COLLECTIBLE PRICES SKYROCKET, TO THE DISMAY OF HOBBYISTS
Techlife News|Techlife News #515
Americans have become obsessed with collectibles, bidding up prices for trading cards, video games and other mementos of their youth. The frenzy has brought small fortunes to some, but a deep frustration for those who still love to play games or trade cards as a hobby.
Among the items most sought after — and even fought over — are the relics of millennials’ childhoods. These include copies of trading cards such as Pokemon’s Charizard and Magic: The Gathering’s Black Lotus as well as Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. game cartridges. Some cards are selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars and an unopened Super Mario game recently sold for an astonishing $2 million.

This is more than a case of opportunistic collectors looking to cash in on a burst of nostalgia triggered by the pandemic. Everyone seemingly is angling for a piece of the pie.

The corporations who own franchises such as Pokemon are rolling out new editions as quickly as they can print them; internet personalities are hawking the products and raking in advertising money; companies that tell collectors how much their possessions are worth are doing unprecedented businesses — and in at least one case getting financial backing from a prominent private equity firm looking to get in on the action.

But while some collectors and investors see dollar signs, others complain about the breakdown of their tight-knit communities. Players looking to play in-person again after the pandemic are unable to find the game pieces they want; if the pieces are available, prices have gone up astronomically. Critics of rising prices have become targets of harassment by those who now consider trading cards, comics and video games no different than a stock portfolio.

“Prices are going up, and access is going down,” said Brian Lewis, who operates a YouTube channel under the name Tolarian Community College.

The collectibles frenzy has been fueled partly by a self-fulfilling cycle of YouTube personalities driving hype around collecting and the rising prices of collectibles. This can lead to big paydays as advertisers notice the frenzy stirred up among the influencer’s dedicated followers.

With more than 23 million subscribers, Logan Paul made several videos where he simply opens up boxes of vintage Pokemon cards, hyping the prices he’d paid and bringing in millions of views. Australian YouTube personality Michael Anderson, who goes by the moniker UnlistedLeaf, has garnered millions of views doing similar videos.

“It may be a burgeoning industry, but this is still big business. Brands want to reach these audiences,” said Justin Kline, co-founder of Markerly, an influencer marketing agency. Based on standard industry metrics, he estimates Anderson earns upward to $50,000 in advertising revenue doing unboxing videos, while Logan Paul may earn six figures per video.

The hype has sent collectors scrambling to find out if their Pikachu, Charizard, Mox Emerald or Ancestral Recall cards might be worth a fortune. To do so, they turn to grading services, which have been flooded with orders.

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