all the way back to the 80s. The best part? We actually got to play them! I can confidently report that my racing skills are far too slow to win a podrace, but alas...
At the end of the tour, we were able to talk to Steve for a few moments about his experiences with Lucasfilm and Star Wars. Before leaving, we went back to his office to collect our things, and he gave us his business card if we ever needed anything. Steven from Wookieepedia then presented Steve with a printout of the Steve Sansweet Wookieepedia article and had him sign Steven's copy of The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, which Steve co-wrote. Britt also showed Steve her art portfolio, which he seemed to very much enjoy. He even knew her favorite character that she had drawn: Zuckuss!
Here are some of the pictures we took:
After being there for over three hours, it was finally time to leave and drive back to the Wikia office. We’re immensely grateful that Steve gave us a tour of his collection, and that he took the time to talk to us for so long. This will be a day long remembered.