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Woe is Me …. The Life of a Hammer Film Collector

I should have known better……

So here’s my story in fast forward mode to the present. I’m an obsessed fan of Hammer Films. It all originated back in my childhood seeing The Horror of Dracula on late night TV at I’m guessing the age of 10. From there it was a matter of connecting the dots and signing out those coffee table books on Horror Films at the public library and keeping my eyes peeled on the late night movie listings in the TV guide. Long before the internet I might ad.

Here I am years later with the majority of the studio’s films on my movie shelves thanks to a number of labels still continuing to market them to collectors. I’ll also add most any book or magazine I come across on the subject of Hammer Horror and the studio in general to my reading material. Then there are the movie posters, lobby cards and any other sort of memorabilia I might come across.

Even my lovely wife will send me a link or point out a Hammer product if she comes across one. God bless her.

All of which brings me to action figures. Now to be honest I only have one from Hammer in my rather small collection of “dolls.” I’ve never really gotten into action figures as far as movie collectibles go outside of Godzilla. Any I do have are usually associated with the Universal Monsters as they appear to be more marketable here in North America than Hammer’s output. Then again maybe whoever owns the rights to the Hammer library of monsters never bothered to dip into the market on this side of the pond with any real effort.

Hell yeah, I’d love to have an action figure of The Reptile or The Gorgon poised on my desktop, ready to strike or turn me to stone with just a fleeting glance.

Now where I am I going with this you ask? To this Christopher Lee doll I came across via a Facebook ad. It’s based on his appearance in 1970’s Scars of Dracula.

I thought it looked kickass cool and since I’ve been itching to spend some coin over this past year with one lockdown after another and the cash that I set aside for restaurant dining accumulating, I thought why not, the price is right.

I placed the order on May 8th and awaited it’s arrival.

So while I saw a steady stream of movies arriving by post which is par for the course here at Mike’s Take, I received a notification that the figure standing a towering 20.67 inches was on it’s way. I think when it arrives I’ll make room beside my Maltese Falcon replica on the shelf in the movie room.

Now this is where my story goes off the rail to the “woe is me” part.

Not expecting anything in a box that measures a mere 4.5 inches in height and six inches in length, I was left to ponder what could be in this tiny gift pack I found in the mail box on June 16th.

Brace yourself…….

Hmmmm ……

How about a close up of Sir Christopher……

Now that I’ve had my fun, I will point out I received a full refund on my investment via paypal in a slam dunk decision that My Cousin Vinny could have won on his opening argument. Even if Fred Gwynne was still the presiding Judge on the bench. Would you believe I received three offers from the seller? First I was offered $15 dollars and keep the “doll”, then $20, then 50% and then miraculously a fourth request turned up going backwards …. “If I give you a partial refund of $15, could you pls withdraw the dispute on paypal?”

Truly amazing.

So what have I learned? Not much I suppose in the end. The money was minimal and had I lost it all it wasn’t going to stop me from buying lunch at my favorite burger joint when the latest COVID lockdown ceases. I would also like to add that I did not, I repeat, DID NOT buy the product from the company that appears on the product cover, Star Ace, and yeah I should have done a bit more research but then again, the company I bought it from looked legit and had a link to the pics and measurements etc.

Could have fooled me….. oh wait …. it did. Dumb ass!

So while I’d like to have this Lee doll adorning my Hammer memorabilia, for now I’ll just be content in the knowledge that I own an original U.S. one sheet for the 1970 film released as a double bill with The Horror of Frankenstein. And the Lee doll? I added it to my Christmas wish list for 2021.

and in closing ….. buyer beware ….. what else?

23 Comments »

  1. A very common pitfall of being a Movie Buff my friend, it’s happened to us all at one point or another. Sometimes just knowing after the fact is enough to make you wiser in picking stuff. I usually shy away from memorabilia when it comes to films because 9 times out ten in the end they end up as dust collectors, and I’m already a little lackadaisical about cleaning as it is 😉 This of course isn’t true for everybody, and I admire people who invest properly in such items. There are some film posters I’ll admit I’d like to get and have framed, but I need to figure out some space. My Dad always says, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is”, a good motto to live by.

    • Oh yes, if it’s too good….. I think the fact that paypal was attached to it gave the link some credibility and more importantly, a chance to get my money back if all went wrong which in the end was the case.

  2. Surprised you didn’t keep it just to remain a true completist. Sure, it looks awful but is there not a “so bad it’s good” category for memorabilia. Seriously though, in our desire for something ace, we are often duped. Great double bill poster by the way.

  3. Omg! What a “bite”! At least you didn’t spend more.
    I guess.
    I have to remark-your opening paragraph mirrors my first exposure to the wonders of Hammer, except I saw Dracula has Risen from the Grave at birthday slumber party when I was in fifth grade. It was on late night spooky theater Channel 8 in Richmond, VA with the host Bowman Body. All the other girls were doing their nails and talking boys. I was hooked! I was mesmerized by Christopher Lee. From that point, I was a disciple of Hammer Horror!
    Thanks for your insight, quips, and experiences!

    • Thanks for sharing your Hammer story. Took me years to see Horror of Dracula a second time with the birth of the VHS tape. I think I saw Risen From the Grave on late night TV when I was maybe 13 or 14 for the first time as I did most of the Lee/Dracula films.

      • Seen them all. Love them all! Christopher Lee has been a personal fave ever since. Have watched most everything he’s ever been in. What an amazing man. And Hammer is just in a category all its own.

        Thanks again for your “work” (its not work if it’s fun, right?) and insights.

        • As do I. I just checked my catalog, I currently have 144 Lee films in my collection. Yes along with Peter and Vincent, he’s a big favorite. Work? Not likely, just an extension of my passion for film history. Cheers’

  4. Wow, the end product is about as far from the advertised one as you can get! Paypal to the rescue! Do you suppose the sellers count on a certain number of people not bothering to dispute? BTW, my first Hammer experience was my brother and I being let out by my mom at the old downtown theater to see a matinee of Dracula: Prince of Darkness (it was different back then, parents didn’t need to keep their kids in sight at all times… somehow we survived). I was a Universal Monster kid up to then, but have been a huge Hammer fan ever since (and Prince of Darkness is still my favorite Lee Dracula flick).

    • I guess that’s the gamble they take. Score a few who won’t bother to fight the rip off. Had nothing to do with cash for me, just the principle. I saw Darkness as a youngster on late night TV. Love the film and watch the series usually every couple of years. I prefer Hammer films vs. Universal but still a huge fan of both cycles as well as the Price/Poe series. let’s not forget Dear Vincent.

  5. The first horror movie I saw in a stand alone theatre was The Curse of Frankenstein starring Peter Cushing. This was followed by one of the most scariest movies, Horror of Dracula starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Both really scared the hell out of a boy below 10 years old.

    • Wouldn’t I have loved to have experienced them on their original release at that age. Wonderful memories you have there. For me it was seeing Jaws in the theater at the age of 8 with Dad. An experience I still love to recall.

  6. Wow, that Drac looks like a melted candle or Chris after one of his many demises, but at least the artist tried to make it look like Lee. Glad you got that payback, Mike.

  7. Great story Mikey.
    Glad it had a happy ending.
    When Christopher Lee says in this clip (at the 32 second mark) “You’ve done well”, he could have been taking about you!

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