30 April 2009
The latest and greatest collectables in the Star Wars family including: reproduction costumes, autographs, Hasbro, Sideshow Collectables and Lego. ...
Movie memorabilia is big business today but it wasn’t always that way. Until a certain film, with out-of-this-world characters and ground breaking special effects, hit the big screen in 1977, movie merchandise was a frowned on commodity. Star Wars changed all that and over the years, as the franchise developed (whether you like it or not), hunger for new collectables based on the Star Wars universe has created a merchandise monster much bigger than anything even George Lucas could have thought up. Here we pay tribute to the weird and oh-so wonderful world of Star Wars memorabilia and collectables.
If a screen-used Star Wars costume is out of your price range, then how about the next best thing at a fraction of the cost? A few years ago Andrew Ainsworth, the man who created many of the original helmets and costumes back in 1976 for A New Hope, dusted off the original moulds that had being laying dormant in his studio for 30 years and began to create a new generation of Star Wars helmets. Made in exactly the same way and even in the same workshop where the originals were created over three decades ago, these helmets have now been reborn as serious Star Wars collectables and are the closest thing you are ever going to get to their original screen-used older brothers. As they use the same mould the helmets even have the same tell-tale imperfection as the originals; such as a slightly asymmetric shape, and surface bumps and blemishes.
Since the introduction of the first Stormtrooper helmets a few years ago, the range has extended dramatically to include the TIE Fighter helmet and chest pieces and even full Imperial armour, all made using the same mould and techniques as the original costumes back in 1976. Look out for more products to be added to the range soon, with the much mooted black Shadow Trooper helmet waiting in the wings. Prices start from £445. www.sdprops.com
The Property Market
If you are looking for your very own slice of a galaxy far, far away then studio properties (or props) and production memorabilia are the way to go, and you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that you won’t have to part with numerous body organs to own one! A quick trip to websites like The Prop Store of London reveals a battalion of ex-Star Wars kit for sale.
The most popular Star Wars props have to be the screen-used costumes, especially those used by those iconic Imperial minions, the Stormtroopers. These costumes are instantly recognisable, even if you’re not a fan of the films. The Prop Store has two prime examples of these very much sought after Imperial items, including an actual TIE fighter helmet. This one-off item can be seen on screen as the Millennium Falcon is attacked while escaping the Death Star. This can be yours if you have around £35,000 to spare (ouch!). How about an original screen-used Stormtrooper helmet also seen in A New Hope? Yours for around £25,000, if you so desire. If those jaw-dropping gems are out of your price range then, glad to say, the more monetary mortal Star Wars fan can also get an original, if slightly smaller, slice of Star Wars memorabilia. Also on offer is a selection of rare production and pre-production items, such as storyboards, and superbly displayed swatches of screen-used costumes (the fur from Chewbacca’s back, anyone?). Prices start from a little over £100. Not bad for a unique piece of Star Wars memorabilia. www.propstore.com
Another way to get a tangible link to these films is to collect the autographs of those involved in creating that Star Wars movie magic; in particular the actors who helped bring Lucas’s vision to life. Like any commodity, rarity and demand rules the roost when it comes to prices for autographs. If an actor is a regular attendee of signing shows and conventions, you can usually pick up an autograph for well under £20. Key cast members, who show up to events much more rarely, are a lot more difficult to come by. When they do attend collecting events, prices can be very high. At the 2007 Celebration Europe event in London, Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) made a rare UK visit to meet and greet fans and to sign autographs, as long as you had the £80 in your pocket to buy the privilege, that is.
However, prices for even the A-list stars can drop quite significantly in a short space of time. Carry Fisher (Princess Leia) used to be a rare signer and, up until a few years ago, her autograph would cost around £200. Fortunately, thanks to her presence at several recent signing events, her signature is now much more common and so less valuable, with examples readily available for around £50.
Some actors, such as Harrison Ford (Han Solo), simply don’t attend conventions. If you want his autograph you are going to have to spend a couple of hundred pounds with a dealer, even more if the signature is on a Star Wars photo. Needless to say, the autographs of actors who are no longer with us, such as the late, great Alex Guinness (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and Sebastian Shaw, who played the unmasked Darth Vader, are a lot more difficult to come by and you are going to have to go to a dealer in order to get you hands on one. Be warned, autographs are constantly faked. If you can’t get an in-person signature then always use a reputable dealer who is registered with a recognised governing body, such as the UACC. In order to stay a member, dealers have to abide by a code of conduct at all times.
Autographs are big business but don’t think it’s a quick way to make easy money. Although values have increased for some autographs, many have seen their value drop. Our recommendation is to always buy what you like and not for investment.
Hasbro’s Collecting Hit List
Since the collapse of Palitoy in the 1980s, there has been one toy company that has been synonymous with the Star Wars brand, Hasbro. Although the original Palitoy toys still have a special place in the hearts of collectors, especially those who were around to see the original films, Hasbro has made it its mission to supply the collector with an immense amount of material to drool over – and from the looks of their 2009 line up that tradition is set to continue.
The big theme for this year will be the figures and toys based on the new Animated Clones Wars series, currently showing on Sky and the Cartoon Network. This year will see a new wave of 33/4” Clone Wars basic figures including, amongst others, Kit Fisto, Mace Windu and Commander Gree. Each figure comes equipped with action features or accessories, allowing fans to re-create their favourite scenes from the TV series. Look out for Hasbro’s new Clone Turbo Tank also coming out this year.
Fans of replica lightsabers will be glad to hear that Hasbro has picked up where Master Replicas left off with its new range of these highly sought after collectables. New this year will be the Star Wars Force FX Count Dooku replica lightsaber, which comes complete with realistic power-up and power-down light effects and four authentic lightsaber sounds. When you’re not waving it around to impress your friends, it sits elegantly on the supplied display stand. www.hasbro.co.uk
On with the Sideshow
Look out for some great things from the Sideshow Collectables’ stable in 2009. The prolific collectables company already has plenty of great items in its bulging Star Wars line, with more great goodies on their way. One of the best items to look out for is the recently announced Obi-Wan Kenobi ‘Sabotage’ Dual Display Diorama. This depicts the Jedi Master on his mission to shut down the tractor beam on the Death Star so that his friends can escape. You’ll have to wait until September for this one to land in the UK.
Another great collectable to look out for is the new Lando Calrissian 12” figure, based on the character as seen on Bespin in ‘Empire’. This fully articulated figure comes with a great Billy Dee Williams head sculpt and a detailed costume, complete with his signature flamboyant shirt, cape and blaster. Look out for this towards the end of the year.
Keep a collector’s eye out for Sideshow’s new Obi-Wan Kenobi: Jedi Knight 12” figure that should be in the shops as you read this. This figure comes with an impressive likeness of Ewan McGregor as the young Obi-Wan Kenobi. As well as a detailed costume, the figure also comes with a host of Jedi accessories, including a Jedi belt with lightsaber clip, Holoprojector, Jedi communicator, aqua breather and, of course, a lightsaber. Yours for around £60. www.sideshowtoy.com
Gear 4 Games is well known for distributing many Star Wars collectables. Now the company, under the trading name Underground Toys, has created its very own line of Star Wars goodies with a distinctly ‘cutesie’ flavour. The company already produces such delights as key rings, plush toys and, this year, its range will expand to include even more. Look out for the new Chewbacca and Wicket plushes, iPhone/iTouch Star Wars covers and new In Your Pocket key rings featuring the original Darth Vader voice. Tel: 01708 375975.
Star Wars Lego
For those of patient enough to like their Star War collectables arriving in hundreds of little plastic pieces, then the legendary Lego company has a huge selection of Star Wars goodies for you to choose from. One of the latest offerings from the toy company is this new General Grievous Starfighter.
The set comes with 232 pieces which (through more perseverance than I could ever muster) builds into an impressive replica of the General’s Starfighter including sliding cockpit, folding tail landing gear, lightsaber holder and flip-up laser cannons. Also included in the set is a General Grievous minifigure with blaster and four lightsabers.
All this can be yours for around the £50 mark. www.lego.com
Gentle Giant is renowned for its high-quality Star Wars collectables and its 2009 line-up looks set to be a big hit with fans. Again, the animated series will feature heavily in its 2009 range with a new collection of 9” polystone maquettes leading the way. Look out for Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Count Dooku and the Clone Trooper Captain Rex arriving soon, priced at around £70 each (or cheaper if you shop around). Also look out for a promised Animated Wicket the Ewok Marquette later in the year too.
2009 will also see GG release a new line up of 7” tall polystone Mini Busts. The collection will be home to detailed sculpts of several fan favourites including Oola, Battle Droid, Snowtrooper and Hoth versions of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. Look out for these in the summer, priced at a round £50 a pop.
One of the most exciting things we have seen on the Star Wars horizon is Gentle Giant’s Trash Compactor book ends. This excellent collectable was unveiled in the early stages of development at the 2009 New York Toy Fair. There are no pricing details as yet but if its popular Mos Eisley Cantina book end set is anything to go by, expect to pay around the £100 mark for the set. Sign me up now! www.gentlegiantltd.com
If you fancy something a bit arty in your living room but want to stay true to your Star Wars passions, then take a look at www.id-wall.com for the best of both worlds. ID-Wall offers collectors the chance to buy several fantastic products that will make your living room look out of this world. First up there’s their collection of photo Giclée canvas prints, which include numerous fully licensed artworks from every episode of the Star Wars universe, as well as the animated series, and an up-and-coming new Star Wars Manga series too.
Canvas sizes range from 210 x 500mm to a wall munching 470 x 1100mm, but if you want to go even bigger then how about taking advantage of the Photo Wallpaper service which allows you to cover a complete wall with your favourite image, be it a scene from Star Wars or your own special choice. www.id-wall.com
Model making the easy way
Kotobukiya will be expanding its ARTFX Clone Wars series this year with more high quality examples in the pipeline. For those not acquainted with the range, ARTFX statues are pre-painted snap-fit kits that can be easily put together in seconds without glue or modelling skill (luckily for me).
So far this year the line includes three Jedi figures: a 7” tall figure of Anakin Skywalker, a 6” figure of his Padawan Ahsoka Tano and a 7” tall Obi-Wan Kenobi. Collect all three of the gallant Jedi Knights and you can assemble the bonus parts into an exclusive statue of Yoda.
Other statues on the way include three Sith figures (Darth Sidious, Count Dooku and Asajj Ventress) and three Clone Troopers (Captain Rex, Commander Cody and Commander Gree). Each Clone figure comes with extra parts which assemble into a bonus Clone Trooper figure when you collect all three. Expect to pay around £40 each. www.kotous.com