Opinion

5 interesting surprises from a wife of a Collector

When my husband first introduced me to figures such as the ones in the Black Series and later Hot Toys, I must say that I was quite skeptical about his new collecting hobby. His collection started,  with a 30$ small figure collection, but soon evolved to the bigger the size 300$ Hot Toys. Nevertheless, I tried to approach this new world of collectors with an open mind. Here are 5 of my surprises along the discovery journey of living with someone who is a Hot Toys addicted collector:

  1. The box matters
My preciousss?

My first encounter with a Hot Toy was not with a Hot Toy. It was with its box, while watching some Youtube videos. I realized that most reviewers spent at least a minute talking about every single feature of the box. Box really matters. Really, they do! To be more precise, there are 2 levels of boxes: the brown shipper box and the actual figure box. We shall keep them all, as I soon discovered. However, I was in from a bigger surprise, some people are so obsessed with their figure boxes that in some way, for me, they seem to be as much as box collectors as figure collectors. I mean… figures stay in the boxes.  Therefore, to open it or not to open it,.. seems to be a trickier question than I first thought.

  1. The required level of artistry

Finally done with the box (I still cannot be excited about that), I was in for the biggest surprise, but a positive one: the level of artistry put into a Hot Toys figure and even more impressive to manage to produce it at scale! The advance spiderman suit had been seamed to a level of perfection that only by high-end jackets could seem to achieve, but on a tiny one-sixth scale. This was not some silly toy replica, but rather a perfect feat of balance between art and engineering. It not only moved in every possible way (even the toes!) but also had hand painted veins and freckles on the most impressive head sculpt (a word that I never knew existed before) I have ever seen. Similarly, to my favorite paintings, I surprised myself to discover slowly the sheer quantity of (obsessive) details which were put in such figures. From, the metal thread in Yoda cape allowing him to impressively fly in the wind, to the small impacts on the storm trooper armor: I discovered additional details every time I looked.

  1. Demanding purchaser

However, while I was impressed by the level of quality, not everyone was so. Reading comments at FB collector groups, I never met such demanding purchasers as Hot Toys collectors. Hearing the reviews, every part of the figure is carefully analyzed and reviewed. Not just the film accuracy but even the pre-launch prototypes versus the commercialized figures are meticulously compared and commented! The level of education and expectation of the Hot Toys collector is truly above anything I knew before. Certainly, no makeup addict I know would go into comparing the RGB of the ad of a lipstick launch compared to the RGB of the actual lipstick!

  1. Posing complexity

But we should not be talking about figures collection without figure posing and that again was more complex than it seemed. I thought everything would simply be standing straight. However, I soon discovered the beautiful subtilities of movement offered a world of possibilities. In fact, striking the perfect pose requires reaching a perfect balance of human realistic anatomic movement, but also engaging superhuman qualities. The collection could change often, not only in terms of heads of expressions, but also in terms of meaning or focus just by changing the position of some figures. A bit like an art curator in a museum, we found ourselves discussing the position and placement of even the tiniest aspects of the figure could truly impact the aesthetic of the entire collection. Most importantly, as curators, to choose carefully which to add to the collection. But I am digressing here, this can be a subject for another article.

  1. Meaning of a collection

Why does my husband collect? Is a question which popped into my worried wife’s mind. Were we facing a middle life crisis? Was this a substitute to vital unmet needs? When overthinking mode level 20,000 was reached, I decided to simply pop the question. To this, I received the most beautiful and surprising answer: to have in my hands a physical piece of my childhood fantasies. Isn’t this the best hobby a wife could hope for?

Are Hot Toys, Funkos and other collectibles really a great investment?

I have been reading in a few social networks, people talking about Hot Toys, Funkos, or Action figures in general as “investments”. As a professional in finance and a fellow collector, I can add my 2 cents for this conversation, without this becoming an academic paper : ) I will make an analogy with another exotic asset… wines and the super wines. Yes, wines, not wineries, which are definitely a type of investment.

First, a formal and less strict definition:

“A good definition of an investment is that it is deferred consumption. Any net outlay of cash made with the prospect of receiving future benefits might be considered an investment. So, investments can range from planting a tree to buying stocks to acquiring a college education.”

CAIA Association

In plain English. You would delay eating an apple today as to have more than one apple in a certain point in the future. So, benefits are that the asset becomes more valuable and/or that it produces something of value. As for deferred consumption, wine fits well because if you drink it… well no more investment : ) What about action figures in which the act to consume is taking it out of the box? Let us think about it. The only way for something to be considered an investment instead of an expense is if it produces a stream of revenue or due to scarcity, thus higher resale value than when you bought it. Even if the cost to operate it is higher than the value, it will be a bad investment, but still an investment. In addition, being expensive is not a requirement for anything to be considered an investment. There can be something expensive, well engineered, a beautiful piece of art, but be an awfully bad “investment” and vice-versa.

Thus, the capability to produce a stream of revenue and/or scarcity are enough to define the drivers of value for something to be considered an investment.

n this characteristic, the super wines hold well (it is not considered institutional-type investment, but this is out of the scope of this piece.). If a wine is considered extraordinary from a certain vintage and that it is exceedingly difficult for its producer to recreate it… well, you have scarcity. Same things for paintings (not printed, but man made and one off). There is limited supply and if demand increases for it… you have a boom in price.

This seems not to be the case of action figures in which the companies can produce the item at the same quality or even higher in the future due to technological developments. So less demand for your collectibles. The producers can finish scarcity at any time. This is the case for action figures. Just see recently the case of the Hot Toys – Iron Man Mark 47.

As for demand, you need to be sure that current and future collectors for your brand/figure are going to be in higher numbers than when you buy any figure. This is difficult to predict as it depends on many variables. Historical evidence shows that they will simply shift for the newer models instead of old ones in the long term.

Having said all that, it seems that there are opportunities to buy and sell for a profit in 1-5 years’ time frame since the launch of some products without being a flipper that takes the opportunity of actual collectors (looking at you Hasbro with the SW Black Series!). I will expand this another time.

Fellow collectors, collect! Just do not do it with the intent to sell it for a profit in the long term. It will very likely not happen.