Thomas Tanner?s collection of science-fiction props and memorabilia began a long time ago, in a place far, far away: in an America that had recently run the Space Race and was still obsessed with all things intergalactic.
?When I was younger, I was really interested in astronomy ? you know, back in the early 1970s, when we still had a space program,? the 44-year-old Tanner says. ?And in 1977, when Star Wars exploded on the screen, it was kind of a defining moment for my generation. That opened up the floodgates for television shows Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers and video games like Asteroids and Space Invaders. It was kind of a great time to be a fan of science fiction.?
Tanner began collecting memories of those movies and television shows, which quite naturally segued into collecting memorabilia from them. About 25 years ago, Tanner bought some vintage Star Trek action figures from a seller in Canada and undertook a collection that now includes various pieces of Lost in Space and Planet of the Apes memorabilia, autographed Star Trek cast photos and actual costume pieces from the original Star Wars trilogy.
?Star Wars props are extremely rare,? he says. ?George Lucas pretty much has everything archived and stored away up in Northern California.? If Tanner is proud of sniping a few pieces from the supply-side granddaddy of all sci-fi collectors, he?s too modest to let on.
Some of Tanner?s pieces are now on display at Galaxy Caf?, a sci-fi themed coffeehouse he runs in Seven Hills, while others are securely locked up ? most of the time, anyway.
?Sometimes you just can?t believe that you have something that has been seen by millions of people on the big screen; every once in a while you just have to look at something and actually touch it and admire it,? he says. ?But for the most part you wanna keep everything hands-off and locked away so it doesn?t get damaged.?
But when Tanner says that he owns one of Christopher Reeve?s original Superman suits, I have to ask: Did you ever??
?I?ve tried the cape on,? Tanner says. ?I didn?t tempt fate by jumping off a roof or anything. And of course Reeve looked a lot better in the cape than I did, so I left it at that.??