Hot Collectibles Market Turns Toys Into Serious Business

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ROCHESTER — Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, these are the exorbitant prices of vintage toys and collectibles!

Retailers say they are still seeing COVID-fueled interest in vintage toys, comic books, sports cards and trading card games.

“People had more time, extra income from (stimulus) checks and people started using that as disposable income,” said Brad Vigesaa, co-owner of pop culture and comic book store Nerdin Out. .

While the spread of the virus has subsided for now, most collectibles remain in high demand and, with that demand, have high prices.

For business partners Scott Bacon and Aaron Ringer, high prices and strong demand have resulted in high volume sales. The two opened Midwest Vintage Toys next to the video game store and Machine Shed arcade in November.

“Let’s be real, the pandemic has been a dark time,” Bacon said. “You can find comfort in those memories.”

“I think it reignited a passion for people’s childhoods,” Ringer said.

Strong demand and high prices have led to high trading volume for the pair. They sell about 150 toys and figurines per week. Most of them are sold and mailed through their eBay store.

Aaron ringer, left, checks his phone to see what accessories go with a toy being held by Scott Bacon, right. The two owners of Midwest Vintage Toys were sorting through a collection of toys they had acquired on March 21, 2022 to sell in their store.

John Molseed / Post Bulletin

When they’re not matching the action figures and toys to their accessories and packaging them to sell, the two are on the hunt for childhood collectibles to buy.

“So many people don’t realize what’s in their attic,” Bacon said.

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“Masters of the Universe” action figures, originally introduced in 1982 by Mattel, are placed in a trash can to be sorted at Midwest Vintage Toys.

John Molseed / Post Bulletin

After the business partners purchased a Bloomington man’s childhood toy collection, the two had several bags to sort through on Monday night. The toys will be sorted by gender, bagged and sold. Bacon pointed to a bin of various toys, including smaller Transformers that he said will likely take 40 hours to sort through.

It’s hard work, but fun work, Bacon said. He compared it to going through toys at a neighbor’s or friend’s house.

“You don’t want to take the fun out of it,” Bacon said.

Bacon and Ringer match the toys to their accessories and check the condition of each. Accessories that could be lost or broken, as well as condition, dictate the price, they said. The two buy and save as many toy accessories as possible so they can sell complete figures, which means more money.

If pandemic shutdowns and anxiety have sparked interest in collectibles, will there be a price and demand bubble?

Ringer said most collectibles markets tend to follow 15-year cycles of boom and bust.

Both have seen other collectible markets rise and fall. Bacon’s father ran a baseball card store and Ringer’s mother was an antique dealer and his father collected John Deere toys.

Vigesaa said he already sees a declining market for sports cards and some collectible card games. Toys could also follow this trend, he said.

“Do I see collectible stores going as crazy as they are in three or four years? Not really,” Vigesaa said. children to buy.”

Higher prices could also frustrate younger sports card collectors.

Craig Cotten, who took over the Book Review, a comic book, card and game store in 2008, said he saw cycles of interest in collecting sports cards. Currently, prices for boxes of unopened card packs have more than doubled year over year, Cotten said. He estimates that the number of collectors he works with now has tripled.

While this created a new network of collectors and enthusiasts, it made collecting more difficult for younger, casual collectors to enter the hobby, Cotten added.

“Rising interest has in turn driven prices up, making it difficult for kids to get into the hobby,” he said.

Bacon said young collectors losing interest in toys might not happen so dramatically this cycle. He said interest in collecting tin toys surged decades ago after adults who played with them had an interest in rebuilding their childhood collections. Most adults have never played with these toys and their interest has waned.

Today, many of the toy lines he remembers as a child continue and spark new interest among younger generations. Bacon’s 8-year-old son is interested in He-Man, which originally came out in the 1980s. Star Wars toys are always in high demand and new films and TV series mean the franchise is attracting more fans every year.

Vigesaa agreed that could be a factor for some toys.

“If a kid walks into Transformers now that they’re young, they might go down that rabbit hole and say, ‘Wow, they made this Optimus Prime that’s now worth $1,000,'” he said.

However, reproductions of older toys and counterfeit accessories made by now nearly ubiquitous 3D printers could turn away casual collectors.

Vigesaa says he sees a safer investment in collectibles in vintage comics. The books are fragile, they are few in number and even if they are reprinted, it is clearly marked on the publication.

“Key issues in certain comic book lines are getting harder and harder to find,” he said.

Recently a customer brought in the first issues of “The Silver Surfer” which debuted in the late 1960s.

“It’s probably one of the coolest feelings in the world to see this come through the door,” Vigesaa said. “It’s a piece of history.”

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Aaron Ringer, co-owner of Midwest Vintage Toys, 11 Second St. NE, carries a bin of toys he acquired Monday, March 21, 2022.

John Molseed / Post Bulletin

Vintage toys and collectibles are in high demand, which means they have high prices. While not all toys are in great condition or command a high retail price, even incomplete action figures have some value. These are high value gems that could be collector’s dust in anyone’s home.

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