In 1977, 14-year-old Jayne Bernstein went with her older sister to see the original Star Wars movie and was instantly hooked.
“It was not like anything I had seen before,” she remembers. “It was action packed from start to finish, and had the most amazing special effects. The characters were likeable and as the story started halfway through, you really wanted to know what happened before and after. I loved the good versus evil ethos, with the magical being made realistic in the form of the Jedi.”
Now in her 50s, Jayne found the magic never left, and has converted her dining room in the Stevenage home she shares with her partner Allen into a ‘geek den’. Filled with Star Wars memorabilia, as well as models from her other favourite films and TV shows, the room is crammed floor to ceiling with over 500 pieces.
Alongside Star Wars and Star Wars Lego models, sci-fi super nerd Jayne’s impressive collection also includes Star Trek, Marvel, DC, Thunderbirds, Doctor Who, Space 1999, Harry Potter and collectable dragons. Keen not to fall into any one-dimensional geek girl stereotypes however, Jayne is also an avid collector of Victorian cranberry glass, owning at over 40 pieces.
For Jayne, although the urge to collect was always there (she was previously a big fan of the diminutive Lilliput Lane cottages) she didn’t acquire her first piece of geekery until six years ago.
“Out of the blue, my partner got me a lightsaber-ejecting R2D2 on eBay,” she says. He’s amazing at finding stuff like this. I think it just sort of kickstarted me into sci-fi collecting mode, and I began buying Funko Pop vinyl figures of my favourite characters.
“Then one Mothers’ Day, Allen bought me a whole collection of Star Wars models as a surprise. I suddenly had a lot of pieces on my hands. So when he suggested we turned our underused dining space into a memorabilia room, I didn’t need asking twice!”
Jayne thinks she has now spent at least £6,000 on her collection, buying from eBay, directly from Lego, from specialist shops and at Comic Con conventions.
Her favourite item is perhaps the most personal – a photo of her and Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols at MCM Comic Con in London in 2017. The most valuable piece is an original Kenner AT-AT with movable legs, head and ‘chin guns’ from 1981. In pristine condition and still boxed, it could fetch several hundred pounds.
And it seems there is not just one collector in the household; partner Allen has a thing about spitfires.
“Allen collects too,” says Jayne. “He is also a sci-fi geek, but his collecting interests lie elsewhere.
“He’s more into WWII militaria and has about 40 items, mostly Spitfires. But because he also has a collecting mentality, he’s totally happy that I have a room dedicated to my memorabilia. He’s definitely not averse to a bit of geekery and we have dressed up and attended London Comic Con together.”
Now a homeworking virtual assistant with the Pink Spaghetti network, Jayne’s previous job once took her into very close contact with one of her favourite shows.
She says: “I was working as a technical project manager for media organisations and a job took me to BBC Wales, where they film Doctor Who.
“I asked for a tour and ended up being taken around the set on my own for a private visit. Unfortunately, none of the actors were there at the time, but I ran round the Tardis like a mad thing!”
With prices high for sci-fi memorabilia, and alternative investments such as antiques, art, gold and wine gaining traction, Jayne’s collecting could turn out to be a great investment.
“I imagine my collection would fetch around £10,000, considerably more than I paid for it. But to me it’s priceless and I would never consider putting it up for sale.”