Join hobbyDB at the Dana Cain Toy & Doll Supershow

Dana Cain Toy & Doll Supershow

About the only thing we like more than collecting things at hobbyDB is meeting other collectors. We’ll have a table at the Dana Cain Toy & Doll Supershow in Northglenn, Colorado, Sunday, April 24.

The event will feature dealers and collectors of everything ranging from action figures to model cars to tinplate toys to board games, to… well, you get the idea.

We’ll be demonstrating how to use our collectibles database, including adding or editing entries, searching for items, and buying and selling on hobbyDB. You can also sign up on the spot to become a hobbyDB User. And if you want to get even more involved in hobbyDB by keeping our database free of errors and missing information, you can learn to be a curator, too.

Time Warp Comics of Boulder will also have a booth at the Toy & Doll Supershow. We’ll be joining them for Free Comic Book Day on May 7, 2016… Details to come soon!

Dana Cain Toy & Doll Supershow

Ramada Plaza Convention Center
I-25 & 120th in Northglenn
11 am – 3 pm

Admission is $5, kids under 12 are free.
Early birds can get first dibs at 10 am for $10.

For more details and other upcoming events, visit the Dana Cain Events page!

Dana Cain Toy & Doll Supershow

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How Big are the Collectible Markets? Are we really spending $200 billion every year on them?

Young Christian Braun

Musings By Joschik

Christian is one of the founders of the hobbyDB project and this musings are sharing some of his collecting experience that are hopefully interesting.

I have always been interested in this subject and since starting my MBA in 1991 looked for studies or other data points.  I never found a satisfactory 3rd party study and ten years ago I commissioned the only one that I know of.  I am collating my thoughts and the various facts I found in this analysis.

The “Batmobile Thought”

I sometimes use the first Corgi Batmobile as an illustration of how big this market is (and when talking about the subject in the UK find that everybody in my age group had one!).

  • Corgi Toys sold 4,907,000 of them up to the end of 1968, the production run for its last year 1969 is not known and they were also sold in various gift-sets, so I assume a total of 5.2 million.
  • I further assume that more than one third of them still exist somewhere, almost all of them in collectors’ hands (and if some get unearthed today that is where they go).
  • Their value varies widely (there are 10 known variations and with conditions from poor to mint in box they can be worth anything from $5 to $2,000).
  • I assume that the average value is around $60.

This calculates to a total balance sheet value of $104 million for this casting alone and assuming a 12 year average hold period for vintage collectibles (7 years is the average for all collectibles) is correct translates into roughly $8.7 million in annual sales.  I checked this assumption against eBay which we believe has a 3% marketshare in collectibles but less for vintage items (due to an extent to age and internet savvy of sellers but to a much larger one on eBay’s policies in the last 6-7 years) and the 3% holds about true for this Batmobile model.  The Batmobile casting is one of about 4,000 Corgi castings (even if a very successful one) and Corgi is but one of thousands of brands in model cars.  Model Cars finally is just one of the 13 sub-market in Collectible Toys and Models (others are for example Slot Cars, Radio-Controlled Vehicles, Model Trains, Dolls and Bears).

The Hot Wheels Example

Hot Wheels is now a $1.1 billion brand.  While Mattel does not publish segment information of how much of that is spend by collectors (versus parents) many conversations with Mattel executives and others in the industry make me believe that measured by value it is around 20% (collectors pay significantly more per average model as they buy many Collector’s Editions).  That would represent $200 million in annual collectible sales in the Primary Market.
A typical Hot Wheels Collection

Since the brand started almost 50 years ago in 1968 Mattel has sold more than 5 billion Hot Wheels models.  Assuming that 15% of these survived in a condition suitable for collecting and an average price of $5 (I know this is all very rough) we come to a balance sheet number of $3.75 billion.  Further assuming a 10 year hold period we get to Hot Wheels products in the value of $375 million changing hands every year in the Secondary Markets.  As many of these transactions are sold as collections and therefore at a very large discount I assume the total sales to be more closer to $200 million for the Secondary Markets.

That results in a total of $400 million in sales for Hot Wheels.

The Collectable & Vintage Toys UK Market Size 

An MBA student analyzed this market for me in September 2006 by looking at sales on eBay, toy fairs, auction houses and other channels and came to the conclusion that is was valued at £310 million (around $627 million at the time).  With hindsight the study missed some sub-markets which I would estimate would have added around 10% of the total market.

UK Market Size Study from 2006
With the US constituting 2/3 of the collectible markets I believe that the UK represents about 1/15th of the world-wide market giving a total value of the Collectible Toy markets to be $10 billion per annum.

Collectible Models Sold in US Retail

The NPD Group is a market research company which monitors consumer purchase data from over 165,000 stores worldwide.  In 2012 they reported that Collectors bought around 15% of the total toys and models sold in monitored retail outlets in the US and that the total sales for these retailers was $23bn.

Model Kits on the Shelves

This does not account for eBay, other online channels, fairs, P2P sales and auction houses and is a larger number than my prediction (use the $10 billion number calculated earlier, adjust for 2/3 of that to be in the US and then for all missing channels).

Beyond Collectible Toys & Models

While I did the most of my research on the Toys & Models markets I have also monitored literature on other types of collectibles and have created a Segment Map which calculates the annual spend as $200 billion (this excludes the value of Classic Cars).

Collectible Segments

A few comments on the graph:

  • The size of the circles represents annual global trading of collectible segments and are based on similar type of assumptions or comments from experts (many of which are on on the hobbyDB Catalog Advisory Council)
  • Segment colors denote clusters, for example dark blue is for value based collectibles such as coins, stamps and shares
  • Concentration is an approximation on how many items make up a segment and how many of those are responsible for a large percentage of the sales in one segment – take PEZ Dispenser which would probably be less than 12,000 database entries (we consider that a very small number) or model cars where the Golden Brands (Corgi Toys, Dinky Toys, Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Minichamps, Wiking and maybe 4 or 5 other brands make up more than half of the total collectible sales.


How many of us Collectors are out there?

I have also run some calculations on the number of collectors worldwide and estimate it to be 75 million. This number is supported by research by Pam Danziger who runs Unity Marketing, the only firm that I found that had focused on researching collectible markets (they have now pivoted their focus to the Luxury Markets).  Pam had earlier been the Director of Competitive Analysis at Franklin Mint. One of their reports from October 2000 that was based on their regular omnibus questionnaire said “Some 42.9 million U.S. households, that is 42% of total households, report that someone in their household collects any collectible item, according to Unity Marketing’s latest consumer survey.  With an average of 1.7 individual collectors living in each collecting household, the total number of U.S. collectors is estimated at 72.9 million — about 35% of the total U.S. population!”

Growth of the Collectible Markets

Elroy Dimson, Emeritus Professor of Finance at London Business School did a study in 2014 on returns of Collectible Assets (which he calls Emotional Assets) since 1900 and calculated Nominal Returns over the period of 6.4% p.a. and Real Returns of 2.4%.  This dovetails with my estimate of an annual growth of the total market of around 3%.  That growth is fed by new collectibles entering the market (like those $200 million in Collectible Hot Wheels referred to earlier) and appreciation of collectibles already in Collectors’ hands.

Chinese Stamps

We see particular strong growth in some of the Emerging Markets, primarily in China and expect the relationship of 2/3 of collecting happening in the US to reverse over the next 20 years.

Comments (33 Comments)

Great post! I really enjoyed it. Being very analytical, what do the colors mean in your bubble graph? And how do you define Concentration? I assume the size of the bubble is the market size.

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Automodello Adding Archive to hobbyDB

Automodello logo

If you’re starting a new model car company, you need to find a niche that makes you unique. There’s only so much shelf space that can be devoted to yet another model of, say, a 1957 Chevy Bel Air. Automodello, based in the Chicago area, sets themselves apart in several ways.

“Automodello models are all resin cast and considered to be Resin Art,”  said James Cowen, the company CEO. “We support 1:43, 1:24 and 1:12 scales for overlooked marques and models.” True to his word, there  aren’t a lot of models of Bricklins or Griffiths or Intermeccanica Italias available anywhere else. Nor are there a lot of 1:12 Formula 1 cars out there.

Automodello Bricklin SV1

The Automodello Bricklin model includes a matching broom to hold the gullwing doors open, an authentic detail unfortunately too common on the real car.

That doesn’t mean everything they offer is an automotive oddity. Their first 1:12 scale car represents Jim Clark’s 1967 Lotus 49 Grand Prix car, instantly recognizable to most racing fans. But the scale, material and level of detail still sets it apart.

Automodello Jim Clark Lotus

The team at Automodello features a large number of folks you might recognize from various areas of the hobby including magazines and other media. In addition to Cowen, the design team includes Raffi Minasian (who did design for Ferrari, Toyota and others) and Cara Seekell, Automodello’s web designer. Their Technical Advisors include experts and luminaries such as racing legend Dan Gurney, Herb Grasse (designer of the Bricklin), Ed Schoenthaler (owner of the Brooks Stevens Cord and other significant one-offs) and Andrew “Jack” Griffith (of the Griffith car company mentioned above).

Automodello is making hobbyDB the home of their official online archive. Even though they have only been in business since 2010, there are almost 100 models in our database already. At the rate they’re going, you can expect that number to grow. In fact, there are already several models listed as “coming soon” and we’re pretty excited to see them.  

Automodello Intermeccanica Italia

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Designer Notes: Heller Alpine-Renault A210 Le Mans

Lincoln Futura Philippe de LespinayPhilippe de Lespinay started with Heller, the French model kit company in the 1960s as a designer and project engineer. He also also worked for Cox, who are now known for their remote control and gas powered vehicles, but also created many kits over the years. More recently, he was the curator of the Los Angeles Slot Car Museum. And he’s on the hobbyDB Advisory Board, so yeah, he’s our kind of guy.

hobbyDB will be regularly sharing his insights on particular models he has worked on including production kits, never-produced projects, and his own custom builds. We hope you enjoy the journey through his career as well.

Read more about his history in the toy and model business here.

Heller Alpine-Renault A210 Le Mans

Renault Alpine a210 kit Heller

The first kit I designed was that of an Alpine-Renault A210 Le Mans car.  I traveled to Dieppe to the Alpine factory and was able to take all the measurements, pictures and information as a personal guest of Alpine’s founder  and president, Jean Redele. He also loaned me an Alpine A110 Berlinette 1300S, and I had great fun with it for several weeks. It actually pushed me to purchase one, that I raced until I smashed it comprehensively while trying to avoid an errant car.

Heller Alpine-Renault A210 Le Mans Instructions

I tried to do a good job on the new model and introduced some new features that were not present in any available kit, such as separate rim sections for the racing wheels, real rubber safety belts and suspension springs made of steel wire that one could form over a nail, a trick I learned from a great model maker long passed away. I even tried to get a windshield rubber seal to work but it did not, and I had to revert to the standard method of gluing the windshield in place. The kit was well received in the period magazines and sold extremely well to a public welcoming a French racing car model, something that simply did not exist then.

Not much has survived of the Alpine A210, except for the assembly notice of which I drew the images, and assembled the old-fashioned way, by gluing the text blocks in place. Those were the days!

There were plenty of “firsts” in this kit, including that one had to make his own suspension springs wound over… a nail! The wire and nail were supplied in the kit. This system worked very well and was reconducted for most of the kits I designed for this company.

Philippe de Lespinay Renault Alpine

Soon after I had a Alpine-Renault 1300S, here in 1968 in Paris (before the turmoil that hit the country and caused a near revolution). This car was unfortunately destroyed when I hit a snowbank while the car was fitted with Dunlop racing tires for dry pavement.  A year and a half later, was on my way to Los Angeles, California.

AMT negotiated with Heller for the distribution of some car kits, and issued 4 different “double” kits in 1971. The injections were packed in clear plastic bags and sent to the American company that repackaged them in large boxes with their own illustrations, that unfortunately paled compared to those of Paul Lengelle. The Alpine was packaged with a version of the Heller Renault R8 Gardini as one of the sets in this series.

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28 Year Old Easter Egg Found in Nintendo Punch Out!! Game

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Normally, when you find an old Easter egg, you are probably better off just disposing of it because no one likes rotten eggs. In the case of video games, it’s a fun thing.

Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! game was a humongous hit for Nintendo in 1987, pitting the player against increasingly difficult (and larger) opponents. Over the years, players found a few hints buried in the game that could help you advance to new levels, but one had gone undiscovered until recently.

Nintendo Mike Tyson Punch Out

If you look at the image above, there is a bearded man in  the front row towards the left side of the screen. As you play the game, members of the crowd move around a bit here and there, but this particular guy is the key… when he nods, it’s time to land a perfect knockout body blow. You can see it in this video. No work on whether he is aware of some kind of fix, or if he is just extremely prescient.

You can read more about the discovery here. Anyone out there know of additional Easter Eggs in old games? Let us know in the comments!

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