Toys for Geeks – 1/6 Toy Economics

Credited to various Toys makers
Credited to various Toys makers

Basic Principle of Economics for 1/6 Toy

I’ve learned the hard way (burning HUGE hole in my pocket) on the prices affecting the toy prices. Therefore, I’m going to share on the Economics of Toy prices. Please note this is not a guide to for toy price speculation/ investment. This is merely a personal tip for collectors to enjoy the hobby at affordable level.

Okay lets touch on the economics of the price. This is a basic game of supply Vs Demand; low supply, high Demand, leads to high price; or vice versa. Sound simple? Actually it is more complex than what you will expect.

How do I determine the Demand?

Generally this is like a stock market. When the global economy is good, new collectors will enter the toy markets. They will not just buy the new releases, and will be trying to “chase” the older figures. This drives up the demand of toys and probably the toy prices. AVOID buying older models.

Lets view on the scenario of a bad global economy. In this case, most people will have lesser/ no spare cash to spend on hobbies. Casual collectors will leave the toy market and start selling off their collections. This floods the market with toys; high supplies with lower demand, leads to lower toy prices. RECOMMENDED to buy older and rarer models.

How do I determine the Supply?

Toy makers usually produce a fixed number of copies of a specific toy. Sadly collectors are usually not privy of such information. How do we (collectors) determine the rarity of the toys? I’ll say “SEE YOUR BOX“! It is commonly printed on the boxes with “Exclusive“(but not all are printed). Some times you will need to check up on toy forums/ official websites of the toy makers to look up for more information.

Lets go through some of the commonly terms commonly associated with the rarity of the toys:

  • (Normal) Exclusive – This is commonly on the toy boxes. Don’t get fooled! This don’t mean RARE. This may indicate it is exclusive to be sold via certain sources (sole distributor, official website, Toy fairs, etc..). Usually the quantity produced is ranging from 1,000 – 3,000 pieces.
  • (Vendor) Exclusive – This usually do not comes with nicely packaged boxes and were given as free gifts to business partners, artists or celebrities during “close-door” toy fairs. This is usually RARE and only 50-100 copies are produced.
  • Retail releases – Not rare and the toys quantity is about 1,000 – 3,000 pieces (same quantity as Exclusive? Hmm…)
  • Inclusive – This term is “exclusively” printed on few releases of Sideshow Star Wars figures. What is the difference of being exclusive and inclusive? Exclusive toys are produced with a fixed quantity without the knowledge of the demand. Inclusive toys are produced only after orders are placed by the collectors. e.g. produce only 200 toys, if 200 orders are received. Currently another toy maker, 3A, is also selling mainly using this model, via the official web store, Bambaland. The quantity produced are unknown and it is almost impossible to determine its rarity.
  • Limited – YES! IT IS RARE! The quantity produced is usually lesser than 50. Commonly these figures are the pioneer releases of toy makers. Normally you will be expected to pay THOUSANDS to get one of them.

The quantity of toys produced is just a factor to determine the supply (number of that toy is available for sales in the market). The actual supply is dependent on how many collectors are disposing their collections. As such the supply is usually hard to determine.

Other Factors

The above only covers the basic economics affecting the toy prices in general, but it is also important to understand certain factors that can affect your wallet directly, such as the following:

  • Toy maker (brands)
  • Location of the toy store
  • Collection value
  • Patience

Toy Maker (brands)

The reputation of the Toy Maker is the most important consideration. This is a “common sense” factor; collectors loves to get a highly detailed figure with almost zero defects. Hence usually the toys produced by such toy makers are highly sought after, probably higher price than other brands.

What does low price tags reflects on toys’ branding? You will have to find out, how long has that brand been in business. If the brand is new, you may consider buying it and usually the quality are good. If the brand has been in business for a long time, you may like to Google its product reviews (probably not quality products).

Location of Toy Stores

New collectors usually pay relatively high prices for their collections when they just started. We (collectors) get tempted by the brilliantly lighted display figures from the  Toy stores in those popular shipping malls such as VivoCity and Plaza Singapura.  The retailers have to keep up with the high rentals, therefore the best price they can offer is HIGH PRICES!

Fortunantly, SG collectors do enjoy cheaper toys comparing the the rest of the world. Seems like SG toy prices is one of the lowest globally.  As we (collectors) went deeper into the hobby, we discovered more local sources to get our collections and able to get at more competitive prices. i.e. more sources selling the same toy, means you will get cheaper toys.

Again the availability of the toy comes into play, which will dictates the purchasing location. Sometime you will have to purchase from overseas to get certain figures. Taking myself as an example, I purchased some figures from USA/ China and the amount i paid is at least 80% higher. Some times you have to pay high prices to get what you desired, that is HOBBY.

Collection Value

This is very subjective, most of the time it is very difficult to differentiate between a trend or actual valued collection. Personally, I will like to minimize movie related figures. Why is that so? Movie characters are trend based, some collectors are driven by this trend and went on the collection craze. When is trend faded, the toy prices dipped. Certain movies maybe re-filmed and again the movie characters will be donning new looks. A new Trend will kick in, and Old trend tumbles.

Figures created based on classic comics or original creations of artists are worthy of collections. Most of the collectors are also comics fanatics and they are REAL serious about their collections. While the artist creations are art pieces, there maybe certain collection value tagged to it.

Higher collection value can indicate higher toy price in future, better to purchase now. DELAY your purchases for lower collection value, you may get it at low prices in future; maybe you don’t even want it by then :).


When we started any collections, be it starting a new line of collection/ starting this hobby, we tend to go fast and strong. Meaning? Buy Fast, Buy High, BURNING holes in our pockets… That’s BAD!!!

We know buy fast is bad, but there is always a BURNING DESIRE to get THAT TOY. Let me introduce you a pal called “Patience”, with Patience you will have time to do RESEARCHES, find out the common market prices, find out where to get a cheaper deal, do you actually need a brand new toy, what is the cause of your burning desire?

My Personal view on the 1/6 toy Economics

Toys are hard to speculate on its investment values and sometime collectors are manipulating the market supplies. Recently, I heard of some collectors having habits of purchasing 6 figures of the same models and hold the stocks. Hoping to resell 5 figures with at least 20% gain. i.e. they are inflating the toy prices by 20%. However, most of them ultimately made losses due to trend movements.

Toy prices are largely dependent on collectors’ personal valuation, and there is no way to determine  the actual supply of the toys. Hence, it is hard to judge which is worthy for investment. I’ll buy what is nice(regardless new or used) to be displayed in my living space :).

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