Every once in a while, I get involved in a heavy spot of Transformers and 3rd party selling. Sometimes it’s because of an emergency, sometimes it’s just because space and money are more preferable than a particular toy. Or I could just be selling one line to fund another. All in all, I’ve been selling Transformers from my collection (and on behalf of friends) for the better part of 17 years. That doesn’t make me an expert, but I have had some more recent experience when selling modern Transformers like 3P MP bots, Masterpiece and Generations figures that I’d like to share.
After years of collecting vintage and rarities, it was very common for me to sell items at a higher price than what I had paid. This was mainly down to the fact that some of the toys I bought were unknown quantities, and only after a few years had awareness of them grown to the point where collective desire dictated they sell for a higher price. I occasionally bought toys after much digging and resourcefulness on a student budget, so naturally they sold for more. Also, with vintage being the main thing on the scene for so many of the years I have been active, it just generally appreciated as demand began to outstrip supply of certain sub-lines like Diaclone, E-Hobby exclusives, MISB figures or foreign minibot variants.
Carrying that belief that items from one’s collection should be sold at a higher price than what they were bought for, simply due to the passage of time, is a mistake. This is especially applicable to 3rd Party figures, Generations figures and Masterpiece Transformers. A lot of the time, sellers are keen to make back pretty much every cent of what they’ve paid. I’ve heard the phrase “I’d be losing money on it at that price” a lot recently, and I am forced to wonder why sellers feel entitled to breaking even or even profiting as a matter of principle?
I understand that mentality with vintage and even reissue G1 Transformers, Car Robots, mainline and Takara exclusives, early Masterpiece, lots of things, actually. But when it’s in regards to a figure that was on sale not 6 months ago, that has been opened and displayed and can still be bought at retail…is that still a reasonable entitlement? Is the perception that we must get back what we put in financially just ingrained in the collector mentality to the point where we believe that 100% percent of the money we paid for something must be recoverable? What about the cost incurred to enjoy ownership of it for a given period of time? Surely we are not viewing modern Masterpiece Transformers and 3rd Party figures that are sold out (until the inevitable reissue) as such short term financial investments?
For that reason, I find a lot of success and justification in selling my modern stuff at prices a little lower than original retail, especially when availability isn’t an issue for potential buyers, and reissues or better versions are not due. I think sacrificing £10 to £20 here or there is preferable to having no income at all from said item, and have it take up the space that I needed it to vacate, necessitating the sale in the first place! I have recently heard people start grumbling about some of my prices though – whether they are high or low I might add – that I didn’t pay what they did for a particular item, no doubt a reference to the number of 3rd Party review samples I received ‘free’ and then sold on.
It doesn’t hurt (me) to remind folks that for each sample, there would be hours of photography, photo-editing, article or review writing and social media promotion involved. One sample could easily amount to 20 hours’ worth of work. If you take even the most modest hourly wage and try to compare that to a 3rd party figure’s average price divided by the number of hours’ work it required, then who ends up looking the mug? The person who bought it at retail or the one who could have done less hours’ work at their day job and bought it from retail instead? And ended up with a sample without a box at a time when the retail version was already in store and MISB fresh with final paperwork? And paid a heavy whack of customs on top? And then paid to ship it from an isolated North Atlantic island with outrageous shipping prices? So I do wish people would consider that when accusing me of charging too much for a sample I got “free” or complaining that mine sold immediately because I undercut others’ prices by a bit, again, because I didn’t pay what they did. I tell you, it was no fun spending that many hours on a recent review, only to sell it for 30 GBP (since final version was out already and mine had no packaging), then have to refund part of that because a part of the sample was damaged when I got it, and the manufacturer would not send a replacement part.
Other excellent things to keep in mind when selling are to have and share a price with your buyer – again this is more to do with current stuff. If you say “make an offer”, you are inviting the buyer to dictate the value and what they want to pay. You cannot then take offence when no frame of reference has been given to them, with no expectation due to a lack of a ball park figure. If you subsequently respond immediately with a counter-offer miles from their offer, well why did you not just skip to that immediately and remove the possibility of bad feeling and disappointment at the first stage? Do you really feel that in this day and age of online info sharing and the ability of people to find the value of things, you could get lucky and your potential buyer would make an offer miles above your minimum selling price? At the same time, buyers must also eventually cough up a number, they can’t always expect the seller to know what their magic number is. If you have not submitted a number at any stage when counter-offering during a negotiation, you can never complain about missing out or having a seller walk away, believing your interest to be buried.
Well, that turned ranty, didn’t it?
All the best