Why Modern ‘Collectible’ Toys Are A Total Scam


It's everyone's dream to turn their passion into a career ... or at the very least, a way to make major bank. So when the latest batch of Star Wars movies was announced, it wasn't hard to imagine wannabe collectors making plans to buy armfuls of toys and preserve them in metaphorical carbonite until their value skyrocketed.

You might even be tempted to do this yourself. If that's the case, we have some sage advice for you: Don't. It might have worked with the original movies, but it isn't as simple as renting a storage locker and/or avoiding direct eye contact with your parents/partner/landlord for the next several decades anymore.

Why Modern ‘Collectible’ Toys Are A Total Scam

Pictured: you, as imagined by you.

Why Modern ‘Collectible’ Toys Are A Total Scam

Pictured: actual you, smacking your head on the door frame of hubris.

In order to understand why, you need to understand something about the toy collecting craze associated with the original movies: There wasn't one, because your parents were lucky if they were able to buy them in the first place.

When A New Hope was released, Kenner was never able to satisfy consumer demand. Back then, merchandising was a niche affair -- that's why we now give George Lucas credit for being savvy enough to collect his payday in merchandising rights. Toys weren't something that mainstream moviegoers cared about, which was reflected in the paltry volumes at which the Star Wars toys were originally manufactured. We all know how that turned out. The actual demand was such that Kenner could only sate the bloodthirsty mob by selling them a cardboard box that served as both a display case and, vitally, an IOU which guaranteed the toys at a later date.

Of course, they then started selling out of cardboard boxes.

Den of Geek

"What, you think cardboard grows on trees?"

In fact, underproduction was such a problem that it wasn't long before Kenner was accused of deliberately under-producing toys in order to manipulate the market, because holy shit, malice makes way more sense than Kenner being so completely incompetent.

Nowadays, however, manufacturing is in the hands of Disney and Hasbro (which bought Kenner in the '90s). They know the market, and they know how big the demand is going to be, and not just because they secretly implant microchips into our children when we're not looking. You're simply not going to have the same levels of rarity that make the original toys so valuable. There were shortages on Force Friday ahead of The Force Awakens, sure, but that was a short-term delay -- these guys are playing the long game.

You might have had a shot if there weren't thousands upon thousands of other fans doing the exact same thing. The vast majority of people who bought the original toys didn't buy them to collect -- they bought them to rip open and play with. It's only because of the foresight of a few collectors that we have a collecting industry to oversaturate today. Don't forget, we've already had a taste of this with ... urgh, the prequel trilogy. People bought those toys to collect, kept them mint-in-box, and are now being rewarded with the ignominy of having to sell them for less than they originally paid.

There's also the fact that the figures you think would be most valuable aren't. Screw Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, do you have a Yak Face or Medical Droid FX-7 festering in your attic? If you had the foresight to buy figures of these blink-and-you'll-miss-them background characters, it's time to collect your payday.

Why Modern ‘Collectible’ Toys Are A Total Scam
via Mental Floss

A sweet, dick-nosed payday.

By far, the most valuable toys are the ones that were recalled because of a change in production method, error/misprint, or potential to kill your child<. One particular Jawa figure is heralded as the "holy grail" of collectibles because, we shit you not, its cape is made from vinyl instead of cloth. It's the same with some early models of Luke, Obi-Wan, and Darth Vader, which came packaged with flimsy-looking lightsabers. As a result of complaints, the lightsabers were switched out and the shitty versions became ultra-rare.

Why Modern ‘Collectible’ Toys Are A Total Scam
via CNET

Luke Skywalker, about to lay a pee-baton smackdown on a protester, apparently.

They're the same figures, but produced in different ways. One will make you rich. The other won't. And there's no way that you can tell what valuable treasures are going to be recalled until after they've been thrown into a furnace, ala Toy Story 3.

STAR WARS C-3PO 207 (Anthony Daniels) Prghts 20TH cEMGY-OX CEM COR AL Reseved 21977
via CNET

Some problems are easier to spot than others, however.

If there's any Force Awakens toy that'll earn you big bucks, it'll be this figure of Kylo, which was accidentally packaged into a Captain Phasma box.


Or a reaaaally early Episode VIII spoiler.

If you think that's a dumb thing to cherish and one day pay fistfuls of galactic credits for, welcome to the exciting and fickle world of collecting Star Wars toys.

If there's any other money to be made, it's (ironically) by investing in toys from the original trilogy. With the advent of a new trilogy and the spinoff movies, their value has continued to grow. And with Disney promising to give us Star Wars movies until (and possibly beyond) the day that the Sun swallows the Earth, it's a market that can only get more exclusive.

If you're intent on ignoring us, however, just hope that the new films are good. If they aren't ... well, just ask anyone who bought toys associated with, and we hate to keep reminding you of this, the prequel trilogy. It's a common joke to say that Jar-Jar Binks killed our childhoods. For some poor bastards, he probably took their homes too.

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Also check out The 5 Most Ill-Conceived Action Figures and The 36 Worst Action Figures From Iconic Toy Lines.

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