Merch Hunter #12: James Dean’s Letters, The Riddler’s Outift and The Fonz’s Wheels

To start – a news flash. The collecting world holds it breath in slightly anxious anticipation this week as The Bridge Direct, Inc dominated the merch-related news columns thanks to first being confirmed as Warner Bros toy maker of choice for next year’s massively prestigious The Hobbit line, and then blaming Justin Bieber’s haircut for losing them $100,000 in unsellable mop-topped dolls. The company have some previous in the merch arena, though nothing this grand yet, so it’s difficult to say whether they’ll meet expectations, and potentially pull a Star Wars action figures on us or not. My vote goes with not – there just isn’t the same fever in buying action figures these days, outside of Games Workshops, and those places are GRIM.

Anyway, while we wait for those particular items (released next fall), which will include Basic Action Figures, Adventure Packs, Beast Packs, and Collector Figures, as well as “premium role play items” such as a Basic Sting Sword, a Basic Orcrist Sword, a Dwarven Battle Axe, and a Deluxe Sting Sword, here’s the usual weekly look at what else is out there for those interested in buying merch. Or at least mentally spending the thousands of dollars it would take to make these suggestions into a real collection…

Hold tight for three hugely important auction lots from around the world’s greatest auction houses, including some letters written by a Rebel Without a Cause, Jim Carrey’s most puzzlesome film costume and Henry Winkler’s two wheeled nemesis. And yes, this week’s column must once more go on the insanely expensive pile.

1. James Dean’s Letters 

Want a real piece of cinema history? Well, look no further than Christie’s of London,  and more specifically the world famous auction house’s  Popular Culture: Film and Entertainment Memorabilia sale set for the 23rd of November in South Kensington, London, where a collection of James Dean‘s personal letters to on-off girlfriend Barbara Glenn will be sold. The letters, which offer unprecedented insight into Dean’s private life and professional struggles to become a star will be up for sale along with copies of unpublished private family photographs of the couple directly from the son of Barbara Glenn – filmmaker Keith Gordon.

The opportunity to get your hands on deeply personal, highly emotional memorabilia like this doesn’t come up very often, so understandably each letter carries an eye-watering estimate of $4700-$6300. But then, it’s not like anyone else is going to have another one like yours if you’re successful.

Read some more about the lot here.

2. Jim Carrey’s Riddler Costume

In the same auction that features this exceptional, nut-hugging onesy worn by Jim Carrey are Tom Cruise’s Cole Trickle racing jumpsuit from Days of Thunder, a Batman cowl (but it was on George Clooney‘s face and not one of the good Bats) and one of Doc Oc’s mechanical claws from Spiderman 2. Needless to say, I’ve been recovering in a dark room with a flannel over my head for the past few days after leafing through the catalogue. But it has to be the green bodysuit worn by Mr. Carrey during his scene stealing appearances in Batman Forever, because for me it still counts as one of the most inspired casting decisions in the history of comic book movies. Also, I’d quite like to wear it around the house, and perhaps to the local shops.

The estimate is currently set at between $6000 and $8000, but that has to be counted as seriously conservative. It’s just something of a shame that the auction is being held by Julien’s Auctions in China on October 22nd. So time is pressing if you want to make a bid on this or any other of the ridiculously collectible pieces of memorabilia listed.

For the curious and the interested, there’s the chance to browse the online digital catalogue here.

3. Fonzi’s Motorbike

Just imagine how cool you could tell everyone you were! Not only was this 1949 Triumph Trophy TR5 Scrambler Custom ridden by The Fonz in the television hit series Happy Days it was also owned by the stuntman (Bud Ekins) responsible for the most famous motorbike stunt in the history of the world ever. You know the one: Steve McQueen, angry Germans, need I really say more?

The beautiful bike will be offered by auctioneers Bonhams at their annual Classic California Sale, held November 12th, at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, and let’s face it, it will cost a teeth shattering amount of money. But, come on, it’s Fonzi’s motorbike. Imagine how many young fictional women might have sat on the back on their way to a few minutes of painful, regrettable sex with a grown man who hangs around with children and effectively lives in a toilet. Ayyyyyyyyy.

Find out more here.

T-Shirt of the Week

So how do you follow a trio of bank-busters like that? Why, by celebrating the inner Capitalist yuppy pig, of course…

Get that second mortgage and hunt along with the Merch Hunter

Born to the mean streets of Newcastle, England the same year that BMX Bandits was cruelly over-looked for the Best Film Oscar, Simon Gallagher's obsessive love of all things cinema blossomed during that one summer in which he watched Clueless every day for six weeks. This is not a joke. Eventually able to wean himself off that particular dirty habit, and encouraged by the revelation that was One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, he then spent many years reviewing films on the underground scene, throwing away thousands of pounds on a Masters Degree in English in the process, before landing feet-first at the doors of British movie site ObsessedWithFilm.com, where you can catch his blend of rapier wit and morbid sardony on a daily basis. Simon is also a hopeless collector of film paraphenalia, and counts his complete Star Wars Mr. Potato Heads collection among his friends.

Read More from Simon Gallagher
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