toys Posts

Collecting Film and TV Memorabilia

A Guest Blog Post by David Limberg
This article was originally written for Rareburg, who in 2016,  joined forces with hobbyDB to provide an excellent source of collectible knowhow for the community. 

I feel like I have been collecting my whole life and when I stop and look at what I have done over the years, I realize I really have been collecting film and tv memorabilia since a very young age.

Back in the 1970’s, there weren’t as many TV shows and movies as there are today that related to Sci-Fi and Fantasy and there definitely wasn’t as much memorabilia then as there is now, although back then, these were just called toys.

I grew up on Star Trek, James Bond, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, UFO and ‘The Man from Uncle’, and one my favorites, Our Man Flint / In Like Flint (still an awesome couple of movies).

There was a local toy shop to where I lived and if I was a good boy I could have my Enterprise, Aston Martin DB5, UFO Interceptor or Thunderbird 2 Dinky or Corgi toy.

Dinky U.S.S. Enterprise Then came the late 70’s and we had Space 1999, Superman, The Hulk, Spider-Man and then there was Star Wars and the Star Trek movies.  This era was a defining moment in toy history, but only because of Star Wars did, which in my opinion revolutionized toy manufacturing.

Even though Star Trek The Motion Picture blitzed the market with toys, it was nothing in comparison to Star Wars which was everywhere all over the world with that famous opening line…

It was here that I feel true toy mania and collecting started, I know it was for me as I simply just had to have, well, everything and in some cases twice, unless it was a Stormtrooper then it had to be (ok, I think I will stop now).

From then on, more movies and TV shows were churned out and then the toy market exploded; the choice was endless and kids would compete with each other comparing what they had.

So from then till now, we have become a world of collectors. For some, it is an obsession, for others a hobby and for the rest, well they don’t get it; and it’s not just for kids, it’s also for the big kids with credit cards and jobs and families who we call adults.

For us adults, we still love all this ‘tuff’, the thrill and for many, it’s not just about the new items, it’s about getting the toys we had when we were young that we for some reason no longer have, these items are now called memorabilia and the fun is in the chase. So the hunt is on to find that rare Star Wars carded X-Wing fighter we had in 1978, boxed Dalek, Spider-Man action figure by EMGO or in my case a FAB 1 due to the fact that I had painted mine in black.

When I started my hunt for toys that I had when I was younger, there was no dedicated websites, no blogs, no groups, in fact, there was no internet, all we had was the occasional toy fair and if you went on holiday, be it in the UK or overseas, you might find a gem of a toy shop that stocked old, rare, unusual and unique memorabilia.

Today, it is so much easier to find what you want, go to a show, look around, check out websites, save searches, join a group, do a blog, in fact, it’s too easy and because of this, you need to be careful.  What I mean is, do your research, don’t just buy the first rare carded V.I.N.Cent The Black Hole Action figure you see just because you are looking at it, for starters, it might be overpriced, it might not be the exact one you received as a generic image is being used and if it is too cheap, again, don’t just buy it, read the description to see why, 9 times out 10 it will be an old toy with a modern reprint card.  In addition, check out the seller; see if you can find out if they have a good reputation.  

You can also go to Conventions, Film Fairs, Toy Fairs and again, be careful not to spend your money straight away.  I recall going to Westminster Central Hall back in the 1990’s and after paying my 50p entrance fee, table one had an Enterprise 1701 and Klingon Battle Cruiser set of DINKY toys in gorgeous condition to which I promptly got out my $120 and bought them both, I didn’t even ask for a discount I was THAT HAPPY, well I was for about 5 minutes until at another stall I saw the twin pack for $100 and then another pair for $80, AHHHHHH and I could not get my money back.

At some events, you might even get a chance to meet some celebrities.

Naturally, if you have done your research, you will have an idea of what something should cost and what you are prepared to pay, but again, there will always be the exception to the rule. Amongst my collection, I have a fondness for a TV show called ‘Automan’.  Like the movie Blade Runner, this show did not have much merchandise made on it and what there was, was in limited quantity, so when the hardly ever seen Scalextric style set came up for grabs of which there are only 7 that are known of in the world, I knew I would do anything to get it.  At the time, it was worth about $100, but I wanted it at any cost and was prepared to go 4 figures.  As it turned out I was lucky, $145 AND, the owner lived 6 miles from me so I went and picked it up.

Indiana JonesThere is one very important rule that you should remember and that is, buy the item for you, ok, you might purchase it as an investment as it is a sure thing, but, sometimes, prices go down as well as up and don’t forget, items today are manufactured in their thousand’, sometimes millions, so unless it’s a limited edition of 5,000 worldwide, that gorgeous looking action figure you want, may never be worth more than the price you paid and if you take it out of its packaging, well the value drops.

Very rare Blade Runner diecast model from ERTL worth far more if still boxed.

The next point to consider is, what do you want of the item or your collection? Must all items be mint in box (MIB)? They will be cheaper without packaging. Does it matter which country it was made (some items can be the same but made in different countries, not necessarily today, but older products).  Naturally the better the condition of the item, the more it will be worth, if that is a factor.  I mostly collect MIB but will happily buy a loose item, even if I have it i its packaging just so I can touch it, especially if it is very rare.

Eventually there may come a day where your collection takes over your home, even your life, try to see this before it is too late as some items might get damaged due to how you have stored them, such as in sun light or a heavy box on top of a light box but also because you great big beautiful collection is just a series of items in card board boxes which means you never get to see or enjoy your memorabilia and you place looks like the end scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark and putting your items into a storage place might not be such a good idea as this is very expensive.

I have a passion/interest for a great many Sci-Fi Film & TV shows and sometimes, it’s just because I like the item and not what it relates too.  Others dedicate themselves to one subject and sometime just the action figures from that show or movie or they only collect model kits or whatever tickles their fancy.

It can be an expensive hobby, even new products such as Hot Toys figures are several hundred pounds, but oh boy are they amazing.

There are times when you may need to sell some or all of your collection, but for whatever the reason is, once again, do your research on values, don’t let someone take advantage of your situation and if you have no clue, seek advice of a specialists, it might cost you for their time, but it’s worth it and they may even be able to make suggestions to help.

So, old or new, action figures, model kits, models, mugs, pins… whatever it is you like or want. Do your research before you spend your money. But, most of all have fun.

Toy Collecting: Nostalgia Vs. Enterprise

screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-10-26-51-amA Guest Blog Post by Mark Griffiths
This article was originally written for Rareburg, who in December,  joined forces with hobbyDB to provide an excellent source of collectible knowhow for the community. 

It was a typical wet and windy late Sunday afternoon. The removal van was packed to the brim with chairs, tables and various bags of clutter. The loft needs closing; just one more look before the hatch is sealed and the move complete. But what’s that in the far corner? That object behind the beam – we checked that area, I’m sure we did?

Star Trek Klingon Lursa Generation 5

Oh well, one more trip through the tight attic space to rescue what looks like a faded, dusty cardboard box before it is left behind for the new homes new incumbents. As I approach the mystery package, the Velux window begins to shed light, allowing me to peel back the crusty yellowing tape which allows me entry to what appears to be an old stained crisp box.

Suddenly…a flash of vibrant colors – blues, blacks, yellows and reds and a mixture of classic brand names including Kenner, Mattel and Panini. My mind starts to race with wonder, what have we nearly left behind?

Star Wars Return of the Jedi Stormtrooper

Unpacking the box reveals a mixture of playlets, action figures and sticker books, all presented as their manufacturers intended – mint, boxed, sealed all in superb condition. I am transported back to my youth, dragged back through the tunnel of time, evoking an eclectic mix of amazing memories…

“Where was it I bought this MOC 65 back Stormtrooper action figure – Florida or LA?”, “Which London Toy Fair was this Transformers playlet from? Was it ’85 or ’86?” and “How did I manage to not open this Walmart Exclusive GI JOE Cobra Commander, but I’m glad I didn’t!”

Buzz Lightyear Holiday Hero

Then, wedged in between these classic gems I noticed an old polaroid photograph from back in the 1980’s when actual Darth Vader visited the family toy store – wow what a flashback! Suddenly I remember all those Saturday’s serving customers at ‘Nightingales’, the swarm of people queuing that November morning awaiting the doors to open to secure their scarce Teenage Mutant Hero Turtle action figures and all those must have Christmas Best Sellers including Teddy Ruxbin, Care Bears and Buzz Lightyear!

Alone in the loft I am startled, brought back to reality as my phone vibrates – I have just received a Best Offer on my original 1985 carded Transformers Generation 1 Bumblebee, still with its original Woolworth’s sticker attached, just $1.99! It had been listed for just a few days at $200 or best offers. A buyer from the United States has just offered $125…do I accept? Do I take a huge profit on a 2 1/2″ piece of plastic or do I hold tight and wait for more? Being honest, deep down I would probably rather not sell at all. I remember the day I bought this classic figure and realize when it has gone…it’s gone…forever – no more. No more memories of Saturday afternoons walking into town after work with wages in hand to cash in on my hearts desires, no more shiny autobot logo, no more Hasbro branding…no more memories.

Transformers Bumblebee

The highs of acquiring the ultra-rare figure at a modest high street price, that last piece of the action figure collection, the buzz of going through stock at the local toy store and finding the elusive hard to find bad guy at the very back of the peg and of course the hairs up the back of the neck which stand on end when you triple your money once the item sells. However, those feelings of elation are balanced with the massive feeling of loss when that item is sold, the ability to reminisce, the memories, those flashbacks have gone…forever.

The Iron Giant

The box comes with me and the hatch is sealed for the final time. As I climb down the stairs my mind starts racing again. This is the constant battle of any collector – Nostalgia Vs. Enterprise do I list these treasures or take them with me to the next Collector’s Fair? … No I think I will sit on these just a little longer.