Collecting with a “Butterfinger” on James Bond

Our exclusive interview with Craig Chenery, one of that rare breed who makes fan props in addition to owning a mega-collection.

Matt Sherman: How did you start collecting Bond?

Craig Chenery: Well, I`ve been a Bond fan for as long as I can remember. I was a wide-eyed kid playing with my Corgi Aston Martin and eagerly awaiting the release of the next movie! But my collecting has really taken off in the last five years, since I started writing my hit screenplay entitled, “Butterfinger” with my co-author pal, Dan. And, of course, the first Bond movie I saw, like many out there, was “Goldfinger”.

Matt: How did you start making your own “fan props”? Tell us about them?

Craig: I`ve always loved drawing and designing things on my computer. So designing new CD cases, video boxes and toy boxes is very appealing to me. And being limited to a certain amount of display space, I am always trying to come up with creative ways to display 007 pieces. Recent items I created were several custom figures to match the rest of the Exclusive Premiere series. I did a Roger Moore in full Tuxedo and a Sean Connery with long-sleeved shirt plus a shoulder holster. Also, I once made a custom box for the wonderful BMW Motorcycle from Tomorrow Never Dies. Now, my cheaper version of the bike was released by “Road and Track”. But is an exact replica of Bond`s bike and closely matches the more expensive BMW model, for only a few dollars. I recommend it, especially when you can make custom packaging for just a few dollars more! For the “Johnny Lightning” car series out recently, I have started creating packaging and obtaining vehicles for the bond movies not in the current series. At this time I have done a GoldenEye Ferrari and Aston Martin to my own specs, plus a “Man With The Golden Gun” AMC hornet and a Mercedes Benz from Octopussy.

I have also made a “For Your Eyes Only” Roger Moore standee. See our links to the stories of Dean Williams’ fan-made props, at BackBurner Productions.

Matt: How many James Bond items do you own?

Craig: I`m not entirely sure. At last “official count” I was approaching 800 items. [Mumbles under his breath…796…]

Matt: So, your favorite item, which you own?

Craig: This is a tough question! Obviously there are some pieces that I`ve invested a lot of money into and there are others that my friends, family or my fiancee have bought for me and each of those holds special memories for me. But I think I`d have to say my very favorite is an original advertising mat for the first theatrical release of Goldfinger. An ad mat is a rubber stamp formerly used in the printing industry for creating the original impressions of advertisements in newspapers and theatrical flyers. This one dates back to 1964! Joint runner ups would be my James Bond Film Festival poster advertising Thunderball that I don`t know too much about…any suggestions from the 007Forever fans?…and a personal fave, the Variety two-page picture spread dated 1986 announcing the first day’s shooting work on “The Living Daylights.” I am currently converting this photo to a gorgeous framed display with some promotional napkins and other special Living Daylights items I own.

Matt: Any exciting “war stories” for us on how you earned a special collectible or funny stories on how a rare collectible got away?

Craig: A few years back I found a pristine set of Tarot Cards from Live And Let Die at an antique store for a very reasonable price. The store I was at had a restaurant in one corner. [Matt: A real “Collectors’ Corner.” Craig: You bet!] But I had the cards on my tray and when I disposed of my food I also disposed of my tarot cards! Of course I didn`t realize my great blunder until I was on my way home two hours later! One is probably first aware when rooting through disposed garbage that your James Bond hobby has taken on a whole new level of excitement! I`ve also had a few instances, probably like many 007Forever fans, when I discovered a choice item at a store, and then gone to an ATM machine or to walk around and think over a purchase only to return and someone else has purchased it! But that happens to the best of us collectors. I have since learned to “buy it when I see it.” I really don`t fight too hard to obtain Bond things. I have the theory that if I`m destined to own something I will get it in time…but if that is the theory, “WHERE ARE MY TAROT CARDS?” 🙂

Matt: Are you considering a trip as a dealer/fan to Bond Collectors` Weekend in New Orleans, probably September 2000?

Craig: Hmm…September…my birthday…Yep, I`m definitely considering it! It`s a long way from Phoenix though. I will more than likely go as a fan. To haul all my stuff across the country is a feat I`m not sure I`m prepared to face just yet…!

Matt: What are some of the trends you foresee in Bond collecting?

Craig: In my humble opinion, I think it`s very tough to predict at the moment. With the ever-increasing world of auction sites everything is becoming a “collectible.” I`m seeing a lot of prices go up on items for little reason. Don`t get me wrong, I have actually found some of the auction sites quite useful but mainly from a research point of view. They have been a very good resource in discovering items I hadn`t yet seen before. But in my opinion it does take a lot of the fun out of collecting. Half the fun is stumbling upon something you are not looking for when you are out. My friends have often pointed out that I must have “Double-Oh vision!” I seem to be able to find things in the strangest of places.

Matt: How have your Bond prices/inventory changed over the year?

Craig: In all honesty I prefer to do trading rather than selling. I find I get attached to items and then I find it hard to let them go. Usually I`ll trade if I get duplicates of items. But even then it can be tough. I think I`ve reached the point where collecting changes into hoarding. 🙂 My fiancee has changed from calling it a hobby to a habit to “obsession.” I don`t like putting items up for auction if I can help it. I`m not out for a profit, I like being able to share rare items when I find them.

Matt: Do you have any tips for aspiring Bond collectors?

Craig: Absolutely! The way I try (emphasis on try!) to collect is to focus on a certain area at a time. At the moment I am focusing on quality trading cards. When I feel like that area is complete I move on to the next. But the most important thing is to enjoy your hobby. Collecting Bond memorabilia is a ton of fun. It`s a great way to meet new people and make new friends also, like at your Bond Collectors’ Weekends. There are a lot of great collectibles out there and a lot of ways to discover them. Be it the Internet, toy stores, comic book stores or old bookstores (my personal favorite source from which some of my most valuable and favorite pieces have been found). One more word of advice, in my opinion the fans should be wary of auction sites. Do your homework before placing a bid on something. Make sure you are bidding what the item is worth. It is very easy to overpay on something when caught up in a bidding war. A little time researching can save you a lot of disappointment when the product arrives. Believe me I`ve been there. “Burned and learned,” so to speak. Another good tip…if you ever decide to photograph your collection, make sure the room you set it up in is on a ground floor…hauling 25 boxes up and down three flights of stairs is no joke. 🙂 Also if you happen to be in Phoenix area you can visit my collection and check out the “Empire of Toys.” My personal Bond haven.

Matt: What else do you specialize in?

Craig: There`s more to life than James Bond? Oh! Thanks, Matt!

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