Collectibles span a wide range of items, we’re talking anything from vinyl toys that stand at 2 or 27 inches, or diningware from Supreme. Though collectibles vary, they are coveted for various reasons. Perhaps the item is super limited or vintage, or its designer has a cult following that no one can explain. If you find yourself looking at a Supreme brick (actual brick) and needing it, you have had a taste of the world of collectibles.
So how do you go about buying and collecting these items? Read on for our introductory guide to collectibles, toys and figurines.
It’s all down to a combination of pop culture relevance, scarcity and demand. In terms of scarcity, every collectible has a specified production run, aka their edition. Collectibles with smaller editions are a lot more valuable as compared to those with larger editions.
Put it this way, you could get a dining set from Ikea for S$100 or you could get a set from Supreme worth S$2,639. One clearly holds more cultural relevance and social currency compared to the other.
The aftermarket for collectibles, toys and figurines operates much like that of sneakers. The more hype is built around a collectible — if it’s designed by someone famous, from a particularly popular franchise, or some pop culture icon endorses it — the higher it is prized. If it comes in a very small run, in a special edition box that’s numbered, the value of the item exponentially rises.
There are several other factors that determine the value of a collectible. Its condition, numbering and authenticity are taken into consideration.
Looking at the condition of a collectible is one of the easiest tells of its value. Collectors would look at how well the item has been kept or stored. Scratches, tears, discoloration or obvious signs of wear-and-tear can devalue the item. This doesn’t just apply to the actual collectible item but everything that comes with it, like the box or stand.
The next big factor is authenticity. Just like sneakers, it’s getting a lot harder to differentiate real from fake merchandise. As such, having a clear purchase history can raise the value of an item. Original receipts or purchasing them through a platform that offers authentication services can significantly raise an item’s value.
When it comes to buying, you need to do your homework to find out which sale platforms or auction houses your chosen artist partners with. For example, you can buy Kaws figurines from their official store at kawstoo.com or with their partners DTT by AllRightsReserved and MoMa Design store. If you want to cop something older, you can trust pieces listed on StockX. Following this process will greatly reduce the chance of buying an inauthentic piece.
The same goes for selling off coveted collectibles, toys and figurines. It’s best to sell through trusted channels that offer some sort of authentication service. Besides providing a sense of assurance to the buyer, it mediates the transaction. It prevents any disputes with regards to authenticity while making it a lot harder for a person to run away with your item without paying up.
One of the most recognizable collectible figurines on the market right now, Be@rbricks are anthropomorphic bears designed and manufactured by Japanese company MediCom Toy Incorporated. The pot-bellied bears come in various sizes and are often the canvas for many pop culture brands and well-known artists. A Bathing Ape, Marvel, DC, Kaws, Fragment Design and Pokemon are just some of the many names that have collaborated with Be@rbricks.
Most valuable item: Bearbrick Coco Chanel 1000% at US$19,035
Kaws is a multi-disciplinary artist best known for his adorable Kaws Companion characters and figurines. They were first unveiled in 1999 by the Japanese brand, Bounty Hunter. Since its super limited 500-piece launch, the Kaws Companion has skyrocketed in popularity. It has seamlessly transitioned into various aspects of pop culture, appears on high fashion collections, in sneaker collaborations and has even popped up on the Marina Bay Floating Platform.
Most valuable item: Kaws Urge Portfolio Set Of 10 Prints (Signed, Edition of 250) at US$66,486
Anyone who is familiar with the eccentricity of streetwear brands like Supreme, A Bathing Ape, and Off-White will be familiar with their playful approach to homeware. Off-White created a striking collaboration with Ikea that has become a staple in the homes of sneakerheads while A Bathing Ape routinely releases dining ware to bring heat to the table. Each one of these collections are as distinct and different from the next, and fuses each brand’s signature design sensibilities with functionality.
Most valuable item: Daniel Arsham FALLING CLOCK (Edition of 99) at US$9,064
These adorable vinyl figurines are catered towards fans of movies, series or pop-culture moments. Originally founded on creating nostalgic toys, Funkopops are often based on iconic characters that we know and love. Part of the brand’s appeal is the wide variety of licenses they have and the sheer selection of characters you can choose from. The brand also offers the most attainable collectibles – you don’t need to break the bank to own a piece. You can buy them off the shelf at prices between S$20 to S$30. Take note, however, that limited edition Funkopops can resell for well over US$1,000.
Most valuable item: Funko Pop! Star Wars Holographic Darth Maul (Glow) SDCC Bobble-Head Figure #23 at US$3,800
The most understated collectible of the lot is Legos. Many of us are familiar with the colorful bricks that can be assembled to form anything your mind can imagine. Due to their limited production run and collaborations that cross various interest groups, Lego sets have the potential to become more valuable over time. Collaborations with cult classic franchises like Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Batman and Harry Potter fetch thousands of dollars.
Most valuable item: LEGO Green Grocer Set 10185 at US$1,599
Just like any other collection, you should look to owning collectibles, toys and figurines that reflect your existing interests. If you are a movie buff, consider collecting movie-based collaborations from Lego sets or Funkopops. If street art and fashion is where your heart’s at, you can look to purchasing Kaws or Be@rbrick figurines.
Though the value of collectibles, toys and figurines are generally quite stable, you should focus on building a collection that you’d like to look at every day. Especially since they’ll end up being displayed, it’s best to build a collection that actually piques your interest.