You could ve sold the $15 Furby on eBay before Christmas and made 10 times that money or more. Ever try looking on eBay to see what it s worth now?
On second thought, don t bother why make yourself cry?
Such is the trend for most must-have holiday items whose popularity is like an aging sun it builds and builds, growing hotter and hotter, until it goes super nova in a hellish explosion and then ... well, nothing but a cold void.
Just two years ago some lucky entrepreneur sold his 10 $250 Nintendo Wii investments on eBay for nearly $3,000. At that time, the game system was new, revolutionary, and nearly impossible to find. This holiday season, while the Wii remains the best-selling game console, supply has caught up with demand, and the system can be found for retail price at most electronic stores.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
And remember the virtual pet craze created by Bandai and its Tamagotchi in 1996? The electronic toys retailed for about $15, and sold for as much as $326.99 for two of the devices on eBay a year later. Now they can be had for as little as $14.99.
It was a tremendous success. It was a great gift for young children and it seemed that all children had one, said Cat Schwartz, eBay s toy director. However, the trend disappeared rather quickly.
As the Tamagotchi proves, speculating on toy collectibles is an iffy proposition especially as a long-term investment.
But the shot at a potential windfall is worth the risks, Ms. Schwartz said.
More often than not it s going to end up panning out it if it s something people predicted, like Tickle Me Elmo, she said. Three months ahead of Christmas people were talking about it; those who were on it were very successful.
In fact, a new-in-the-box Tickle Me Elmo still fetches $60 or more, about double the original price of the toy. The key to being that kind of successful seller, Ms. Schwartz advises, is to watch eBay and similar auction-house Web sites to see how well a toy is selling.
You can tell by what s happening if things are going or not going. If something s selling, it s hot, she said. Put it up there and you will be able to sell. All you have to be is a savvy user. Do your research.
This year, however, looks to be a rough one for those looking to take advantage of a toy s demand to fund a semester or two of their children s college education. While there are several hot-ticket items for the holidays, including another Elmo Elmo Live as well as a Japanese import, Bakugun Battle Brawlers, the toys are found easily enough.
A recent glance at Amazon.com shows that Elmo Live is marked down $6 from its retail price of $65.99, and that there are multiple sets of the Bakugun Battle Brawlers available as well. Another popular toy as a holiday gift is a classic board game, as families look to save cash by spending more leisure time at home and less money out. Good luck pimping the price of a Monopoly or Sorry set an extra $100 on eBay this holiday season.
And what is it that makes a toy such as whatever-Elmo-does-this-year a must-have gift? Supply and demand? The media? A godless society run amok? Try something less capitalist and considerably more innocent: children.
It s how [the toys] resonate with children, said Adrienne Citrin, spokesman for the Toy Industry Association Inc.
Sometimes you have the children [respond to] a toy that people didn t expect to be huge and it is.
Every year there are different must-have toys. What you see from the industry every year is a breadth of different products, but it s a toss up. You never know what s going to be a must-have item.
But just because a toy is popular during the holidays, she cautions, doesn t mean a child should receive it as a gift.
We always tell parents not to listen to hype about must-have toys, Ms. Citrin said, and to really step back and look at, is this something my child will play with and want, and it s not something that their parents are getting caught up in.
Contact Kirk Baird firstname.lastname@example.org 419-724-6734.