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Money for old Jedi

13/04/2005. Contributed by Jessica Martin

Buy Star Wars in the USA - or Buy Star Wars in the UK

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Millions spent on Star Wars memorabilia, but is it really 'collectible?' expert says: 'buyer beware!'

Collecting Star Wars memorabilia is hot! The five previous Star Wars movies have generated $9 billion in merchandising sales, almost triple the $3.4 billion hauled in at the box office.

Now an array of action figures, video games, battle vehicles, puzzles, and more is being rolled out through stores such as Walmart and Target in advance of the release of Star Wars: Episode III The Revenge of the Sith, the eagerly anticipated third film in the trilogy of Star Wars prequels.

With merchandise often touted as "collectibles," both die-hard fans and treasure-hunters are lured to buy in the belief that these items will someday have values far greater than their purchase prices.

Not so, says expert Jeremy Beckett, author of The Official Price Guide to Star Wars Memorabilia, (Random House/House of Collectibles, 4/12/05, 5th ed).

Beckett owns one of the largest Star Wars memorabilia collections in the world, numbering over 4,000 toys, comics, audio/video, promotional items and original movie props. While the figures, posters, books and toys associated with the films can be very valuable, and the already huge and enthusiastic collecting base will no doubt grow with this latest film, the future value of the new wave of merchandise is anything but assured.

"One mistake that is commonly made during these toy launches is that anything with 'Star Wars' on it is a collectible, and will become valuable in the future," states Beckett. "The sad fact is that there are millions of people squirreling these toys away for a rainy day, but the truth is that with hundreds of thousands of each toy being mass produced in the Far East none of them are going to be truly rare."

Many buyers eagerly search for production errors, such as a figure with an arm on backwards or holding the wrong weapon. But unlike the world of coin collecting where minting errors can command soaring values, Beckett sees it differently. "With millions of action figures a day being produced on lines staffed by people who don't have a clue about what they are making, production errors are sure to creep in."

"If I was going to put some of the Revenge of the Sith toys aside and keep them preserved for future investment it would be the 12" dolls. The latest additions, all taken from Episode 3, are very special -- with more detailing this year than at any time before. These aren't aimed at children but the doll collecting market which has a long history and high standards," Beckett counsels.

He adds that collectors should "pick an item that marked a certain event, such as the release of the DVD for the Clone Wars animated series, or Revenge of the Sith "Midnight Madness" because at times like these many retailers have exclusive toys that are only going to become rarer because of the very nature of the promotion."

Aside from writing The Official Price Guide to Star Wars Memorabilia, this active Star Wars collecting expert is also a partner in Rebelscum.com, an extremely popular website devoted to Star Wars, and he will be one of the featured authors and speakers at the upcoming Star Wars Celebration III, April 21 - 24, 2005, in Indianapolis.

Beckett's passion and devotion as a true fan bring a unique dimension to The Official Price Guide to Star Wars Memorabilia.

This collecting reference includes listings and prices, an eight-page color insert and over 300 black & white photos. Additional resources include a glossary, reading and internet resources, as well as a guide to restoration and preservation.

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