Wednesday, March 6, 2013

5 Iron Clad Rules of Toy Collecting

Do toy collectors suffer from multiple personalities? Some people consider toy collectors to be fanatics. They can seem to show no limit to what they will do to collect that one item they have been looking for. They are persistent and scrutinizing. They attend conventions like Comic-Con or toy shows wearing costumes or T-shirts of there favorite characters. Who are these people?

Toy collectors may be many things, but the majority are intelligent, well educated, professional, and interested in current events. Are these qualities fanatical? If anything unflattering could be said about the average toy collector, it might be that he or she bought their collectibles ill advisedly, failing to purchase merchandise selectively or making unshrewd appraisals as to a collectibles condition and relative value.

There are basically collectors of two minds when buying memorabilia. Consumers may be either "Focus" buyers or "Spontaneous" buyers. A brief list of the differences the two follows:

Focus Buyer

Type of merchandise bought - Specialized and the most desired.

Where shopped for - With previously established dealers.

Why purchased - Fills a collectible niche (wishlist buying).

Knowledge of subject - Limited to collection type but a specialist in certain merchandising categories.

Spontaneous Buyer

Type of merchandise bought - Any kind.

Where shopped for - Anywhere.

Why purchased - Appeals to at the moment.

Knowledge of subject - A wide horizon of collecting information but of a more generalized nature.

No matter how a collector gathers his or her memorabilia, they should be cautious,
patient and discriminating. Arbitrary buying on a helter-skelter spree is self defeating in the long run. The quality and condition of your collection will be sporadic as your whims. You can inevitably be swindled at some point into paying to much for inferior items, or continually wishing later that you had waited longer before buying them.

Half the fun of building any toy collection should stem from the searching of collectibles to comprise it. It is only sensible that a toy collector use common sense when laying money on the table for merchandise. When buying toys or memorabilia consider the five iron clad rules below:
  1. Old is not necessarily good - It is true that many older specimens have much higher prices today then when they were originally issued. Still the age of a collectible must take second place to both its condition and rarity. When starting out some collectors see dollar signs and will start buying anything that is vintage with the expectation that it is worth what they paid for it. Do your research by shopping around and finding out what items are selling for on average. Review the condition of the specimen. No matter how bad you want it, if  it's not in the best shape, be patient and wait for a better item to come along. You'll be happier in the long run.
  2. Popularity creates demand - The more popular a specimen is today, the more in demand it is likely to be tomorrow. Vintage Star Wars action figures like Blue Snaggletooth and Mego Secret Identities Dick Grayson have been popular amongst collectors for decades because of their rarity. Prices keep rising and the supply of mint specimens gets harder and harder to find. Most likely action figure like these will continue to be in high demand for years to come.
  3. Look before you leap - Price ranges for any collectible are subject to the price tag parameters imposed upon it by the person desiring to sell it. On commercially produced items such as posters, CDs, DVDs, and new book or magazine releases, a collector is not likely to find large price disparities from retailer to retailer. Vintage books, magazines, trading cards, show props, toys, dolls, glassware and non mass produced memorabilia will vary considerably from dealer to dealer.
  4. Geography is money - I have seen differences in the sale price of certain collectible items from different geographically independent locales. Cities with higher populations tend to have more product available and typically have lower demands. Shop around and be patient for the best pricing.
  5. Cost is everything - Every toy collector must establish for themselves a personal, financial limit. Such a consideration will systematically eliminate overspending when collectible prices appear to be above one's means, expectations or monetary boundaries. Setting "financial thresholds for oneself is not only being budget wise but discriminating.
So what type of collector are you? Focused or Spontaneous?

About the author: John Sholtz is an avid toy collector and the interim editor of the Batcave Toy Room due to the abrupt death of Bruce Wayne. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter at, Facebook, Google+ and Linkedin.


  1. Oh am a spontaneous one for sure John with things coming in going on the "Cosmic Ark" at a fairly steady pace but along the way there are items that I have no plans on getting rid of and will remain normal fixtures for me. I think by me doing this things really keep fresh for me and my fellow blogs benefit from it from my blog posts to some of them ending up with my extras. It's about the fun for me at the end of the day and I don't want to become like my one friend who never opens any of his figures and as them packed away to resell someday because he hopes there values will rise up.

    1. There are many sides to toy collecting, but you are right JBoy, one of those sides should be the fun side.

  2. Spontaneous all the way, although i do envy those a little more focused than I at times.

    1. I find that I am a little of both. I buy what appeals to me, but generally when something appeals to me, I focus on it.

  3. I held a "Hot Toys" ..Two-Face at the last convention that I was able to attend... And I decided that I wanted the 1/6th scale figures.... I cannot afford these... But I intend to sell off part of my older collection ... Thus, I can get the ""Hot Toys" (1989) "Joker"....
    ...a banner at a motorcycle shop said ... "Will you you look back and say I wish I did... Or will you look back and say I am Glad that I did..."

    1. Thanks for stopping by Dr. Theda. I've sold parts of my collection too so I could buy something else that I really wanted. It's all part of the game. Do what makes you happy.


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