One of the biggest draws for fans at Star Wars Celebration and other conventions is the opportunity to meet their heroes and get a piece of memorabilia signed that will symbolize a great fan moment. This year at Star Wars Celebration, fans will get an opportunity to meet Star Wars luminaries like Mark Hamill, Felicity Jones, and even Forest Whitaker! All of that is made possible thanks to a partnership between Lucasfilm, Topps and Authenticators, Inc. The three companies have joined together to provide Star Wars fans with the best autograph and photo op event possible.
I had an opportunity to speak with David Leiner, General Manager and Vice President of the North American Sports and Entertainment division at Topps about how this partnership developed. Mr. Leiner explained that “Lucasfilm reached out to us recognizing that there’s a lot of fraudulent photography and autographed memorabilia, and as the Star Wars universe grows, a whole new generation of collectors have joined the Star Wars [fandom].” Mr. Leiner mentioned that Topps is actually the longest continuous Star Wars licensee, going back 40 years, and thus the partnership was a natural one.
The other critical element however is Authenticators, Inc., which is a company built by Major League Baseball to deal with its own autograph fraud issues. “MLB AI [Authenticators, Inc.] has been right at the forefront. Baseball and the sports industry faced many of the same issues as Star Wars,” Mr. Leiner said. Authenticators, Inc. utilizes a sophisticated authentication process to guarantee that fans can feel confident about the autographs that they are purchasing. “Any time we do a public or private autograph signing, there are reps [often off-duty law enforcement officers] there from AI. They sit right with the talent in the same room, watching the talent sign each item and affix a tamper proof hologram. It cannot be removed. It breaks apart if someone tries to remove it and it contains an individual code,” explained Mr. Leiner. The unique code embedded in each hologram can be input into the Star Wars Authentics website to find details on when the item was signed and who signed the item.
According to Mr. Leiner, the response has been very positive from the actors involved with Star Wars. “The talent loves this. They get it and are on board. Mark Hamill and Anthony Daniels have been very vocal about fraud,” said Mr. Leiner. It’s no surprise that the Star Wars talent are supportive of this great program. I wondered however if there were challenges given the rapidly increasing international cast of Star Wars. Mr. Leiner didn’t bat an eye, saying that all it takes is some increased logistics. “The first signing was with Felicity [Jones] in London and AI flew in for that. It’s a global franchise and we are the global provider for Lucasfilm,” stated Mr. Leiner.
Of course, I HAD to ask about the man, the legend, One with the Force himself, Donnie Yen. “We tried to get him to come to Celebration but logistically we had some challenges and we will try to get him to a future Celebration. We couldn’t get some of the logistics hammered out. We hope in the future we’ll have him available for fans to meet. He did his best and he wants to be a part of things,” Mr. Leiner explained. Mr. Leiner was clear that Donnie really wanted to make it to Celebration but it just didn’t work out this time. Obviously I will NEED to be there when they bring Donnie to a future con!
As for Star Wars Celebration Orlando, Star Wars Authentics plans to make sure their impact is felt. “This is our first Celebration we’re putting on and we’ve spared no expense. For our first event, we wanted to make sure we came out and demonstrated the power of this partnership. The lineup is incredible. We’re excited to have the Original Trilogy talent joining us, Rogue One and Rebels,” said Mr. Leiner. It sounds like Star Wars Authentics is truly committed to making it a very positive experience for the fans.
Finally, I asked Mr. Leiner who he was most excited to see at Celebration and he gave an answer many of us share: “I’m excited to meet many of the talent, but I go to Mark Hamill and Luke Skywalker. Every kid pretended to be him, running around. I have really fond memories going back to being a kid. The new films have been fantastic. Rogue One showed the power of Disney and the Lucasfilm franchise. We have lots of great talent!”
Thanks to Star Wars Authentics and Mr. Leiner for taking the time to chat with us. Be sure to check out Star Wars Authentics at Celebration and visit their website for authentic Star Wars autographs, as well as a wealth of fantastic Star Wars photographs!
STARWARSAUTHENTICS.COM PROVIDES FANS WORLDWIDE WITH ONE DESTINATION FOR AUTHENTIC STAR WARS™ PHOTOS AND AUTOGRAPHS
Topps and Authenticators Inc. introduce a first-of-its-kind entertainment autograph authentication program for Star Wars Photos and Autographs
Topps, Authenticators, Inc. and Lucasfilm today announced the launch of starwarsauthentics.com, giving Star Wars fans worldwide an exclusive online destination for photos and authenticated autographs from iconic Star Wars actors. The site launched today following the highly anticipated release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Starwarsauthentics.com is the one-stop online destination for Star Wars fans to easily and securely order all their official photo and autograph needs as it includes a vast library of images direct from Lucasfilm, high-quality photos and exclusive autographs of fans’ favorite stars printed using Topps’ technology.
“We identified a hole in the entertainment industry, a need for certified authentic pieces for the Star Wars brand, and with this collaboration we are able to meet consumer demand. Topps excels in visual arts and printing technologies and we are thrilled to bring our expertise to Star Wars, building upon our trading card and Major League Baseball memorabilia business.” said David Leiner, General Manager and Vice President of the North American Sports and Entertainment division at Topps.
Authenticators, Inc., the industry standard verification service originally built by the MLB Authentication Program, will authenticate all autographed items. An A.I. authentication representative, who affixes a tamper-proof hologram to each photo, will witness every single autograph. This gives customers assurance of the authenticity of their photos and differentiates them from questionable autographed products they may find elsewhere on the market.
“A quality, authentic experience is something we always strive to deliver for our fans,” said Paul Southern, SVP of Star Wars licensing at Disney Consumer Products. “This new program will allow us to provide Star Wars fans with access to autographs of their favorite talent from a galaxy far, far away that are completely verified and authentic.”
Starwarsauthentics.com includes autographed Star Wars photos from Topps exclusive signers John Boyega, one of the principal stars of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s Felicity Jones. Boyega signed items will be joined by The Force Awakens co-stars Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver. In addition to Jones, Rogue One’s Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed and Donnie Yen autographs will be available. Starwarsauthentics.com will also be the only place to find the first official dual-signed items of Boyega and Ridley.