What Does It Take To Be A Guinness World Record Holder?

When it comes to setting records in a galaxy far, far away there’s no beating Steve Sansweet at Rancho Obi-Wan, who has held the record for the largest collection of Star Wars memorabilia (including a good proportion of LEGO Star Wars sets) since May 4th, 2015 and has no intention of letting go of it.

Such a collection – which needs to be seen to be believed – is out of the scope of reality for the likes of the average fan, but there are currently a number of records that are up for grabs.

While some are achievable for those with dextrous fingers, others are dependent on budget.

There is one title that most LEGO Star Wars fans would love a chance to have a go at, and that’s the engagingly titled “Largest collection of LEGO® Star Wars interlocking plastic brick sets” which is currently held by Matt Hines, whose staggering collection lives in the United States.

First held by Jon Jessesen, a railway engineer from Norway and LEGO collector who amassed 272 Star Wars sets in September 2012, Jessensen went on to retain it in January 2015 when he upped the ante with 378 sets.

“Collecting LEGO Star Wars is for me using the force to bring two wonderful worlds together with a passion for both the films and the innovation of the Lego product,” Jessesen said when he won the record the first time.

Surprisingly, neither of Jessesen’s records received much attention, and while his first award got him some notoriety in Norway and was picked up by Worldrecordacademy.com, the LEGO Star Wars community didn’t take notice. His second record five years later earned him less attention.

Jessesen’s eight-year hold was broken in 2020 by Hines, a retired serviceman who found his way to LEGO Star Wars in 1999 as a way of building a relationship with his three-year-old stepson. By the time he was ready to retire in 2016 Hines had already amassed a considerable collection of Star Wars action figures to go along with his LEGO sets, and realizing his Star Wars room looked like a toy store that had been hit by a tornado, decided to concentrate his focus of LEGO instead.

The day he decided to go for the record came after a casual conversation with his wife, who idly asked how many LEGO Star Wars sets there were. Checking the theme’s database on Brickset his answer spawned two more questions: how many was he missing and was there a world record?

Taking this as a green light, and knowing that he had more sets than Jessesen had when he retained the record in 2015, Hines decided he would have to achieve 100% if he was to stand any chance at capturing the Guinness World Record.

Checking with Guinness he was told that to earn the record for the “largest number of complete sets of LEGO Star Wars interlocking plastic bricks” he would have to meet the following criteria:

  • This record is to be attempted by an individual.
  • This record is measured by the total number of sets of LEGO Star Wars interlocking plastic bricks in a collection.
  • For the purposes of this record, a ‘LEGO Star Wars set’ is a three-dimensional model or representation of a scene, made completely out of the LEGO Star Wars sets.

As straightforward as that sounds there is a number of caveats.

Each set has to be unique, so multiples don’t count and polybagged minifigures aren’t considered a “three-dimensional model or representation of a scene” so aren’t considered valid items either. Clocks, keychains, magnets, store displays, books and a number of trade show exclusives and promotional items are excluded because they aren’t buildable sets, and sets with multiple models (such as the Advent Calendars) only count once. Additionally custom builds – even when made with real LEGO elements – aren’t official products.

What followed was a four-year period of purchasing to make sure his carefully inventoried collection was as complete as possible when he contacted Guinness.

“The paperwork to actually apply is pretty simple. You write to the GWR on their website and state the record you want to apply for. They will approve or deny it. Once approved they send you all the paperwork to fill out and the directions on how to actually submit.” explained Hines.

The process of submitting his record attempt was made easier by the COVID pandemic. Normally a record-breaking collection has to be publically viewable so that an adjudicator (whether an independent arbitrator or the vaunted Blue Coats) could assay the sets to make sure they were all valid.

However, since Hines’s attempt was during a period of restricted social contact and gatherings were discouraged he had to “send in all the inventory sheets as well as a video counting and naming every single set.” At the time of submission, he had 645 qualifying sets!

Since gaining the record for the world’s largest collection of LEGO Star Wars sets, Hines has continued to add to his collection, which now has 787 qualifying LEGO Star Wars products.

“I have filled in a few of the gaps I had when I set the record as well as stay current with everything LEGO has produced since. I am in the middle of re-inventorying and organizing everything to re-set the record” says Hines, who expects to submit another entry to secure his record for another year.

With the rising popularity of LEGO Star Wars, there are a number of collectors in contention for the record.

Fred Oliver, a construction engineer from Canada, is one such person. His collection – the centerpiece of which is a UCS Millennium Falcon in a custom-built Death Star hanger – has been growing since 1999 when he started building sets to help recuperate from a hand injury. Twenty years later a friend drew his attention to the record and he decided to make an attempt.

Oliver says that “the process has been slow to this point, due to technical issues, and the pandemic.” and his first submission in 2020 didn’t get accepted. He has since re-applied and is currently waiting on a decision.

It’s said that dedication is all you need to be a record-breaker – though Hines advises to “set a record in something that you love…makes it was easier and way more fun.”

Is your collection large enough to stand a chance at earning a place in the record books? Check out our specially curated Guinness World Record database to find out what counts towards a successful submission.

Entertainment Earth

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