How To Collect, Thoughts and Theories
People are always asking what the “hot” collectible item is at the moment. This question’s answer can shift almost daily. Collecting is in itself up to each person’s own taste. Over the years many items have become hot for a few weeks, few months, even a few years. Sometimes things become popular due to their age.
I subscribe to the “Mountains and Valleys” theory of collecting. I apply this theory generally to the toy collecting field but it could also be applied to other collecting fields. This theory is simply based on common sense. When an item is first sold, it is at the high point of the value of the item. After it is sold, it plummets in value either from removal from it’s original packaging (which is a whole other topic for later discussion), or simply because it becomes used, played with, or displayed. As the years go by, the value continues in a downward spiral, the speed of the fall based on several factors, including how much wear or abuse the item gets, lack of popularity, and if the original packaging is still available.
Eventually the value of an item bottoms out and the price stays about the same. Depending on how popular the item was at the time of initial sale, or what event, person, or place it is based on, will determine once again how fast the value may begin to climb.
Back in the mid 1980’s. the Star Wars Craze had subsided, and Star Wars toys and items could be picked up generally for very little investment. Many toys still were on the store shelves at huge discounted prices. Wholesalers were shunning any new items offered and the overstocks and unsold products were being dumped on the closeout markets. Savvy investors began acquiring these caches and putting them away.
A few short years later, new Star Wars related cartoons and movies were put in the front of the public, and the popularity of the shows began a new fuel for the collector’s fires. These old stock items began rising in price, especially mint in packages and the items that were difficult to locate back when they were first introduced. Boxed Star Wars dolls, such as Bobba Fett, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Chewbacca, and Princess Leia began escalating at a breathtaking pace. Dolls that had sold just a few years before at closeout prices suddenly were bringing one hundred, two hundred, or more depending on the character and the condition of the packaging.
As the craze continued, the boxed items began petering out and collectors began paying huge sums fot the loose out of package dolls, toys, and items. Demand was high and the supply was somewhat limited. Dealers were scouring garage and yard sales, estates, auctions, flea markets and shows to pick up that one item to sell for a big profit.
Then the fire began to cool and the prices started to level off again. Economic news dampened the collector’s ardor, and then reality set in, people had no money to buy those cute toys anymore.
Thus we have a mountain (higher price), a valley (lower price), a mountain (higher price), and finally a valley once again. These highs and lows are regulated according to many different factors as I have pointed out, and there are many other things that can shake the markets up.
I have always subscribed to the mantra: buy things I like, I want, and I keep, and the price becomes secondary to entire equation. The previous thoughts can be applied to almost any kind of collectible.
The hot item of today could very well be the dog of tomorrow. Stop worrying about what is “hot” and concentrate more on what you personally like, and you will not go wrong.