Buying on a Budget

The Guardian of the Star Trek Auction, Prop and Costume Blog got this question from
Jim Johnson:

“Dear Alec, I’m writing to let you know how much I appreciate and enjoy reading your Trek auction and prop blog. I was wondering if you might consider a blog post or perhaps just some advice over email regarding how a collector on a budget might be able to put together a collection. I won one of the Christie’s auctions, and I’ve been keeping an eye on the IAW auctions on eBay, but I’m not familiar with other sources for items. Thanks for your time, and thanks for the great blog reading. Cheers, Jim Johnson”

This is a great question Jim as I have been asked this a bunch lately. and I also think the auctions recently have some good costumes on a budget.

The first question to ask if you are on a budget is “What is your budget?”. We all have a budget we try and work with, but you have to determine how much you can afford to spend in a given week or month. You may have a $ 200 limit, a $ 500 limit, a $ 1,000 limit, or you may have a pool of money set aside and you are trying to make sure all your purchases fit within that limit.

So the first thing I will address is a $ 250 budget. This is the toughest price range, but potentially the most rewarding on a value basis. There have been some real steals here for interesting and inexpensive costumes and props. Now at this price point, you will not get a main character costume, but what you are looking for is that piece that appeals to you because it was for a guest star or a character that you liked or in an episode you liked. Search here and you will see the great bargains you can get!

Look at this beautiful costume Michael Ansara wears as Jeyal from the DS9 episode “The Muse”. It went for a mere $ 123. And Ansara played the Klingon Kang in the Original Series, DS9 and Voyager, so there is some serious history here.

The Jaheel-Babel costume from DS9 is also beautiful, will display great, and sold for only $ 169.50.

You want props? The Reman Needle went for only $ 180.49 and is an important Nemesis prop. Almost all the rank pins went below $ 200 and a chair from engineering went for only $ 233.50!

So you can still afford great Star Trek pieces on a small budget.

Now, on a $ 500 budget you have more options. You want to buy an item every so often, and want to spend about $ 500 when you do. Well, there are a TON of great guest star costumes that regularly go between $ 200-$ 500. Aliens, civilians etc, are all available in this range. But what if you want one of your favorite character? Well, they are still available. Just look for civilian or specialty costumes.

To the right is the Enterprise Lt. Reed costume that sold last week. It was from the episode when Reed posed as a Suliban. It is an awesome costume that is quite beautiful, made from great fabric, and went for only $ 517.

These are the types of costumes you should be looking for in this price range because not only are they from a main character, but they are good looking and will display well.

The Tuvok costume last week is another example. I paid $ 515 for it because I just saw this episode and liked it. It is reminiscent of the new black and gray style costumes as well.

The last item is the Doctor/Tom Paris smoking jacket from Voyager that was on this past week and sold for $ 390. A pretty cool item and worn by two characters and a very reasonable price

Ferengi costumes, Neelix costumes and Kess costumes seem to go especially cheap. All can be had around the $ 500 mark.

Now, go back to the IAW auctions and search on completed auctions. Go here. Now look at what items have sold for. You will see there are a lot of inexpensive costumes because there are just so many items!

There are also plenty of awesome deals on Props at this price level. The Alien PADD went for $ 374 this past week. Now that is a good deal on a great prop that is very recognizable. There was also the Enterprise Lantern (use on Voyager as well I am told).

You aren’t going to get a phaser or communicator at this price level, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a cool piece that looks good. I think a good idea is to place bids on a few items that you think might go in this range. Because if you bid on 3 or 4 items, you may only get 1, and if you don’t get any, well, they weren’t in your budget range!

Ok, so if you are on a budget, there are plenty of props and costumes to get. Just know what you are looking for, examine where pieces have been going in the past (reading this blog is a great way to do that!) and be persistent and patient. $ 500 is a reasonable amount to want to spend and you can build a nice collection at this price level.

Now, let’s move to the $ 1,000 level. While you can build a nice collection at the $ 500 level, you can really get some great pieces at the $ 1,000 level. In fact, I would say this is the $ 800- 1,000 level as this tends to be the range where you can find some great buys in both props and costumes.

At $ 1,000 you can get a main character costume that is either a civilian costume or a distressed Starfleet costume. Check out this Trip Tucker which went for $ 1,006. Yes it is distressed, but heck, it is an Enterprise uniform!

The Star Trek: V security commando costume went for $ 1,050 also which is a great deal.

Voyager jumpsuits and all the Starfleet cadet uniforms have been going in the $ 800 range, which I think is an awesome deal.

Enterprise uniforms, MACO uniforms and lots of Enterprise Vulcan and Klingon costumes go around $ 1,000.

Props? Well, last week the Agony Booth controls went for just under $ 1,000 and we have seen Reman pistols, most alien gun props and lots of other great props go under $ 1,000. You can build a nice collection here if you have the capital!

Well, I hope that helps a little. The key to all the above is to really read the descriptions and not over-extend yourself. Be patient and scour the lower end of the auctions each week. I am telling you, my buddies and I have been amazed at some of the deals in the $ 500 range especially and with all the stuff on the auctions, there is plenty to go around!

Good hunting!


One thought on “Buying on a Budget

  • April 28, 2007 at 5:39 am

    Great info but one thing I would like to add. I think it is VERY important to keep these items 100% the way they came from IAW or Chrisites. If you buy a prop and modify it then it will NEVER be the way it was when it was used in the show. Originality only happens once. Collectors in the future most likely will want a prop that is EXACTLY the way it was used in the show, not some modified prop someone “upgraded” after buying it. I collect quite a few other things and originality is paramount (pun intended).


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