Maybe you’ve got a bedroom like The 40 Year Old Virgin‘s, or perhaps you’re a box hoarder, keeping trinkets from your childhood (or later . . .) in a box, affording it occasional glances. Sometimes, you might even take the lid off.
But just lately, you’ve realized that perhaps the time has come to stop the hoarding. You need to make some money, perhaps to help pay for a large expense, such as a car, mortgage down payment, or even a wedding.
It’s time to let someone else play with your old toys.
Toys I’ve Sold on eBay
Over the years, I’ve sold a lot of toys on eBay, to the extent that at one point I was actually buying and selling at the same time, turning it into a quite profitable side job. While I was focusing on G1 Transformers toys (the originals are the best; the new movies have too much CGI for me) and 1970s–80s Lego sets, the tips and tricks I picked up apply to any toy in reasonably good condition (and some that aren’t).
But your figures might be something else entirely. Perhaps you have vintage Scalextric or Hornby trains . . . you might own some rare A-Team figures, or some 1950s friction spark guns. You might be one of the proud owners of a complete Star Wars figurine collection, or have a range of boxed comic book heroes, molded and painted.
Perhaps you collected Kinder Surprise toys! It could be anything.
Selling Your Beloved Toys and Figures Is Hard
Before we proceed: reality check.
You’re reading this because you have some toys, games, or figurines, perhaps even MIB (“mint in box,” meaning the item is in mint condition, and in the original box) or BNIB (“brand new in box,” as before, but never opened), and you’re considering selling them to make money.
Perhaps you enjoy looking at them. Or else you like playing with them (hey, we won’t tell) — or you don’t, but you’re happy to know they’re in your basement/attic/storage garage.
The fact is, you won’t feel happy about selling these items unless you feel that it is time to move on, that you have outgrown them. Until that happens, unless you’re absolutely desperate for the cash, keep them.
You’ll regret it if you don’t!
Research Your Toy’s Value
To get started, you need to know what you’re planning to sell is worth. At this stage, you don’t need to take anything off of any shelves, or get anything out of the attic — as long as you know what you have, and what condition it is in, you can research its value.
Now, eBay may not be the best place to find this information. While you’ll certainly get a general idea of what the value is of recent sales of the same or similar items (using the Advanced search option and checking Sold listings before clicking Search on your search term), it’s worth heading to specialist collector sites that deal with the collectible figurines, toys and games you’re considering selling.
You’ll find such sites with a quick Google search.
Clean Them, Carefully
Once you’ve decided it’s time to say goodbye to your prized possessions, it’s time to pack up their things and box them up — but not before cleaning them up! If your much-loved toys have been sealed in a box, then they’ll be fine, although the box may need a dusting.
For toys that have lived a bit, it’s time to get the toothbrush, a clean paintbrush, Q-tips, and paper towels out, along with a small amount of water that should be used conservatively. With older toys, missing stickers will leave residue, so you’ll need a suitable removal solution that doesn’t damage the surface.
When you’re done, leave them overnight before checking again for any dirt and dust that needs removing.
Find Missing Spares Online
Missing stickers, guns, spoilers, heads, wheels . . . toys of all shapes and sizes find themselves slowly shrinking as bits get knocked off or just lost. Toys with small parts are usual suspects, but the most susceptible have to be Lego bricks and minifigs, which find themselves trodden into carpets, stuck in air vents, and taking rides to work in between the seats of the family car for years.
It doesn’t have to be small toys, either — accessories can be a problem. I once lost a He-Man, Master of the Universe sword in my parents’ back garden for 11 years. Finding it again, completely by chance, was an amazing feeling!
So if you’re selling your figures and games, and don’t want to sell them incomplete, eBay is your friend. There’s a very good chance that someone has the missing item you’re looking for, whether it’s stickers/decals, instructions, or accessories. I’ve even bought a box for a 1970s Lego set from eBay in order to complete a set and increase its value.
Take Good, Clear Photos
Forget your smartphone camera (unless you’re rocking a new iPhone or top-of-the-line Android) — good, clear photos come from DSLRs, so if you have access to one of these, you should certainly be putting it to good use.
For toys with damage, make sure you take a good photo of the affected area; give the potential buyer all the information they need, and no excuse to back out of any sale. Similarly, photograph the item in its best state, as well as various other modes (boxed, for instance), with uniform lighting and a white background.
Our guide to making sure your photos sell your goods online should help.
Take Time to Craft Your Listing and Description
You can sell on various online marketplaces, but you’re probably going to be using eBay the most, certainly at first.
As with any eBay listing, you should add all of the necessary information; some of the eBay automation tools may be useful here, but on the whole you should take the time to write your own description and set your own item specifications.
You might also write the description to include some personal memory of the item (such as when you first bought it, how much you enjoyed it, that sort of thing) to give a potential buyer an idea of your relationship with the item you’re selling. This can make your listing memorable, and help it to stand out, which is particularly important when you’re up against other sellers!
Meanwhile, if the item is a limited edition, or comes with some certification, take the time to highlight this, and photograph it too. It can add a significant amount of value, and again serve to make your listing more valuable.
Understand the Importance of Keywords
Wherever you’re selling the item, make sure you clearly describe it in the listing title, using its most recognized name, followed by the condition it is in. This is useful both for the listings page of the site you’re using, and any search engines that might be indexing the listing site or its sub-categories.
For instance, “Original Transformers G1 Soundwave BNMIB w/Buzzsaw Cassette” tells the reader that the item is a Generation 1 Transformer figure, is Brand New, Mint In Box, and comes with the Buzzsaw cassette transformer. This works far better than “1980s Transformer Cassette Player” — searches on eBay and Google will be for “Soundwave,” “Transformers Soundwave,” or “G1 Soundwave”.
Second guess what potential buyers might type into Google to find your item, and work with it.
Factor in Packaging and Shipping
Are you able to ship the item safely?
You need to think about this before listing it to sell, so do your research to find a courier or postal service that will ship the item safely and securely. If you’re expecting to make some good money from older toys, you don’t want them to get lost or damaged in transit.
Also, make sure that there is an option for the buyer to take out insurance.
Promote Your Auction
You know all about listing on eBay, right? Perhaps you’ve done it before, or you’ve read our guide to making money with the online auction giant. Or you might be avoiding it (plenty of security experts would say this is a good idea) completely, or prefer to list your classic toys for sale on dedicated websites and forums.
— eBay (@EbayWho) August 14, 2016
But you will need people to know about the auctions. What better way to do this than to share the auction on Twitter, Facebook, or perhaps even Snapchat or Instagram?
Social media contacts might like to know about the sale, or have friends that might like to know more. Additionally, specialist websites dedicated to toys (or particular toy ranges) might have a discussion forum where you can alert fellow members to your sale. Be careful to abide by the site rules, however, and avoid spamming and repeated posts — these are frowned upon!
Selling Stuff: Don’t Change Your Mind!
Ultimately, this is a choice that you have to make, and then stick to the decision. Either you need the money, or the space, or even both — or you don’t. But if you feel as though you’re going to regret selling these items, then don’t list them in the first place.
Prioritize; avoid messing people around. Be honest in your dealings, and if the money for a single item looks like it could be ridiculously large, consider using escrow (eBay has an escrow option for just an occasion).
Have you sold your old toys and games on eBay? Did you make the money you hoped, or were you disappointed? Tell us in the comments.
Image credit: Horia Varlan via flickr.