I have been rewatching the first two seasons, and watching the missing third ones the past few weeks of the well known (in geeky circles) series of Toy Hunter.
In this series, Jersey toy dealer Jordan Hembrough, travels the States (and some foreign destinations) to hunt and find the holy grails of vintage toys, and how he fares with them on conventions.
Of course, the show is scripted. Nobody wants to watch half an hour of flipping boxes and turn up nothing.
Though I could live with half an hour of Julia-ness ;-)
But the show does bring forth some incredible insights into older toy ranges, and even though the real big sellers are either prototypes (which are nigh impossible to get even back then) or big play sets in mint condition (which kids back in the day didn`t buy with the idea of leaving it 30 years in the box), there are also those more normal finds.
You see, one of the lessons anyone intrested in that sort of business side of collecting, is that you don`t have to get the big box out of quality, but out of quantity. He often buys really old mint on card toys for like 25 dollars, hoping to sell them for like 40 or 50. Not the 100+ people tend to be getting in their heads.
And that brings us to the problem here in Belgium. We are in the unique position here in western europe to have access to both sides of the international toy market, namely the cartoons from our childhood of around the 80s, like He-Man and consorts, on the one side, but also all the great things coming out of Japan in the recent years.
This does however also bring with it the downside that the market, which is small to start with as Belgium is a little petite country, is limited. Resulting in people often thinking they have seen the light, and hoping they can make 1000s of euros of their not even mint toys.
One of the current rages is a sort of walking robot raptor for example. It sells in toystores for around 50 new in box, but still eBay here and sortlike add sites are flooded with the beasts second hand, and double in price. It isn`t even vintage, it`s about 6 months old...
The other problem is the hard climate for enterprising souls in Belgium. The paperwork and taxes are so sickening high here, that someone wanting to open a toy store or a collectibles store is doomed before it starts. You have the retail chains like Bart Smit, who can carry that load, but for the small individuals store, the water is high because you just don`t have that many people `into` toys that carry an even average price tag, and then those that you have are divided most of the time between the american and the japanese styled toys.
And the lack of a `convention culture` doesn`t help that much either of course...
Where the average professional toy hunter can travel around the states for both `digs` (the term that got popular due to the series for digging through people`s stash of what they want to sell) and for all sorts of small and big toy conventions, here we are limited for example in Flanders to 2, one each half year (Antwerp Con and FACTS), and you tend to see the same people with their often same sickly inflated prices. For example, 50 euro for a MASK Raven missing a door and the figs helmet is no oddity...
Surely you can find good collections and old toys here, but that is usually at Flea Markets (hello my 3 euro costing set of 3 Beast Wars transformers) but they are usually used, incomplete, and well, you just have barely any possibility to actually sell them off again.
It are just some mind spins I have been putting down above, but in the end, I often have to laugh (internally, as I support all who actually try and wish them good luck) when another `belgian toy hunter` pops up on sites looking for old toys in the delirium that he is going to be stocking up cheaply and selling highly. That is probably before they find out how high our postal rates are to get it shipped to anywhere in the world, so unless it is a true masterpiece, chances are they won`t be getting rid off it and it all ends on a flea market sooner or later in an effort to recuperate some of their investment... in space used up as it just sat there...
My motto? Better to sell 10 for 5 dollars, then 1 for 50 dollars.
Crooked Dice Tough Detective
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