Toy collectors turn hobby into an investment opportunity

Lau Tech Kheng of Previous Time Collectable


SINGAPORE — For Singapore-based Lau Tech Kheng, his love of toys has now spawned right into a thriving enterprise. 

Lau began promoting classic collectible figurines together with his mates on Sundays in 2005 whereas working a full-time job as a technician.

“For many people born within the Seventies, we’re not so wealthy to purchase a number of toys, however now, we’re across the 40s mark, and have a bit of money and so we attempt to purchase again the reminiscences,” he instructed CNBC.

“When the promoting began to realize traction with prospects, I made a decision why not, I’ll strive to do that full-time.”

Since opening his brick-and-mortar store in downtown Singapore 15 years in the past, income grew slowly however steadily.

His retailer, Previous Time Collectable, sells collectables from hit franchises resembling Ultraman, Macross, Robotech, M.A.S.Ok and Energy Rangers and costs vary from as little as $4 to as a lot as $3,800.

Whereas conventional investments resembling shares and actual property are extra frequent, some individuals view classic toys as a novel, enjoyable, and doubtlessly worthwhile asset class.

The foundations of commerce

Toy funding for a lot of is usually, at the start a interest and a ardour.

Figurine collector Dennis Pek has collected greater than 2,000 toys previously twenty years. 

He has scoured flea markets, on-line web site and auctions, and outlets around the globe for beloved collectables from his favourite reveals.

Figurine collector Dennis Pek


He instructed CNBC he solely resells to reorganize and replace his assortment.

“I’ve most likely invested about $80,000 on my assortment, however I do it principally as a result of I find it irresistible,” he instructed CNBC.

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“However I suppose, the worth of these things collectively, they’re value rather a lot and they’re type of an asset for the long run.”  

He believes the worth of second-hand toys comes from how properly the collectible figurines are preserved, how distinctive the items are — particularly units which had been initially produced in very small portions.

Collectors typically search gadgets nonetheless of their unique packaging, with some discovering pleasure in merely proudly owning the field.

“Some individuals purchase the toys, and so they do not even open it up,” explains Lau. “They are saying they simply really feel glad to only see the field and have the issues inside.”


Founder and CEO of MINT Museum of Toys, Chang Yang Fa, privately owns greater than 50,000 items of collectibles, with about 10% of them on show at his museum in central Singapore.

Chang instructed CNBC concerning the generational shifts in amassing preferences he has noticed. “Totally different intervals acquire various things however typically talking, a lot of the widespread toys are character toys,” he mentioned.

He added that classic toy amassing first started taking off firstly of the twentieth century and constant followers proceed to hunt out toys from massive franchises resembling Marvel or Naruto, in addition to extra “area of interest” movies and reveals.

Chang Yang Fa of MINT Museum of Toys


“Like Star Wars or Barbie, persons are wanting to purchase again reminiscences and that creates demand within the reseller market,” Chang mentioned.

“Additionally, the [Covid-19] pandemic, the place extra individuals labored from residence. I imagine many needed to make their working areas a bit extra conducive and so would embellish and purchase issues like collectible figurines and so forth, making a little bit of a development of kidults shopping for extra toys for themselves.”

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Adults, or “kidults,” are a driving pressure behind the gross sales development of recent toys.

Data from advisory firm Circana, previously NPD, discovered individuals aged 18 and above accounted for 14% of U.S. toy gross sales for the 12 months to September 2022 — that metric noticed a 19% enhance in comparison with 2021.

“There’s a synergy between classic toys and fashionable re-launches resembling GI Joe, Masters of the Universe, Strawberry Shortcake and so forth,” mentioned James Zahn, editor-in-chief of “The Toy E-book” and senior editor of “The Toy Insider.”

Zahn mentioned that Mattel’s Masters of the Universe Eternia Playset, which offered for round $100 new within the Eighties, now instructions a median of $5,000 in its unique field. The product is so wanted that Mattel mounted a crowdfunding marketing campaign final yr to provide a brand new model of it that may ship in 2024.

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