Buying and selling collectibles almost art form

You’d be surprised what’s worth money

Both my twin brother and I have been into the movie Star Wars since it came out in 1977; we were in Grade 1, and were typical Star Wars kids.

We collected all the figures, vehicles, t-shirts, costumes, posters…you name it, we wanted it. And for the most part, my mom did her best to accommodate us. Some of my fondest memories as a kid involved waking up Christmas morning and running to the tree to see the Star Wars stuff Santa Claus brought us. I was always amazed at how Santa’s elves could make all of the Star Wars toys exactly the same way Kenner could.

Like a lot of first generation Star Wars fans, when I became a young adult in the mid-90’s, I began collecting again. This time, I was an adult with a pay cheque and could buy my own toys. Millions of other Star Wars fans the same age did the same thing, and a new Star Wars industry began at that time, continuing to this day.

I don’t collect Star Wars memorabilia anymore; George Lucas, the writer-owner-dictator of the original films, spent most of the early 2000’s insulting me, so I’ve sold off most of my collection and have the rest ready to go on eBay.

As a collector, I learned one basic rule that has two parts: an item that has high value will be something that’s in demand, and also uncommon or rare. Those two factors combine to make an item pricey. Good if you’re selling, bad if you’re collecting.

Buying items in a retail environment is always the best way to go. Buying from a specialty shop, eBay or Amazon will generally cost you too much money. For example, many new Star Wars items come out every week at places like Wal-mart and Toys R Us. If you buy at Wal-mart, you’ll save yourself some money.

There are exceptions to this rule, though. At a pawnshop a few years ago I saw a Nintendo video game that I knew was valuable; on eBay the game routinely sold for over $100 CAN. The pawnshop only wanted $10 for the game. I bought it, sold it online and walked away with about $110 profit.

Another time, I was in a secondhand video game store and saw a Playstation 2 game called “Rule of Rose,” published by a company called Atlus; games published by this company frequently increased in value because they don’t print many copies, and they’re usually high quality. Hence, high price. So I purchased this secondhand copy for about $16 and later found out it is one of the most valuable Playstation 2 games. I sold it for about $250 on eBay. The owner of the video game store didn’t know this game was valuable.

In my opinion, video games and items related to such are among the most profitable areas someone can get involved with right now. For example, I bought a figure a few years ago based on a video game called Bioshock for $20. I sold the item on eBay last year for $165, and it was only listed briefly. I probably should have priced it higher.

With interest in pop culture booming, almost anything could have value. For example, you might have at home some Spider-man toys from the 1960’s, some Six Million Dollar Man toys from the 1970’s or even some Dukes of Hazzard or Welcome Back Kotter stuff from the early 1980’s. Some of this could be quite valuable, some less so; again, it depends greatly on the demand and rarity.

If you’re curious what your items could be worth and have access to the internet, both Amazon and eBay can be helpful; on eBay, simply type a description into the search bar and similar items already on sale will pop up. Down the left-hand side, you can click a button that says “Completed items,” which shows similar items that already sold and the price they sold for. So now you generally know it’s worth.

Remember, if you take your collectible to a specialty shop, very rarely will you get top price, even if the storeowner understands the concept of integrity. They’re in business to make profit, and aren’t there necessarily to give you a fair deal.

Stu Salkeld is editor of The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.

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