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Toy collectors turn their hobby into an investment opportunity


  • While traditional investments such as stocks and real estate are more common, some people view vintage toys as a unique, fun, and potentially profitable asset class.
  • For many, investing in toys is often above all a hobby and a passion.

Lau Teck Kheng of time spent collecting

CNBC

SINGAPORE — For Singapore-based Lau Teck Kheng, his passion for toys has turned into a thriving business.

Lau started selling vintage figurines with his friends on Sundays in 2005, while working full time as a technician.

“For a lot of us born in the 1970s, we weren’t rich enough to buy a lot of toys, but now we’re in our 40s, we have a little money, so we try to buy back some souvenirs “, did he declare. told CNBC.

“When sales started to gain traction with customers, I decided why not, I’d try doing this full time.”

Since opening its physical store in downtown Singapore 15 years ago, revenue has grown slowly but steadily.

His store, Past Time Collectable, sells collectibles from hit franchises such as Ultraman, Macross, Robotech, MASK and Power Rangers and prices range from $4 to $3,800.

While traditional investments such as stocks and real estate are more common, some people view vintage toys as a unique, fun, and potentially profitable asset class.

For many, investing in toys is often above all a hobby and a passion.

Action figure collector Dennis Pek has collected more than 2,000 toys over the past two decades.

He has scoured flea markets, online websites, auctions and stores around the world in search of beloved collectibles from his favorite shows.

Dennis Pek figurine collector

CNBC

He told CNBC that he was only reselling to reorganize and update his collection.

“I probably have about $80,000 invested in my collection, but I mostly do it because I love it,” he told CNBC.

“But I guess the value of these items together, they’re worth a lot and they’re kind of an asset for the future.”

He believes the value of used toys comes from how the figures are preserved and the uniqueness of the pieces, especially sets that were initially produced in very small quantities.

Collectors often seek out items still in their original packaging, with some finding joy in simply owning the box.

“Some people buy the toys and don’t even open them,” Lau says. “They say they just feel happy to see the box and have the things inside.”

Chang Yang Fa, founder and CEO of MINT Museum of Toys, has more than 50,000 collectibles, of which around 10% are on display at his museum in central Singapore.

Chang spoke to CNBC about the generational shifts in collecting preferences he’s observed. “Different eras collect different items, but generally speaking, most popular toys are character toys,” he said.

He added that vintage toy collecting began to take off in the early 20th century and loyal fans continue to seek out toys from major franchises such as Marvel or Naruto, as well as more “niche” films and shows. “.

Chang Yang Fa of the MINT Toy Museum

CNBC

“Like Star Wars or Barbie, people want to repurchase memorabilia and that creates demand in the reseller market,” Chang said.

“Also, the (Covid-19) pandemic, where more people were working from home. I think many wanted to make their workspaces a little more conducive and so decorate and buy things like figurines etc., creating a little trend. of children buying more toys for themselves.”

Adults, or “kidults,” are driving the growth in sales of new toys.

Data from consultancy firm Circana, formerly NPD, revealed that people aged 18 and over accounted for 14% of US toy sales for the 12 months to September 2022 – this figure saw an increase of 19% compared to 2021.

“There is a synergy between vintage toys and modern relaunches such as GI Joe, Masters of the Universe, Strawberry Shortcake, etc.,” said James Zahn, editor-in-chief of “The Toy Book” and editor-in-chief of “The Toy Book.” The toy insider.

Zahn said Mattel’s Eternia Masters of the Universe playset, which sold for about $100 new in the 1980s, now costs an average of $5,000 in its original box. The product is so sought after that Mattel launched a crowdfunding campaign last year to produce a new version that will ship in 2024.

Correction: This story has been updated with the correct spelling of Lau Teck Kheng’s name.

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