We’re a couple years removed from The Hobbit movie trilogy’s completion on the big screen, but it’s pretty clear that the story of Middle-Earth is living on.
The first way to know this is the revealing of the Middle-Earth Ultimate Collectors Edition, a 30-disc set coming soon for the small screen that collects The Hobbit trilogy along with The Lord of the Rings trilogy to create the supreme viewing experience at a premium price. It’s $800 for a package loaded with extras — click the image at right for a hint at what’s included.
A second way — and perhaps the most-important way for collectors — to know that The Hobbit is living on is to examine the demand for autographs and sketch cards. We’re just a few months removed from the third in a trilogy of The Hobbit sets from Cryptozoic and there’s plenty of interest.
Cryptozoic’s three releases — Battle of the Five Armies, Desolation of Smaug and An Unexpected Journey — include deep autograph checklists (a gallery of all signers is below) and are still relatively available in wax form without dramatic mark-ups. (All but An Unexpected Journey are available via Blowout right now.)
A number of the signers have variation autographs that add to the chase but the basic signatures have a number of in-demand names. For recent completed eBay auctions, none are more pricey than Evangeline Lilly, whose autographs as Tauriel have sold for as much as $177 in recent months. Many big names from the cast in this one include Andy Serkis, Ken Stott, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage and Graham McTavish. Also to be found? Director Peter Jackson and so many others.
But that’s nothing compared to asking prices for sketches, which routinely top the $500 mark with highs topping the $1,000 mark. Asking prices on top autos are also much higher than sales like the sketches. Why? The sketches are one-of-a-kind creations, while some of the signers are rare enough there simply aren’t completed sales to be found on eBay and supply is what it is.
In other words, those who have key cards aren’t going to let them go for nothing.
A graded set of 22 An Unexpected Journey cards has an asking price of $2,499, while another lot of raw cards and sketches has an asking price of not much less. Elsewhere on eBay, a raw set of 25 autos from Five Armies has a $999 price in one auction. Based on singles prices, that’s a bit of a bargain, actually, as many others from the sets have asking prices of $115 and up. (Yes, like every other sets, there are lesser autos in there, too.)
Generally, though, that’s not bad on all of these cards considering there’s an autograph in every box and cases can have a handful of sketches inside. Atop that, the boxes really aren’t that steep in price — especially considering the world-wide interest in the series of films is strong enough that Warner Bros. can command $800 for a boxed DVD set and will probably get it.
Not bad, Bilbo Baggins. Not bad.
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