Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Taking the Joy out of Collecting

Remember when a collectibles price was caused by the people who bought them and not the people who made them? I am not saying that all companies do this. They don't.  Hallmark for example still sells their collectible ornaments for a basic price of usually fifteen to thirty-five dollars. Even the incredibly difficult limited editions stay in this price range although they are still priced higher than the original counterpart. There is, however, an entire group of manufacturers  who produce collectibles that will likely never grow much in value because they are already priced at collector prices.

I am a collector. I collect genre specific items.  I collect Star Trek.  I also have a Lord of the Rings collection but I am preparing to sell that off. (Before any of my students who gave me LOTR gifts ask, no I am not selling those off.  They are a prize beyond price.) There was a glut of Star Trek items, just as there is a glut of everything from Star Wars to My Little Pony.  Anything that anyone might buy and collect is produced.  The trick is finding the right item.  There is a risk that when you buy an item its value might go down.  In fact that happens more often.  Like most items, you have to sit on the items sometimes if you want to see the value go up and sometimes you have to strike while the item is hot before it becomes less valuable.

There are really two types of collectors.  There are those who buy collectibles with the aim of selling them off and making money from them.  Then there are those that buy them, catalog them, look at them, display them - in short enjoy them.  For these it is the quest of that one missing item, finding it well below market price and bringing it home.  I am one of these collectors. So it seems to me that when a collectible is produced at an already collectible price or is made so rare it is nigh on impossible for the small collector to obtain, it cheapens the art and joy of collecting.

And this brings me to overpriced manufactured collectibles.  A collectible needs to grow in value for both buyer and its actual cost.  That said, some collectibles are never going to increase in value from the monetary end. There are too many of them, they just don't become popular, or they were overpriced to begin with.  Take for example the collector's edition lightsaber.  Depending on style and color, this little item runs from $120 to $249 brand new.  This will likely never gain in monetary value.  They are already overpriced.   While it may be really cool for the one who collects purely for the joy, for the one who thinks of it as an investment it is of no value.  The problem is that its already collectible price also puts it out range of the collector who does it because he loves it.

Another example is the Comic Con Diamond Select Exclusive Cloaked Bird of Prey.  It was pressing my ability to buy it at $60.  It was overpriced to begin with but because it is a rare collectible it will go up on the market.  It has in fact already done so.  Currently on Ebay, the toy is now going, just a few days after they were sold, for $110 to $200.  It is officially out of range for me.  There are collectibles that are out of my range, but that was because of market.  The problem isn't that.  The problem is the collectibles already priced at a collectible market price.  I suppose as long as there is someone who will pay these prices, it will the meantime, I must wait for someone to sell the Hallmark Gold Uniform Uhura ornament or the Tri Fold Borg for a price well below its market because the owner has no idea what they have.  I am again on the quest.  This one could last years...