My alternative ‘investments’

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Lego stormtrooper walks towards the camera on sand

People invest in all manner of interesting and quirky items in hope that one day they can sell their purchase for more than they originally bought it for.

Whisky, wine, cars and coins are some of the more ‘traditional-alternative’ investments that spring to mind.

But what of the ‘alternative’ alternative investments? Those that lie so far into the realm of niche, that only those really invested in the history of the item truly know its real value and understand the potential.

For me, the first thing that comes to mind is the infamous Beanie Baby.

This was a prime example of an ‘investment’ gone bad and how you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket, but if you’ve done your research and understand the risks with these types of investment, they can be quite lucrative.

One huge thing to note with these types of investments is that their intrinsic value is predicated solely upon what another individual, at the point of sale, is willing to pay for it.

They don’t have an underlying value (except maybe a personal or emotional one for you) like holding a share in a company; even if the the company’s share value falls, that share still represents the assets still held by that company, whether that’s equipment, office property, technology or potential etc. There’s still something tangible there to compare the share price to.

These alternative investments don’t produce anything; they don’t progress thought or grow like a company’s revenue or profits might. They only increase in value because another individuals agrees on its worth.

It’s important to realise this before thinking of these things as an investment rather than just a nice display piece to go on your bookshelf or coffee table.

And that’s my starting point with these things; they’re never solely an investment for me. First and foremost they’re always something fun to add to my collection and something that does have a personal value to me whether the guy on the internet forum agrees with me or not.

So to these alternative investments…

I’m a huge Star Wars fan and I’m big into my video games. So that’s where I start.

Both these areas of pop culture are jam-packed with interesting items: toys, games, collectibles, interactive mediums, some of which can fetch a pretty penny.

Pop! Vinyls

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While I don’t collect these anymore – and only ever amassed a handful – these things have been described as plastic crack cocaine.

I can see why. They represent everything anyone might love about popular culture, all wrapped up in a bug-eyed, colourful miniature of your favourite characters, and there are THOUSANDS of them.

They’re often compared to Beanie Babies, especially how some in the community hoard these things, but they at least hold some value in representing a piece of pop culture outside the Funko (the company that makes Pop! Vinyls) brand, rather than being just another multi-coloured, stuffed toy.

I have maybe 10 overall, but one of the first I ever bought was the Holographic Darth Vader, Paris Convention Exclusive.

This guy was only ever sold at the 2013 Paris Comic Con (there’s a Texas Con one too) in Europe so is an incredibly rare figure within the community.

I purchased this guy for about £100, which is a hell of a lot of money for a small figure, but I can’t find a sold listing on eBay under £300 and that’s being conservative. That’s a 200% increase in 4 years! Just the box alone is being sold for 30 quid!

A lot of these prices are converted from dollars, as the US market for these things is a lot larger than here in the UK, making the rarity, and possibly the value, on these isles even greater.

Vintage figures

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This is a very special piece of memorabilia for me for personal reasons.

Released in 1984 to complement the release of the final film in the original trilogy, and portrayed by the legendary Warwick Davies in the Return of the Jedi, this little guy stands at jut 3-inches tall and comes with a collectible coin. Since production, he has never been opened and is further protected inside a clear, Perspex case.

These figures are very collectible and highly sought after. Wicket isn’t one of the rarest in the 1970s and 80s Power of the Force line by Kenner, but given how old it is and its condition, as well as how rarely he comes up for sale online, you still can’t find it for much less than £250-£300.

Having bought this at a considerably lower price point a number of years ago, if I were to sell this guy today, pound for pound it’s performed better than any stock I’ve held over the last few years.

This is something I’d only ever part with if I desperately needed the money.

Video game accessories

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This is an especially niche little video game accessory.

R.O.B – or Robotic Operating Buddy – was released in 1985 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), following the video game crash of 1983, as a way to promote their image as a toy company as well as a video games company.

Only two games were compatible with this robot: Gyromite and Stack-Up.

Despite the positive nostalgia towards the robot (even featuring as an Amiibo), Nintendo never developed more than two compatible games and with the explosion in popularity of games such as Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda and Metroid, a few years later, R.O.B quickly became an afterthought.

Nonetheless, completed sets in good condition with all original packaging can fetch a sizeable price as a collectors item.

We have the R.O.B that came as part of a console bundle with Duck Hunt and the corresponding zapper. Everything is in perfect working order and we’ve somehow even retained the plastic fastenings.

Sets like these still command a price tag of around £250 which wouldn’t be far off what was paid in the 80s for this innovative piece of gaming tech.

Games consoles

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This Mario vs Donkey Kong edition of the Gameboy Advance SP isn’t as rare as the items above, but it’s still an uncommon piece and has held its value very well over the years despite its now outdated technology.

The console was discontinued in 2009 and featured a new clamshell design and a very handy backlit screen, something missing in the original Gameboy and Gameboy Colour I owned previously.

I loved the SP handheld consoles and was lucky to get this limited edition version when I was younger.

The true value in this nowadays comes in having all the original elements still together and in good condition: the box, handbook, console and even the cables.

This version of the SP, with everything included, can still be found online selling for anywhere between £100 and £300.

The notable mention

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This is a framed bubble gum wrapper. Yep, you read that correctly.

I found this in a vintage market, already framed for £15. I liked the artwork and its old school Star Wars appeal.

It’s incredibly hard to determine its valuation, but you can buy un-framed bulk loads of these still for very little.

However, as I mentioned above, it’s what someone else would be willing to pay for it. I’d hope the neat framing, its condition and age would work in its favour if I were to decide to sell it some years time.

*

I’m fascinated by these sorts of alternative items and the reasons behind why some are valued so highly, such as the Snaggletooth and mysterious rocket firing Boba Fett figures.

Mis-prints and prototype versions of the final product that were never meant to be released to market, but somehow made it through the assembly line; movie posters and music vinyls that had their title names changed before release but had a few hundred find their way into the hands of consumers.

Whether its DVDs, music vinyls, watches or sports shirts, I’d be interested to hear of any alternative, quirky items people own that have some financial value or rarity to them.

3 thoughts on “My alternative ‘investments’

  1. Love this post – I think I’ve got a Beanie baby somewhere in mint condition. Back in my spendy days, I had quite a few toy collectibles (mostly comic/Marvel related) as I used to frequent sci-fi and comic-cons. I think I still have those Snoopys too that came from McDonalds Happy Meals!

    I once left my car unlocked, parked outside the tram stop and someone ‘broke into’ it.

    What got stolen was not the designer sunglasses I had in the glovebox, or the £10 in change for the carpark but the Yoda Pop bobblehead I had on my dashboard! I was gutted and still haven’t gotten round to replacing it.

    Other alternative investments I have are my boxes of comics and a stamp collection from my childhood days. Oh and I also have Star Wars phone cards, no idea if they’re worth anything. I don’t count the dvds and cds I have as investments though.

    I read somewhere that post-COVID 19, people might start valuing possessions again, over experiences (which involve travelling and mingling with crowds) as more people stay at home. Interesting thought anyway, whether that will be true or not.

    Like

    1. Somehow I didn’t think of comics! Probably the most famous alternative collectible! It’s a shame I’ve heard they’ve discontinued serving little plastic toys now at McDonald’s – I remember the Winnie the Pooh toys being a particular highlight, but I suppose in the current climate reducing plastic is a good thing.

      Phone cards? I don’t think I’ve head of those. I can sometimes be those fun unheard of little items that command the highest price. I loved the cereal boxes that had mini lightsabers with mazes in them.

      That makes sense, but hopefully won’t lead to the unnecessary hoarding of stuff – too much of that already. I sometimes get my fill consumerist thrill just from watching people’s collection (hoarding) videos on YouTube.

      Liked by 1 person

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