Which 2017 Christmas toys are collectibles of the future?
On Christmas morning, 2017’s best-selling toys will be unwrapped to shrieks of delight.
But which ones will be collectible in the future? Indeed, which ones could make you a nice bit of money? Indeed, which ones shouldn’t be opened at all but stored quietly away in the loft for the next few decades?!
Tim Weeks, the toy-obsessed director at Wessex Auction Rooms and expert on the BBC's Bargain Hunt, has given us the inside track.
But before Tim talks about this year’s specific toys, here are:
Tim’s three tips for investing in toys:
"As an auctioneer I am often asked ‘What items should I be buying as a future investment?’ In many areas of collecting it’s almost impossible to know. But when it comes to toys it might be easier than you’d think, providing you look at history and follow a few rules.
Firstly, collecting toys has nothing to do with fashion and style, taste and trend. There is no-one in the world who can tell us what we will be furnishing our houses with in 20 years, whether everyone will be in desperate search for Moorcroft or if there will be an overwhelming demand for silver. But I, with quite some confidence, believe I can tell you which of the hottest Christmas 2017 toys will become the most valuable in the year AD 2040 due to the power of nostalgia.
Quite simply, toys become collectable due to nostalgia for our youth. It’s individuals who are now grown up buying back the relics from their personal past. It could be their favourite toys or even the toys they so dearly wanted but never got… we’ve all been there.
1. Condition, Condition, Condition
Condition is so important to collectors that I am often telling people about the three C’s of collecting… Condition, Condition, and yes you guessed it, Condition. To command the top prices to high-end collectors you want the toy so near to mint that it looks like it was never on the shop floor in the first place.
Don’t buy as an investment from online retailers, go to the shop and select the item yourself so you can guarantee perfect condition. An online retailer will sell the item to you as a toy, not a collectable and therefore if the box has ‘corner knock’ or a part of the graphic is missing, they won’t worry about it so long as the item itself is not damaged. So get on foot and buy from the local toy shop.
2. The 20-year rule
My next rule is whether the toy will display well in 20 years’ time. Is it an item that can be left out on a shelf for other collectors to admire? If an item displays nicely it will help add value to the toy as it’s a lot harder for the nostalgic 30-something to justify spending hundreds of pounds on an item that is just going to be left in the bottom of a cupboard.
I can tell you now that the investments you make in December 2017 are not going to start showing signs of collectability for another 20 years and they won’t mature for another 25-30 years.
The toys that are most collectable tend to be the toys once owned by 7-14 year olds. So let’s take the life of a 7-year-old boy as an example. By the time he is 17 his favourite toy as a 7-year-old could not be further from being cool. It’s the past, and a 17-year-old boy is focusing on his future. Will he be a rock star? A footballer? Or a toy auctioneer? The world is literally his oyster, so why on earth would he want to be collecting items from the past? He wouldn’t. He is not going to buy the toys you have held patiently in your attic for the last 10 years.
If we move forward 10-15 years when this boy is in his late 20s and early 30s he might be in a totally different place. He may be married, settled down and with children of his own. Gone are the days when he’s playing gigs, going out clubbing three times a week and hanging out with his buddies most nights. There is now a chance that he is looking back on his younger days with fondness, with affection… with NOSTALGIA!
He can’t turn back time, can’t shop in the shops that no longer exist and can’t taste the food that tasted so much better 25 years ago. But he can buy the toys he used to have because YOU had the foresight to invest in them. Now is the time to cash in on your investment.
Three 2017 Christmas toys to invest in
Last year Hatchimals were one of the Christmas winners and they appear on this year’s list of top sellers with the Hatchimals Surprise.
They certainly look like they will display well and I like the fact that to get to the toy itself and even find out which one you have, you have to totally destroy the packaging (or egg!). Keeping them boxed and ‘un-smashed’ is going to add a premium on future returns for sure.
But there is something else that really intrigues me about this toy and its future collectability… this year inside each egg are twins! Realistically how many of these pairs are going to stay together over the next 25 years? Perhaps one will get left on the swings at the park? Or maybe one will break and the parents will throw it out saying ‘Never mind, at least you’ve still got the other one’? Who knows? But it’s surely fair to assume that a lot of these Hatchimals are going to end up as a single Hatchimal rather than part of twins. So, if you’re going to keep your pair in pristine condition you’re already ahead of the game because it’s a pair that will demand the highest prices.
Paw Patrol Sea Patroller
This has a few things going for it.
Historically it is toy cars and vehicles that display the best and this fits the mould. Dinky, Corgi and Matchbox started the trend, followed by the retro vehicles from toy lines such as Star Wars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and He-Man. You can certainly see this Paw Patrol Sea Patroller getting pride of place in 25 years’ time.
I also like the fact it is based on a TV programme. Not only will the nostalgia effect take a hold on an individual through the toys, but through the show itself. Many collectors of Turtles, He-Man, MASK, Thundercats and others never had the toys as a child but they remember the hours of their youth spent watching the TV shows. TV-related toys are ‘through the roof’ popular at auction at the moment and in my opinion are the future of the industry. This vehicle is also part of a whole Paw Patrol toy line which gives the collector something to get their teeth into, a real project or challenge to complete the set. That’s the fun bit for a collector.
Finally, it’s expensive. Nearly £70 for a toy is a lot of money and I would see this as a toy that many kids might want to wake up to on Christmas morning but end up with disappointment. That emotion will hit them all over again in 25 years, only this time they don’t have to ask their parents to buy it.
Enchantimals Playhouse Panda Set
Again, I like that this is part of a larger line of toys. We all had that friend who had EVERY single toy within a collection (I’m still jealous of you, Alex Morgan!) while we had to do with the odd one or two.
If this happens to be the toy that sells hundreds of thousands of units this Christmas this will be a very positive thing for the investor that has kept two or three of them boxed and stored away. If 100,000 children spend their Christmas playing with this Panda Playhouse there is a huge potential that once it becomes collectable years later, the demand will outweigh the supply.
It displays well, is reasonably priced, part of a larger line, and made to be played with and therefore high potential for breakages, losses, and damage. But yours is in perfect condition, complete and boxed. Little do these 7-year-olds realise now, but in 25 years you are going to bring a lovely touch of nostalgia back to them… and a nice return on investment for yourself. Good Luck!
And two to avoid…
The ‘Original’ Stretch Armstrong
This is not actually the original when it comes to Stretch. It is based on the original. When it comes to collecting trends, the first line is usually the most sought after. I tend to avoid anything that isn’t the first and early release of a toy line. Let’s look at history. If you have a collection of carded Star Wars figures, you want it to be from 1979 not 2005. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? 1990 not 2002. And Stretch Armstrong? Surely 1976 rather than 2017. If this latest release from Stretch starts selling for hundreds of pounds in 2040 please don’t come and shout at me!
Nerf Nitro Longshot Smash
The number one Christmas seller this year is Nerf Nitro Longshot Smash from Hasbro and it’s clear to see why Nerf has been so successful. Running around with your mates while you fire pellets at them sounds like the best Christmas holiday ever.
Nerf have had a very popular line of various arsenal for many years now but I’m yet to see them mature into the collectables market. I think this might be due to the display rule. Having plastic guns on display sounds more weird than cool. I think these are a toy that just needs to be enjoyed and played with. In comparison with an action figure or diecast vehicle there is no real art or craftsmanship in the toy. One could look at a Dinky model for hours and see nothing but quality, the same goes with the design of an action figure, but plastic guns don’t have this appeal.
Now the Nitro has the addition of firing out foam cars. Will this make it the first really collectable Nerf product? I don’t have much faith in a foam based product becoming collectable. I go back to the quality of a diecast model making it an attractive piece of ‘furniture’ on the mantel piece and surely a foam car is just going to be tacky? One to leave alone as an investment."
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