Tips For Starting Your Nerdy Collection


By Billy Fulton
I wish I started my collection earlier. I wish I’d known toy collecting was a thing. Yet somehow, I am in a perfectly fine place with my collection. It just would have been easier when I was younger. I learned the hard way about collecting, so my hope is that this article can help you kick start your collection (whatever it may be you want to collect), by giving you some of the important things I learned along the way. If you read nothing else, just know this all boils down to two things: patience and budgeting.
The first thing you need to know is to start very specific. The first pieces of my collection came from subscription boxes, and I tried to collect pieces of the series I was getting in those boxes, but ultimately, that wasn’t satisfying. If you want to get serious about starting a collection, you have to have a passion for what you are getting into acquiring. My first piece in my current collection was the Palisades Dr. Mayhem and the Electric Teeth playset with the full band. The Muppets Palisades figures were items I’d been eyeing for a while. Had I know how collectible these things were going to be, I would have purchased them when they came out the early 2000s. Since then, they have skyrocketed in price (the Backstage playset with Rowlf the Dog can routinely sell on eBay for more than $300). Once I knew that this was the line I wanted to start with, I began to take things seriously. I liked the figures when I first saw them online. I loved them as soon as I had some in my hands.
This brings me to my next point: Have a lot of patience. I could have bought the playset for $70 online whenever I wanted, but I held out and got a better deal, oddly through Craigslist.  The playset itself is packaged with only Animal, but I was able to pull a deal to get the full band for $50. This was an absolute steal. Certain variations of some of the band members got for over that by themselves. While I didn’t get any rare variations, this was still a great deal.
(Side point: unless you want to be super-serious about completing a whole set, leave the variations alone. They are usually over-priced and the only difference is a paint job. Unless you’re getting a totally different pose or take on the item, stick to the main sets.)
Build connections within the community you are trying to collect. I bought my Electric Mayhem playset from a gentleman who had boxed all these toys up and they’d been collecting dust in his garage. He told me if I ever find that I need a piece that I can’t find to contact him. I have since purchased two other figures from him. Follow the Fan Pages on Facebook or collectors on Twitter. When collectors decide to get out of collecting they usually offer their items up to these groups first, and at a premium because they know you care about the items they spend their money on and have appreciated for so long.  
Use eBay as a last resort, not a first stop. Yard sales, comic shops, flea markets, peddlers malls, etc. All of these are great options for finding these items, yard sales, specifically because they are often sold at a fraction of the eBay cost. My main reasoning for this point is the cost of shipping. eBay allows sellers to set the handling cost of an item to whatever they want. This is where experienced sellers will get your money back if an item seems like a great deal. My rule of thumb is to only buy from eBay if I’m getting free shipping, that way I’m not paying extra for an item. Buying a common Funko Pop on eBay for $5 is a good deal, but then factor in that they’ve charged you $4 for shipping and you’re basically paying retail. I’m also of the mind that I’d rather support a local business than use an online retailer, plus when you buy it in person, it just feels more special. There’s a story there beyond “Well, I was searching for it online, and I found it.”
Lastly, budget. Don’t blow everything on collecting. Yes, things are nice, but so is food and shelter. This goes hand in hand with patience. Take your time, spend your money wisely. Good things come, at good deals, in time.
My collection has been a work in progress of the past three years. It’s the time that really makes me appreciate what I have built. My interests have changed over time as well. I’ve moved from figures to comics to art, but all the while I still appreciate the items I’ve collected, the stories they have tied to them, and joy they bring me. That’s why I collect, and I suggest before you start, you consider your “why” as well.

    One Comment

  1. Larry WeaverOctober 12th, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    I like the suggestion to build connections with the community you are trying to collect. There’s a figure of a Funko Doctor Who Clara pop vinyl online that I would like to get to complete my collection, but have had trouble to find a good deal on it. Perhaps connecting with the Funko pop vinyl figure community, as well as the Doctor Who community, I’ll be able to find resources for expanding my collection.

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