Toy collectors are turning the hobby into an investment opportunity

  • While traditional investments like stocks and real estate are more common, some see vintage toys as a unique, fun and profitable asset class.
  • For many, toy investing is often, at first, a hobby and a hobby.

Lau Tech Keng of the past is collectible


For Singapore-based Lau Teck Keng, his love for toys has now turned into a thriving business.

Lau started selling vintage figurines in 2005 with his friends on Sundays.

„For many of us born in the 1970s, we weren’t rich enough to buy a lot of toys, but now, we’re in our 40s and a little cash-strapped, so we’re trying to buy back the memories,” he told CNBC.

„When sales started to gain traction with customers, I decided why not, I’d try to do this full-time.”

Since opening a brick-and-mortar store in downtown Singapore 15 years ago, revenue has grown slowly but steadily.

His store, Past Time Collectible, sells collectibles from hit franchises like Ultraman, Macross, Robotech, Mask and Power Rangers, and prices range from $4 to $3,800.

While traditional investments like stocks and real estate are more common, some see vintage toys as a unique, fun and profitable asset class.

For many people, toy investing is often, at first, a hobby and a hobby.

Statue collector Dennis Beck has collected more than 2,000 dolls over the past two decades.

She has scoured flea markets, online website and auctions, and stores around the world for beloved collectibles from her favorite shows.

Statue collector Dennis Beck


He told CNBC that he only resells to reorganize and update his collection.

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„I probably have about $80,000 invested in my collection, but I do it because I love it,” he told CNBC.

„But I guess the value of these things together is that they’re worth a lot and they’re going to be an asset for the future.”

He believes the value of second-hand toys comes from how well the figurines are preserved and how unique the pieces are – especially the sets produced in small quantities.

Collectors often look for items in their original packaging, and some enjoy keeping the box.

„Some people buy toys and they never open them,” Lau explains. „They say they are happy to see the box and hold the contents.”

Chang Yang Fa, founder and CEO of MINT Museum of Toys, personally owns a collection of over 50,000 toys, 10% of which are on display at his museum in central Singapore.

Chang told CNBC about the generational changes in collecting preferences he’s noticed. „Different periods collect different things, but generally speaking, most of the popular toys are character toys,” he said.

He said that vintage toy collecting first started in the early 20th century and that loyal fans continue to seek out toys from big franchises like Marvel or Naruto, as well as „mainstream” films and shows.

Song Yang Fa of the MINT Museum of Toys


„Like Star Wars or Barbie, people want to buy back the memorabilia, and that creates demand in the reseller market,” Chang said.

„Also, The [Covid-19] pandemic, where more people worked from home. I believe that many people want to make their work spaces a little more cozy, so they buy decorations like figurines, and children tend to buy more toys for themselves.

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Adults, or „kids”, are the driving force behind new toy sales growth.

Data from consulting firm CircanaPreviously NPD found that 18-year-olds and older accounted for 14% of US toy sales for the 12 months to September 2022 – a 19% increase compared to that measure in 2021.

„There’s a synergy between vintage toys and modern re-launches like GI Joe, Masters of the Universe, Strawberry Shortcake and more,” said James John, editor-in-chief of „The Toy Book” and senior editor of „”. The Toy Insider.”

Mattel’s Masters of the Universe Eternia Playset, which sold for about $100 new in the 1980s, now fetches an average of $5,000 in its original box, Zahn said. The product became popular after Mattel launched a crowdfunding campaign last year to produce a new version of it that will ship in 2024.

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