GREENFIELD — For Jim Thornton, it started more than 20 years ago with some trading cards, followed by a few coffee mugs.
Thousands of dollars, several shin tattoos and one alien cryopod later, his passion for “The X-Files” TV show burns bright.
Along the way, he has recruited an acolyte, Kelly Anthony, who started as a friend 15 years ago and is now a girlfriend and housemate. The two of them want to introduce more potential fans to the wonder and mystery of “The X-Files” by opening a museum that features their collection of props and publicity shots and screen-used costumes.
“We’re scouting for a location now. We’d like to be open by summer,” Thornton said.
Finding “the right home for the right price,” though, is a challenge in the Saratoga Springs area, where commercial space isn’t cheap.
For now, the collection clutters and adorns their house, which sits far out along the back roads west of Saratoga Springs, in the hamlet of Porter Corners.
The alien cryopod, as big as a couch, lies on their living room floor next to the couch. It’s a big, black and green fiberglass thing, smeared with plastic-like stuff that looks like slime. It stood on one end in the first “X-Files” movie (subtitled “Fight the Future,”) and Agent Scully was imprisoned in this very cryopod, scheduled to be harvested by aliens, before she was rescued by Agent Mulder, Thornton said. This all took place in the Arctic.
He scored the cryopod for $3,500, along with some filing cabinets and other furniture from Mulder’s office, plus about $2,000 for shipping from California, he said.
“The X-Files” ran on Fox for nine years, from 1993 to 2002, starring Gillian Anderson (Scully) and David Duchovny (Mulder) as FBI agents assigned to investigate unsolved cases involving the paranormal. It returned for a 10th season in 2016 and an 11th in 2018.
“It has a strong, strong fan following,” said Thornton, who has “X-Files” characters tattooed on his lower left leg.
Last June, the couple trucked about half of their collection to Chicago for X-Fest 2, a two-day celebration of the show, with celebrity guests and panel discussions, held at a Hyatt Regency hotel. Their display filled a whole room, and conventioneers cheered their plans for a museum, Thornton said.
“A lot of people said, ‘You gotta do this. You gotta open,’” he said.
Meanwhile, they both have jobs — Anthony is in human relations at a local tech firm, Thornton is a painter at an upscale apartment complex — to survive and keep the “screen-used props” and “screen-worn costumes” coming in the mail.
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One evening last week, they hadn’t yet unwrapped the shirt and tear-away pants and skin-colored nylon tights in a package on the kitchen table. They had pulled out one thing, which lay across the table — a pair of were-monster claws, scaled and heavy-looking, with sharp nails and long fingers that looked ready to flex into a fist.
Finding bona fide props is all about connections and networking, Thornton said.
“It’s all about trust,” he said.
“Then you can screen-match things,” Anthony said, meaning you can compare the prop you bought to the one on the screen in the episode in which it appeared.
“Some of our sources wish not to be named. We don’t ask why, we just respect that request,” she said.
There is no official “X-Files” store where verified props and costumes can be bought, Thornton said — you have to track down the people who ended up with the stuff, something they have done quite successfully.
Their house is more storeroom than living space, from the pinball machine in the kitchen to the posters on the walls, the “blood-stained” samurai sword on top of a display case in the living room and the alien arm inside the case.
Upstairs, a room that could have been a bedroom is packed with “X-Files” figurines along with more props, like the smashed-in face of an officer, crushed by a character who was super-fast, and plastic guts used during an autopsy scene.
Throughout the house, manikins — some lacking heads, some bodies — stand along the walls and fill boxes in hallways. Thornton and Anthony use them for displaying the costumes in their collection.
On her own, Anthony isn’t the type to fill her house with material from a favorite TV show.
“She’s not a hoarder,” Thornton said.
But he has inspired her.
“I got into it through him,” she smiled. “As our relationship grew … “ she kept smiling. So did he.
Will Doolittle is projects editor at The Post-Star. He may be reached at email@example.com and followed on his blog, I think not, and on Twitter at @trafficstatic.
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