Father-son duo collect 56 complete sets of Star Wars collectables for children's hospital
The force is definitely with a father and son duo on Auckland's North Shore, who amassed more than 50 sets of Star Wars collectables - for children's hospitals.
A long time ago in a suburb far, far away, Sunnynook to be exact, Greg Stowell and his 10-year-old son Tristan started collecting Star Wars "Cosmic Shells" from their local Countdown.
The hexagonal collectors-card, featuring characters, planets and vehicles from the film franchise were awarded for every $20 spent at the supermarket since August.
Stowell - a Star Wars fan since way back - thought the promotion a great way to draw his son to the light side, by increasing his appreciation for the films.
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But on their quest to collect one full set of 36 cards, the pair collected more than a few spares, enough to warrant increasing their collection efforts to complete several sets.
"We collected from friends and from staff at my wife's work and we managed to complete six sets," Greg said.
But soon the pupil became the master and Tristan's collecting efforts took off faster than the Millenium Falcon in hyperdrive.
Countdown Sunnynook agreed to let the pair set up a swap table at the weekend and collect or trade what they could from passing patrons.
"We managed to collect enough extra cards to complete an additional about 40 sets.
"And this is all due to the generosity of the locals in the area," Greg said.
After hours of taking stock, the pair came away with 56 complete sets (more than 2000 cards). And countless more incomplete ones.
"We've collected so many sets," Tristan said.
Countdown stores stopped supplying the shells on Sunday - meaning a proliferation of online trading forums for collectors to complete their sets.
There were 900 cosmic shell listings on Trade Me on Tuesday, with complete sets sold being for about $40 on Trade Me, according to a company spokesman.
So what to do with all those cards now? Simple, said Tristan, give it to children stuck in hospital to play with.
"People in the hospital are sick and their mums and dad can't get theirs, so we're collecting the cards for them."
They have plans to donate the cards to Starship children's hospital, or other similar children's charities.