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 Post subject: Why I sold my entire collection on eBay.
PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2011 11:58 am 
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This was inspired by the regrets thread. I was going to reply there but it became too long, so here it is:

I regret all my toy collecting, this is why I sold my entire toy collection on eBay. I mostly collected the 3 3/4 inch lines from Hasbro, GI Joe, MU, etc. There are 2 main reasons why I got out of it. The first is that the toys are made of toxic plastics. If you look into the manufacturing process of virtually any plastic toy, and all the chemicals they add to the plastics, you'll see what I mean. That "new toy smell" that so many people love is a danger to your health, and to the health of children. Most of my collection was kept packaged, but on the occasions I did open a figure, that smell always made me physically feel bad and a little bit sick. I did not want to believe the toys were harmful, but I couldn't ignore that sick feeling I got every time I opened one. The lego minifigures were the worst, those things are like sealed capsules of toxic fumes. When I sold my entire lot of nearly 100 unopened minifigures on eBay, I remember thinking that the guy who bought them was about to turn his home into a gas chamber when he opened them.

Now of course the official PR response from the toy companies is that the plastics they use are safe. Take the following from the LEGO customer service FAQ:

"LEGO elements are molded with the highest quality plastic material (primarily ABS or Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), by precision equipment so that they are durable and long lasting. We use only the highest quality materials and each design is thoroughly tested internally and by third party labs for safety and good play value. All our toys meet or exceed any required toy safety standards, including the provisions of the recently enacted US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). LEGO products last for many years and most ranges are compatible with each other. Their high quality means great durability and flexibility. We know that many families pass their LEGO sets from one generation to the next."

Notice the wording, and how it says "primarily" ABS. In reality, there are actually about 30 different plastics and chemical compounds that are used in legos besides ABS, for example the accessories on the minifigures I believe are PVC. The PR response also fails to mention the additives used on the plastics, such as the inks used to put detail on the minifigures.

The second reason I got out of the hobby is I noticed an unacceptable level of shoddiness in the toys themselves and how they were put together. Now, this may be just a problem for the 3 3/4" lines from Hasbro, which is what I was collecting. I did open some of my figures, and over half of the ones I opened had serious quality control issues. A snake eyes that's limbs were so stickey you could barely move them, a Ripcord figure that's helmet broke the first time I tried to put it on, an Iron Man figure with legs so loose it could not stand on its own, etc.

Those were the two main reasons, but there were other things that bothered me too. The space my collection was taking up was one. My bedroom was starting to look like the stockroom of a Toys r' Us, and I mean this literally. My friends were starting to think it was weird when they would come over and see my room like that. I am not one to change myself because of my friends, if people think I'm lame for the things I like, then they are not worth being friends with. But I was starting to feel awkward myself with it, and if I actually had a girlfriend I would have been embarrassed to have her over and see my room like it was - completely filled with toys. This would not have been such an issue if I had my own house and could have a dedicated room for my collection like a lot of you do, but I didn't, hence this was significant problem.

Finally, I got tired of the rat race. Having to constantly get out there, going to a ton of stores searching, it starts to wear on you after a while. Sure, hunting for toys can be fun on the times you actually want to do it, but the waves of figures were never ending. I felt like I HAD to go searching in stores every week, whether I wanted to or not, because if I didn't I could miss something. It is so refreshing today, to actually be able to walk into a Wal-Mart or Target and not feel the pressing need to rush to the toy section and check everything.

In the end I realized your time, and the people you have around you, are much more valuable than some cheap plastic toys made in China. Today, I would much rather spend my money on things like going to restaurants with my family, helping my mom out with bills, and putting gas in her car, etc than collecting toys.

I still collect stuff to an extent, I am on the non-sport update card forums and I do buy boxes of non-sport cards now and again. Though I am much more scaled back on my collecting habits in general, and I am a happier person for it.


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 Post subject: Re: Why I sold my entire collection on eBay.
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 6:30 am 
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Congratulations on your self-reassessment leading to a happier you.

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 Post subject: Re: Why I sold my entire collection on eBay.
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:29 am 
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Long time lurker, I registered just to make a comment about what you said James...

The main thing I noticed as I was reading your post, was the sense of dread that I too, after many many years of collecting may someday feel the same way that you do now. I think this is the kind of regret that the really heavy collectors have as they look over the massive tonnes of plastic figures adorning their walls, closet space, boxes (to contain the plastic men that you don't have any room to display!) etc. and wonder if it hasn't been overdone.

For sure, when you start out, the fun is in hunting down and accumulating those figures that you always wanted as a kid but your folks didn't buy you or didn't exist at the time (Lumiya, Daredevil, Bullseye, Punisher, the T-800, etc) and now here they are coming out in all their super-articulated goodness with great sculpting and detailing. Hasbro has especially done a great job on the Star Wars line after totally fumbling it with the AotC/Saga line (a line of almost total garbage that really got me to brink of quitting). I do agree about not wanting friends to come over and just wonder if they're not thinking "Geeeeeeeek!!!!" when they witness the toy store that is your home. Of course, I've been over to my friends' places where they collect LotR or various Japanese toys that I've never heard of and I think to myself "Geeeeeeek!!!!".

Never thought much about the plastic health risks before though, I've never felt sick from the smell or whatnot, but if I had kids, that most certainly would get me thinking about sealing them off somewhere...


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 Post subject: Re: Why I sold my entire collection on eBay.
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:41 pm 
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Honestly I can sympathize with this post except that for me I was collecting sports memorabilia. I had a room over my garage that was filled with everything from cards to equipment, signed memorabilia, stadium seats you name it. The walls were absolutely covered with framed pictures or other memorabilia to the point you could not even tell what the color of paint was on the walls. I finally realized that my collection was no longer fun for me, but rather a burden. Every moment of free time I had was spent either online or at shows looking for new pieces to add, it began to consume my life. I made a decision to sell off my collection and I only kept a small (like 20 to 30 pieces) sampling of items. I used cragislist, eBay, and even bought table space at a local show to get rid of everything. In the end I felt like I had taken back a part of myself that seemed long gone.

Now my time is spent with my wife and children and I have found joy in occasionally purchasing Imaginext toys for my kids. This has worked out well because in a way I can satisfy that hunger for hunting down new items and I also get to spend quality time with my kids playing with them and their new toys. So I can happily say that I have no regret about making the changes in my collecting habits, since it just brings me closer to the ones I love most.

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 Post subject: Re: Why I sold my entire collection on eBay.
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 4:31 pm 
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Thanks for the replies. Napseeker, you should not dread one day feeling the same way I do. It's easy to sell off a collection on eBay. I got more or less retail value for my MU and GI Joe figures, but this was due to some of the rare figures I had (like a loose MU non-phased Vision that sold for $76) bringing up the average sale price per figure. Only a few lines I collected, such as Hero 108, I chose not to auction off because there's not much demand. I still have these sitting in a big stack, and will probably end up giving them away to poor children. If you collect a line that is popular though, you will have no problem getting (most) of your money back, and since you built up the collection over years and are getting the money for it all at once, it's somewhat of a financial windfall.

In regards to the plastics. High quality plastic does not have much of a smell. The strong "new toy smell" is a sign of cheap plastic because it comes from additives outgassing. A high quality plastic would be more pure. I've read that some action figures are up to 80% additives and only 20% plastic. They not only use additives to soften and clarify, but also to water down the plastic, similar to watering down orange juice, thus allowing them to produce more with less.

With the hobby of card collecting, Ultra-Pro makes toploaders out of PVC, but people have to put their cards in sleeves made of polypropylene first. Polypropylene is an acid-free plastic with very minimal out-gassing. If they are not used, over the years the PVC toploader will degrade and turn yellow, and degrade the card with it. UltraPro readily admits to this and writes on their toploader packages "when used with our polypropylene sleeves these provide archival quality protection". And for people really serious about preserving cards, they use mylar.

When I was collecting action figures I thought one of the good things about it is that the plastics were durable compared to say, comic books. Turns out they aren't quite as durable as I thought, and the thing is, no one really knows how long these cheap additive-cut plastics are going to last. If you collect the modern toys especially, you absolutely need to keep them out of sunlight, heat, and humidity.

Most people who collect do not have the resources to store and archive everything in a dark, climate controlled room for decades, protected from disasters, thievery, etc. I've read a few threads here about people who get burglarized and have their entire collections stolen. And people die too, what happens when someone spends their entire life amassing things and then just dies? Kind of a waste isn't it?

The most valuable possessions anyone has are their health, time, and their friends and family. They have done studies showing that the happiest people are the ones who spend their money *doing* things, rather than collecting things.

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 Post subject: Re: Why I sold my entire collection on eBay.
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 6:10 pm 
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You made a crucial mistake: toys in the bedroom. That's a huge no-no. :lol:

Only one kind of toy belongs in the bedroom, and it's not the type you can find at a Walmart. :oops:

But in all seriousness, I hope you find more pleasure in whatever hobbies you pick up going forward.

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 Post subject: Re: Why I sold my entire collection on eBay.
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:08 pm 
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The Doctor Who toys are notorious for this... you can open a package and get that smell from another room... nice to know now just how cheap Character Options really is! :lol:

I have found that leaving the windows open for a day, the figures fast loose that odor. But when confined in a small space, it tends to build up again. The DC figures have not been as bad.

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 Post subject: Re: Why I sold my entire collection on eBay.
PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2011 5:44 pm 
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JamesTheRogue wrote:
Thanks for the replies. Napseeker, you should not dread one day feeling the same way I do. It's easy to sell off a collection on eBay. I got more or less retail value for my MU and GI Joe figures, but this was due to some of the rare figures I had (like a loose MU non-phased Vision that sold for $76) bringing up the average sale price per figure. Only a few lines I collected, such as Hero 108, I chose not to auction off because there's not much demand. I still have these sitting in a big stack, and will probably end up giving them away to poor children. If you collect a line that is popular though, you will have no problem getting (most) of your money back, and since you built up the collection over years and are getting the money for it all at once, it's somewhat of a financial windfall.


Oddly enough, it isn't so much the worry about getting my money back that would cause regret if I were to ever reach the state that you are at today - I think it's more about the abundance of time it has taken to amass my collection. I think every collector on this forum can attest to how much chasing and bidding and negotiating and dare I say stalking we have to do in order to get our much desired figures (at a reasonable price ideally). You can always make more money, you can never get back the time you've lost.

Then again, even if I stopped collecting for some reason someday, I'm almost 100% sure I would keep all of my stuff. I love my collection, thanks to this trend towards making action figures of every franchise property under the sun, it's an incredible treat to finally own a 3 3/4" Terminator T-800 or Wolverine in both his yellow and brown duds from the classic Chris Claremont era or Alpha Flight's Guardian or a 6" Tom Baker as Doctor Who... I've got the Playmates TNG bridge playset, populated by the Galoob TNG figures and it just looks like a wicked recreation of the TNG set. All of this stuff, I don't know, just gives me a real sense of joy that nowadays not much else does. I think there's something about action figures that makes an old geezer feel like a kid again.

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And people die too, what happens when someone spends their entire life amassing things and then just dies? Kind of a waste isn't it?


Maybe, I've actually thought a lot about this in the past few years, given that I don't know anyone who is as passionate about collecting in my family who I can entrust it to if I were ever to be hit by a car. In a comic book that I am writing, the hero is a teen who is left with his lonely uncle's entire toy collection (based on a fictional sci-fi movie franchise) after the uncle mysteriously dies and wonders aloud if his uncle who spent his life collecting toys and never getting married or having kids, died happy or not.... and then the hero slowly starts turning into a collector himself as he gets older (mwahahaha the curse lives on...). I find that my toy collection does serve a useful purpose - whenever I get writer's block or I can't get my head together to sketch a scene for the comic, just playing around with my toys and reminding myself of all these other powerful story franchises gives me a lot of inspiration to keep going. Hey, maybe someday Hasbro will want to turn my creations into a toy franchise (there's another incentive!)

It's definitely a fine line between being passionate about a hobby, and having it turn into an obsession... once you start to feel like the chasing and toyruns have become your unpaid second job and you don't do anything but stare at SDCC/ToyFair slides all night long... yeah it's time to quit :)


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 Post subject: Re: Why I sold my entire collection on eBay.
PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2011 6:31 pm 
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Napseeker wrote:
I've got the Playmates TNG bridge playset, populated by the Galoob TNG figures and it just looks like a wicked recreation of the TNG set.


That's awesome! Mine is populated with Sontarans!

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 Post subject: Re: Why I sold my entire collection on eBay.
PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2011 8:46 pm 
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That's why I don't do obsession. I collect because it makes me happy. If it ever stops making me happy, I'll stop collecting. I couldn't care less what will happen to my collection after I'm dead, I'll be dead, what difference does it make?


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 Post subject: Re: Why I sold my entire collection on eBay.
PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:55 pm 
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Van Statten wrote:
Napseeker wrote:
I've got the Playmates TNG bridge playset, populated by the Galoob TNG figures and it just looks like a wicked recreation of the TNG set.


That's awesome! Mine is populated with Sontarans!


Yeah didn't you post a pic of that in another thread? I remember seeing it and saying to myself, "Sontarans on the Ent-D? Somebody call security..." :)

I took a quick photo of my setup... here it is:
Image

This is why I don't think I'll tire of this hobby soon. Something about just seeing the crew of the Ent-D frozen in a moment of time (ideally before the start of those awful, awful TNG feature films) gives me a quick boost of happiness during the day... (yes I know the Galoob figures are a bit undersized for the Playmates bridge but I never liked the Playmates Trek figures... they also seemed a bit too big for the bridge playset).


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 Post subject: Re: Why I sold my entire collection on eBay.
PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:56 pm 
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Yes I did!

And that looks awesome! I like how they look at the back with the computers.

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 Post subject: Re: Why I sold my entire collection on eBay.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:53 pm 
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Quote:
In the end I realized your time, and the people you have around you, are much more valuable than some cheap plastic toys made in China. Today, I would much rather spend my money on things like going to restaurants with my family, helping my mom out with bills, and putting gas in her car, etc than collecting toys.

I'm really glad you came to that realization. I do think it's important to re-evaluate our behaviours from time to time, especially when some things take up a lot of time or money. I think I'll always like toys, even though I now know things about their production that makes me very uncomfortable. Toys are like little statues. They're nice to look at and can inspire...

That said, I try to be really selective. I don't keep things mint or MOC for display purposes, and I've never understood that. I guess it's a "trophy" thing to some, but I'd rather hang actual art or photos on my walls, or just have them painted :)

I do think that anyone who is going to sell off a bunch of their toys allow themselves to keep a couple, for sentimentality's sake. Maybe take a small box and put your favourites in, so that you don't go regretting the purge and then heading back out and re-buying everything. But then again, if you can't seem to stop yourself from buying more than you really need or want, cold turkey might be best.

In the end, nothing's better than quality time with people who accept and love you and whom you enjoy as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Why I sold my entire collection on eBay.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:23 pm 
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DisneyBoy wrote:
I do think that anyone who is going to sell off a bunch of their toys allow themselves to keep a couple, for sentimentality's sake. Maybe take a small box and put your favourites in, so that you don't go regretting the purge and then heading back out and re-buying everything. But then again, if you can't seem to stop yourself from buying more than you really need or want, cold turkey might be best.


This is one of the truest truths. I used to have a retro-game collection that spanned 17 consoles and several hundreds of games. Well over 3/4's of it was found in the wild, rather than just ebaying for it. Many had great stories behind them (like finding Guardian Heroes for Sega Saturn complete for 7$ at a thrift store. It sells for 80+ dollars in that condition on eBay). I constantly regret not keeping something. Just one console and a few games. Because I didn't, I have on several occasions blown an entire months pay splurging at game stores.

I sold because I needed the money though, so buying new consoles is alright as long as responsibly done. You have your own reasons for selling. Some that I share, which is why I have cut back on all my collecting. Maybe some day you'll get that urge again, until then good luck in any new endeavors :D

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 Post subject: Re: Why I sold my entire collection on eBay.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:53 pm 
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I guess one question I would have to ask is compared to what you paid for your figures were you able to at least make profit of what you had to put out to get your entire collection. Otherwise the loss would be a super bummer.

As a collector myself - I keep everything MIB/MOC or Sealed and leave them on display. I tried to stick to certain things I like and keep it down. I don't own every single Marvel Legends figure - I just buy certain characters I like; right now I'm collecting all of the Marvel Movies characters. I do custom action figures here and there as a side hobby.

The new plastic smell - Um I don't smell or put it in my mouth. You hear things on the news about lead paint and toxic plastic, etc. So you kind of take it with a grand of salt and do your best to clean everything you open and use.


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