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The beginning is a very delicate time...

I've always been a fan of the 1984 film Dune, though I didn't get around to reading the novel and truly discovering the universe until AFTER Frank Herbert appeared at the World Science Fiction Convention in Melbourne in 1985.

As was a common reaction at the time, when I first saw Dune I didn't "get it". However, unlike many others who pushed the film aside with disgust, I could SEE there was a high quality movie in front of me, I just needed to understand it. For this reason I made a point of reading the book - ironically I actually finished it the day Frank Herbert passed away in February 1986 - then I saw the film again.

Honestly it was just like taking the Water of Life, suddenly everything was clear and concise and from that moment on I was hooked!

I left high school and entered the workforce in the mid 80s which meant I was blessed with a disposable income - the worst thing for a guy in his late teens to have. So with money to burn I started spending up on science fiction soundtrack albums, Star Wars posters and in 1989 my Batman collection started. But next to all these was my Dune collection, which unlike my other interests, operated mostly in the background as there was so little merchandise about.

As I was more interested in media than literature, my aim was not to buy every edition of the novels released, instead I looked for items relating specifically to the film. Unfortunately there was very little around, still I did what I could to keep on top of it. However, with so many collections on the go, none of my Dune stuff could be displayed anywhere so it ended up in various forms of storage for a couple of decades.

Finally in July 2009 I was able to allocate some space in my home where the collection finally saw the light of day. What I found really amusing is when the boxes were opened I was surprised to see just how little of it there really was.

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He who controls the Spice controls the universe...

The interesting thing about collecting Dune merchandise in the 1980s is no one in Australia really cared about it as there was so little to buy.

But all that changed dramatically when a friend of mine discovered a US science fiction mail order company called Intergalactic Trading. Sure enough it was on that fateful day in the mid-late 1980s when we got to see a catalogue from IGT and were utterly gobsmacked by all the items on offer - things we had NEVER seen before from all our favourite TV shows and movies (remember this was 15+ years before eBay).

In amongst all the various sections in the catalogue was a full page devoted solely to Dune, I looked at the items on the page and without hesitation said "yep I'll have all of it!"

Once the big box arrived from the US with my Dune treasure trove, I immediately began a search for collectables and other Dune related material, I even had an Atreides uniform made to attend science fiction fan events. Alas being located in Australia and without the Internet being invented yet, finding items was a pretty difficult task.

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We have thousands of such caches and only a few of us know them all...

When it came to collecting Dune memorabilia, one of the highpoints was being able to find ALL the toys for the film. Unlike Star Wars which had thousands of action figures and vehicles created, Dune only had:

  • Six action figures - why oh why didn't they make a Lady Jessica???
  • Three small vehicles
  • One large spice harvester
  • A sandworm toy - which would have to be the ugliest piece of merchandise ever created.
  • Two guns - these were a prize find!

And that was it! But I still have all of them. As for other items, my collection also features:

  • An assortment of kids activity books
  • Some badges
  • Computer games
  • A calendar
  • A music book
  • A couple of board games
  • Three model kits
  • A pop up book
  • The unofficial encyclopedia
  • A couple of "Frank Herbert" reads Dune LPs
  • The usual movie posters, lobby cards and soundtrack CDs
  • A couple of specialised programme books and press kits
  • A set of the trading cards (but I don't have the stickers)
  • A full set of 36 x unopened gum card packets including the original box (not pictured)

Truth be told, Dune wasn't exactly a marketing goldmine as it failed dismally at the box office. For this reason it didn't take long for interest in the merchandise to taper off as the film was forgotten by the world at large. Fortunately there are still collectors out there who keep the Dune spirit alive, as can be seen at this really impressive collection web site.

But what of my own collection? The truth is I could easily scour eBay every second day to see if anything new is up for sale, but I'm now past the point of doing that. Admittedly I have picked up a few things along the way, but I'm now VERY selective as to what I'll get - though I do concede when I saw a mint-in-box Dune viewmaster for $300 I really did think about getting it.

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I'll miss the sea, but a person needs new experiences...

Interest in an on-screen version of Dune changed somewhat in 2000 with the release of two new Mini Series, Dune followed by Children of Dune a short time later. Although I watched both shows with great interest, my first love has always been the 1984 film which is why the focus of my collecting has remained committed to that.

So aside from a brief moment of excitement with the DVD releases of the Alan Smithee version of Dune (there's a great story regarding that I could tell you - in short I could well have been the very FIRST person in all of Australia to see this version of the movie in the mid 1990s), my Dune collecting effectively came to a close quite a while ago and I'm quite OK with that.

Is the collection worth anything?

As is often the case with collectables, value is judged by demand and to be honest there isn't a lot of demand for Dune merchandise. Still I have heard that the Encyclopaedia is quite rare and I'd like to think that some of the toys have increased in value, but overall I wouldn't think any of it is worth much.

Still, I'm pleased that at the very least I could put it all on display for people to look at and enjoy.

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And how can this be? For he is the Kwizatz Haderach!

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