The Friday Five: Stephen Lane

The Friday Five: Stephen Lane

At Toy Tales, we love stories about people whose passions lead to fulfilling careers. Stephen Lane, CEO of Prop Store, is one off those people. His childhood affinity for Star Wars led him to collect action figures, which in turn inspired him to open Prop Store, a highly-respected movie and television prop auction house in the UK. Stephen shares his story with Toy Tales and tells us about his favourite collectibles.

What inspired you to open Prop Store?

Prop Store was born of my personal passion for collecting. Like many children, I was entranced by Star Wars when it was released in 1977. I had a good number of action figures and other Star Wars merchandise. I drifted away from it through my teenage years but came back to it in my early twenties, when I had a job, some pocket money, and was drawn back through nostalgia. I started to pick up Star Wars action figures at shops and car boot sales (trunk sales in North America). Around that same time, I noticed movie props and memorabilia were available at these sales. I purchased a Star Wars rebel blaster rifle for £500 and the idea for Prop Store evolved from there.

The Friday Five

What’s the highest bid you’ve seen for an item at Prop Store? 

We have over 7000 items on propstore.com; there is something in every price range. Our premier, highly-collectible items are available through our annual live auction. It takes place on September 26 this year. We have over 600 items. In past years, we’ve auctioned the Bat Pod from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. It sold for £310,000. We also sold an Imperial TIE Fighter helmet in a past auction. It fetched £220,000.

The Friday Five

What advice do you have for someone just wading into the world of movie memorabilia collecting?

I have two recommendations:

  1. Buy with your heart. It’s like buying a piece of art – you want to enjoy having it and be proud displaying it. An item needs to resonate with you to deserve a place in your collection. 
  2. Buy at the top of your budget range. The more expensive items will be an investment and could be easier to sell in the future. 

The Friday Five

What are your favourite finds?

My personal collection is mainly made up Star Wars, Batman, James Bond, and Alien props and memorabilia. One of my most prized pieces is Princess Leia’s white gown from the medal ceremony in A New Hope. The dress was kept for years in a plastic bag in a crew member’s attic. It was in terrible condition when I took possession. Victoria and Albert Museum recommended a specialist who spent about eight months restoring the piece, and I had a mannequin custom-made to properly display the dress.

The Friday Five

What auction items are you looking forward to presenting at the live auction?

We have incredible items such as Will Ferrell’s Buddy costume from Elf, Michael J. Fox’s light-up Nike boots from Back to the Future Part II, Jack Nicholson’s burgundy corduroy jacket from The Shining, and Jack Nicholson’s Joker costume from Tim Burton’s Batman. Nicholson is such a Los Angeles Lakers fan he had the costume designers create the costume using the team colours. 

The live auction is always a lot of fun. Bidding begins on propstore.com on September 1, with the items closing at the live auction on September 26.

The Friday Five

Are you inspired to start or add to your movie and television memorabilia collection? Prop Store offers incredible brag-worthy items!

The Friday Five

Five questions, one fascinating person – look into the minds of movers and shakers in the nostalgia, game, play, or toy industry.