'Lord of the Rings' goods are flying off store shelves
By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
|||'Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring'
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That's the sound of Ted Mays kicking himself.
Mays, 42, is the manager of Gecko Books & Comics, which, at the moment, is having a hard time keeping "Lord of the Rings" items in stock.
"I'm insanely excited about the movie," says Mays, who first started reading the J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy of novels at the age of 8. "But I didn't want that to cloud my judgment. Now I'm kind of regretting not going overboard when I was ordering."
Mays passed on the life-sized swords and helmets, but ordered what seemed like an adequate supply of miniatures, busts, cards and games.
Now he's bringing in whatever he can get his hands on.
"The toys came out months and months in advance, when usually they coincide with the release of the movie," Mays said. "They didn't sell that well at first, but it's getting better and better every day as people start seeing how good the movie looks and how good the early reviews have been."
Since their initial release in 1954 and 1955, Tolkien's "Rings" novels have captured the imaginations of millions of readers. Notably but not exclusively, these have included American men of a particular critical and intellectual disposition.
In recent months, this subgroup of devout fans has overrun used book and collectibles shops across the state, looking for all things "Rings."
Mays said he has been buying new copies of the trilogy books just to keep up with the demand.
"We were buying five at a time, and they were selling out in a week," he said. "Now we're buying 20 at a time, and they're lasting maybe two weeks."
Biko Ngumezi, manager of Rainbow Books and Records in 'Aiea, said his store has been out of the books for at least three months.
"There's not one, and we don't have any used books absolutely nothing coming in," he said. "I've never seen anything like this. Not even 'Harry Potter.'"
Gary Usher, general manager of the Cheapo books and music chain, said he started stockpiling used and new trilogy books over the summer. He too has noticed a decrease in the number of used editions coming in.
Usher said games and other items have also been moving swiftly.
Mays says he understands the frenzy.
"I was on the (movie) Web site the first day it went up," he said. "And that was at least three or four years ago."
Mays said he intended to re-read the novels before seeing the movie, but decided against it.
"I want to enjoy the movie for what it is," he said.
And what it is, Mays hopes, will be something special.
"Hopefully, where 'Harry Potter' was generally lifeless and not identifiable for its own strengths because it followed the book so closely, this movie will be a very loving adaptation with its own emotional core something that will differentiate it from the books," Mays said.
Either way, it has already been a sweet year for book, comic and collectible dealers. Usher said the cross-merchandising opportunities mined by films such as "Final Fantasy" and "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" have meant healthy sales all year long.
Mays said that should only improve with the introduction of the original fantasy masterpiece to a new audience.
"When I read the books for the first time, if you walked into Waldenbooks and asked where the fantasy section was, they'd point to those three books," Mays said. "That was it.
"Everything the modern world understands about things like elf culture was invented by Tolkien," he said.