As my Facebook feed, ebay search results and, to a lesser extent, forum classifieds, are flooded again with overpriced AFA graded and surprisingly even ungraded mint on carded figures and loose figures, I find myself thinking “What can I, the simple collector, do about the currently insane prices?” Your eyes are probably glazing over at this point, bored already at the prospect of another stale discussion of vintage Star Wars prices. Well I don’t want to discuss why these prices exist or what will happen to the market – rather I’d like to make a suggestion about what the collecting community can do to bring some sense of control to our hobby. Now this is it. Read closely. Don’t take your eyes off the screen. You with me? DON’T BUY THE BLOODY THING IF YOU THINK YOU ARE GETTING RIPPED OFF!!!!!!! Okay, sorry for screaming. I had to make sure my main point was loud and clear. Most of you are probably thinking “No shit Sherlock, tell us something we don’t know.” But if you all know it, why do you keep doing it? I actually stopped buying MOCs about 6-9 months ago because prices spiralled out of control and I felt morally obligated to distance myself from the feeding frenzy. Unfortunately a lot of these sellers are also collectors who keep complaining about prices (yep one big cycle of greed). But I guess it must be difficult to resist making a few extra bucks when you know the market is peaking right now. Not my bag, but each to his own. My wife has started calling me “Karl” (after Karl Marx). I’ll take it as a compliment but I’m not sure she intends it as one…
We can’t stop sellers gouging us, so we have to take things into our own hands. No I’m not advocating knocking them off! We can control some aspects of the market by dictating what we are willing to pay. There’s no point complaining about prices but then turning around and paying through the nose for an AFA 85 Yakface just so you can limelight it to your collecting buddies (this point reminds me of one of our previous blog posts – http://vintagestarwarscollectors.com/posting-photos-of-your-vintage-collection-showing-off-or-sharing/). If you think AFA MOC 85s are ovepriced right now, why not show these dealers/collectors how you feel by boycotting them for a while? Get into baggies, or variants, vinyl or anything. I don’t know!
I know how collecting goes. It’s like a drug. You need a hit asap or you feel that you are going to lose it. I’m ADHD, I understand more than most! But trust me, you can cope without that hit for a while, you get used to it. Collect something different for a while as prices level out (if they do I guess). I’m getting into different things, both within vintage SW (not to mention more on the social side) and also other hobbies, while I hope MOC and prototype prices calm down. Maybe they’ll get worse and I’ll be the sucker. I’m still on the look out for good deals though, don’t get me wrong. I’m just not going to jump at the first overpriced piece that appears on my radar.
In saying all of the above, I’m not a complete idiot, emphasis on the word ‘complete,’ I know some rare pieces appear on the market only once every blue moon and if you don’t buy it then for whatever outrageous price the seller is asking then you may breathe your final breath without ever holding your holy grail to your breast. I’m not talking about these items, these are special, you can’t really put a market price on these sometime one-of-kind pick ups. I’m talking more about the insane soar in price of 12 backs, loose Yakfaces, DT Luke Farmboys, pretty much every Boba Fett MOC etc. These are not one of a kind and I’m pulling my hair out trying to understand why people are willing to pay so much for them. People argue that supply and demand dictate prices and that there has been a huge influx of newer collectors into the hobby recently. So basically we are all are all fighting over a finite amount of collectibles, so of course prices will soar. Well I collect Luke Skywalker (pretty much everything vintage Luke) and as new collectors come into the hobby I see a lot them heading straight for Luke Farmboy focuses. Which is cool, I’m not greedy and I’m all about sharing my love for this figure. So prices for this guy have absolutely shot up recently, yet I can’t scratch my proverbial without seeing a Luke Farmboy for sale, be it a DT, 12 back or loose (even these are going for crazy prices). Seriously they are everywhere, even my local classifieds are full of them. So why are they are so expensive? Because we are prepared to pay so much for them, that’s why. Then again, I’m a man of research so I’m happy to shut the hell up if someone is prepared to counter my admittedly anecdotal argument on the Luke Farmboy prices with some solid quantitative research and analysis. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I’m not an economist or a market analyst but I’m sufficiently intelligent to know that if I’m not happy with the price of something then I should not buy it. This is a hobby, they are not essentials that we have no choice but to buy at insane prices. It is we who are forcing the market upwards, don’t blame the sellers. If we stop buying at their prices, then they will have no choice but to drop their prices to our standards.
Now I’m pretty sure someone will be able to pick some holes in my arguments, I wrote this up pretty quickly and it’s intended really as an opinion piece to trigger some more discussion on the topic, rather than to serve as a well-researched doctorate. Hopefully someone with more brains than me can elaborate on my ideas….
At this point I should also recommend reading this article from my friend Joe at Trilogo.info. Joe provides a measured perspective on trilogo market prices and rarity and advises on the virtues of patience in our collecting habits. Trust me, it’s a great read, and even a little controversial.
Sometimes when we here at VSWC blog, or our guest collectors, post our thoughts on the hobby we are met with responses that we are “telling people how to collect” and that we should “lighten up”. Well we flat out reject this. Articles like these are merely suggestions – collect however you like but we are not going to sit back silently and watch people conduct themselves in ways that we see as harmful to our great hobby. At the risk of sounding too defensive, this blog is about celebrating the collector and 90 percent of the content is pretty much linked to collector interviews. That said, we are not dismissing these type of negative responses, simply providing some perspective.
Thanks for reading!