For those getting into the hobby of collecting Star Wars toys in Singapore, here are some things to take note of so you don’t waste your money.
With Disney taking over the Star Wars license, the market is now flooded with merchandise. Over the past week, we spoke to several Star Wars toy collectors about what difference this makes, and the answer is “a lot”.
For those you who are just getting into the hobby of collecting Star Wars toys in Singapore, here are some things you need to take note of.
Disney and the Star Wars Toy Market
Star Wars used to be one of the “blue chip” names in toy collecting. That is, the name is so well established, the value of rare Star Wars toys seldom changes. This mostly remains true…for the old Star Wars toys.
With Disney now holding the license, there are plans to bombard cinemas with one Star Wars movie after another. This means the market will be flooded with Star Wars merchandise, many of which will be mass produced.
This is in stark contrast to the Star Wars toy market of previous decades, in which products were fewer, and released in more limited quantities. As a result, there are a few factors would-be collectors must consider:
Many “Collector’s Edition” Pieces are Not Actually Collectibles
Toy companies no longer cater just to children. Many are now aware that adults form a large part of the market, especially those who are into collectibles. This has led companies to specifically market certain toy lines as “limited edition” or “collectible”, while at the same time producing them in massive quantities.
Note that “limited edition” just means the company will not produce it beyond a certain point. It does not indicate how many of that particular toy will be produced. If well over a million pieces are manufactured, then the toy is common and probably won’t be valuable, even if it is limited edition.
Unfortunately for Star Wars collectors, there are now multiple toy lines, from manufacturers as diverse as Hot Wheels to Lego to Hasbro, that all have some kind of limited edition or collector series labels. Take these with a pinch of salt whenever you see them.
The Glasslite, Kenner and Lego Series are the Most Reliable in Holding Value
Among the older Star Wars toys, the ones by Glasslite and Kenner hold the best value. They’re rare because they’re no longer produced, and over the past four decades many have been lost or damaged.
In the past, such as the late ‘80s, toy distribution was also not as efficient (there was no internet industry, in which buyers ordered from all over the world). This resulted in some oddities, like the infamous Glasslite Tie Fighter (1988) which was sold only in Brazil (current value about S$3,000).
The problem with these toys is that they probably aren’t investments: by the time you buy them today, they have already appreciated in price.
Among the newer sets, most of the valuable pieces are produced by Lego (this is the best bet for new collectors). Unlike many current toy companies, Lego is quite serious about keeping exclusive or limited edition pieces rare.
The Less Famous Characters are Often Worth More
Between Luke Skywalker and a Jawa, which toy do you think is worth more?
If you think it’s Skywalker because he’s the protagonist, you’re way off. One of the most valuable figures right now is a Jawa from Kenner, which cost around S$18,000. Other valuable figures include a Gammorean Guard, and a Death Star Commando (that’s right, they don’t even have names), which go for about S$7,000.
The reason is simple: few children begged their parents to buy them generic characters, like a Jawa or Palace Guard or Death Star trooper. Most children at the time would have wanted the famous characters. As a result, more of those particular toys survived today.
On the other hand, the generic characters (which collectors need to finish their sets) probably sold only a handful. Toy companies at the time also produced fewer such figures, as they knew demand would not be as high.
There are Many Knockoffs on Sites Like eBay
Scam artists have been quick to capitalise on the Star Wars toy market. It’s gotten to the point that now, some serious collectors flat out refuse to buy anything they can’t inspect in person.
Currently, Taobao has this problem, but they are far from the only site where this happens. Scammers don’t just fake new toys – some go so far as to make cheap replicas of the original, and then artificially treat them with chemicals to pass them off as real collectibles (e.g. bleaching figurines to make them look sun-worn).
Avoid high-cost purchases if you cannot inspect the toy in question.
The Condition of the Box Matters
The condition of the box can affect the toy’s value by as much as a whopping 20%. In fact, some eBay auctions are for just the empty boxes alone, such is the importance that collectors place on them.
When you are buying something today, it’s worth taking the time to inspect the edges and window of the box. Ensure the plastic window is not discoloured (especially if the toy has been sitting near a window), and that the box is not scratched.
Most collectors will double check the areas where tape or price tags are pasted. These spots are often damaged, due to the removal of the sticky tape or tag.
Buying Brand New? Use a Cashback Credit Card
Star Wars toys in Singapore can cost anywhere from S$20 to several hundred dollars. You can get a small discount off your purchase when you use the right cashback credit card to buy them. Ideally, you want to use a card that doesn’t require a minimum spend or have a cashback cap. That way, you can maximise your savings without forcing yourself to spend hundreds of dollars.
One good example is the Standard Chartered Unlimited Credit Card, which gives 1.5% cash rebates on any purchase, with no minimum spend required. Apply through SingSaver.com.sg before 30 April 2017 to also get a S$100 Takashimaya voucher when your card gets approved.
If you prefer a different card, SingSaver.com.sg’s comparison tools can help you find a great cash rebate credit card.
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By Ryan Ong
Ryan has been writing about finance for the last 10 years. He also has his fingers in a lot of other pies, having written for publications such as Men’s Health, Her World, Esquire, and Yahoo! Finance.