It’s common knowledge that I love to travel and food is a passion, but you might not be aware that for the longest of time I have been a self-confessed movie geek.
It all started in college, during late night conversations with friends, talking about everything in the world when eventually movies would come up and more often than not I would be the go-to-guy when it came to naming actors and films. Eventually, I started having movie nights in my dorm room on a regular basis and even started writing about films in the University paper (Formally SMUG, later re-named Silver and Gold…don’t ask).
Being a student, hard for cash – big surprise there – I could never really afford any of the film memorabilia that in movie geekiness takes us to a whole different level. Knowing about movies is one thing, owning VHS or DVDs is another, but investing in memorabilia and props is the final stamp that any real film lover must receive, in my book at least.
The thought of having a prop from one of the classics, showcased in a room of your house, for all those who visit to see, but not touch, gives me a tingly feeling that I can feel even now – wait a minute, that was an insect climbing up on my foot, monsoon season here, but you get the point. It’s a high, materialistic no doubt, but one that solidifies one’s passion for films.
However, in this age of economic hardship that dream bubble takes only a few minutes to burst. Props aren’t the cheapest and keeping it safe from children, if you can justify buying it in the first place to your wife, isn’t the easiest of tasks. It’s not the kind of tension and drama I can deal with honestly, so the expensive memorabilia card can only be played once or twice in life and it has to be the right card at the right time. For me, I came pretty close once with the complete Batman Armory (figures, not the real deal) but chickened out at the last minute.
So, in a world where your geek-standards are measured by the size of your – AHEM! – collection, be it comics, movies, or collectibles, it’s not always necessary to go for the most expensive options.
The popularity of superhero films has increased the availability of movie based toys and the likes, but a lot of it – Lego for example – is still quite expensive and because everything is in the market in abundance and at the same time, it has lost some of that exclusivity factor.
There are cheaper collectibles, curios, which might not get you as much credit as say the official replica of the lightsaber, but nevertheless they help you have a more rounded and diverse collection.
Now, even though I come from a country that produces the maximum number of films in any given year, there is hardly a crazy for film memorabilia here. Everyone is mad about Indian movie stars and go out of their way to catch a glimpse of them, take a selfie, but when it comes to anything solid and physical, it simply doesn’t interest most.
What this means is that there are hardly any local collectibles available – some production houses have tried – and the ones that are international and imported, are priced at exuberant prices. Over the last few years, we have had Comic-Cons across the country and again international collectibles are there for the taking, but limited in number, often in tattered boxed, expensive, and at times not genuine and/or official.
So, whenever I travel, I make is a point to look for film mementos; Movie theaters, local markets, comic book stores, post-offices, roadside stands, all are great places to grab a bargain and maybe own a little piece of that movie you so love.
To keep your travel budget intact, your wife or husband happy, and simultaneously help you get that final stamp of geek approval, here is my list of inexpensive memorabilia options that you can explore in your hometown or when you travel;
Postcards – Even if you have no plans of watching a movie while on vacation, walk into the reception area of a movie theater and look for the postcard stand. A lot of film promotional material is often found here from postcards to one -sheets and all for free. However, if you don’t find any in the movie theater, you can often find film based postcards at shops and they will be the cheapest travel and film souvenir you will ever buy, that is a guarantee. Once home, you can group them up together and frame them if you like, or just have a collection. Easy!
Posters – The “bigger” versions of a postcard, posters are once again easy to find. Spend some time on Twitter following movie production companies and you just might get lucky in getting one for free. A lot of independent cinemas give them out at the end of the year or have sales – The Electric in Birmingham which is also the oldest working cinema of the country for example. Even if you have to buy a poster, they don’t cost that much, and to add a little bit of a local touch you can either buy posters of films from the country you are in or locally made posters of foreign films. Polish posters of Hollywood films are very famous and pictured on top is a print of Taxi Driver that a friend sent over.
Want something completely different?
Look out for minimalist or fan-made posters as this new trend of re-imagining classic/retro posters is the IN thing and a conversation starter once you have it on your wall at home.
Stamps – You’d be surprised by the number of stamps that are based on Film and TV. I believe most movie producing countries have cinema based stamps and they are a simple – as easy as walking into a post office and asking – way of owing a part of your favourite movie.
Bobble-heads – Who doesn’t like bobble-heads? They are small, cute, and perfect for when you are in the mood for introspection and need someone to agree with everything you say.
Normally, I would have loved to have a huge collection of bobble-heads, but a solitary Marvin the Martian, which I had picked up from Hamley’s in London, kept me company through college. There was a Hulk too, later on in life, whose springy neck was apparently twisted around by a 3-year-old boy during my daughter’s birthday party – serves me right for showing off my toy collection to kids.
Fast Food Toys – Most big-budget movies now collaborate with fast food joints as part of their extensive marketing campaigns. As a result, small toys become a part of their kid’s menu.
Here is where the Having Kids Vs Not Having Kids debate takes a turn. For a single, almost balding, middle-aged man, ordering a Happy Meal and being publicly excited about the toy that came with it can be a little problem – strictly in terms of societal perceptions, not mine, I don’t have a problem with it.
But, if you have kids, who are as excited about the “toy” as you are, then it’s as easy as ordering three Happy Meals and walking away knowing that your kids will eventually get bored of the toy and if you can just save it from breaking till then, then you end up with not one, not two, but three movie themed toys. Sweet, sweet victory!
Novelty Items – Since films are such a popular medium of entertainment and one of the biggest money making businesses, everything and everyone wants to be linked with them in any way possible. Novelty items, whether directly linked to a franchise or not can be found across the globe; take the M&Ms 3D film watchers dispenser that I picked up at Amsterdam Airport or the Luke Skywalker Mr. Potatohead that my daughter bought – read, was tricked into buying – in Switzerland. They really make for a fun addition to your TV room/home theater or can even be placed on your child’s study desk – I say that with a heavy heart.
Figurines/Models – This is a vast category as movie/comic book based figures can be bought for a few dollars or hundreds and thousands of dollars. Since we are talking about spending less, the trick is to have a little patience. One must wait till the craze is over, or the franchise has died down a little, and then you find all the left-over toys in the 1$ baskets at toy or department stores. As the saying goes “beggars cannot be choosers”, so you have to make do with whatever is left behind and sometimes it’s not what you want.
A slightly expensive, but still cheaper, yet no longer exclusive option is the Funko Pop figures or the smaller Mystery Figures which range between the $5 to $20 range and can now be easily found in most comic book stores.
Mega Packs – It’s common knowledge that one of the reasons movies come out in Mega Packs (sets of 2 or more DVDs) is because production companies can get rid of their stock that is not selling, by linking it with a blockbuster movie. What is really nice about these packs is that they generally include something extra along with the DVDs. Plush toys are quite common, but I lucked out with this Disney 10 Disc Set which came with a special edition Monopoly set.
Art and Film – Similar to the new trend of fan made posters it’s interesting to see how companies from different fields come together to cash in on the success of a film. I’ll be the first one to admit that I was jumping with joy when I came across the Moleskine Star Wars Notebook. Not exactly the cheapest stationery you will find, but once again, if you wait it out, search enough, you can often get a good deal. Now, if only I can get myself to actually using it.
Comic Books – Comics are great way to start your memorabilia collection. I do enjoy reading graphic novels but they aren’t that cheap. However, the single comics at a few dollars can satisfy the soul temporarily, like the time I came across the Batman Vs Ragman comic which I had to buy because I was nicknamed “Ragman” by a few friends in school.
DVD Bins – Yes, the “DVD Baskets” in department and entertainment stores are the perfect place to search for classics, guilty pleasures, and movies so bad that they are good. Costing anywhere from a Dollar to a few, they themselves are the guilty pleasure of memorabilia collecting.
Film Magazines – I am a watcher. No, no, not the creepy kind, I enjoy watching mannerism and observing people go about their business in public places like airports and train stations as I find that quite fascinating.
One of the most interesting places to observe people is the magazine stand at an airport/station; A guy in a business suit goes through Time or Business Today, another one, equally well dressed, confidently picks up porn. Then there is the grungy looking long haired dude – stereotyping much, am I? – flipping through the music magazine, or that digital nomad, backpacks-in-tow couple picking up the latest travel magazine, and this geeky spectacled Indian lad immersed in Total Film or Empire – Oye! Who put a mirror here?
Yes, you’ll always find me with a movie magazine in hand when travelling and they too make for a great collector’s item. Furthermore, Total Film and Empire, two of the most popular movie magazines, have special covers and special editions from time to time that make for an exclusive collection if you can hold on to them for a while – a few years. Add to that my present favourite Little White Lies which is in itself highly collectible due to limited printing and a rather unusual look and feel for a film magazine. Display them together or just collect them for reference later, they are an amazingly cheap way to connect with movies.
Phone Covers – Another reasonable way to make a style and geek statement is your phone cover which can be as funky or as subtle as you want it to be and were you to show of your personality, what other way is best than to have it feature your favourite film.
Do you have a movie collection?
Do you pick up unique souvenirs when you travel that are film related?
What is your most prized piece of memorabilia? Do tell…