February 9, 2014 – Three days ago, I posted an Ebay link for a “modern Hasbro Star Wars” collection of 500+ figures. That auction has ended, and the 45th bid won the entire stash for U.S. $3,500.00. And so that got me to thinking about my own private collection and valuation and some general observations:
● Why did the Ebay seller get rid of his hard-won collection? In prior Ebay auctions, sellers have variously commented: “I have a baby on the way, and we need the room and money” or “My new spouse made me get rid of….” or “I’ve enjoyed collecting these, but now I’ve decided to move on”. In this particular Ebay listing, however, the Seller was silent.
● Valuation: For such a vast collection (over 500 items), how does the free market determine value? The general definition of valuation might be something like: “The amount of money for an item or service, at a given point in time, which a voluntary buyer is willing to pay to a willing seller.” Notice that in the Ebay listing, the Seller listed a “reserve amount” in order to protect against underbids and/or lack of interest.
● “Bible”: I love how the Seller describes his inventory as the “Bible” against which to itemize and document each action figure (item name; quantity; complete or missing parts; name of the collection series; etc.). I suspect most collectors keep such an inventory, catalog or “Bible”. I know I do.
● Age: This Ebay seller writes that he did not really begin his Star Wars collection until 1995, or during the “modern Hasbro” period. This fact tells me that the Seller likely was born in the 1980s to early 1990s (thus too young to have participated in the vintage collection period, 1977-1985) and is probably in his or her 30’s.
● Few Vintage Items / No Cardbacks or Boxes: While the collection was impressive, to me it wasn’t particularly “drool-worthy”, i.e., it didn’t offer really rare or vintage action figures and but a few vintage vehicles. Moreover, the items were loose. Where are the cardbacks the action figures came on? What happened to the vehicle boxes and inserts, such as catalogs? These are particularly valuable and would have boosted all values.
● Missing Weapons/Accessories: I’m guilty of this – and so, I suspect, are many other collectors: At some point, you may end up losing a blaster or comlink or other microscopically small accessory. The CARPET GODS (or, forbid, the vacuum cleaner) lay claim forever to these valuable parts. And so this Ebay listing, too, had a few figures missing their accessories.
● Time Ran Out: Finally, in the Ebay listing, the Seller writes that he customized some action figures, but he never got around to finishing others. In other words, time ran out. And this lesson of time is true for all collectors: At some point, no matter how big our dreams, time is finite. Your collection will never be “complete”. Your special projects will never be finished (or even started) because of other demands on your time. Life goes on, so enjoy the collecting process. “It’s all about the journey, not the destination….”