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Movie and Television Merchandise as Collectibles

by ThomPattie (01/27/08).
Mr T In Your Pocket
Darth Vader figurine

The box office tally isn’t the whole story of a film’s profit margin – “It’s the merchandise, silly.” So says Mel Brooks in his 1987 science fiction parody Spaceballs, as his character displays merchandise from the film – within the film – including bed sheets and a cereal box. George Lucas gave Brooks permission to make the Star Wars spoof on the condition that there would be no merchandise from the film. Merchandise is quite important to a film’s fans and makes for a lasting collectible for years to come.

One of the great collectibles of Generation X is Star Wars memorabilia. Original-issue figurines, fighter planes, trading cards, and weapons are the foundation of a collection. Original film cells, autographed photos, Underoos, and lunch boxes are also popular items. An original one sheet movie poster from 1977 (style D) is valued at $1,500, another (style E) at $3,000, while a third (style A, a rerelease) is priced at $250. The pricing is determined by rarity and condition. A complete set of miniature figurines from 1977 go for $300 on Ebay.

Star Wars isn’t the only movie with a long and prosperous merchandising history. Tim Burton films have sparked interesting collections – especially for Nightmare Before Christmas toys and other items which continue to sell well the world over. Jack and the bunch make for great collecting, though because the toys, figurines, and school supplies remain in-stock and for sale to the public, building a collection that might become rare and valued for resale is a long term investment.

Movie t-shirts and posters can be found in many households and, more recently, unusual items as merchandise have gained in popularity. The reissued “Mr. T In Your Pocket” – a push button key ring with voice samples of Mr T catch-phrases like “I pity the fool” – pictured here, is an example of a specialty item that can pick up steam when childhood fans become grown ups who appreciate their nostalgic value.

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