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Buy Me, Fanboy! Presents: The Golden Age of Fandom Collectibles - Part 1

"Raiders" Idol Coin Bank
JediCole here to launch another one of my series of articles.  This one taps heavily into something I used to say quite often years ago when we owned a little weekend-only comic and collectibles shop.  Something that has bourne out remarkably over the years that have passed since those days.  At the time I had access not only to tons of cool collectibles but also the news of their immenant arrival in stores or other outlets.  As a result I formulated an opinion that became the aforementioned saying.  "If there is anything in pop-culture that you love or have loved in the last 30 years or so, it will eventually be available in the form of some kind of collectible!"

Johnny Rotten Figure
Since that time I have seen the likes of a 1/18 scale DeLorean from Back to the Future (complete with lights and sounds), statues and action figures of rock stars from Elvis Presley to the late Dimebag Darell, a mini-buts of Zorro, and even South Park action figures (something Comedy Central swore for years would never happen).  Movies, literature, television, music, and comics have all become the fertile fields from which a bumper crop of collectibles have been harvested.  In decades past the more wholesome and approachable properties like Star Trek, the Muppets, and Saturday morning cartoons were the subject matter of collectible consumables.  Today it is not uncommon to find toys based on films like Austin Powers or high-end collectibles taken from modern horror fare like Saw or Nightmare on Elm Street.  Nothing, it seems, is off limits to the contemporary collectibles market.  Even Playboy Bunnies and hardcore porn stars have been given the action figure treatment in recent years!

Star Wars' "Ice Cream Maker Man"
And this trend does not appear to be slowing down in the least!  If anything it continues to pick up momentum.  Partly due to a growing adult collector market.  From the casual collector who picks up an Iron Man action figure to reside on his office desk to the nostalgic kid at heart who finds a link to their childhood on the toy aisle of the local Wal-Mart to the died-in-the-wool lifelong collector like myself a multi-billion dollar market has emerged.  Toys are no longer just for kids and their manufacturers have begun to recognize this and profit from a change in attitude and marketing.  Matell has recently begun to openly embrace this market with toy lines officially labeled "Adult Collectors" in their Hot Wheels, Toy Story, and upcoming Green Lantern movie lines.  It took many years and the advent of multiple collecting websites for Hasbro, the manufacturers of the Star Wars toy line since the late 90s, to begin to recognize that their toys were purchased as much by adult collectors as by children.  As a result their was an explosion in development of action figures and toys that have collector appeal but little to no play value for kids.

LOTR Sauron Mini Bust
With a groundswell of collecting in the arena of lower priced items like action figures a high-end collectibles market emerged as well.  Licensed movie and television prop and model replicas costing hundreds of dollars were successfully marketed to collectors who found that being an adult can be like a second childhood with expendable income.  Statues and mini-busts depicting characters from movies, television shows, comics and even literary works (like those of H.P. Lovecraft) seem to be in constant demand despite price tags ranging from $50 to $300 or more.  Almost no pop-culture property goes unlicensed these days.  A far cry from the days prior to George Lucas' parlaying Star Wars into a licensing empire the likes of which the world had never seen nor ever will again.  Nobody wants to miss the next big collectibles goldmine!

Mach 5 Keychain
Factor in the advent of the internet and the ever-expanding presence (and in some cases influence) of the fan convention scene and you have a primary and secondary market in existance today that is unprecedented.  Collectibles from around the world are available for purchase through a myriad of means.  As are exclusives marketed to specific conventions or events that might once have been almost unatainable.  Or for that matter never produced in the first place.  The rise of a very vocal (and actively financially consuming) fandom has driven the market in directions that would never have been considered even 20 years ago.  The annual San Diego Comic Con and periodic Star Wars Celebrations have prompted toy and collectibles manufacturers to create limited run collectibles available nowhere else.  Also fairly common are website or online "collector's club" exclusives from companies like Gentle Giant Studios and Mattel.  All thorns in the side of many a collector who missed out and faces exorbanant prices in the after market.  Troublesome though these exclusives may be, they are also a testiment to the fact that, as collectors, we now live in a true Golden Age of collecting.
Watchmen Owl Ship Replica

With the New York City Toy Fair for 2011 having recently wrapped up there is no shortage of really cool stuff poised to come down the pike throughout the year and into 2012.  In the next installments of this series I will be highlighting some of the more remarkable collectibles headed our way as well as exploring the recent history of the collectibles industry.  Stay tuned for more cool collectibles that you never imagined would ever exist!

Now get out there and collect!


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