Collectors Corner: Star Trek at 50
By Michele Alice
"Live long and prosper." "Resistance is futile." "I'm a doctor, not a ..."
Since Star Trek's debut on television on September 8, 1966, much has been written about its influence on individuals and popular culture. When NBC threatened to cancel the show at the end of its second season, devoted fans initiated a letter-writing campaign to save the series. And when NBC did cancel the show after its third season, fans kept Star Trek alive through heavily-watched reruns, fan fiction, clubs, and conventions. If not for the fan base, the original series (referred to as "TOS") would not have been followed by six other series, thirteen movies, and countless conventions, exhibits, and theme parks.
Besides the 70 million books in print, the dozens of video games, the magazines, comics, VHS tapes, DVDs, and Blu-rays, an estimated $4 billion + in Star Trek merchandise has found its way into the collections of fans everywhere.
Needless to say, with all that material out there, it's usually necessary for collectors to impose limits on their acquisitive natures. Some collect only books or comics, while others concentrate on a particular TV series, motion picture, or character. Some merchandise - like Hallmark's Star Trek ornaments - is cross-collectible.
At periodic auctions of one-of-a-kind studio costumes, props, and ephemera, prices can reach stratospheric levels, such as the $60,000 recently paid for one of Leonard Nimoy's TOS Spock tunics, but there are many mass-marketed items that perform more than respectably online, such as Mego's 1975 Star Trek Aliens Mugato figure (mint on card) that sold for $449; Hallmark's rare 2009 Lt. Uhura (in a yellow, not red, uniform) that fetched $799; and the lot of 34 sealed packs of 1976 Topps trading cards that recently garnered a final online bid of $1478.
The Boomers were the first Star Trek generation. There's no way to predict how many more will pick up the mantle of Fans of Trek, so there's no way to predict what the prices of these collectibles will be in the future. However, it helps to remember that one, an item in mint condition in mint or near-mint packaging is always more valuable than the same item in a lesser state, and two, buy what you like: it may be around for a long time.
In the meantime, if you'd like more information about the Star Trek universe of collectibles, check out some of the resources listed below. Warp Factor One, and enjoy the ride!
Note: Though the values in older price guides are often outdated, the books are still very useful as references for identifying collectibles.
The Fifty-Year Mission: The First 25 Years (The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek), by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman
The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years (From The Next Generation to J. J. Abrams: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek), by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman
House of Collectibles Price Guide to Star Trek Collectibles (4th Edition), by Sue Cornwell
Star Trek The Collectibles, by Steve Kelley
Star Trek Toys by Playmates, by Kelly Hoffman
Happy 50th birthday to TV's classic Star Trek (USA Today) - An homage to the franchise.
Star Trek Comics Checklist - Need a complete list of ST comics? You've found it!
Star Trek Fan Sites - Comprehensive list links to sites like the Star Trek Comics Checklist.
Star Trek turns 50 (How Trekkers - not Trekkies, please - pioneered the fan-culture frontier) - Did you participate in the 1968/69 "Save Star Trek" letter-writing campaign? Today's sci-fi scene might never have existed without you.
Trek Toy - Some 1200 photos of a large personal collection, arranged alphabetically. Check out the "M"s for Mistakes. You might have one!
About the author:
Michele Alice is EcommerceBytes Update Contributing Editor. Michele is a freelance writer in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. She collects books, science fiction memorabilia and more! Email her at makalice @ adelphia.net eBay ID: Malice9
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