Gus Lopez was stressed. It was late October, and Lopez, a 17-year veteran of Amazon, was overseeing the launch of the company’s new restaurant-delivery service in Portland, marking the first time it would expand outside of the company’s hometown of Seattle.
“I was doing press interviews and doing all the readiness to launch that evening,” Lopez told Re/code last week. “But that’s when the tickets were going on sale; I’m focused on this launch, but I definitely have to get the tickets.”
“The tickets,” you might guess by the headline of this article, were for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the seventh installment in the blockbuster sci-fi series that has captivated millions of fans since the 1977 premiere. And they weren’t just any tickets — they were for a marathon showing of all seven movies at Seattle’s Cinerama theater on Dec. 17, the day before the public premiere.
Lopez’s friend ended up procuring eight passes for the all-day extravaganza for him and friends. Disaster averted.
You see, Lopez isn’t a regular “Star Wars” fan; he’s a ridiculously big one. So big, in fact, that he has transformed his 4,000-square-foot Seattle home into a monument to that fandom. What started with the action figures he first bought in New Jersey as a 12-year-old in the late ’70s has exploded into one of the most insane collections around. More than a half-dozen rooms in the house are dedicated exclusively to memorabilia.
I ask Lopez how his collection compares to others out there. He said he’s not one for comparing.
“My belief, in any type of collection, is that it starts to reflect the tastes of the person who’s collecting it,” he said.
“I go after what is hard to find,” he added, “not just valuable.”
What is hard to find? Certain movie props and costumes from film shoots, and items that only the cast and crew receive, like invitations to special screenings. Another favorite is the Death Star model, as well as leather jackets that some crew members wore.
And there are cereal boxes. Yes, cereal boxes. People usually, you know, throw them out after they consume their contents, so tracking the empty down can be a pain.
“I will literally have over 200 people in 100 different countries looking for me to find cereal boxes,” Lopez said in another recent interview.
One other specialty of Lopez’s are the school yearbooks of “Star Wars” cast members.
“There are a few dealers who specialize in celebrity yearbooks, but a lot of them I’ve gotten from classmates,” he said. “In some cases, with very young actors, I’ve tracked down their high school classmates on the yearbook committee who had extras.”
The most expensive of the lot is a backpack worn by Boba Fett’s stuntman in “Return of the Jedi.” It cost more than Lopez’s car, he admits, though he won’t say what kind of car that is. The collection easily has a value in the hundreds of thousands, and perhaps even more. Lopez, again, isn’t saying.
Yes, Lopez takes this seriously. So it’s no surprise that he has taken his hobby into the workplace, too, where he is GM of Amazon Restaurants. He has placed several full-size character figurines at the entrance on several floors of the Amazon building he inhabits.
But his colleagues will get to witness the full collection in all its glory on Dec. 22; Lopez is taking the Amazon Restaurants team to see the movie at a local theater he rented out for a day, and then back to his house for a tour and party.
Is that the sound of fun? At Amazon?
“We encourage it,” he said of the company’s attitude toward hobbies like his. “We love it when people have quirky or interesting things they do outside of work.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.