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.
There are a large number of ways to find that special collectible item. One of the best ways is to peruse your local papers for auctions, yard sales, garage sales, and shows. When deciding to go to sales, remember that the early bird truly gets the worm. If possible find out when the sale starts, and be there when they open it up. Most of the best items are sold within the first hour of a yard or garage sale. Getting to auctions early is also beneficial. You will be able to park closer to the sale, and thus save yourself some steps when bringing items you get back to your vehicles. Another benefit for early arrival to an auction is that you have plenty of time to look over all of the items selling , noting any damage, missing parts, or incorrectly labeled items. You can then decide how much the item is worth to you and establish what you want to bid up to for an item. It is best to write down the items you want, how much you are willing to pay, and then when it comes time to bid stick with your maximum bid. Do not get carried away and bid once more because you think the other bidders are done. This is one of the biggest mistakes at auctions, is regretting yourself because you over bid. Sometimes auctions will include family members who will bid up an item either to get a better end price, or simply because it holds a dear memory that is more important than the cost of the item. At garage and yard sales look over all your purchases before you buy! Generally these kind of sales, every item is sold as is, no refunds of any kind. Sometimes you will find a seller who is less than completely honest, and will hide a crack or chip under a price tag, or place damaged items in darkened areas of the sale to make it harder to see the flaws. Again buyer beware! Most people are generally honest and if they think of it, will point out flaws to the buyer, but some either forget, do not know, or simply want it sold. I will be posting other tips on buying things in the near future, Happy Hunting!