Comic-Con offers Mattel collectible toy designers a chance to go wild

LOS ANGELES (AP) — When it comes to designing the highly coveted collectible toys for sale at Comic-Con, the annual celebration of pop culture lifting off Thursday in San Diego, the sky’s the limit for the designers at Mattel. Fittingly, the building where Mattel’s dreamers conceive of their limited-edition playthings is just down the street from the Los Angeles International Airport.

This photo provided by courtesy of Mattel, Inc. shows a detail of the "Hot Wheels Life-Sized Darth Vader Car." When it comes to designing the highly coveted collectible toys for sale at Comic-Con, the annual celebration of pop culture lifting off Thursday, July 24, 2014, in San Diego, the sky's the limit for the designers at Mattel.

This photo provided by courtesy of Mattel, Inc. shows a detail of the “Hot Wheels Life-Sized Darth Vader Car.” When it comes to designing the highly coveted collectible toys for sale at Comic-Con, the annual celebration of pop culture lifting off Thursday, July 24, 2014, in San Diego, the sky’s the limit for the designers at Mattel.

Inside the colorful design center — a Hot Wheels-themed shuttle bus transports employees from Mattel’s parking garage — the designers have spent the past year working on 10 toys created especially for the Comic-Con crowd, including a replica of the Batmobile from the game “Batman: Arkham Knight” and a 9-inch-tall action figure of Superman killer Doomsday.

“It’s one of the coolest things we do,” said Doug Wadleigh, Mattel’s senior vice president of global brand marketing for boys and entertainment. “We don’t have to worry about retail. We don’t have to worry about margins. We don’t have to worry about operational efficiencies. We only have to worry about creating the coolest toys for our fans. Period.”

Because the toys aren’t intended to be sold in stores, only in small quantities on the Comic-Con show floor and on Mattel’s collectors’ site, Mattel designers are encouraged to employ premium materials and create over-the-top packaging. Mattel’s exclusives this year run between $20 and $85, but the elite toys can fetch much more when they’re put up for auction.

The crown jewel for Wadleigh and his team this year is a Darth Vader die-cast car, the first official collaboration from Hot Wheels and the “Star Wars” franchise. The car — imagine if a Chevrolet Corvette C5 and the villainous Sith lord’s helmet had a baby — comes in a sleek black box and encased in a replica of Vader’s lightsaber, complete with a swooshing sound effect.

“We’ve been trying to partner with Lucasfilm and Disney on this property for a long time,” said Wadleigh. “It took us time to get them to understand how Hot Wheels and ‘Star Wars’ could be married together to create a unique opportunity within the vehicle space. It blows me away to finally see it come to life in such a beautiful form. It’s gorgeous.”

Wadleigh isn’t exaggerating about the toy car coming to life. A full-size working replica of the Vadermobile will be on display at Mattel’s booth at the massive San Diego Convention Center. The vehicle is capable of going up to 80 miles per hour, and the dashboard inside will resemble the interior of Darth Vader’s helmet. Yes, it will emit his breathing sounds, too.

Comic-Con will be the first place that fans can see the initial line-up of “Star Wars” Hot Wheels. The first set is modeled after such classic characters as Han Solo, Yoda, R2-D2 and Chewbacca. If sketches on display inside the Mattel design center are any indication, rides based on Princess Leia, Jabba the Hutt and the new “Star Wars Rebels” characters are being tinkered on.

“There’s a lot of thought that goes on behind the scenes on how we select what type of car goes with which character,” said Bryan Benedict, the designer behind the “Star Wars” autos. “It’s not just about what the character looks like but who the character is and their personality traits. The Darth car, and this is reflected in the full-size build, is really a timeless looking car.”

Several other toy makers and publishers are also pushing collectible toys and books at the convention. The line-up from Mattel rival Hasbro this year includes a set of Marvel superhero figures that comes with a wearable foam Infinity Gauntlet, a box of Transformers figures depicting the ‘bots as rock stars and a giant foam replica axe from “Magic: The Gathering.”

You Can Now Hear The Show Here!

We now have the ability to post the program to the web site directly. In the banners above, click on “This Week On The Collectors Show” and listen directly from here.

Collecting Space With Robert Pearlman

This month marks the 45th year since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first landed on the moon in July, 1969. To commemorate that occasion we welcome Robert Pearlman to the program to discuss his space collecting hobby. A journalist and space history specialist, Robert Pearlman became one of the first independent developers to use the internet to inform the public about space exploration.

collectSPACE is the leading online publication, resource site and online community for space history enthusiasts. His readership includes historians, museum curators and conservators, educators, authors, and private collectors. Astronauts and space program workers, both active and retired are also members of the community and audience.

collectSPACE syndicated news articles appear on Yahoo News,, NBC News, Fox News, CBS News, the Huffington Post, Mashable and in the pages of Space News, among other media partners.

collectSPACE is cited frequently by the press, including features by Forbes, The Robb Report, The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, Florida Today, The Houston Chronicle, Fox News, MSNBC and on CNN.


Collecting Video Games On The Collectors Show

Our guest this week on The Collectors Show is Syd Bolton. Syd is an accomplished computer and video game collector. To hear the show, go to Web Talk Radio , itunes, or iglu radio.

According to the Canadian Broadcast Company, he has the largest collection of video games in Canada, and probably the world for that matter, owning nearly 15,000 games. To give you an idea of how many games that is, there are nearly that many games for sale on ebay at this writing.

He is an author and recognized expert in his field. In June 2011, Bolton completed his Xbox game collection being the first in Canada, and possibly North America to do so. He is also the owner of the Personal Computer Museum.

The Price of Some Games

A copy of “Final Fantasy 14 Realm Reborn Collectors Edition” brand new and sealed for the PS3 is priced at $10,297.00 plus shipping. A more affordable game is the “Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time” is priced at $1,100.00. There are also guides and figures of characters from games that contribute to the hobby.

ET The Video Game

What was reported to be the worst video game ever, ET by Atari, focused attention on the video game collecting hobby when collectors went out into the New Mexico dessert and dug up copies of the game the manufacturer had buried there. But Syd reports that while this game was a stinker, there were and are others that were worse, more rare and more valuable.

More About Syd Bolton

Bolton writes reviews and opinion pieces for both The Armchair Empire and In 2009, Bolton was selected to be a judge for the video game awards program called The ELANS, which is based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Both Bolton and the Personal Computer Museum received a fair amount of attention in the summer of 2009 when Bolton’s custom-made Pac-Man table was featured on Destructoid and news of his PS2 collection reaching 1,200 unique games was featured on Kotaku. In October 2009, it was announced that Bolton would be the President of the S-3D Gaming Alliance which focuses on supporting stereoscopic 3D gaming.

Bolton has been writing the weekly ‘LOGGED ON’ column for the Brantford Expositor since March 5, 2005. The piece currently runs in the Weekend section of the Saturday paper and it focuses on technology and its various aspects.

Collecting Video Games On The Collectors Show

This week on The Collectors Show we talk with Syd Bolton about his enormous collection of video games. According to the Canadian Broadcast Company, he has the largest collection of video games in Canada, and probably the world for that matter, owning nearly 15,000 games. He is an author and recognized expert in his field.To listen to the show go to or iTunes. 



Actor Goes Ape Over Collectibles Linked to Sci-Fi Films

Tim Parati shows off his “Planet of the Apes” room.

Tim Parati shows off his “Planet of the Apes” room.

Remember to listen to the Collectors Show on Web Talk Radio at

Stringy hair and hollow cheeks have earned the native Charlottean small roles as haunting characters in a variety of movies – as a redneck racist in 1996’s “A Time to Kill,” a wacko woodsman in 2002’s “Cabin Fever,” a backwoods bully in 2007’s “The Great Debaters.” The list goes on.

So picture this: He takes a woman out on a date, brings her back to his apartment in Elizabeth for the first time, sits her down, and says, “I have to show you something in the back bedroom. Don’t be scared …”

No, it’s not a trap. It’s just that when you have a room filled top to bottom and wall to wall with almost every type of “Planet of the Apes” collectible you can think of (and many you cannot), better to find out if such an obsession is a relationship deal-breaker sooner rather than later.

Today, Parati is 52 and a newlywed, having forged the bond with someone who not only wasn’t scared off by those damned dirty apes, but who actually finds the whole thing kind of sexy.

His collection is massive – “over 10,000 (pieces), if you go down to individual trading cards or magazines,” Parati says – and will only grow as toys and keepsakes tied to 20th Century Fox’s new “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” movie trickle out this month.

“I can’t even imagine how much money I’ve spent on it. I probably could have bought a house a long time ago.”

Tim and Kim Parati did recently purchase a home together; but an addition or an attic renovation would be required to accommodate Tim’s “Apes” cache, so he keeps it in the hot, stuffy second-floor unit that he now calls his studio.

‘I went crazy with it’

Tim Parati’s love affair with apes began in 1973 when – as a student at Smith Junior High – he caught a TV airing of “Planet of the Apes.” Released in 1968, it starred Charlton Heston as an astronaut who crash-lands on a planet where the animals speak and behave like Earth’s humans. Four sequels followed, as did two television series and various comic books.

“It was total escapism, going into that world. I was enthralled,” he says. “And I just went crazy with it.”

Through his years at Olympic High School, he’d cash paychecks from his job as an usher at the Park Terrace movie theater and buy “Apes” comic books, trading cards, models.

But before enrolling at UNC Charlotte as a theater student in the fall of 1979, Parati boxed up his “Apes” stuff so his parents could put it in storage.

Years passed until the box came back to him, in 1993, when his parents got rid of the storage unit. The box continued to collect dust until eBay was founded in the mid-’90s.

“I thought, ‘Great, I can sell all this and make some money’ – that was why I kept it all that time: to sell it,” Parati says. “And I could not do it.

“I was emotionally attached to it, certainly. Most collectors do get emotionally attached to their collections. But I also just saw all this other stuff (on eBay) that I had always wanted, that I should have bought when it was a dollar-fifty, and now it was much more.”

So after his roommate moved out of the Elizabeth apartment in 1997, he decided not to find a new one. The bedroom became “The Apes Room.”

He was now a middle-aged man, but that childhood thrill had returned.

‘I love weird’

Tim Parati met Kim Watson Brooks at a Halloween party he hosted in 2001. They had run in theater circles; Kim performed for Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, where Tim had been doing work as a scenic artist (he has been on permanent staff at CTC for the past decade).

Someone at the party was talking about Tim’s “Apes” room, and she was led down the hall for a viewing.

“I walked in and thought, ‘Oh, my God,’” Kim says. “But I love weird. And it was weird in a good way. Fringe in a good way. I am a minimalist, and so I always find it interesting when people go so deep with something. … To go into that room and see what to me was a manifestation of his passion, I thought it was really cool.”

They remained friendly for several years, then officially start dating in 2011. During their courtship, Tim asked Kim to watch all of the movies – including Tim Burton’s 2001 remake and the 2011 reboot “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” She didn’t resist, and found herself actually enjoying the post-film discussions.

The couple was married last month.

Prized possessions

Parati says that over the years he has been mostly practical when adding to his collection: “If it was a choice between rent and food and buying some toys, then I certainly ate and kept my shelter over my head.”

He has a big notebook and several “sub-notebooks” that catalog each item and how much he paid for it. He periodically scans eBay, but mainly to see if someone’s got the same item in better condition; that’s because at this point, he says, there isn’t much that he doesn’t have.

Parati’s most prized possessions are quirkier keepsakes, bought online: a bass drum adorned with the likeness of chimpanzee archaeologist Dr. Cornelius (paid $150); a life preserver ($150); a beach ball ($200); and a child’s sleeping bag featuring Cornelius, Dr. Zaius, Zira and Gen. Aldo ($350).

Items he is afraid to let guests touch are kept in a large, glass case he got from a baseball card shop that was going out of business. Everything else is OK to handle, though he enforces a no-food-no-drink rule in the room, and – because he does get anxious about a catastrophe – the collection is fully insured.

He’s never had to file a claim, but a few years ago, his apartment was burglarized. It was summer, and a window had been thrown open to cool off the place, and someone used a ladder to let themselves in.

They took the flat-screen TV, a bicycle and some other items. They clearly had discovered the “Apes” room, because he always keeps the door closed and the door was open; but nothing inside appeared to have been disturbed.

“He probably freaked out and left,” says Parati, adding that he isn’t overly concerned about thieves.

“Who’s gonna break in and take that stuff? It’s just a bunch of crap to most people.”


Arranging to Bequeath Valuable Virtual Assets is New Age of Estate Planning

Be sure to listen to the Collectors Show every week on Web Talk Radio (

Deciding who gets what when we die is difficult enough when it comes to divvying jewelry, collectible baseball cards, family heirlooms, houses and cars.

It can be even trickier to arrange control of our digital assets.

People’s virtual legacies include email, photo-sharing and social-media accounts. However, because of laws and user-service agreements, our heirs may have trouble gaining access to them, even if they have the passwords.

Plus, most of us don’t include digital assets in our estate plans, experts say. This also can create problems for heirs.

Digital-asset planning is a fairly new concern for consumers as well as estate planners.

“A lot of people haven’t focused on it,” said Patricia Stalzer, Western regional trust services director for BMO Private Bank. When planning their estates, they tend to concentrate on tangible belongings.

However, digital belongings also have value, said attorney Donald Rolfe of Rolfe Law Firm in Phoenix.

In a 2011 survey conducted for McAfee, a security technology company, Americans on average valued their digital assets at nearly $55,000.

A digital asset can have emotional or sentimental value. It could be a photo-sharing site that contains photos of family and friends. It could be a blog that an heir wants to keep as a memorial to the deceased.

It can have monetary value. It could be a business website that family members or employees intend to keep as a going concern. It could be an online stock account.

Other types of digital assets are:

• Email accounts.

• Website domain names.

• Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest accounts.

• Documents that are stored online.

• Online bank accounts or bill-payment services.

• Bitcoin accounts.

• PayPal accounts.

• iTunes accounts.

If your digital assets aren’t included in an estate plan, your heirs might not know about that online stock account you have. They might not know you do all your banking online. Your digital assets could be lost forever.

If you haven’t provided for management of your digital assets, your heirs could have trouble gaining access to them. They may not be able to keep up your profitable business website or satisfy customers who have already placed orders. They may not be able to retrieve the family photos or videos to show to their — or your — children or grandchildren. And, your estate could be subject to identity theft by criminals who use your information to apply for credit cards after you die.

The best way to protect your virtual assets is to include them in your will or trust and to designate a digital executor to handle them, said David B. Goldstein, an attorney with Hymson Goldstein and Pantiliat in Scottsdale.

Rolfe also says to specifically grant your heirs access to your virtual assets in your will or estate plan.

He and Goldstein advise keeping a master list of the accounts and the accompanying passwords in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box.

Don’t include the passwords in a will or estate plan, Goldstein said. Instead, the estate plan should include instructions on where the passwords are located.

Rolfe suggests creating an Excel file containing a master password to another document that lists the digital accounts and passwords. There also are websites, apps and services that offer an online version of a safe deposit box.

Having an estate plan and a master list, however, doesn’t mean that your heirs will gain automatic or easy access to your accounts. User-service agreements and laws may restrict their access.

“Every account you have online has a ‘terms of service’ agreement,” Rolfe said. “Most of them say they are non-transferable. No one else can use it except for you.”

And if someone else does, he or she may be committing a crime, he said.

The federal Stored Communications Act makes it an offense to gain unauthorized access of stored communications, such as e-mails, held by third-party Internet service providers. The federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act prohibits unauthorized computer access.

Many of the laws were made to deal with hackers and not loved ones of the deceased, experts said.

“The laws are really far behind,” because they haven’t kept with all the advances in technology, Rolfe said.

The Uniform Law Commission, a Chicago-based non-profit whose goal is uniformity of state laws, has spent almost two years looking into this. The commission is in the process of drafting a law that would “vest fiduciaries with at least the authority to manage and distribute digital assets, copy or delete digital assets, and access digital assets,” the website says. The draft is expected to be approved at the panel’s annual meeting in July, spokeswoman Katie Robinson said.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean states will adopt it. The commission, whose members are lawyers from around the country, can only propose laws. However, if it is approved, “we will then encourage state legislators around the country to adopt it,” Robinson said.

Additionally, digital-asset sites are beginning to address access by heirs. Google, for example, has what it calls the Inactive Account Manager, which lets the account holder determine what happens once the account is inactive for a certain period of time. Account holders can add up to 10 friends or family members to be contacted once the account has become inactive.

“You can also share data with them if you like,” the site says. Account holders can ask Google to delete their accounts if they prefer.

Rolfe thinks that digital-access issues will become even more pressing in the future.

“The whole structure of how we use things is changing. People are becoming more and more digital.”


Collectors Show News For the Week of July 7, 2014

This is the news I covered on this week’s broadcast of The Collectors Show. To hear the program go to or iTunes.

A Burger King promotional campaign in honor of Gay Pride week may soon become the latest frenzy on eBay.  The national chain unveiled a special wrapping for its signature Whopper burger in honor of Pride week. Called the ‘Proud Whopper,’ the burger comes in a rainbow colored wrapper with the inscription – “We are all the same inside” – written on it.  “It showcases who we are as a brand,” says Fernando Machado, senior vice president of global brand management at Burger King. “It shows how we, as a brand, believe in self-expression.”  The company unveiled their ‘Proud Burger’ last weekend at a downtown San Francisco restaurant in time for the city’s gay pride parade and celebration.  At $4.29 it costs the same as a conventional Whopper, but the wrapper has quickly become a collectible.  “Customers were folding the wrappers and taking them home with them,” Machado said.

But if you want to buy one, you’ll have to hurry. Burger King said the burger will only be offered until Thursday.

BBB Warns Of Ad Offering ‘Highly Collectible Government Notes’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Who wouldn’t want a bag of cash?

According to an ad in Wednesday’s Tennessean, people should be “running to their phones” to call for, what the company behind the ad claims are, “highly collectible U.S. government notes.”

But is this really as good a deal as the ad makes it out to be?  That’s what, in this case, is the $99 question.

The bold headline across the full page ad offers “bags of cash” if you call within the next three days and order one of the so-called vault bags.

But the Better Business Bureau said not so fast.

”Save your money. It’s not a bag of cash that you’re going to enjoy,” President Kathleen Calligan warned.

For $99, the Ohio-based World Reserve Monetary Exchange, which has no official connection to the federal government, advertises that it will send you “current uncut, old and rarely seen U.S. currency.”

The picture in the ad shows a collection of nearly three dozen bills featuring everyone from George Washington to Ben Franklin.  But for the advertised $99, you’re not getting any of the larger denominations you see in the ad. It’s only when you read the fine print that you see you’re actually getting just one and two dollar bills – 11 of them, in all.

The Better Business Bureau called the company’s ads “deceptive.”

”What you see in the ad is a composite of so many misleading statements and statements that aren’t fully disclosed,” the BBB’s Calligan said.

Mike Mouret, owner of Nashville Coin & Currency, also took notice of the ad. He told NewsChannel 5 Investigates that what stood out to him were statements “to make you confused and think you’re getting this massive wonderful deal that’s not even close to correct.”

Mouret has been a professional currency dealer for more than 30 years. So we asked him how much the ad’s so-called deal is really worth.

”Probably $30, $40 retail,” he said.

”$30 or $40,” we confirmed.


”And you’re spending $99?” we continued.


Mouret’s company buys and sells currency and has obtained some of the sets that World Reserve sells. We asked him about the ad’s claims that these bills are “valuable” and some “rarely seen.”

”The average public may not see them very often because they’ve been out of circulation since the 60′s. But if a person was to just look for people who sell these, they’re not rarely seen or highly sought after. They’ve very common and available,” he explained.

In fact, Mouret said you can get a $2 bill from your local bank — for $2 — while the U.S. Treasury sells uncut versions for a just a little more than face value.

The BBB reported it’s received more than 260 complaints about the World Reserve Monetary Exchange in the last three years, and the BBB gives the company an “F.”

As for ad, the BBB’s Calligan remarked, “This is definitely one of those ads that is too good to be true.”

The World Reserve Monetary Exchange has run similar ads for years in newspapers across the country and many of those ads have been challenged by the Better Business Bureau because of what the BBB said were misleading claims.

We tried to talk with the company about the ad in Wednesday’s paper. They returned our phone calls with an email saying it would take 1 to 2 business days to answer our questions in writing.

$75,000 chip purchase at casino collectible show

 The annual Casino Chip & Gaming Token Collectors Club (CCGTCC) recently held the largest casino collectible show of its kind at South Point Casino, drawing approximately 1,800 people.  The very successful show featured 55 different dealers from around the country with over 75 table spaces sold. Many of the dealers said it was their best show ever! Admission was $15 on opening day and free on Friday and Saturday.  If you’ve never seen a chip collector’s show, it’s quite an amazing sight! You can’t imagine how many chips are in that room or the total value of what all those chips might even be worth.  One of the highlights was a chip being sold for $75,000! The buyer remains anonymous but the chip was a $5 “Golden Goose” from Las Vegas.  Before my time but, apparently between 1975-1980, there was a Golden Goose Casino in downtown Las Vegas. What makes this rare chip so valuable is uncertain but the buyer must have known its value!

Stylized Sharknado Action Figure on the Way

A movie that started a craze of a different kind was Sharknado, and now the notorious low-budget film is getting its own collectible.  Stylized Funko Pop figures have been released for everything from Teen Titans to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  And now, a Sharknado action figure is set for release on July 7th.  And, if you’re wondering, the sequel –Sharknado 2: The Second One comes out next month as well.