Some people can’t resist a bargain, but cheaper isn’t always better — especially when it comes to premium pop culture collectibles. There’s an entire market for collectors who are willing to spend big bucks on limited-edition merchandise, designer toys, jewelry, fine art, movie prop replicas, and other big-ticket items based on their favorite movies and TV shows.
Factory Entertainment is a manufacturer and distributor of licensed toys, collectibles, and household goods, from affordable pop culture keychains and tin totes to high-end, fine art sculptures and prop replicas based on key items from iconic movies, such as GoldenEye, Men in Black, and The Princess Bride.
Tom Vargas, director at Factory Entertainment, says there is a huge demand for movie prop replicas and that only a handful of companies produce them. When Factory Entertainment started almost a decade ago, its first series of collectibles was prop replicas, which continues to be one of its core categories out of all the products the company produces.
“The demand in all of that time has increased dramatically, especially within properties that were released at a time when the core fan base was too young to collect something so high-end,” Vargas says. “Fast-forward to now, and the enthusiasm for those movies and TV shows has grown into an obsession for many, and those fans are ready to take those props home. We make it our collective mission to deliver idealized replicas that feel and look like they jumped right out of the screen.”
Factory Entertainment’s prop replicas have a much higher price point than some of its other collectibles. For example, the James Bond — The Golden Gun Limited Edition Prop Replica is a reproduction of one of the most iconic weapons from the entire James Bond series: the signature weapon of the “$1 million dollar per shot” assassin, Francisco Scaramanga, from 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun. Priced at $799.99, fans can disassemble the replica into its machined metal, 18-karat-gold-plated component parts, including a fountain pen, a lighter, a cigarette case, a cufflink, and a bullet, just like the prop from the movie.
Vargas says the company is excited about the Aquaman Movie Trident — a 72-inch, heavy-duty replica molded out of solid metal and copied directly from the original Warner Bros./DC prop. It is available to preorder for $449.99 and will ship later this year.
“Prop replicas are a world apart from cheaper/more affordable toys, and fans who want as close to the real thing as possible know and understand the differences,” Vargas says. “Our team spends a great deal of time and resources in recreating props as they’re seen on screen, which often means creating something that’s never really existed physically in the real world. It’s no easy task, and we spare no expense in creating something that’s not only screen-accurate, but also functional.”
In some cases, movie props are depicted on screen in multiple formats, from CGI to stunt or hero props — sometimes all three. According to Vargas, creating a replica that fulfills the expectations of a very discerning audience is no easy task. “That type of attention to detail comes at an expense that cheaper/more affordable collectibles will simply not be able to achieve.”
It takes time and effort to make designer collectibles that stay true to the characters and properties they represent. Prime 1 Studio is a Japan-based company that makes intricately detailed statues, wall art, and collectibles based on anime, comics, video games, and more. “What people love about our pieces — and we do as well — is that each piece tells a story and gives a unique atmosphere,” says John Pham, Prime 1 Studio’s project manager.
Pham notes that the DC Comics items are more popular in the North American market than other countries. Prime 1 Studio has a wide selection of DC products, including more than three dozen Batman statues currently for sale on prime1studio.com based on Batman movies, comics, and anime. The Batman statues range from an 11-inch Batman bust inspired by Frank Miller’s Batman: Arkham City, available for $229, to a 44-inch, full-body Armored Batman from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, featuring translucent resin for a lifelike skin effect and a movie-accurate fabric costume, available for $2,199.
Customers who are inclined to spend thousands on certain items are pretty passionate about the properties — and the manufacturers, too. “It will mainly start by being a huge fan of the characters and movies. After receiving the product, customers are satisfied with the product quality and they will eventually become huge fans of our products as well,” Pham says.
To make the purchase even more meaningful — and to maximize sales — a lot of companies release their high-end items in limited-edition quantities. The Hamilton Collection is a division of the Bradford Hammacher Group, better known as the Bradford Exchange. Some of the Hamilton Collection’s best-selling, high-end collectibles include the Bullitt, a 1:12-scale resin sculpture of the 1968 Ford Mustang GT that Steve McQueen drove in the movie Bullitt, and the 1:12-scale recreation of a 2018 Corvette ZR1, each priced at $499.95.
“Many times, the edition limit relates to something meaningful about the collectible, such as the year it was introduced,” says Kelli Edwards, general manager at the Hamilton Collection. “So, we would limit the edition to 2,018 for a car introduced in 2018. But the die-cast industry standard is 1,002. Collectors must decide quickly if they want to purchase so they don’t miss out on the edition. In our figural collectibles, they are limited to 95 casting days. Once they have been produced for 95 days, the molds are destroyed, and we never make the product again.”
Sentimental fans are more than willing to shell out money to fuel their fandoms, especially on retro pop pieces. “Our collectors are driven by their passion for nostalgia,” Edwards says. “Remember what it was like when you were young, and you wanted the coolest car, but you couldn’t afford it, and then the cool cars become impractical? We all still remember the feeling that those cars gave us.”
Now, people can own precision-made versions of the things they loved — for a price.
Take a look at some premium pop culture items you can add to your collection below:
Star Wars Darth Vader Helmet | Swarovski | $8,900 | Swarovski
Come to the dark side, we have shiny things. New Star Wars characters come and go, but Darth Vader never goes out of style. Swarovski blings him out with more than 19,000 glittering crystals, set by hand. Limited to 300 pieces worldwide, this is the ultimate Star Wars gift for the fan who has everything. It is also available in a limited-edition Boba Fett Helmet style (pictured in featured image).
Spider-Man No. 14 Canvas Print | CHOICE FINE ART | $849.99 | choiceartgroup.com
Comic book collectors can take their fandom to the next level with this 20-inch by 30-inch canvas print, featuring the cover of an original The Amazing Spider-Man comic book. The icing on the cake is that it’s signed by Stan Lee himself, so it’s a real collector’s item for any Marvel lover.
Green Ranger Dragonzord | PCS COLLECTIBLES | $999.99 | sideshow.com
It’s morphin’ time! The Green Ranger’s evolution from villain to leader in the ‘90s is one of the most popular Power Rangers storylines. This 1:4-scale Green Ranger statue brings the sixth ranger to the real world, featuring an exclusive Dragonzord base and additional accessories. Only 193 pieces were made in honor of the show’s 1993 premiere.
Friends Apothecary Coffee Table | Pottery Barn | $1,099 | Pottery Barn
Remember “The One with the Apothecary Table”? You know, the Friends episode in which Rachel tries to convince Phoebe that her table is an antique from the “days of yore,” when in fact, it was from Pottery Barn. Well, the apothecary table is back, recreated down to the last detail — even the drawers originally designed for CDs. Talk about a throwback.
This article was originally published in the Pop Insider’s Winter 2020 Issue No. 6, click here to read more!