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  • Star Wars Memorabilia by Paul Berry

    Boba Fett's Slave 1 came with a model of Han Solo in Carbonite. This was different to the version that was later released individually. (Star Wars Memorabilia, Amberley Publishing)

    Writing a book about Star Wars collectables was a daunting task. The sheer amount of product released since 1977 is overwhelming. In fact were a complete guide ever to be published it would require numerous volumes and within months would be hopelessly out of date. My new book STAR WARS MEMORABILIA doesn’t attempt to be a complete guide.  Narrowing down 40 years of history into 96 pages, it is more of a concise pocket guide to the history of Star Wars collectables. I hope it will appeal to the new collector as well as old died in the wool fans.

    30th Anniversary Collection Darth Revan. (Hasbro, 2007, Star Wars Memorabilia, Amberley Publishing)

    I make no apologies for the fact that the book is a nostalgia trip, taking a particular focus on the items produced during the 1970's and 1980's. While many of the other Star Wars collectable books in the past concentrate almost solely on the action figures, my book looks at the wider world of Star Wars collecting including many UK produced items which are often overlooked.

    My own association with Star Wars goes back nearly forty years, I was slightly too young to remember the first film coming out, but when the Empire Strikes Back was released in 1980 I first became aware of Star Wars and the toys. As a child of that period it was impossible to escape Star Wars, it was the in thing and nearly every kid had at least one of the action figures.

    Jabba the Hutt playset. (Kenner, 1983, Star Wars Memorabilia, Amberley Publishing)

    I saw Empire at the cinema, and got to see the original film a year or two later in a double bill, but that was it until Return of the Jedi came out. It is easy to forget now that in the early eighties, the films weren't available on video and hadn't yet been shown on TV so in a sense being into Star Wars back then was far more about the toys and the merchandise than it was about the films.

    I was entranced by the Star Wars figures, I can’t quite put into words how exciting it would be to walk into a store and see characters you had never seen before. Everything was a surprise back then as without any internet or information you would have no idea when new figures would appear. The Star Wars displays in those days were vast with rows and rows of figures and boxed items piled to the ceiling. Stores would occasionally get visits from some of the characters, I particularly remember seeing Boba Fett and Darth Vader in my home town of Grimsby.

    The Uliq Qel Droma and Exar Kun comic pack set is the rarest modern Star Wars release. (Star Wars Memorabilia, Amberley Publishing)

    When Return of the Jedi brought the Star Wars saga to a close in 1983, I don’t remember it being a big deal because the toys still kept going. Little did I know that 1985 would mark the last new figures I would acquire for some time. The following year I was faced with the realisation that there were no new figures and as bargain shops became choked with Star Wars toys at discount prices it became clear that this era of Star Wars was over. Like many I gradually forgot about Star Wars and turned to other things. My old toys were packed away where they remained untouched for the best part of a decade.

    While the Vintage Collection if often seen as the pinnacle of the modern Star Wars range, follow on collector-orientated lines failed to ignite the same interest. (Star Wars Memorabilia, Amberley Publishing)

    The 1990's marked a slow return of Star Wars to the public consciousness and it was towards the middle of that decade that my own interest began to be aroused. Like many I was caught up in a rush of nostalgia and this just happened to coincide with new figures coming out. As a child, purchases had been limited to pocket money, birthdays and Christmas and those occasions where parents had been nagged into submission, but now in my early twenties and with a disposable income it was like being let loose in a candy store. Despite initially only intending to buy select figures I soon got reeled in hook line and sinker and started getting every one. Little did I realise I'd still be collecting Star Wars 22 years later. Collecting Star Wars it would be fair to say is a slippery slope and can be very addictive. One thing tends to lead to another and the initial intention to just collect the action figures, then turned into getting the 12 inch figures as well, this led to trading cards and then comics and busts, the list goes on. Before you know it you've spawned a monster that quickly outstrips all available space. With the new crop of films from Disney it is fair to say there is no end point to a Star Wars collection, for all we know items will continue to be produced long after we have shuffled off this mortal coil. The answer to this conundrum of course is to try and have some focus and boil down the thousands of products to an area that is both attainable and affordable. This is a problem I have struggled with over the years as my own collection grew into a behemoth but in recent years I have become much more focused on particular areas. Certainly with rising prices and an ever increasing amount of product, it is harder than ever now to keep up with everything than it has been in the past.

    Various Decipher CCG cards. (Star Wars Memorabilia, Amberley Publishing)

    Who knows what Star Wars items will be collectable in the future. Awareness of the collectability of Star Wars has been around since the 1990's and the result is that few of the items produced over the last twenty years have seen such increases in price as those produced during the early days. Many items from the 1990's can still be found easily and cheaply purely because so many stashed extras away thinking they would be an investment. When collecting anything the rule is to buy what you like and gives you enjoyment and if it does turn out to have any investment value then that is a bonus.

    With the multitude of new films on the horizon I remain excited about the future of Star Wars and currently have no intention of stopping collecting. Whether I will continue collecting Star Wars into old age who knows, but given I have been at it for nearly forty years already I see no reason why not.

    Paul Berry's new book Star Wars Memorabilia: An Unofficial Guide to Star Wars Collectables is available for purchase now.

  • Doctor Who Memorabilia by Paul Berry

    Doctor Who is not only one of Britain's most famous television programmes, it has also spawned more collectables than any other British TV character. For over 50 years the BBC have been licensing products based on the series, and my new book: Doctor Who Memorabilia takes you through the history of Doctor Who merchandising.

    Doctor Who Memorabilia 1 Authors collection

    I have been collecting Doctor Who Memorabilia myself for around 30 years. I remember first watching the series in the latter days of Tom Baker, and vividly recall sitting through what seemed like endless Saturday afternoon football results waiting for the programme to start. I never actually hid behind the sofa - I couldn't because it was jammed firmly against the wall - but I remember the sense of atmosphere and jeopardy the series excelled at. In these early days I wasn’t obsessed with Doctor Who - there were too many other distractions for a child of the eighties - but I would buy the occasional piece of merchandise, and as our yearly holiday often took us to Blackpool, a trip to the Doctor Who exhibition would be a given.

    I continued watching Doctor Who regularly throughout the eighties, missing the odd episode due to bothersome commitments like cub scouts, or the injustice of another family member wanting to watch The A-Team. Then Doctor Who got temporarily suspended in 1985, and went off the air for a bit. It was during this period when virtually everyone else was tired and jaded about the programme that I started getting seriously interested. I started buying the magazine regularly, and religiously buying the Target books adaptations.  When Doctor Who came back on the air with The Trial of a Time Lord, I was ready to swear fidelity to the series, and other interests such as Star Wars, Marvel comics, and Masters of the Universe quickly fell by the wayside. I would literally buy anything and everything to do with Doctor Who, and in those early days my collection was pretty unfocused; if I saw it, and my pocket money would stretch to it, I would buy it.

    Doctor Who Memorabilia 3 The Amazing World of Doctor Who poster and cards (Typhoo, 1976, Doctor Who Memorabilia, Amberley Publishing)

    My collection grew quickly, and even though the series went off the air in 1989, I had no intention of stopping. There was no realisation at the time that the series would be taking such a long break; a lot of fans assumed there was a new series or movie just waiting on the horizon.

    As we hit the mid-nineties I was still collecting avidly, but found myself starting to drag my heels a bit, no longer buying every video or book the minute it came out. But for a brief period in 1996 my interest in Doctor Who was reenergised, when a TV movie starring Paul Mcgann was broadcast. Sadly, it quickly became apparent that there wasn’t going to be a series, and for the first time many fans, including myself, started to come to the realisation that the series was possibly gone forever. Those latter days of the nineties were my dark period as a collector; I never completely threw in the towel, but got further and further behind with the merchandise, usually waiting for sales, or getting items second-hand. My interest hit the lowest it had ever been, and had there been financial pressures, I think there may have been a temptation to just jump ship and get rid. Thankfully, I never did, and would advise anyone thinking of getting rid of a collection to think hard about it. As a collector you will go through varying levels of excitement and disillusionment over the years. One day you may look at an item and feel tired of it, but you never know when that enthusiasm will be reignited. Better if you can to just put it away ready for the day it will be cherished again. Don’t be one of those collectors - whom I have known a few of over the years - that go through the pointless cycle of selling and rebuying the same item several times.



    Doctor Who Memorabilia 2 Talking figures (Product Enterprise, Doctor Who Memorabilia, Amberley Publishing)

    My interest in Doctor Who had begun to pick up again in the early noughties, mainly driven by nostalgia, and then, to the surprise of many, it returned to TV in 2005. I was braced, ready for my levels of enthusiasm to hit new heights, and I planned to collect everything. But then I saw the programme and my heart sank. The truth is it took me several years to fully realise it, but it slowly dawned on me that this wasn't my Doctor Who. The series had moved on, and was being made for a totally different audience. Initially I collected the new stuff out of habit, but one day when my disillusionment with the series was so intense, I turned it off. I had to ask myself what was the point. Why was I collecting stuff I didn’t like?

    This is perhaps another lesson of collecting - to have some focus and not just collect for the sake of it. I realised, that while I didn’t like the new version of Doctor Who, I would always have that affection for the old, so the choice became simple - just stick to the collectables from the classic run.

    Doctor Who Memorabilia 4 Doctor Who Doctors bust set (Fine Art Castings, 1985, Doctor Who Memorabilia, Amberley Publishing)

    My book, surprisingly, only covers this classic period, not just out of sour grapes, but because the amount of post-2005 product is so overwhelming, there would barely have been a chance to pay it lip service. As much of the new stuff can still be found on car boot sales, bargain bins, etc, I felt it best to focus on the stuff most fans have nostalgia for, which tends to be the 60's, 70's and 80's, although the book does touch on the nineties and early noughties.

    My book doesn’t cover everything from that period, it is more of a snapshot of its vast merchandising history, but for anyone interested in Doctor Who collectables, I am sure you will find the book a pleasing trip down memory lane.


    Paul Berry's new book Doctor Who Memorabilia: An Unofficial Guide to Doctor Who Collectables is available for purchase now.

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