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.

The common reaction from the public at the time with Dune was that they didn't "get it", and I too had the same problem. 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. So in a bid to know more I made a point of reading the book - which in a bizare twist of irony I actually finished the day Frank Herbert passed away in February 1986. Thus with the knowledge of the book in my head, I saw the film again.

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

I left high school and entered the workforce in the mid 1980s 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 film merchandise about.

As I was more interested in media than literature, it was not my intention 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.

Then in July 2009 I was able to allocate some space in my home where the collection finally got to see 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.


He who controls the Spice controls the universe...

The challenging thing about collecting Dune merchandise in the 1980s is no one in Australia really cared for it and as a consequence there was very 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 80s 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 10+ years before eBay).

In amongst all the various sections in the catalogue was a full page devoted solely to Dune, I quickly 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. Alas being located in Australia and without the Internet being invented yet, finding items was a pretty difficult task so my collection didn't really grow much more after this period.


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??? In fact there are no female characters at all!)
  • Three small vehicles
  • One large spice harvester
  • A large sandworm (which would have to be the ugliest and most suggestively inappropriate pieces of merchandise ever created)
  • Two guns (these were a truly a prize find as I had to wait until 1993 to get them)

And that was it! 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 quickly 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 scour eBay every second day to see if anything new is up for sale, but I'm now past the point of doing that. Moreover, a lot of the toys I have are continually being sold by those wanting to offload them so it's not like there's a shortage.

Admittedly I have picked up a few things along the way from eBay, but I'm now VERY selective as to what I'll get. Having said that I do concede when I saw a mint-in-box Dune Viewmaster for $300 I really thought about getting it, but $300USD in Australian dollars is well over $400 bucks! So no thanks.


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 release of the Alan Smithee version of Dune, my collecting effectively came to a close some time ago and I'm quite OK with that. Oh by the way there's a great story regarding the almost 'mythical' 3 hour Alan Smithee version of Dune I can tell you. In short I may well have been the very FIRST person in all of Australia to see this version of the movie, because a friend of mine recorded it on video tape in the US in the 1990s and sent it to me. But I digress...

So 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 the Encyclopaedia is quite rare (which isn't related to the movie), but other than that I wouldn't think any of it is worth much and probably never will be.

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


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


Back to main page