Kool Kollectibles content

17 Feb 2020

Toy Collecting and Affordability

An interesting discussion on a Facebook toy group recently made me think about one aspect of toy collecting that is always a bit controversial - affordability. To set the scene, the original poster stated that they had chosen to buy one item because they thought a different version "was too expensive". There were many comments from collectors affirming that they believed the poster made the right choice. Some other collectors commented that the poster should have considered another option altogether from the two that were compared. And I chimed in with my reasons as to why I thought the better option was actually the item they chose not to buy.

A response to my thoughts essentially chastised me, where they indicated that the original poster "clearly said he didn’t have the money for it" and that "some people don’t have $350-$400 to pony up for one figure". That got me thinking about affordability for us collectors, and whether that's even a valid argument in this particular debate. For context, it should be noted that the item the poster decided to buy is roughly about $250 brand new going by ebay sold listings, so is not cheap in itself, which added to my thoughts.

We collectors are a fickle bunch, making snap decisions and changing our stance on things all the time. Affordability, pricing of figures, and whether some thing is "worth it" always generates some times heated discussion. In this instance, the original poster did NOT say that he couldn't afford the item, but simply said that they thought it "was too expensive" and so decided to buy another version. That to me is not an affordability issue, but a conscious collecting decision to buy something else that is "more value for money" in their eyes.

Collectors need to remember that we're just spending disposable income here (assuming we have our priorities straight in life!). The fact the poster spent $250 on an item instead of $350 is NOT an affordability issue. If they truly could not afford the more expensive item, then I'd be questioning why they're spending $250 on a toy at all! If you have $250 in disposable income, one could assume that you'd have more disposable income next week, or next pay day. So they could have simply saved that $250, waited to the next time they have more disposable income, and buy the better, but more expensive item!

Affordability to me is when your income is NOT enough to cover life's essentials! If you reach pay day, but you can't cover your mortgage/rent, put food on the table, and pay your bills, then you have an affordability issue! But after all of those essentials, if you have disposable income, then it is no longer an affordability issue, but one about the collecting choices you make and how you spend that money. Saving up for a more expensive figure above is just one example - I'll give some other examples below.

I have spoken to many collectors who say that they cannot afford 1/6th scale Hot Toys figures, that generally range in price from $220 to $300. They say that in the same breath as saying that they just received their haul of five smaller 1/12th scale figures that range in price from about $50 to $80 each! In reality, they have spent pretty much the same amount of money, just on different items. It simply cannot be an affordability issue! It is purely a collecting decision they made that they would rather have five smaller figures than one larger figure.

It comes down to what is "more value for money" in their eyes. Just use the Luke Skywalker picture above as an example. In almost all discussions, I would recommend to collectors that spending $300 on the larger figure, rather than buying 5-10 of the smaller figures would be the better option. Many collectors still choose to buy the smaller figures, and that's perfectly OK. They get more enjoyment buying more figures for their collection. But they shouldn't then come out and say that they can't afford the larger figures, because they certainly can!

The same analogy applies to Lego collectors. I've had collectors say that they cannot afford to buy the $1000 UCS sets, but then I see them posting photos of the many $100 sets that they got in a recent haul. Again, they have essentially spent the same amount of money, but they view more smaller sets as better value for money than just one large set. That again, is not an affordability issue, but a collecting decision they made, just as I made the equally valid reverse decision to buy one large set instead of many smaller sets.

In the end, we collectors make decisions on what we buy, and whether the things we buy are "worth it". It's all subjective, and what is value for money for one person may not be for another. But that does NOT mean one person can afford it, and the other cannot. I've made the mistake myself by saying that I can't afford a particular item, but what I really should have said is that it's not worth it to me.

That is, there are many things that I simply cannot justify the price to buy, but then there are some things that are more expensive that I strangely can justify! The large and expensive Ryu statue above is a case in point, where I could justify that price in my head, but cannot justify spending $50 on a new shirt! It's not about affordability!

I think many collectors, myself included, need to think about what they realistically can and can't afford, as opposed to what they can and can't justify collecting. I mean, it's just toys we're talking about here, with disposable income that we have to throw at them! A first world problem if there ever was one! 😂


  1. Great article/thoughts, buddy! (First time commenting here LOL!) Interesting observation by the way, and I agree with you. Why complain about the price of one product, just to spend an equal amount of money on something else. Thats not a affordabillity issue. Thats a matter of getting your moneys worth issue, as you so clearly state in the article. To me, its never really a matter of the price of the product, but getting what I want. Sometimes its beyond my paygrade, while other times its very affordable (even if its still an expensive product. It all boils down to how much I want something. I have the same pay every month, but in some months I may eat a burger or two too many, which results in lesser or no "toys" that month. Some months I have leftover money from previous month, which gives me more room to buy stuff. It depends on how you manage your income and your priorities. Anything and everything is expensive to someone that doesn't have a income, and thats just the way it is. Price doesn't equal quality all of the times, and its also a matter of preferances too. Some like the officials, while others like the KO's/unofficials.

    1. Hey, thanks for coming over on here to comment too! At least you use YouTube and general websites! Shame you're not on Facebook too lol!! The discussion and debate in the Facebook groups on my thoughts here have been very interesting!