Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ramblings of a MISB Collector

My name is Lord Zarak and I am a MISB collector. For those who do not understand that term, that means I collect toys, but yet do not open them from their packaging. Various price guides list items in that condition as Mint In Sealed Box (MISB) or Mint On Sealed Card (MOSC). Toys still in their packaging will receive a different value than those that have been opened (loose).

After 15 years of collecting, and building a collection of literally thousands of toys, I still receive many comments in regards to the fact that all of my toys remain in their packaging. A common criticism is that toys are meant to be played with, much like comic books are meant to be read. So why do I leave everything sealed, forever keeping the toys from fulfilling their purpose of being played with?

I guess part of the answer goes back to when I was a kid. I'd get a new Transformer, open it up and play with it like anyone else. However, probably unlike most other children, I kept the boxes they came in. I'd use them to build fortresses and such, but I felt that the boxes were part of the toy. Especially when the packaging contained the toy's biography and technical stats.

When I purchased my first action figure as a collectible (Batman Returns Catwoman, 1992), I wanted to keep it in the packaging it was sold in. I wanted to preserve this item over time, and to truly do that, it needed to stay in its cardboard prison, that way it can be forever preserved and seen exactly as it was originally sold, box and all.

One of the popular misconceptions of keeping the toys in their box is that it will make them easier for me to sell for profit. I'll debunk that immediately by stating in over 15 years, I have only sold a handful of toys, and that was mostly when I was buying my first home and needed some extra funds for moving. Also, while it is true that sealed toys are more valuable than their loose counterparts, the majority of toys that I have in my collection probably wouldn't even get their original retail value on eBay. Don't believe me? Search online and see what Star Wars Power of the Force figures are selling for. Fact is, a lot of people collected toys as I did, resulting in very little long term demand for toys. That's part of why I've severely cut back on toy collecting (a story for a later blog).

Now, over the years, there have been plenty of toys that I have bought and opened. Usually, those toys are duplicates allowing me to keep one sealed away. But there are some toys that are too awesome to not play with. Hasbro's 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime immediately comes to mind. Lego sets are a common exception to my MISB collecting. Those just have to be opened to be appreciated.

Currently, I display what toys I can mostly in a spare bedroom in my home. It was constructed to resemble a toy store, complete with fixtures purchased from actual retail stores that went out of business. This allows me to showcase hundreds of toys as they were back when they were first available for sale. And to me, there is something very satisfying about seeing a toy, unavailable to the public anymore, hanging off of a peg in my very own toy store.

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