Collecting Star Wars memorabilia is its own specific hobby, and there is no one with so fervent a passion for it than Steve Sansweet, owner and curator of California’s Rancho Obi-Wan, which is the largest collection of Star Wars items in the entire world.
The impressive collection began as Sansweet’s personal hoard of Star Wars toys, models, promotional items, and assorted ephemera from a galaxy far, far away. Whole Sansweet’s collection had begun much earlier in his life, the Rancho as it began today started in 1998 when Sansweet worked for Lucasfilm. He was both Director of Content Management and head of Fan Relations at times, but a Star Wars fanatic at all times, and his collection continued to grow. He held it in a refitted chicken coop on his property, but by the time he retired in 2011, his expanding collection had expanded to fill a second coop as well.
In that same year, the Rancho Obi-Wan was launched as a non-profit organization to manage the collection and present it to the public. Their mission statement? “[Our] specific purpose is to serve the public through the collection, conservation, exhibition and interpretation of Star Wars memorabilia and artifacts, using the collection to provide meaningful educational, aesthetic, intellectual and cultural experiences for a wide array of audiences and to carry out other charitable and educational activities associated with this goal.”
A lofty ambition indeed, but really, the Rancho collection is simply a fantasyland for Star Wars fans. It is hard to gage how many items are in the collection exactly, but it doesn’t take a math droid to see that the number items stretches into the hundreds of thousands. From homemade tchotchkes, to licensed action figures, to props and prop quality replicas, the Rancho has a seemingly endless variety of Star Wars stuff.
Tours are available by request. Light side Jedi only. No Sith allowed.