Smart Collecting: The Best Types Toys for Investing in 2023
The most apparent purpose of toys is for play, which is what makes them popular with kids. However, some toys function well as collectible pieces, bridging the gap between a hobby and an investment. Fans of classic comic book heroes from Marvel or DC, or even Star Wars, Harry Potter, and other iconic franchises can get their hands on figurines and limited edition toys.
For some, collecting toys is a way to embrace nostalgia, while others may appreciate certain toys simply due to their rarity. However, buying specific toys can also be a form of collectible investing. It's a similar idea to vintage gaming systems, comic book series, movie posters, baseball cards, or ancient coin collections. Given enough time and a bit of luck, you can even profit from valuable vintage toys.
This article will discuss how toys can become collectible investments and even reach the astronomical price tags of hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as provide some examples of the best toys to collect for investment.
What Is Toy Investing?
As alternative assets, collectible toys work similarly to real estate, bonds, and stocks. The primary difference is that investing in real estate or stocks is traditional and more widespread, and is often considered the more "mature" form of investing. Yet, just like there's value in mint condition sports or trading game cards, toys can be collectibles that will increase in value, too.
A toy whose original purchase price numbered in hundreds of dollars can find its way to auction houses a few decades later. And if it's in excellent condition, the toy's price can increase tens or even hundreds of times over. At that point, toys for collectors have become tangible assets.
The increase in value is connected with scarcity. A discontinued toy will become rare by nature. If the toy was released as limited edition and part of a set, the demand for it among passionate collectors will skyrocket eventually. Of course, this isn't the only factor that leads to certain toys being sold for millions of dollars. Let's explore what makes toys increasingly valuable and how they become among the best toys to collect for investment.
The Making of a Valuable Toy: Key Factors Influencing Toy Value
Not every old toy will be worth a fortune in an online auction. In fact, many toys end up less valuable than their initial cost due to deterioration and a lack of interest. For a toy to become valuable, several factors will have to line up: rarity, condition, pop culture relevance, and market demand. Here's what separates the best toys for investment from the chaff.
Rarity and Limited Editions
As we mentioned, rare items often reach unprecedented market prices. This is true for various asset classes, not only toys and similar collectibles. However, when it comes to toys, rarity is often a part of the manufacturing strategy. This is why limited-edition toys exist, and why they're most commonly the best collectibles to invest in.
A limited edition means a toy will be manufactured in fewer numbers (typically in low four figures or less) compared to the rest of the line. This, naturally, leads to the toy's scarcity in the market, making it especially sought-after among collectors. Since putting out limited editions has become a viable strategy for increasing the value of toys, many manufacturers have established this method as a tradition.
For example, Funko Pops regularly has exclusive toys only offered at Comic-Con. These are often bobbleheads of characters from famous franchises, which drives their value up even further. LEGOs are another good example of this practice, pushing out limited-edition sets every once in a while.
Of course, toys weren't the first collector's market that discovered limited editions. Every trading card collector knows about specific cards being released in very limited numbers, and the same is true for stamps.
Condition and Packaging
Regardless of its rarity, a toy won't net a good price in the market if it's not in great condition. This means the toy needs to have the least amount of damage possible. Ideally, collectible toys should be sold in mint condition, which means in the same state as they were when they left the factory. To that end, potential sellers try to keep their prized toys literally untouched, i.e., still in the original box. Ardent collectors fanatically value the mint-in-box or never-removed-from-box status on online auction houses or marketplaces as some of the best collectible investments.
The condition of a collectible toy will be examined to the smallest detail. If the toy is in its original packaging, it's not unusual for the condition of the box itself to be scrutinized. In some cases, smaller damage on the box can lead to a significant price reduction. This is true whether the damage is due to impact, scratching, or even completely natural causes like moisture or smoke (hence why some collectors request that toys come from a smoking-free home).
Handling and storage will be invaluable when trying to keep a toy in mint condition. Of course, avoiding mechanical damage will be the priority, but many collectors will go a step or two beyond handling their precious items with care. In some cases, toys will be kept under ideal conditions, making sure the temperature and air moisture are just right and keeping the toy away from direct sunlight.
All of the mentioned precautions may seem too much at first glance. However, if you want to keep your collection in perfect condition, paying attention to every detail might pay off significantly.
Nostalgia and Pop Culture Influence
Pop culture relevancy plays a major role in determining the market price for toys. In the case of such phenomena as Disney movies, Marvel, and Star Wars, almost any product related to those franchises gains value over time. The same is true for individual movies, TV shows, and other pop culture landmarks.
As beloved franchises become older, nostalgia begins to impact toy prices more and more. It makes a particular impact when the franchise in question is both long-lived and widely popular, but nostalgia can raise the prices of collectibles even for brands that have fallen into obscurity. In that case, it might be more a matter of emotional connection that collectors maintain to a franchise.
Demand in the Market
Finally, all other factors may not amount to much if there isn't enough demand for particular collectibles in the market. An old, rare toy in mint condition might end up selling for a low price if there's no one looking to buy it. On the other hand, the best toys to collect for investment might see a surge in pricing even if they're not especially rare but the demand for them keeps growing.
For an example of the latter, you need look no further than the Pokémon card craze. Pokémon cards made a significant impact on the market when they first showed up. However, their popularity started waning after the first several years. Although there were some rare collectibles from the start, there was a point at which Pokémon cards weren't worth all that much.
With the resurgence of the Pokémon brand, the situation changed completely. Suddenly, the value of Pokémon cards ramped up as collectors around the world couldn't seem to get enough of them. For instance, a Master Key card, produced in extremely limited numbers, was sold for over $21,000.
The Best Toys to Collect for Investment
When it comes to toy collections as investments, sticking to the tried brands is often the better way to go than trying to predict future trends. Simply put, big names often drive the most value. That's precisely why franchises like Star Wars, Barbie, Marvel, and G.I. Joe are still going strong in terms of collectibles.
In some cases, the value of toys belonging to the mentioned franchises may increase substantially within a relatively short period. For instance, the Marvel Legends Psylocke Crimson Dawn figure came out in 2006, yet its price reached $2,500 in less than two decades. Furthermore, the Marvel Legends series is still being produced today - far from a discontinued toy series.
On the other hand, early edition figures can gain massive value with time, as is the case with the famous Luke Skywalker action figure from 1978. This figure is today sold over online marketplaces for well over $17,000.
Investing in LEGO sets can be a profitable venture, especially for those with a passion for these iconic building blocks. Rare sets and those tied to popular franchises can fetch high prices. For example, a Carrie Fisher "Princess Leia" figurine sold for $3,520 in 2017. The value of LEGO sets often depends on their rarity, condition, and the popularity of the theme they represent.
Hot Wheels Cars
Hot Wheels cars have been a favorite collectible since their introduction in 1968. Rare models, especially those from the early years of production, can be worth a significant amount. The value of these miniature cars often depends on factors such as rarity, condition, and the model of the car. Investing in Hot Wheels cars can be a fun and rewarding venture for car enthusiasts and collectors alike.
Barbie dolls, since their introduction in 1959, have been a popular collectible and can be a lucrative investment. Rare and vintage Barbies, especially those in mint condition or in their original packaging, can fetch high prices. For instance, a #1 Ponytail blond Barbie in original packaging from 1959 sold for $27,450 in 2006. The value of Barbie dolls often depends on their condition, rarity, and historical significance.
Star Wars Action Figures
Star Wars action figures have been a popular collectible since the first film's release in 1977. Rare figures, especially those tied to popular characters, can be worth a significant amount. For example, a Rocket Firing Boba Fett toy sold for $185,850 in 2019. The value of these figures often depends on their rarity, condition, and the popularity of the character they represent.
G.I. Joe figures, often considered the male counterpart to Barbie dolls, have been a popular collectible since their creation in 1964 by Hasbro. These action figures can be a valuable investment, especially older models and limited editions. For instance, a hand-painted G.I. Joe prototype from 1963 sold for $200,000 in 2003, and a G.I. Joe Snake-Eyes figurine from 1982 sold for $26,400 in 2021. As with any collectible, the condition, rarity, and historical significance of the figure can greatly influence its value.
Quality Dolls and Teddy Bears
Investing in quality dolls and teddy bears can be a rewarding venture. These timeless collectibles, especially those with historical significance or from renowned brands, can fetch high prices. For instance, a black Steiff teddy bear was sold for over €100,000 at auction, and a #1 Ponytail blond Barbie in original packaging from 1959 sold for $27,450 in 2006. The value of these items is often determined by factors such as age, rarity, condition, and brand. A black Steiff teddy bear was sold for over €100,000 at auction.
Vintage Board Games
Vintage board games hold a unique charm and can be a surprising source of investment. Their value often lies in their nostalgia, rarity, and condition. First-edition games, in particular, can be worth a fortune. For example, one of the oldest and first Monopoly games, created by the inventor of the game in 1933, sold for $146,500 in 2010.
Pokémon cards can be a lucrative investment, especially rare and first-edition cards. The most valuable Pokémon card, the Pikachu Illustrator card, sold for $195,000 in 2019. The value of Pokémon cards often depends on their rarity, condition, and the popularity of the Pokémon they feature.
Are Funko Pops a good investment? Certainly, but you have to get the right ones.
Rare and exclusive Funko Pops can fetch high prices. For instance, the Dumbo (Clown) Funko Pop, released exclusively for San Diego Comic-Con in 2013, is now worth around $7,430. The value of Funko Pops often depends on their rarity, condition, and the popularity of the character they represent.
Ready to Invest in Joy? Explore ToyShnip's Treasure Trove Now
Investing in toys can be an excellent financial decision with great returns. Of course, you need to know what to invest in and what you can expect from your investment. The article above gave you a good idea of the best toys to collect for investment, providing insight into market trends.
If you're eager to start shopping for toys, ToyShnip may have precisely what you're looking for. Check out our offer and start assembling your collection today.
What are the best toys to invest in?
Some of the best collectibles to invest in currently include vintage action figures, video games, and board games. It's worth mentioning that unique LEGO sets also keep growing in value.
What toys will be worth money?
With new Comic-Con exclusives coming out every year, Funko Pop toys will probably gain value in upcoming years. Likewise, handheld consoles might turn out to be a worthwhile investment.
What is the best thing to collect for investment?
Apart from toys, any first-edition pieces are collectibles that will increase in value, and this applies to comics, books, games, toys, cards, and more. If you can get your hands on first-edition Harry Potter or A Song of Ice and Fire books, those titles could pay off handsomely. Other toys worth collecting now are probably anything that is limited edition and marginally popular, but there's always an element of luck involved.
What toys have the best resale value?
In average numbers, LEGO sets are likely the best choice in terms of resale value. Some toys may sell for more money individually, but LEGOs mostly either maintain their original value or, quite commonly, become more valuable over time.