We all know now that many of the younger generations have a thing for collecting toys, even if they are already adults. Heck, it’s highly possible that you may even know of an older person or two who are probably into their second childhoods, and very close to retirement, who still have the love for collecting toys.
However, before you think, “hey, I should get them a nice Lego samurai figure,” you should understand that when it comes to toys, you might be very unprepared for the cost and fanaticism that the big boys have.
First, let’s talk vintage. A lot of adult toy collectors, they have this thing for collecting the old toys that they used to have as kids – or conversely, toys that they didn’t have, or that their parents could not afford.
Now, if you’re thinking that it should be so easy, it isn’t. These toys are actually graded on how good their vintage feel is. If you’ve watched Toy Story, then you know what “mint in the box” means – unopened, unplayed with. And the closer a toy is to that ideal, the more expensive it gets.
To give you an idea: the old 1970’s Voltes V robot toy probably cost the equivalent of about 10,000 pesos in today’s money when it first came out. Sadly, you won’t be able to get a mint-condition Voltes V robot for anywhere near that price, unless you stumble upon one in some person’s attic, and that person does not know its value. You’d usually have to shell out somewhere in the twenty- to thirty-thousand range.
High-end action figures
One of the big-ticket collections for adults is one made of high-end action figures. Yes, if collectors were women, these would be called dolls, but realities being what they are, the term “high-end action figures” seem to be the most apt.
High-end action figures are not the size of Lego figures, or even of the classic 1980’s G.I.Joe figures that came in around three or four inches tall. These kinds of action figures are usually around eight to twelve inches tall (even taller), and usually have extremely detailed weapons, accessories, and even clothing. To be fair, while the majority of action figures in this niche are usually from science or fantasy fiction, there are some figures that come from sports and history.
When it comes to price, these action figures are very much variable in price – some can go for only a few thousand pesos, but others can skyrocket into the tens of thousands, even the higher-level tens of thousands.
And to answer if people actually play with these action figures, for many… they say they don’t. It’s a big question of what really happens behind closed doors, though. If you’re asking, too, about the idea of male adult collectors having Barbie doll collections, then yes, they do exist, and they have very extensive collections as well.
It would be wrong to think, though, that most of the “big boy” collectors in the Philippines are just into action figures and robots. Many of them also love vehicles – usually diecast toys of luxury sports cars. It’s no surprise that many gasoline stations have promos that offer limited-stock diecast cars, as many adult collectors will of course go into full “complete the collection” fever.
You have to be aware, though, that like action figures, diecast toy cars come in many sizes, from Matchbox cars that can fit in a pocket, to those that look like they need a rather large display case… in the garage.
Aside from diecast toys, you should also remember that a very high-end niche of adult vehicle collectors go for remote-control vehicles.
As can be expected, the price range of toy vehicles for the big boys can range anywhere from a few hundred pesos, to tens of thousands, depending on what kind of collection they have.
Model kits are a bit of a strange thing, in the sense that by nature, model kits should be static sculpture that have been assembled and painted, ready for permanent display. However, newer model kits, particularly those for science fiction robots and vehicles, are becoming more another version of toy vehicles or action figures. True, they will relatively be cheaper than a toy of the same type, but the allure of model kits is that they can be painted and accessorized according to either historical fact, or the builder’s imagination (depending on if it’s a fantasy or real-life model kit).
Buying multiple copies
Now, as if it wasn’t bad enough that budget is needed for these kinds of collections, you also have to be aware that having only one of the collectible item may not always be a good idea. For many collectors, there is a “multiple” rule, normally around three.
That’s because one will be removed from the box and played or displayed, another one will go into personal storage, and another one will be stored for future selling (hopefully, enough to offset the cost of acquiring three of the same thing!). If you think that no one will buy another copy of a toy, then you’re really not paying attention. Practically whole floors of places like Greenhills are devoted to toyshops that cater to the high-end collector crowd.
How to shop for the adult collector
The easiest way to go about it would be to simply have the money with you – and then tell them how much budget you do have, and then ask them to take you to the shop, so you can buy it from them. The online version of this is making sure you have a Paypal account ready to buy from an online shop.
However, if you want it to be a surprise, then you will have to do one of the following: you either make sure you have some fellow collectors as your friends, or you keep on listening to his conversations about his collections, to figure out which one he likes.
If that sounds like generic advice, you should take into account that they may even be looking for a particular production run. For example, with high-end toy robots, it’s not surprising to find out that later production runs may have better joints, owing to problems that have been addressed in the first run. It really depends on what your friend or loved on prefers to collect – and it gets even more complicated if they are completists, as you’ve have to think about “black” versions, and even color variants.
Just remember, when you are looking for something that an adult collector will love to have on display (or stored in his private collection), the best way to go about it is to think of the item as similar to a book or piece of china, rather than a toy. That way, you’ll get an idea of how powerful the lure is for adult toy collectors.