Posts Tagged collectors

The Holy Grail of Indiana Jones Collectibles

By George Colon, Resident Collector for online collectibles community Micurio.com

For many of us, the countdown started as soon as the release date was announced. Now it’s finally “right around the corner” – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is in our sights. Indy fans have waited almost 19 years to the day (Last Crusade was released on May 24th 1989), we’ve waded through rumors, been tantalized by fan films, and had our hopes dashed at the last minute, but we’re being rewarded for our patience and our faith.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was an outstanding exit for our hero. A fourth film is really icing on the cake, but while we’re on the subject of Last Crusade, let’s discuss “The Holy Grail” – not the Holy Grail that Indy was in search of in Last Crusade, but the Holy Grail of Indiana Jones Collectibles! This title of “Holy Grail” is of course open to interpretation, and as with many collectibles, once you acquire one, another takes its place. In interest of fairness I’ll cover a few items, and let you come to your own conclusions.

Ever since the release of Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981, Indy collectibles have been available, and coveted. The first line of figures was a success, in part to the 3 ¾ craze that Star Wars created, but mostly because Raiders was such a fun and memorable movie. These figures are of course quite desirable now, especially carded, because in 1981 we played with our toys.

Both Kenner and LJN produced figures, vehicles, and playsets for the Indy franchise, but unlike Star Wars, the lines quickly died after hype for the movies dropped. The Playsets and Vehicles generally garner more desire from collectors, but there is one major exception. The “Holy Grail” of 3 ¾ Indiana Jones figures is a Mint On Card (MOC) Belloq in Ceremonial Robe (see one at toymania.com). It’s said that around 10 of these are known to exist, an exceedingly low number considering that this is a figure that actually did make it into production.

After Raiders and Temple of Doom were released we had to wait five years for the next Indy film, but collectors had to wait another four more for any collectibles of real substance to be released. That substance collectible would be Williams’ Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure. Indy Pinball was not an item that was easily acquired in 1993 as Pinball Machines were still sold directly to arcades, and priced as such. Now the average Joe or Josephine can purchase Indy Pinball from many sources, as long as you have about $4,000. This machine has retained its desirability, as well as its value, and remains very high on the Holy Grail list of many Indy collectors.

Now, I would be remiss not to mention one set of figures that buffered the 4 years between Last Crusade and Indy Pinball, and those are the atrocious figures released by Star Toys in Spain. These figures, released in conjunction with Last Crusade, were apparently licensed by LucasFilm, but look more like cheap bootlegs than acceptable licensed LucasFilm product. Packaged on simple and non-descript cardboard backing, these figures look like generic “He-Men” with a not-so-Harrison Ford head attached to each body, and a generic animal or tool accessory. Although cheaply made, there is a considerable desire in the market for these figures now, with carded examples demanding some pretty outrageous prices. If Last Crusade taught us anything what’s one man’s trash, is another’s Holy Grail. So maybe I shouldn’t be all that surprised…

1989 also brought Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular to Disney’s MGM Studios in Orlando, and 1995 brought on Disneyland’s Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye in Anaheim. These events reminded the general public that Indy is still amazingly fun, and reminded LucasFilm that Indy merchandise is still marketable, especially when tied with Disney. Since 1989 Disney (and starting in 2001 Tokyo DisneySea) has been producing Indiana Jones Collectibles that are exclusive to its parks. Oddities abound, there are a few Disney Exclusives that continue to elude Indy (and Disney) collectors. Many of the items sold at Tokyo DisneySea were produced in very small numbers, and Indy themed Limited Edition pins are quite rare as well.

When the new millennium hit, Indy Merchandise was essentially off the radar (save for Disney, of course), and this would be to the chagrin of many an Indy collector. In 1999 a small Japanese toy company by the name of Toys McCoy produced and released a 12” Indiana Jones figure that put ALL other 12” figures to shame. Limited to 3,000, the figure’s likeness, clothing, and accessories are all dead on and top notch. The Toys McCoy Indy sold out quickly at retail, and sold only to those collectors who were very much on the ball. Once the average Indy collector caught wind of this figural phenom, prices had already tripled and a new Holy Grail was born.

All of the previously mentioned Grails have been product made with public consumption in mind, so what of those items that are not mass produced? Props, scripts and autographs from all three films still command very high prices, and it’s where many collectors turn when they’ve exhausted the “mass produced” product. Many costumes and props were made in multiples, so the event of one of these items reaching the buying public does occur, just be prepared to blow your life savings if you’re interested. Film-used Indiana Jones products seem to command higher prices than that of most of its movie peers.

With Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’s imminent release new Holy Grails are being presented at an amazing pace, but one stands out in particular. The not-so-new phenomenon of insert cards in trading card packs has been shoved back into the spotlight with the advent of Sketch Cards and Autographed Cards. Topps Indiana Jones Heritage Series is essentially a re-release of their original Raiders of the Lost Ark cards, even going so far as to have gum in each pack! This time, however, Topps has included some amazing surprises. Many of the cards feature photographs of all 3 films never before seen on trading cards. Some insert cards feature photographs never before published! The aforementioned Sketch and Autograph Cards are the real Grails though; Sketch Cards feature art by renowned and up and coming artists and they’re one of a kind – it’s real art, by the real artist, all contained on a regular sized trading card. Autograph Cards feature a picture of the actor (or Director or Producer) with a space beneath signed by the person pictured about – not a laser signature, but an actual hand signed autograph! The prices these cards are commanding are through the roof; I dare say few other Indy Grails would reach some of the prices these cards are reaching.

So many Grails, so little money! As collectors we always have to remember that we can’t take it with us, but damned if it’s not fun to have it while we can. And if you have it, post it on Micurio so we can all see and enjoy it. Whatever your Indy Holy Grail might be, may you be able to find it and afford it!

Advertisements

Comments (2)