Have you ever had the collecting blues? I’m not sure if it’s going around, but I know some other people who have had it, so keep an eye out for it.
Lately, I’ve just been really down in regards to the collecting community, and I’m going to blame the biggest, easiest target: social media. I’ve been participating in a lot of Facebook groups for collectors and they have really bummed me out. I’ve always thought that the collectors I have met were pretty good people, and not among the great unwashed that many might think we are. I’ve always enjoyed trading with others with the idea that both parties get something fun to add to their own collection. But man, it seems like no one is in it for the collecting anymore, and everyone is just interested in making a profit.
I know this isn’t the reality, but in the places I’ve been hanging out online, it certainly seems to be the case. If you’re not familiar with the Facebook collecting communities, they are basically groups of people interested in a broad or specific topic (e.g. Vintage Wrestling Action Figures), where people can post photos or questions about items that fall under that particular topic. Most of these groups are filled with posts of people wanting to sell their items. I have absolutely no problem with this, and in fact, have sold a few items in this manner. There are some big advantages to this — it’s fast, easy, and saves you from paying eBay fees. At least that’s how it is when everything goes smoothly, but God forbid, your package gets delayed at the post office or in customs — if this happens to you, expect to have your name, address, phone number, and personal photos blasted across the group along with any number of colorful descriptive words about your mother. And when the package eventually does arrive, it probably won’t even be acknowledged.
There are some real ugly people in these groups, and I’m not talking about their profile pictures. If someone innocently asks a “stupid” question, the responses are jaw dropping. I don’t want to know these people virtually or in real life. Honestly, I’m not even comfortable being associated with them by being part of the same group. Oh, and if you’re an attractive female posting in these groups, I’m sorry.
These Facebook groups seem to be populated with scammers, hoping to take your money and run. There is no protection here, like what you would get with an eBay transaction. You are sending money to a complete stranger and hoping for the best. Risky business indeed. If someone could develop an escrow service or something to take away the risk, he would make millions — or lose it all to the scammers.
My other big problem with these Facebook groups is that the biggest players in the groups are typically sellers who have physical storefronts or booths at toy shows. These guys constantly troll the groups and buy up any reasonably-priced item. Guess what happens to those items? They are sold to all of us collectors at a higher price at their next toy show. As collectors, we are doing a disservice to ourselves by selling to these guys, but the promise of a quick buck is impossible to resist. Many of these dealers even have the audacity to buy an item in a FB group and then offer it for sale a few weeks later in the same group at an inflated cost.
I understand that if someone wants to sell an item at a certain price, dealers have every right to buy the item, but you HAVE to know that the dealer is going to sell the item for more than you’re asking. These dealers are running a business and have working capital to put towards their stock, which is just business. They have no problem dropping hundreds of dollars a day, buying up any high-value toy regardless of what it is. While the collector will focus on a single product or line, the resellers will buy it all, jack up the price, and then offer it at a higher price. It’s just frustrating. (Insert whiny baby sound effect here.)
I know that scalpers aren’t new, but it’s really been dragging on me lately. Yes, I could just quit the groups, but the reality is that I have learned a lot by being part of them, and every so often, there is a good deal to be made. It’s all just depressing and sucking a large portion of the fun out of collecting for me. I want to interact with fellow collectors who are passionate and excited as I am about the items we bring into our homes. Oh well, I know I’m not going to change the world with a rambling rant, but maybe someone else out there feels the same way.
Have you ever questioned the company you keep? yuck. Oh, and if you choose to leave a foul-mouthed scathing comment about how I should take my thumb sucking self elsewhere, I’ll be happy to delete it… because I can.
What you speak of is very true. Most “collectors” now just buy to resell. I have seen folks resell items even before the product is in hand via an online purchase. Very strange time indeed. The ironic part is folks buying up at high prices truly believe the item will hold its value.. Or increase. So the cycle continues.
I love the buying and preserving vintage horror comics. The artwork and history is amazing. I am thankful that the other folks who collect E.C. are very kind old school collectors whom shy away from the “my collection is better social BS”
You know, I think the age of the items plays into this to a great degree. The groups I am in that focus on vintage items tend to be populated with “vintage” guys, who seem to respect the items and each other more. Hop in to a group that focuses on modern action figures, and it’s a world of difference. These groups are probably 99% resellers who are happy to fill their carts with every hard to find item they can find, and then boast about it online. Makes me glad I don’t buy many new items!
It’s mostly the modern collectibles that are bringing in uninformed folks looking for a quick buck. Resellers speculate on items that will be in demand and sell at a “peak time” Almost like stocks.
Here’s what you will see in most modern collectible forums
“I’m holding out for $500″ … ” dump it before the sequel ” ….. ” I don’t know why I bought this” …
The Rebel says
I hear you man. I had a rather unpleasant experience with a seller thru a facbook page some years ago. After paying for 4 0r 5 MOTU classic figures, the seller went all silent with me. After much harrassing and pushing later only then he agreed to refund. That was a real let down for me….*shucks*.
It’s eBay or amazon only for me from then on.
eBay may have its downsides for selling, but its built-in safeguards for buying are definitely a good thing. I know Amazon has a new “collectibles” section, but the prices i’ve seen in there for vintage items are ludicrous. I’ve had some luck finding vintage toys on Etsy too — the sellers there are usually not collectors or scalpers, but just people looking to sell things they found in their attic.
The Toy Box says
It was absolutely sickening to me the other day at Toys R’ Us. There was a guy in there (who looked like one of the unwashed) with his kid. The kid couldn’t have been more than ten years old. Anyway, his kid was excited about the toys saying, “Hey dad, look at this one!” To which his dad did, and promptly replied, “That’s not worth anything.”
As the two continued down the isle, they stopped at the wrestling figures. The dad said, “Someone sold one of these the other day for a lot of money!” He then proceeds to whip out his phone, and presumably check to see if the toy still had secondary market value.
As I said, it was sickening.
Here you have a father who is teaching his son that the only value to toys is their monetary value. Heaven forbid this child be allowed to simply enjoy playing with them. I looked at the guy, he looked at me, and I said, “Absolutely disgusting,” and walked past him out of the store.
Yuck. My kids and I love to sift through the Hot Wheels looking for the “coolest’ cars, but often have to wait for the scalpers with the smartphones to finish going through the pegs.
The “scanners” are the reason I gave up on book collecting a few years ago. Every time you go into a used bookstore, you see people scanning the barcode of every book on the shelf, researching the going rate on Amazon.
The Toy Box says
I will admit that a lot of times it is our fellow collectors that are allowing this type of behavior to happen. If the “Gotta Have It Now” people would just calm down, and wait for it to hit store shelves, then scalpers would stop buying them up when the money well dried up.
Unfortunately when you have people who will pay $50.00 for something that literally just came out, then we as a community of collectors only compound our own frustration, because we’re telling scalpers that it’s okay that they do this because we’ll pay anything for them to do the leg work for us – I won’t, but a lot will.
I learned a long time ago that there is a fine line between “collector and “investor.” I started in comic books a long time ago. My dad passed on his collection to me when I was 8. During the 90s I got caught up in the whirlwind and I was one of those… The one that bought multiple copies of X-Men #1, tons of copies of all the Image comics, buying every #1 issue released every week. I wanted to be that guy that could retire off the millions I would make selling these books later. Yeah, right. I had crossed from collector to investor. It was a dark time. You would think I would’ve learned my lesson, but no. SW:TPM was on its way and I bought multiples of every figure released. It’s true what they say, the dark side is easier. I had to quit collecting cold turkey. I’m finally back to collecting, but it is very specific stuff.
I used to be part of the comic book groups in FB. But I learned that, like you said, that there are some that just suck the fun out of collecting. I just now stick to eBay and my local toy and comic shops.
It really is amazing how similar the current action figure craze is to what comic book collecting was in the early 90’s. Thankfully, I was out of comics when the variant madness hit in the 90’s, but I am very slowly starting to get back into it now that I can finally get those older comics that I could never find/afford as a kid.
John gaither says
Am not on Facebook but i do use Instagram and do some trading on there but i keep it limited to a small group of folks and i have yet to buy anything…and there are scammers on there too but for the most part everyone has been great.
Glad to hear you’ve found some good people to deal with. I know you like to make a good trade! 😉
Derek Ash (The Goodwill Geek) says
What a shame. I remember making a few great finds on Facebook where people were willing to meet up and sell me old GI Joe or TMNT stuff. I got some great deals, and I genuinely feel like both parties went away feeling like no one got screwed over.
But it’s almost impossible to do this now. No one can see past the bigger better price tag. So I don’t bother anymore. I think to an extent I am lucky I live in Maine. The community is present but smaller here. I have a good chance of actually getting the newer stuff I Want when it hits. I also find a TON of good stuff secondhand because a lot of people here don’t want to mess with trying to sell stuff off the way they do elsewhere. A lot of great old stuff gets donated. My biggest competition in that respect are the folks who sell stuff in flea markets or antique shops. They tend to pick the same places I do. But I still make out like a bandit and I try to spread the good stuff around as much as I can to the folks I think will truly appreciate it. I wish more trades went that way.
Derek, you definitely have the golden touch when it comes to thrift stores! I’ve run across dealers at antique stores and auctions before. It’s never been a big problem though because they can’t pay retail and make a profit. It’s actually kind of fun going up against the dealers in an auction setting, because when they stop bidding, you know you made a good buy if you don’t get bid up by anyone else.
The Toy Box says
I was actually just reminded of a time on GPK Underground – a forum for Garbage Pail Kids collectors – where someone had sent me one bonus card of the latest set at no cost. It was nice of the person, and I really did appreciate it.
Unfortunately just a few short weeks later I decided that I had reached my limit of GPK collecting, and it was time to part with them. Much like comic books of the 90’s, the series had gone ridiculously crazy with variant and chase edition cards to the point that collecting anything GPK related for me was more so frustrating than fun.
Being the cold turkey kind of guy I am, the whole collection went up for sale.
Shortly after the sales, I get this nasty hate mail from the guy who sent me the bonus card mentioned above. He’s all but cursing my very existence for taking his card, only to sell my collection. Mind you, I don’t even know this guy beyond him contacting me on a forum and telling me he’s happy to send the card, nor does he know my circumstances or reasoning behind selling my collection. He’s just attacking me because…Well, he’s an a-hole.
Long story short (too late for that, right?), it’s people like this who contribute to killing collecting. They’re just miserable people who want to spread their negativity across the collecting community. Personally, I’d take a scalper over a douche any day.
It seems like people really do jump to the worst conclusions without a thought. The personal attacks I’ve seen just make me cringe — one went so far as to ask if anyone in the group lived near this guy, could they pay him a visit in person — and some people offered to do it!
The Toy Box says
That’s just vile.
That Facebook Batman Collectors group that we both belong to has a strict no sale or trade policy for this very reason. Too many possibilities for bad blood and hurt feelings. It is simply a forum for sharing collections and information. I think it works pretty nicely.
It absolutely does. I haven’t been a member long but this is definitely one of the better groups for collecting — it’s focused and populated by serious, knowledgable collectors.
Unfortunately, the anonymity of the internet seems to breed this type of behavior from people. You can be sure that (most of) these people wouldn’t be so rude or try to swindle you, if they were face-to-face with you.
I mostly stick to a select group of people (yourself included) that interact with, via blogs/Twitter/Instagram.
Agreed. I’ve had so much fun trading with people I’ve met through our blogs, that’s why the FB group interactions are so jarring.
I’ve enjoyed that nice warm bubble but there’s a big tub of dirty bathwater out there. 😉
George (GI Jigsaw) says
I am not on any Facebook groups except the ReAction Figure Fans. It’s the Rebelscum/Cool Toy Review Forums that get me down. People taking things way too seriously. I understand it is our hard earned money we are spending, and demand a quality product, but it gets so negative. Seriously, makes you wonder whether we earn some of the stereotypes? Ugh!
You don’t like what a company does?….start your own toy company.
I stay on cause I still get good information.
Matt K says
Facebook really is garbage. The toy groups are filled with hateful snobby people. Instagram is where it’s at!