Toy collecting has become a very popular hobby, especially with young professionals with plenty of disposable income.
As a result, toy shops, garage sales, and hobby conventions have sprung up all over the city, offering everything from Lego and My Little Pony to Munny and DC Bishoujo.
In a bid to outdo competitors in the price wars, many stores have begun offering premium toys at cut-price rates. The discounts are so high that you sometimes have to wonder, will they be making any profit on this?
There, as they say, is the proverbial rub. These are the three things your toy seller doesn’t always tell you about your purchases:
The item is damaged.
Some toy shops gloss over the fact that the item they are selling you is less than perfect. The item may have been jostled during shipping, causing paint scrapes or chipped edges on an otherwise perfectly good toy. Or, if worse comes to worst, the item was dropped during transit, cracking or breaking the toy’s more sensitive parts.
To get rid of the damaged stock, stores sometime put a hefty discount on what would otherwise have been a very expensive item, with the disclaimer that all sales are final and no returns or swaps will be accepted. Instead of getting the deal of the century, as your seller would like you to think, you are basically buying a very expensive paperweight. Buyer beware!
The item is second-hand.
It is perfectly acceptable to buy and sell second-hand toys, as long as a complete disclosure of the item’s provenance is given by the seller to the prospective buyer. In Japan and Hong Kong for example, all second-hand toys headed for the resellers’ market are re-wrapped in plastic (the kind you wrap your books with) and given a tag that shows that the item is second hand.
However, in Manila — and it really pains me to say this, not all sellers are as scrupulous as their overseas counterparts. Some of them will claim that their pre-owned items are brand-new and demand mint prices for them, even if they have obviously been opened (they will even tell you that the package was simply opened for inspection).
Some of them will go as far as source second-hand toys overseas (like the above-mentioned resellers), repackage them, and resell them as “new”. Imagine your disappointment if you purchased something that was claimed by the seller as factory-fresh, only to find hand prints and finger smudges all over your “new” toy. Not fun
The item is fake.
This one is probably the biggest sin many local toy stores — even the biggest ones, are guilty of: they sell fakes to toy collectors. Although some of them might not even be aware that the items they are selling are fake (their suppliers could be the ones cheating them), I’m sure that some of them do know what they are doing, and continue to fleece their customers anyway.
The biggest perpetrator on the local toy scene as far as I’ve observed are online toy stores that also set up shop at local conventions. Just looking at their shelves bursting with stock is enough to raise eyebrows. I’m no authentication expert, but a rare mail-order-only toy or figure going for 1/5th its original price?! Puhleeze. What about the weird paint jobs, the ugly packaging, the less-than-stellar moulding?! No thanks
The saddest thing is, people still buy these fakes. Whether it is an honest mistake (as in, they had no clue it was faux) or an informed decision (they knew it was a fake, but bought it anyway), all this does is fuel the unscrupulous toy seller’s greed and funnel more funds into buying and selling fakes.
At the end of the day, it’s still your money, and what you do with it is up to you. But please — if you are genuinely a fan and honestly love the things that you do, please show a little respect for the people who pour their heart and soul and money into making these things.
If you can’t afford an original, instead of buying fakes please save your money instead and get the real deal once you have put away enough. Buy only from stores and resellers that fellow collectors say are trustworthy. Do not be swayed too much by the rock-bottom price tags — if the deal is too good to be true, it probably is.