January 19, 2011

Star Wars Pickers - Finding Star Wars Parts in Dayton

If you've turned on a TV recently, you've probably seen some of History's American Pickers series.  The premise is simple: two guys head off to various home, barns, and sheds in search of antiques and other valuables.

Here in Ohio, Daren and I headed out for our own version of picking.  We've done this before in search of various pieces, parts, and materials needed to build Star Wars props. Many of the props you see in the films were found items rather than newly created props. Everything from lightsabers to R2-D2 parts were pulled off of real life items. That means that with a little research and hunting, we can actually build our replica props with the same items that were used in the films.

Today, we headed up to a potential gold mine called Mendelson's. It was a short drive from Cincinnati up to downtown Dayton, Ohio.  Mendelson's Industrial Surplus is a giant - and I do mean giant - multi-story warehouse in Dayton that buys and sells various industrial surplus parts and materials.  They are open to the public and are known for having some very obscure parts for a variety of items.  The literally have decades worth of "junk" collected on shelves, just waiting to be discovered.

On this particular Star Wars pick, we were looking for vintage electronics to be part of our Star Wars Mouse Droid robots.  We went prepared for this task, taking a number of tools along to help.  First, we had a folder of high resolution printouts of the original Mouse Droid prop.  Should those not be enough, we also were armed with iPhones, an iPad, and a Verizon portable hotspot for internet.

We spent a few hours and still only saw about 40% of the store.  Most of our time was spent looking at various 14 and 18 pin chips to match the ones on the side of the Mouse shell.  We had to go box by box comparing to the reference pics.

Overall, I think we were mildly succesfull, finding some chips and electronic pieces that should work quite well.  I still need to go back to look at their knob and dial collection.  Especially in the Original Trilogy movies, knobs, dials, and other aluminum greeblies dotted the props and sets of the movies.  Having some of these on hand is always handy.

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