Friday, 18 January 2013

Opinion: Buying from Ebay

I was emailed the other day by someone wanting some advice about Power Rangers. I emailed him back with a bunch of advice about buying stuff on ebay, which might not have been exactly what he wanted but it may have been vaguely useful to him.

99% of the vintage (i.e. 'old') toys I've reviewed on this site have come from ebay. There are many, many problems with that site (a topic for another time), but it is by far the easiest and most useful site for getting hold of vintage toys (and selling them, I suppose, but I rarely do that). I tend to assume that everyone knows about ebay, how it works, and how to buy things most cheaply, but of course every day loads of people will use the site for the first time.

Maybe they'd like some tips...

1. Sniping. It's not nice when you placed a bid on an item days ago and then someone else comes along and outbids you at the last second, giving you no opportunity to place a higher bid, but 'sniping' is the best way to get things more cheaply for exactly this reason. And when you think about it, if the other person had really wanted to pay more they should have placed a higher bid initially.

2. Don't forget about auctions ending. This is the problem with leaving bidding until the last second as it's very easy to forget and miss out on a bargain. It's happened to me countless times.

3. Research. If there's an item you're particularly after, check the site every day for a while to see a) how many of these items are being listed, and b) what price the auctions are ending at. If the item is fairly common then don't rush and place an overly high bid. Bide your time and wait for that special auction.

4. Ask questions. Don't assume anything about quality or what is included - make sure you check the photos (ask the seller for more/clearer ones if necessary) and ask specific questions.

5. Watch out for postage costs. Some sellers (especially international ones) charge silly amounts to post their items. The reason being that ebay takes a cut of the final selling price, but doesn't take anything from the postage cost (so the seller ends up with more money). If you're buying from abroad, always remember that anything that is listed as being worth over £15 on a customs form may result in you being charged fees (both VAT and a stupidly high 'handling' fee by the delivery company).

6. Auction end times. It's my experience that things sell for less during weekday mornings (when people are heading out to work) and early evenings (when people are heading home again), and all day Saturday (people go out/do other things). On the other hand, expect to pay more in the evenings (especially Sunday evenings). Remember about time differences if you're bidding on international items.

7. Always remember you don't 'win' anything on ebay you 'buy' it. This isn't really a tip, but it annoys me when people refer to buying things on ebay in this way.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

My Collection: Daleks - Invasion Earth: 2013

My 6yo watched the Doctor Who Christmas special on Boxing Day morning (thanks to iPlayer). Boxing night he had nightmares about snowmen and ice women.

It was a little surprising then that yesterday, after finding Daddy's Mummy figure, that he demanded to watch Pyramids of Mars. He survived the experience, although his 4yo brother insisted that the figure was removed from their bedroom before he went to sleep that night.

Before he dozed off, 6yo made me promise that while he was at school the next day I'd get out all my Doctor Who figures for him to play with. So I did.

Character (/Underground Toys) have been producing Dalek figures since Doctor Who arrived back on our screens with Christopher Ecclescake in 2005. Quite a few have been made in the 8(ish) years since. Mine have been scattered around the house in boxes, on shelves, and various other places. Not once have all of them ever been in the same place.

Until now. Welcome to the asylum...

You know, I'm sure I had more. I wonder if there's another box of them somewhere.

None of these are duplicates, and there are definitely others out there that I don't have (I drew the line at buying the WWII Dalek with light covers). It's easy to spot which have spent time on shelves as they're caked in dust. Some, you'll notice, are missing their eye stalks. They're currently at the bottom of this lot - 

The Doctor cleans up...

And with the Daleks sorted, I think it's time I took a photo of all the Cybermen. But that's for another day.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

WTRTW Awards 2012 aka 'the Palindromes'

Welcome to the second ever annual WTRTW Toy Awards, which, one day, everyone will refer to in The Biz as the Palindromes. It'll catch on eventually.

Since these awards are made up at the last minute, I highly expect, if not demand, a large amount of controversy regarding the results.

Disaster of the Year: ThunderCats

It arrived with much fanfare and then was gone in an instant. A very good example of how not to bring back a beloved line. Wave 2 didn't even make it to UK shops properly, while Wave 1 now lines the shelves of Home Bargains for 99p each.

Discount Shop Award: Bakugan

I love the engineering involved with Bakugan. I marvel at the way the designers manage to get so many different creatures to transform out of a sphere, aided by a magnet. But this engineering excellence comes at a cost, and it's a high one as Bakugan toys cost a fortune in shops. Lucky then that the discount shops have been filled with the things all year long.

Pre-order Award: Fortress Maximus

Two giant toys were recently put up for pre-order for release in 2013. For Transformers there's the reissue of the 80s toy no one owned but everyone wanted, Fortress Maximus. For Masters of the Universe there's a Castle Grayskull for the not-quite dead Classics line. Both come in at around 3 feet in height and are highly anticipated by fans of each series.

I've given the award to Fort Max simply because a) I know what that one will turn out like since all we've seen thus far of Grayskull are some blueprints, and b) I've wanted a Fort Max for far longer. No, it's not the greatest Transformer ever created. It's a large block with limited articulation, limited features and a less than complex transformation. But how can you now want a toy that's the size of a small child?

Hope for the Future: Ninja Turtles Classics

I was late for my Governor training course last month as I headed to Forbidden Planet to get my Ninja Turtles Classics figures a whole week before the rest of the country! The hands are a little...odd, but in every other regard this figures are brilliant - a great nostalgic melding between the original cartoon and the toys released at the time. In Toys R Us at the weekend the shelves were filled with the things, which is either great news or ill, depending on how you look at it. The only potential problem is that Playmates won't be able to use the same mould 4 times over for future figures which will bump up costs rather a lot.

And we definitely don't need to think about the winner of last year's Hope for the Future award.

Honourable mention: Hobbit Collectors figures.

As a big fan of the old ToyBiz Lord of the Rings line I was really excited to see that similarly-scaled similarly-styled figures were being released for The Hobbit. The figures are amazingly reasonably priced, and it's great to see something not in 4" scale. Fingers crossed there's enough of a market out there that all the major (and minor!) characters are released.

(Re)discovered Classic: New Adventures of He-Man

It's not really a 're' discovery since I never had any of these the first time around, but the NA He-Man toys are pretty good - if annoyingly incompatible with the older Masters of the Universe toys. Nordor, in particular, is a really good vehicle/playset most people, sadly, probably never played with.

Dad's Toy of the Year: Trash Pack

It's been a fantastic year for Trash Pack. It'd barely launched in the UK this time last year and now we're welcoming in the third series. It's also spun off into colouring books, Top Trumps, video games... I love these guys. Small, squishy, collectable and it doesn't matter if you get 00s of the same character. The only problem is where to store the squillions of bins they come with.

4yo's Toy of the Year: Lego Batman Wii

The original or the sequel, 4yo couldn't get enough of these games this year. We've had many a tantrum when he's been told he's been playing for 4 days without a break and maybe it's time he stopped.

6yo's Toy of the Year: Power Rangers Samurai zords

If I was honest the winner would probably be Wii Lego games here too, but since 6yo doesn't pester quite as much as his brother to play them and to add a bit of variety to the results, I'm giving this to Power Rangers. Basically no interest in the people, but he can't get enough of the giant robots and their various combinations. Launched in 2011, but with 'Super' Samurai additions this year to ensure a plentiful assortment to collect.

2yo's Toy of the Year: Duplo Cakes

It's hard to decide what 2yo has played with most this year - her interest is usually in whatever her brothers are currently playing with - but the toy she's gone back to most are the Duplo Cakes. Simple in concept, but endless hours of fun making cakes for everyone. Even 4yo loves these - making his Dad 'cakes' as a bribe to let him play on the Wii.