Had enough of Star Wars yet? Nope, us neither. The latest installment of the space epic has surpassed expectation for most fans, and the hype surrounding it seems to keep building. Much of the excitement that comes with movie franchises like Star Wars comes down not to the gripping stories and stunning special effects, but the memorabilia that comes with them. We're talking pictures, posters, props and everything in between. The world of movie collectibles can be a lucrative one if you know what you're doing. It's not, however, the same as simply running a normal retail store - there are a few things you'll need to consider.

Avoiding fakes

If something's worth a lot of money, you can almost guarantee there'll be some quick buck-hunting criminal making counterfeit versions of it. This is as true for rare movie memorabilia as it is for Louis Vuitton handbags and Rolex watches.
The big problems here revolve around autographed items, usually photographs. The most sought-after signatures tend to be those of stars who are no longer with us, as examples are strictly limited. This could encourage fraudsters who think they can fool people into buying their carefully created copies. Unfortunately, they're sometimes successful.
So how do you tell what's real? Well, unless you sat and watched the movie star sign it themselves, there's never a guarantee - the certificates and notes you see all over eBay could mean nothing. That said, there are a few techniques to try. Side-by-side comparison (if you can find other examples) can help, as can running your finger over the signature; mechanically reproduced autographs will most likley be completely flat - you should be able to feel something, however slight. Also check that the ink in each part is distributed naturally; if a stamp has been used, there will likely be more ink around the edges than there is in the middle.

How much is it worth?

This bit's difficult, as the answer really is "as much as someone is willing to pay" - and the figure can fluctuate for any given item. There are a number of influencing factors to consider, and the key to running a successful online collectibles business is knowing how to work with all of them.
Star Wars is a great example of how the waves of interest come and go. The most collectible figures - a series known as the 'Last 17' - were released as the franchise's popularity waned in the mid-to-late 1980s. They've grown in value ever since, but interest always heightens when a new film comes out; this is when prices tend to go up, so make the most of it.
Look through eBay and other collectible sites to see what people are paying elsewhere. Remember your prices should reflect condition, especially when it comes to action figures. That takes us neatly onto the next point...

Package carefully

Condition really does matter to collectors, so it should matter to you too. After all, the better the examples you get hold of, the more money you should be able to make. When selling online, you'll need to make sure the products you sell remain in tip-top shape - a chip or scratch in transit could render a one-of-a-kind figurine worthless, and you'll be liable.
In an ideal world, your item will already be in its own packaging, as this should increase its value. That said, the original blister card, box or frame is an important part of the product and must also be protected accordingly.
Tissue paper is a good place to start, but make sure it's an acid-free type, as others can cause damage through contact alone. Cover the item loosely and then place in a sturdy box. A Tupperware-style tub would be great, but make sure the contents can't move around too much inside. Then place everything in a larger cardboard box, using something soft to stuff all of the gaps. When everything's inside, tape it all up thoroughly, and feel free to stick a 'Fragile' label on the front as an added precaution.
With all the above considered, you should be ready to start building your online movie collectibles business. Happy selling!

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