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Updated: November 28, 2020

By Bruce Fedow:

Since I first saw Planet of the Apes in 1968 in a Brooklyn movie Theatre with my parents (both long-gone, alas) it has remained my favorite film of all time. It was a very successful film for its time as well, earning a respectable 22 million dollars at the box office back in the days when movie tickets cost $2.50 a pop.

Though initially there were few Apes related items released Topps put out a set of trading cards in 1969, based of course on the first film. These cards were distributed by the AB & C Co. in the United Kingdom around the same time and were the delight of schoolboys everywhere. I remember swapping cards with my classmates, being very careful to trade in secret less the nuns catch us and (gasp!) take them away! Other than a few articles in magazines like Life and scattered newspaper clippings very little else was available for dedicated Apes fans to collect, even as Fox created the sequels.

But the years following that (1973-74) when Fox released "Battle For the Planet of the Apes," the next year's "Go Ape!" movie marathon at theatres and of course the short-lived television series on CBS, the powers that be realized the Apes franchise had the ability to be turned into a "cash cow" before the phrase was even created via licensing fees paid by large companies like GAF/View Master, which produced a three-reel set based on the pilot television episode "Escape From Tomorrow," Addar Plastics who released a number of wonderful snap-together model kits, and Milton Bradley, famous for their (complicated!) board game. Remember this was a few years before Paramount started licensing the Star Trek television franchise and way before George Lucas and his Star Wars empire hit the scene. It can be said that Fox and their great Apes created this phenomenon which still has the avid collector lurking at Toys R Us prior to opening hours and scanning the internet, on the hunt for items of interest on their favorite films and television shows today.

In its heyday there were many many Apes collectibles released-some terrific and some ludicrous but all worth big bucks today. Perhaps the most creative toys on the market were the Mego action figures and playsets. In a child's hands, Virdon and Burke, the human heroes in the CBS television series could encounter the generic Mego Astronaut figure from the films (Charlton Heston wanted too much money I guess!) and fight with Gen. Ursus riding his "Action Stallion". But beware the "Forbidden Zone Trap" and the Apes' "Battering Ram!" You could carry your lunch in an Apes lunchbox and toss the leftovers in your Apes tin trash can!

Perhaps the most valuable collectibles are those which were the most fragile and rarely survived passage of time-the Apes sleeping bag, made of cheap fabric in the days before nylon ruled the market, the Silly Soap that dissolved in its 'blister pak' whether you used it or not, and the Apes Kite.

The most prized items were those released to movie theatres only such as posters in various sizes, photos and pressbooks. These often fetch hundreds of dollars on internet auctions. Recent additions to Apes fans' collections are those classic figures produced by Hasbro, Kubrick, Side Show and Medicom, as well as the many toys from the 2001 Apes remake by Tim Burton. Occasionally a bargain an be found on the internet by the careful speculator who knows where to look.

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