Collecting the Promotional Standee

A life-size 3-D Watto standee was created as part of a Pepsi promotion to “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” released in 1999; it sold recently for nearly $1000.

It’s been said that advertising is an art form.  But what happens to the art form that is advertising?  I’m referring to the oversized, usually cardboard signage that decorates movie theatre lobbies, supermarket aisles, electronic retailers, and store windows.  They are elaborate, colorful, and definitely “in your face” types of advertising that must be expensive to produce.  Once the promotion or the movie has ended, what happens to these things?  Like anything else, they are collected, traded, bought and sold.  They are the standee.  

Cinema Standees

If you’ve gone to a movie at a big cineplex movie theater lately, you probably noticed the “coming attractions” displays in the lobby.  These are the huge, oversized renderings of what would otherwise have been only a movie poster once upon a time.  Now, they are the cinema standee.  

The standees are three-dimensional, made of heavy gauge foam/cardboard, and are usually multi-faceted with lights, sounds, and sometimes movement. Also known as a lobby stand, these promote a future attraction and are sometimes interactive.  But, because of their large size, are they collectible?  They can be.  

This full size Incredible Hulk standee at 8.5 feet tall and 6 feet across, sold for $6,000.

A life-size 3-D Watto was created as part of a Pepsi promotion to Star Wars: The Phantom Menace released in 1999, to be displayed in Blockbuster video rental stores; it sold recently for nearly $1000.  Jurassic Park: The Lost World was released in 1997, but its 3-D standee sold recently for $300.  An inflatable standee from Big Hero 6, a Disney movie released in 2016, brought from $160 to $220.  The most impressive so far was a full size Incredible Hulk standee at 8.5 feet tall and 6 feet across that sold for $6,000.  But where to put it? Smaller stand-alone types of standees are easily collected for $20 to $100, depending on the character and movie promotion.

Retail Standee

What we now call a promotional standee has been around in retail advertising as early as the 1930s.  But these were full color cardboard type standees that were originally intended for the retail counter.  While they are quite collectible (a Popeye radio promotion of 1938 brought $475 in 2011), we’re concerned about more recent full size floor mounted standees used to promote a video game release or to promote a particular product.  

A Legend of Zelda video game promotional standee recently sold for $187, while a Dr. Pepper tie-in for the movie Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, a rather large store display complete with lights, sold for $475 in 2016. This thing was almost 7’ tall and 5’ across, not an unusual size for such displays these days.  

There was even a standee promoting a StarWars cereal that was marketed in 1984. It sold for $406 in 2013.

Star War standees and displays seem to do much better than most such as the display for C-3PO’s, a sugar cereal by Kellogg’s in 1984.  A full 5’7” by 30” full color image of C-3PO holding a box sold easily for $406 in 2013.  On the other hand, a standee to advertise the new Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows video, a series just as popular as Star Wars, brought only $46 which was at least twice as much as similar retail standees brought.  

The standee you saw in the fast food burger places that tied into a movie such as the Star Trek Into Darkness, that just happened to promote themed glassware you could buy, sold (with the glassware) for $300.  Others went for far less.  

Character Standees

A standee is not exactly advertising, but it does promote an image, a well-known celebrity or character by getting noticed and commented on–which is a sort of advertising in itself.  For example, a Justin Bieber life size standee (from his early days) or a Jack Sparrow standee from Pirates of the Caribbean, sold for between $24 to $30 as most character standees do.  Or, you can get a life size Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web for almost $16.  Lots of choices here.

Lastly, a new Standee?

While there doesn’t seem to be a viable collector’s group for all manner of promotional standees, there are Pinterest categories that cater to the fascination behind the ever growing use of elaborate promotional displays such as this site or this one for cinema standees.  A Google search also brought up standees as a separate category.  

Because promotional standees are rather elaborate, there doesn’t seem to be a market to create reproductions so far. Anecdotal evidence suggests that just about all the standees were either received directly from the retail store or theatre where they were on display or bought second hand from online auction sites with no one company or retailer predominating.  It seems to be a strictly collector to collector approach so far.

Perhaps someone can create a promotion to establish a collector’s convention for standees and advertise it with their own new standee each year.  Made very large.  With lights.  And lots of movement.  Which can be collected.  By the collectors.  Of the Standee Collectors Association.

Tom Carrier is a General Worthologist with a specialty in Americana, political memorabilia and he has been the resident WorthPoint vexillologist (flags, seals and heraldry) since 2007. Tom is also a frequent contributor of articles to WorthPoint.

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