The profit is out there for 'X-files' souvenirs

The press-pack, the X-Files poster and burger-bar memorabilia are tomorrow's antiques. Collectors have sent prices soaring for items most people would throw away, but devotees believe are outstanding examples of today's popular culture.

Movie fans are helping push up prices for all kinds of film collectables, including presspacks, glossy brochures, cinema posters and stills produced before a film's release. An original press-pack poster of Taxi Driver, classic De Niro from the Seventies, is valued at up to pounds 400.

Technology has helped raise prices. As film companies have turned to the Internet and CD-Roms to promote their products, printed merchandise is becoming increasingly scarce and prices have risen considerably. The Vintage Magazine Company, dealers in papers, magazines, posters and film stills, has already started selling pictures of X-Files stars.

"The X-Files is the perfect example of a contemporary classic. Souvenirs will be highly sought after in a few years," said Paul Belchamber, the retail sales director of the store's Soho branch.

"We are already selling magazines with Gillian Anderson on the cover for pounds 30."

Controversial films are particularly appealing to collectors. Merchandise from Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction and, more recently David Cronenberg's Crash are a sound investment, said Mr Bellchamber. "Of course you can't sell any old poster. It's got to be the real thing as opposed to mass-produced."

McDonald's memorabilia has been big business in the United States for years. Ed Ruby, owner of four McDonald's franchises in California and a six foot Ronald McDonald, runs a stall in a California business centre buying and selling memorabilia. Last year he raised $70,000 (pounds 44,000) for a McDonald's children's cancer charity. Valuable McDonald's collectables can be found among children's promotional aids, advertising material and even burger packaging.

Toys promoting blockbusters, such as Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, are especially coveted, as are "translites" (the back-lit counter displays) but according to Veronica Foster of McDonald's, "It is company policy not to give translites away in case they are used for false advertising purposes."

Even the cheapest items are highly collectable. Among the books which are being cited as the most desirable early editions are the first small format books published to mark Penguin Books' sixtieth anniversary.

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