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What’s Behind the Used Pop Culture Collectables Craze?

What’s Behind the Used Pop Culture Collectables Craze?

Collectables can be anything from plushies, props and action figures to tin cars, toy trains and trading cards. 

Also known as second-hand, pre-owned or pre-loved, these types of pop culture collectables are some of the most sought-after. The older they are, the rarer they are. The rarer they are, the more valuable they are. And the more valuable they are, the more popular they become.

We recently added used collectibles to our online store. So, read on to find out the top 4 reasons why people are getting into collecting…

1. Childhood Memories

Nostalgia is one of the strongest drivers for collecting. Although we retain happy memories in our heads and hearts, we also associate good times with specific objects.

Maybe it was something you scored off a swap with a classmate or a gift your mum put on layby for you for Christmas. Different generations had different popular toys. Whilst 50s and 60s kids were desperate to get their hands on Slinky’s, Tonka Trucks, Barbie’s and G.I. Joe dolls, 90s and 00s kids collected Tamagotchis, Beanie Babies, Furby’s and FurReal Friends.

Whatever the items were, the positive memories you got from them were powerful.

But as you grew up, you were probably encouraged to get rid of your precious items. Perhaps you handed it down to a sibling or donated it to a charity shop. Over time, that usually becomes something you regret. 

However, you can get those happy memories back by collecting the items from your childhood. Chances are it won’t be the original (unless you know exactly where it ended up), but simply having a copy of the item again will be enough to satisfy your sentimental feelings. 

2. The Thrill of the Hunt

An equally big motivation for collecting is the act of collecting itself. For some it might be a hobby, for others, it could be a way of life.

You can get a real buzz when you come across a used collectable you’ve been searching for for a long time. Especially if it’s in perfect condition and reasonably priced. But the lead-up to the find – the looking – is often the most exciting part.

You might start by searching online (like on eBay and Facebook Marketplace) to see if anyone is selling or knows about what you’re after. Then if you don’t have any luck, you can start the treasure hunt in earnest. In-person.

Often you can pick up collectables from a range of different places. They might be amongst a heap of miscellaneous items at a garage sale near your house. You can go and explore a weekend trash and treasure market or swap meet. Op-shops and vintage stores are also great to check out, as you can score items from all different eras.

The fact that there is no guarantee you’ll find what you’re looking for is part of the process. And if you do get end up getting what you want, it makes it even more rewarding.

3. A Sense of Community

Another reason why collecting pop culture items is so enjoyable is the people associated with it.

Although hunting down toys and gadgets is mostly a solitary job, there can be a real sense of connection, comradery and like-mindedness that comes with sharing the same passion as others.

It can serve as a form of self-expression, as the items you collect often reflect your personality and values and provide a reason for you to engage with someone else, even if they live on the opposite side of the world!

There are whole communities online of people talking about their interests and giving updates on their second-hand collectables. This usually takes place on social media groups on Facebook and other forums. You can get involved to tell people about what you’re into, and they might even be able to recommend some places to check out. Or you can just join a group to see what everyone else likes and get some inspiration and share encouragement.

In the real world, you can also form friendships and relationships by getting to know the vendors of the shops you visit or meeting up with fellow regulars at markets you frequent. 

4. To Make a Profit

Finally, many people get into collecting because it’s an investment. If you have a lot of retro, rare, discontinued or special release pre-owned collectables, you might be sitting on a small fortune. 

Items that were once a dime-a-dozen can increase in value over time for all sorts of reasons. The difficult part is predicting which ones will go up in price in the future.

For example, McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys were everywhere in the 90s. However, because the fast food chain has changed the types of toys it sells today, some of the early ones are now selling for up to $200 each. As expected, the recent Barbie movie has seen prices for classic dolls go well into the hundreds too, and original accessories have become more expensive as a result.

And although Pokémon cards were readily swapped in the schoolyard, some are now very hard to find, which has seen their worth skyrocket. A Pikachu Illustrator card reportedly sold for $54,970 back in 2016!

Here at Collective Consciousness, we’ve got a lot of in-demand pop! vinyl figures and trading cards. Many of them feature limited-edition characters from popular TV shows, movies, sporting leagues and musical acts.

Please note – when shopping for pop culture collectables, always buy from a reputable business. Buying from social media, for example, comes with risks. It could be a scam, or the product may not be in as good condition as advertised.

Next article 90s Nostalgia: How Tamagotchis Defined a Decade

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