Few people were looking forward to the opening of the new Spider-Man movie as much as Sy Winnie.
As Webmaster of Spidermancollector.com, and owner of one of the largest collections of Spider-Man-related memorabilia and collectibles in the world, the film is not only one that he has been waiting to see made for most of his life, its success could also increase his net worth by several zeroes.
Ever since 1967, Winnie has been hooked on Spider-Man. But at an age where many of his contemporaries began to lose interest in comic book heroes, his only grew.
Today the 40-year-old music teacher is unsure of the total number of items in his collection, but his best guess is close to 2,500 and he is continually adding more stuff.
These items range from original artwork by Spider-Man illustrators such as Steve Ditko to cheap plastic toys from the 1970s, the oldest and rarest of which can sell for thousands of dollars each.
"Even though I'll buy anything with Spidey on it," says Winnie, "if you're looking for stuff that's worth more money, that means things like in-store promotions, which are usually sent by the toy company and then thrown away. Some of that stuff is now incredibly valuable."
Mint Comics and a Mego Mangler
The most expensive piece in his collection? The comic book in which Spidey made his debut, "Amazing Fantasy #15," a near-mint version of which today can bring $95,000. Not bad for something that sold for 12 cents when it was first published in August 1962.
Other treasures in his collection? A Marx Marvel Superheroes tin train from 1967, which could fetch as much as $2,000.
According to Winnie, it is the "oddball" stuff that usually does best; he cites a tractor called the Mego Mangler that features Spider-Man and his arch nemesis, the Green Goblin, which he says could bring as much as $1,500.
The most expensive part of his collection? The complete compilation of every Spider-Man comic ever published. The value, according to Bob Overstreet, publisher of the Overstreet Comic Price Guide, could be as high as half a million dollars.
‘It’s My Retirement’
What started out as a labor of love has grown into a consuming passion. From his home outside Toledo, Ohio, Winnie is constantly traveling to conventions, looking for obscure items on the Internet or swapping stories, and occasionally Spider-Man collectibles, with his fellow collectors.
But, thanks to the buzz surrounding the new film, prices have been going up steadily. "Items that went for $50 a year ago are now selling for $300," he says.
What about the new toys associated with the film? Is there any point in buying them? "Sure," says Winnie. "If you're a hard-core fan, you'll want to have them, but they're so mass-produced that they probably won't be worth anything for years."
If the film is the smash that Winnie believes it will be, then the value of his entire collection will go up. When asked how much the whole collection could be worth, he laughs and says he has no idea.
"It's my retirement," he says, "but I'm not ready to stop yet."
For more, go to Forbes.com..