This Guy Sells Soviet-Era Bootleg Calendars on eBay

An Interview

An example from Kristof’s collection.

Last month I took my appreciation of bootleg culture to the next level by writing a series of eBay buying guides for bootleg aficionados. My hope was to serve as a matchmaker between potential buyers and eBay sellers who may not be getting the web traffic they deserve.

Every time I sat down to conduct my very important research, I would stumble upon the same vendor, 0036krash001 (his birth name is Kristof), who was selling strangely specific Hungarian Star Wars calendars from the 1980’s.

I could understand a Hungarian calendar dedicated to Han Solo or Luke or Darth Vader, but 0036krash001 was posting Hungarian calendars with the likenesses of Salacious Crumb, Nien Nunb, Jabba’s Palace, and other niche details from the original trilogy. There was something unbelievably democratic about these bootlegs.

Jabba’s palace (from Kristof’s collection)

I had so many questions and, luckily, Kristof was more than willing to provide answers. The conversation below took place over eBay private messaging sporadically over the last week.

J: Hi, Kristof. I guess my first question would be: where’d you get these calendars from? Have you held onto these since the 80s? Were these calendars popular in Hungary when they came out?

K: No, actually I was born in 1992, so I got these much later than the 80s. I’m a Star Wars fan, and I’m collecting Hungarian SW memorabilia.
I presume these calendars were very popular in the 80s. They were sold by tobacconists. As a socialist country, very few US films were presented in Hungary at that time, but SW was one of them, so every bootleg item was popular.

An example from Kristof’s collection.

“There was something unbelievably democratic about these bootlegs.”

J: Nice! Was this a common practice beyond the 80s? Like are you finding similar merchandise for Star Wars Episodes 1–3 and even 7 or was this a phenomenon that ended after the 1989 revolutions? Also, were the tobacconists you mentioned street vendors or did they have small shops where they would have sold these calendars up near the register?

Example of a Hungarian Tobacconist (Photo from Hungary Today)

K: Bootleg items were a common practice between 1980–1989. After the change of regime, everything went to a legal way, so for episode 1–3 and 7 there aren’t any bootleg items, only authorized ones by Lucasfilm/Disney. The tobacconists were very small shops. They were selling cigarettes, newspapers, small plastic toys, etc., and for ex. calendars like this one.

J: So why are you selling these now? Just getting rid of duplicates or are you trying to thin down your collection? Do other Hungarians appreciate and collect these 80s bootleg items?

Hungarian bootleg Boba Fett gazing hopefully into the distance. (Photo from Toynoize)

K: You’re right, these are my duplicates. Yes, there are many hungarian collectors :) Yeah, for ex. the hungarian bootleg plastic figure are far more valuable. Last year a bootleg Boba Fett in mint condition with original packaging sold for $10000 !

J: Are there any specific websites/conventions you go to in order to find stuff or do you mostly just use eBay and go to second-hand stores? Does Hungary have the same kind of 80s bootleg merchandise as other Eastern European countries or does each area have its own flavor? What amazed me about your calendars is that they have very specific characters on them. Even Nien Nunb gets a calendar. That’s dedication!

K: Usually I can buy these items on flea markets or specific conventions (usually comic conventions). Unfortunately I’m not familiar with other central-eastern European bootleg items. Actually as far as I know there are more than 50 types of these SW calendars (these are cut images from the films).

Ninen Nunb in Hungary. (From Kristof’s collection).

“Every bootleg item was popular.”

J: I had just one more question: what is your favorite or most valuable bootlegged item?

K: Hmm, my most favorite bootleg item? I have some hungarian SW figures, maybe them. And those are the most valuable as well. But I’m still missing some.

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