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THE MORNING BUZZ: Collect ‘em! Trade ‘em! Share ‘em with your friends!

17 Sep, 2002 By: Holly J. Wagner

I don't buy much stuff branded “collectible.” Even DVDs, because often the “collectible” element is packaging. I admit, I'm oodles more interested in titles that are collectible because of content than packaging. This makes me wonder what all the efforts at collectible packaging will really amount to.

I had some time off a couple of weeks ago and spent a bit of it maintaining auctions on eBay. Some of what I am selling is old dolls and, as I searched the Web for information about some of them, I found a lot of validation for an idea I've held for quite a while: There are two kinds of collectibles.

One kind is what I call the “contrived collectible.” That's anything that's collectible because the marketing department stamped it on the package. The market is flooded with them – everything from kids meal toys to sports cards to handpainted state quarters.

There is quite a market for contrived collectibles – just ask the Ty company, which makes Beanie Babies, or companies like the Franklin Mint, which seem to make any event (or even nonevent) an excuse to issue a commemorative snow globe, coin, figurine or toilet paper roller. The labeling and promotion of these special, limited edition, genuine synthetic collectibles (just check the coupon flyer in your Sunday newspaper) is enough to send me running in the opposite direction.

Then there are the real collectibles – stuff that's collectible now either because it was a goof, like a mis-struck coin, or because it was popular some time ago, because then it really was cool – so cool that most of that item was used and then lost, discarded or damaged.

Dolls are a great illustration. As I surfed for information and price comparisons, it was quite obvious the dolls I had received as gifts (most of which were immediately snatched from my preteen hands and stashed away because they were collectible and too “nice” to let a child play with) are worth no more – and in some cases less – than the original selling price. The stuff I chose for myself and played with is what rakes in the big bucks from collectors.

I think the same will ultimately be true for DVD. Some of those “collectible” packages make a nice impression as a gift, but they mess up the symmetry of your media shelf and I don't believe they increase the value of the product.

I'll be watching sales trends for collectible-packaged DVDs. Although they may do well at retail around the holidays, I'll bet that over time that fancy package is just a distraction.

But that won't hurt the bottom line, at least for a while. Because just as with other collectibles, only time will tell.

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