They seek ’em here. They seek ’em there. They seek Wallace and Gromit collectables everywhere!
Multi Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit have certainly made their mark in the world of movie animation.
The Bristol-based Aardman studios are said by movie industry insiders to have grossed £1 billion world-wide. The average box office take per movie is now estimated at £130m.
A major spin-off from the amazing success of Nick Park’s homely stop-motion clay animations, is a host of comic characters which have inspired a range of collectables.
As a litmus test for the demand, more than £2.3m was raised for charity as dozens of Wallace and Gromit-ised statues were auctioned in Bristol.
There were more than 80 sculptures sold for The Wallace and Gromit Grand Appeal, which is on its way to raising £3.5m for a much-needed expansion of Bristol Royal Hospital for Children.
Here are a handful of examples that made thousands of pounds for a fantastic cause
£55,000 for talking Wallace
Nick Park and artist Lorna Cashmore worked together to create a talking Wallace as a special sound tower. As you would expect it delivers some of Wallace’s memorable movie lines such as, ‘More cheese Gromit’ and “Hold tight lad, and think of Lancashire hotpot.’
Out of this world £32,000 for Wallace the spaceman
Some really famous Wallace and Gromit fans pitched in with nice words about this fabulous Rocket Man Wallace. Astronaut Tim Peake tweeted, “Game over! I can’t compete with this Wallace!” when he saw the sculpture! The money this model raised went into orbit for the Neurosurgery service at Bristol Children’s Hospital.
£65,000 for ‘Buzz Lightyear’ Gromit
It was worth going to infinity and beyond for Gromit as the great Buzz Lightyear. This was the creation which Nick himself declared he loved the most.
It was designed by animation studio Pixar and based on the Toy Story character. It sold for £65,000.
Nick told the local Bristol press: “I couldn’t wait to see the Pixar Gromit Lightyear sell because obviously that was a top runner,”
It’s not only about more cheese, Gromit
That historic Bristol Royal Hospital auction involved mostly high-end specialist creations designed specifically to raise loads of money for charity.
But they emphasise the fact that Nick Park and his team’s creations, have real charisma even outside their normal comic movie platform.
The strategy of creating quirky Wallace and Gromit spin-offs based on the loveable characters is generating a burgeoning market.
Any good quality surviving 1989 vintage Shaun the Sheep footstools, originally sold by Boots for about a tenner, are now selling for about £80. It is further evidence and that Nick’s characters have hit the merchandising jackpot.
Shaun is big in Japan
The award-winning Wallace and Gromit movies have been sold to more than 170 countries. The effect has been to create lucrative foreign markets for the spin-off characters.
The Japanese have particularly taken one Shaun the Sheep. Even though Shaun only had a small walk-on part in A Close Shave, the Japanese took him to their hearts. The mono-syllabic woolly sheep went on to have his own TV series.
In Japan, he also had a prime Saturday morning slot on the country’s national educational channel attracting audiences of millions.
It is a triumph for the W&G brand, that it made its mark in a country where children’s TV is dominated by famous home-grown animation.
Nowadays, it’s all bags and bedcovers, and footstools and sheep-sized replicas for Shaun. He is truly ‘big in Japan’.
With the recent rave reviews of the latest Aardman offering, Farmageddon, plus other movies in development, the phenomenon that is Wallace and Gromit and their many friends, looks certain to grow even more.
This could be the ideal time to start collecting.
This year marks the 30th Anniversary of Wallace and Gromit, and to celebrate this special anniversary the Royal Mint has released a brand new UK 50p featuring the famous duo!