Collected Wisdom.

Hello, my intended...

Well, it's been something of a stretch since last we shared our wisdom with you, so before you go wandering off like lemmings I decided to give you some further direction.

Several interesting events have occurred since last we spoke, the spyplane crash in China, the buying of WCW by Vince McMahon, and the execution of Timothy McVeigh stand out, but I digress... No, we're going to start back slowly... Heh.


It never ceases to amaze me that people gather unto themselves assorted bric-a-brac and assign monetary worth to it for no good reason. You name it, some genius is hiding it in a time capsule with dreams of future fortune. Must... Not... Laugh... First I think one should understand where I'm coming from.

Worth is a term denoting a (generally) monetary measure. For example, precious stones have worth. Gold has worth. Strangely though, neither of them have much of the next item...

Value is a term denoting a (generally) emotional measure. Further, it is generally assigned to items that are worth damn little economically speaking. A child's first 'A' grade from school. Great-grandma's dolly. Wedding photos. Your diploma. While not exactly possessing much, if any, intrinsic worth, these things (and similar ilk) are all but impossible to assign a price - at least one that anyone else would pay... Why? Because - brace yourselves, the point's coming... Ready?

The two terms are (generally) mutually exclusive.

That's right. Like oil and water, business and pleasure, love and marriage... They don't mix. Never did. Never will. Anyone that tells you different is selling something. Literally. While there are exceptions, something's value and it's worth vary WILDLY, and despite what those two fellas on the QVC say, the two are not interchangable. You might have a diamond stickpin from your Great Aunt Ellen that's been passed through the generations, and since it's a diamond, which holds intrinsic monetary worth - compounded by it being old, which reportedly adds to that - you can figure it'll fetch a little dough. However, despite there likely have been thousands if not millions of these stickpins being made, only ONE of them was your Great Aunt Ellen's, and that gives it VALUE far beyond the ecumenical measure of worth. Unless of course you hated Great Aunt Ellen, in which case you'll take whatever the hock shop will give you for it... but I digress.

Now we all know by now what sort of stock I put by liars and con-men, and the simple truth is that's all they are - and when I see some dink on the shopping channel hawking plates or baseball cards for exorbidant fees I'm completely baffled. This is about the most ridiculous thing on earth, bar none. One little piece of pressboard with someone's face on it fetching up to the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Why? A piece of pressboard isn't worth much, even figuring in the licensing and printing costs, so how can something that came with six other similar bits of pressboard and a piece of gum for a QUARTER suddenly be worth a couple thousand bucks? I'll break it to you, folks... Because that's what they TOLD you, PERIOD.

How did this really get started? It all started many, many years ago when this company decided that baseball fans probably wanted momentos to track the progress of their favorite players and teams. Fine. But there's something everyone's overlooking in that little business model, folks... Saying something is valuable (and therefore worth money) because it's a 'limited edition' just doesn't hold water because (drumroll).... Everything connected to a specific date is the very definition of limited edition. NEWSPAPERS are limited editions, for crying out loud, but when's the last time someone tried to EBay a mint copy of the Wall Street Journal? (If it hasn't happened yet, of course) Whether they print up five or five million, the fact is that they stopped eventually, and only those printed at that time exist; unless of course they print more (which happens).

Now the idea is that as time goes by, these things wear out, or are similarly done away with as the passage of time dictates, which leaves (in theory) relatively few in circulation. The plan, in a nutshell, is if one assumes the demand for an item remains constant and the supply dwindles, then the worth of what little remains appreciates. That's called 'fudging the line'. Which line? The one between what something is WORTH and it's VALUE. Several significant economies are built on that sandy foundation, folks... The people who print up pricing guides, the people who make plastic card displays, the people who sell these trinkets to start with ALL depend on the fact that people are stupid. They don't miss too many meals, to say the least... Heh. But don't worry, the fact is that this particular paradigm is on the cusp of collapsing under it's own highly overvalued weight, much as the dot-coms have been. Why? Everyone with access to a printing press is releasing 'limited edition' stacks of 'collectors items' in a bid to cash in on someone else's fond memories. TV shows from Mork and Mindy to the Beverly Hillbillies. Cartoons from Pokemon to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Wrestlers. Rock stars. Serial killers. Further, more people than ever are buying up all that they can under the impression that they are 'investing'. It is to laugh. We'll explain:

Believe it or not, that little piece of pressboard (or action figure, or comic book, or whatever) is worth no more than it ever was to start with, in an impartial view.

Objectively speaking, a Beanie Baby is just a sock with plastic pellets in it. A comc book is no different from any other printed periodical, such as a sports magazine or newspaper, which are churned out by the tens of millions monthly. An action figure or toy is just a painted lump of vinyl resin and plastic. The worth of these things is minimal, at best. Something's VALUE is denoted by the ENJOYMENT one derives from same. A great story with your favorite characters, the laughter of a child at play, the love imparted to these items and the memories of same are what give an item it's value - and nothing else. Therefore, if you buy a comic book and lock it in mylar without ever looking at it, you defeat its purpose. If you buy a toy and lock it up untouched by a child, you defeat its purpose. These things, logically, by never having been enjoyed - CANNOT HAVE VALUE.

But see, that doesn't stop the more mercenary elements - following the rules laid out by the likes of P.T. Barnum (There's a sucker born every minute) and W.C. Fields (Never give a sucker an even break) - who actually assign a worth based on a perceived value for the item. It just can't be done... And to make it even MORE suspect, they sell things based on a perceived FUTURE value. And the REALLY sad thing is that people swallow it hook, line and sinker. How odd it must sound, the internal struggle of your standard puddinghead... 'Duh. If I buy dis plate, I got one of just 250,000. Den, if someone comes along when dey're all sold, duh, I can make a bundle selling it...' See, the thing is that everyone that was EVER likely to buy a goddamn painted plate did it when YOU did... Nobody else in the general population will even know there WAS such a plate unless you try to sell it to them. Good luck.

Don't get me wrong, some people LOVE to buy these things and display them proudly to the world. Maybe I'm just too practical, but when so inclined I buy PAINTINGS to hang up and admire, and plates to put my dinner on when I eat. What kind of moron thinks that they get the best of both worlds with a painted plate? All kinds. Heh.

You have to realize that the people that sell these 'collectible' things are the same type of scumhook that would go through an injured man's pockets before calling for help (if then). Vultures. Ghouls. Now, in that instance, folks, YOU are the poor soul face down in the street. These people will buy up all of some item, thereby preventing the people who would want it from having it... Maybe you've seen them at your local toystore without realizing it... Some scruffy guy with a shopping cart full of action figures, or Beanie Babies, or what have you... You may have even snickered at him for still being into toys at his age, but the fact is he's not... He's into SELLING toys to stupid people. The payoff's better than your average savings bond, if these auctions for old MOC (mint on card) toys is any indication. The funny thing is the guy probably bought them up when the toy was on clearance, so he didn't even pay full retail, and he's expecting you (ten years later) to pony up 20-100 times that. And the funnier part is many of you DO. If you want to get a cheap laugh, go to a convention and count how many times this sounds familiar...

Patsy: Oh WOW, you've got an original Super Powers Aquaman still on the card!
Connie: You bet. Before he lost his hand and they gave him that hook and beard. These are VERY rare.
Patsy: I know! I've been looking all over for one of these. What are you selling it for?
Connie: Well, it's a very rare figure these days... Most people wanted Batman or Superman, so not many Aquamans were even made... I couldn't part with it for less than $50.
Patsy: Awww.... I only have $45. (turns away)
Connie: Tell you what. Since you're a fellow Aquaman fan, I'm sure you'll give it a good home. If you really want it, I can let it go for $45.
Patsy: You mean it?! WOW, I can't believe it!
Connie: Me neither. So you want it before I come to my senses?
Patsy: Here's the money!
Connie: Here's Aquaman. Enjoy.
Patsy: Hey, look! The price tag on it says $3.99...
Connie: Really? Wow, they don't even USE price stickers anymore. Wish I noticed that before I let it go.
Patsy: A deal's a deal!
Connie: Yeah, I know. I guess you got me on that one...

Take a friend along. First one to get to fifty wins... Heh.

Now here's the straight dope (no pun intended)... Ready?

Contrary to what Overstreet or whatever 'pricing guide' you use for whatever item says, the hard truth is that something is only worth what you can get someone else to PAY. They may tell you that the price of a particular item is, say, $50. However, that's more of a notice on what YOU will have to pay some comic shop for it - NOT what YOU will get for it. Period. If you want to really get your feelings hurt, lug over some shoeboxes of your treasure and see if you get anything NEAR what the guide says... Heh. These guys - if they even think to buy your stuff to start with - are not going to pay you anything close to what the guide says for the simple fact that they intend to sell it for at least that price themselves, and the bigger the profit the better. Dopes. So say they decide to pay you, I dunno, $8 for that $50 item.... Tops. (no pun intended) You have two choices...

Take the $8, or try to get the guide price from someone else. Most people go with the bird in the hand, and the saga continues... Silly, ain't it?

Like I said, though, the entire works is teetering on the brink of collapse under its own weight. What leads me to this conclusion? Simple. More and more people are stashing away items for the future payoffs being enjoyed by some at present... Unfortunately, the entire model DEPENDS on scarcity, and if there's just as many special edition with holographic trim items ten years from now as there were when they were made, it suddenly becomes a buyer's market. The entire collectible industry is based on the fact that only certain amounts exist, and if everyone keeps one pristine, the bottom falls out of the whole works. In short, because more people are collecting items than ever, the market is not perpetuating itself - it's canniballizing itself. Luckily, Bobo has a solution for those of you that still want to cash in on the collectors market... Ready?

Buy a warehouse... Then, you can make these dinks pay you to keep all that junk from cluttering up their houses until they can unload them on some dimwit on EBay a decade or so from now... That way, you make money without ever bothering with selling toys. Pretty spiffy, huh?

You're welcome. See you SOON.