The 2016 Christmas toys to invest in
Shopping for toys at Christmas can be an expensive business.
But what if the toys paid you back?
Here are five toys topping this year's Christmas wish lists that could be worth much more in the future.
But before we get stuck in, two words of advice:
1. Remember the 20-year rule
"It tends to take a toy at least 20 years to become collectable after the date of its release," Tim Weeks, toy auctioneer at Wessex Auction Rooms and expert on the BBC's Bargain Hunt, explains.
"Toys are bought on nostalgia. And it tends to take a person 20-30 years to start feeling truly nostalgic about their childhood, perhaps at the point when it really feels like it has ended, once you buy a house, find a career or start a family.
"If you are going to buy now as an investment you have to commit to it. Don’t give up in 10 years and cash out because you will regret it. Toys you buy now will instantly depreciate so you have to hold on to them to get a healthy investment.
"If we take a very collectable toy from 25 years ago, say Transformers, which had a huge fan base in the mid to late 1980s, we now find these toys rapidly rising in value.
"A collection of boxed Transformers recently sold, with some individual figures selling for over £400 each! Many of the boxes still had the original Toys R Us price tags on them reading ‘reduced to £7.49!"
2. Think Packaging Packaging Packaging
Toys are to be played with, but toys in unopened boxes in mint condition are what toy collectors prize most.
If you can't resist playing, make sure you keep the packaging and keep it in good condition – that's a good second best.
Now – on to those five toys:
Friends Amusement Park Roller Coaster Lego £89.99 ($110)
Nope, this isn't a Lego spinoff of the 90s sitcom (although that would be amazing).
The Lego Friends are a group of wholesome girls and boys who live in the equally wholesome town of Heartlake.
There's a hair salon to build, a performing arts school, and a puppy daycare.
And now there's also an amusement park roller coaster.
With 1,104 parts and four "minifigs" to build, it has an age guide of eight and up, and we can see mum and dad playing an active role in helping create this one. That's part of the fun.
Tim says: "The children receiving this on Christmas morning will be between 8 and 14, which are key ages where the child will actually recall their experiences with the toys in adulthood.
"It is difficult to expect a four-year-old to feel particularly nostalgic about their Thomas & Friends Trackmaster [another top seller in 2016] 25 years after receiving it because the toys they play with in the years after will most likely push out those memories."
Hatchimals £59.99 ($75)
Grabbed a Hatchimal? Lucky you. It's sold out – all around the world. Crafty resellers are having a wonderful time on eBay, with prices approaching £100 ($125) – £40 more than retail. More stock is coming in January, according to the official website.
But what is a Hatchimal, you ask?
On first meeting it's an egg. But once it's out of its box and being cuddled and stroked, within minutes that egg begins to crack and a small fluffy animal appears.
Don't ask us how it works, but do know that it's this Christmas' biggest seller.
JustCollecting's Dan Wade says: "The key to the value of these incredible toys is their condition. Once a Hatchimal is hatched, there's no going back – and which child is going to be able to resist hatching their Hatchimal on Christmas morning? Those that remain unhatched, in their original packaging, will be rare birds indeed in the decades to come."
Shopkins Chef Club Hot Spot Kitchen £24.99 ($30)
Shopkins are tiny figures that resemble grocery items. A 2013 Australian invention, they are hugely popular with kids and collectors alike. The Shopkins Chef Club Hot Spot Kitchen offers up a culinary setting for the tiny foodstuffs – which sounds a recipe for disaster in our opinion (especially as it features a spinning microwave).
Tim believes Shopkins' display potential is key to its possible future price growth.
"Shopkins (and Lego) displays beautifully now and will do in 20 years," he says. "Some of the most collectable toys today are diecast vehicles, action figures and model trains, all of which can be displayed at home without dominating the house. This appeals to many collectors, particularly the married ones with partners that don’t share the same passion for toys!
"A Nerf Gun will be difficult to display on a shelf, as would games such as Speak Out or Silly Sausage [other big hits this Christmas]. "
Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage £89.00 ($110)
Parking spaces for 36 cars. A helicopter pad. Elevators. Oh, and a shark. This is the biggest carport Hot Wheels has ever produced. And it looks fantastic, which means it could be the centrepiece of many a Hot Wheels collector's collection in the decades to come.
"Each new generation of children falls in love with toy cars. And this monster that is the Ultimate Garage will be on many a Christmas list this year," says Dan.
"But at £89 ($110), how many children will receive one? Which is why I can see today's kids who pined for this superb piece of Hot Wheels kit treating themselves to one a few decades from now."
Star Wars Rebel U-Wing Fighter Lego £69.99 ($90)
Star Wars has been a hugely successful line for Lego – with fans of the films and the building blocks alike devouring each new offering.
Launched to coincide with the Rogue One film, its 637 parts and five minifigs will keep someone busy throughout Christmas Day – unless it's heading straight to your attic.
And from an investment point of view, that's where it should be headed.
When buying and storing toys, including Lego, Tim advises to ensure the boxes are mint.
"Collectors will only pay serious money for perfect examples so check the condition."
Two last thoughts
"January is a great time to buy," says Tim.
"Shops will over stock in time for Christmas and will therefore have surplus to sell in the January sales. Find out what toys have been hot this Christmas and pick up the scraps in the sales.
"And buy boys' toys over girls' toys. There are far more male collectors of vintage toys than there are women and there is no sign of this changing."
Images: Smyths Toys, Argos, Jedlam
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