Robot-Japan Collection Sale and Perspective

on Monday, April 15, 2013.

The Voice of Robot Reason

So a close friend to me once said, "Ed, these robots are like cars.  You can enjoy some rare cars, common cars, restored cars, and untouched cars, but they come and they go.  You can always buy and sell.  -It's no big deal if you sell your toys."  Well it was a big deal for me.

Reasons to Sell a Robot Collection

Many of our readers already know that the "Ed Sandford" collection sold at Morphy Auction House September 13th, 2013; my collection.  It was a cherished resource for Robot-Japan, reference material, and a source of pride.  It also took a very long time to find the toys, store them, display them, catalog them, and then let the robots go.  I've grown and gained some perspective as that chapter closes.

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In retrospect it is truly no big deal to sell your toys, and quite smart if your life gets out of balance.  Myself, I felt a burden and had toys everywhere- my kid's room, my friend's extra room, my parent's home, the office, and in a garage storage "bunker".  I was a hoarder- ok call it collector- and thought I could leverage the awesome physical collection to grow the site and absorb all the intricacies. 

Many of my toys were purchased online in my days of computer consulting and living alone.  So after extensive work travel I purchased a home and settled down.  The toys could come out of storage and be enjoyed in my permanent home in Florida.  The rub was that I began to need more space as the collection grew, and life got out of balance.  Building a robot library on a "Sand Bar" wasn't the wisest decision (coastal Florida).  Insurance companies don't like the idea of being on a floodplain and I didn't like the hazards like bugs, flooding, salt water, and hurricanes.  My collection was uninsured.

My early 90's goal of building a reference library of toys was achieved.  In the 2000's that goal became less necessary with the advent of cheap cameras and cheap computer storage.  Today, digital media gives us much better options with video and high resolution photos.   We have numerous photos (some unpublished still) and have alot to review in our photo Encyclopedia.  Large libraries aren't as useful as they were in the past.  

My secondary goal was to also get published.  The toys provided material to pull from and write about; done, goal attained.  I was able to publish via the web, publish an article on Godaikins for Super 7, consult on projects, and then publish a reference book.  My research indicated that it would be quite costly to produce my own reference book, and the market is quite limited.  

Later I recognized that Dan Morphy and his auction house gave an avenue for a hardcover reference book.  Old sales catalogs are often an outstanding hobby resource, and Morphy Auctions professionally photographed my toys.   The catalog of photos and descriptions is now available for aficionados, and it is something I can share with the kids. 

Then as friends already know, my family has been growing and my collection has become out of balance in my life.  As I get older, my kids are much more important than toys.  I love robots, I enjoy the hobby, but I don't need 600+ robots in a home with 2 kids, a wife, and two cats.  It became time to sell and share with collectors.  It is quite liberating to take materialistic objects and let them go.  Friends and family are much more important and they help put things back in balance.

Robot Auction expectations, outcome, and perspective.

Expectations

My expectations were humble and I felt that the auction would be win-win.  My family would definitely win with more space and less materialistic burden.  I felt that collectors would benefit if prices were low, and deep discount prices wound not bother me.  Good deals would get shared with members of Robot-Japan, and I looked forward to seeing my toys in their collections. 

Conversely, I felt that if prices were stronger my family would benefit, again, another win.   Kids are expensive and cash is useful for all the steps of education.  Private school, after school athletics, and college may be in their future.  Those who have done family planning recognize the time value of money. 

Auction Outcome

The outcome of auction prices fell in line with my personal suspicions.  We have three categories-- premium robots, recognized and solid toys in the hobby, then less collected toys.   Premium toys have a latent demand, which is my term for toys with collectors just waiting with cash to fight it out on auction.  The interest is very high for these items, and often they are extremely challenging to find.  Condition usually means a great deal. 

You could see the bidding wars when these premium items hit the auction block.  Obviously, I was quite happy with the sale prices of Diaclones and other items in this category. There were shockingly 42 sales above the $1000 mark, a mark that in the 90's was held by fewer than 10 toys (my personal observation).  Earlier 1K+  toys included Zanbot DX, Tetsujin 28, Mekanda DX, specific Popy toys, and Takemi's Pegas.  The high end robots demand a premium which appears to be rising. Tastes are seasoning, and unfortunately, not meeting with a good supply.

Recognized, or "solid toys" in the hobby went for market price.  Usually these items can be found more than 6 times a year on eBay or yahoo japan.  I saw some good deals, but for the most part, these toys sold within the estimated price range.  A few Godaikins were a deal, but for the most part, people didn't overpay.  For instance Voltes V went for around $1100, and God Sigma (if memory serves me) went for around $380, and GodMarz sold for fair value.  The Bandai Valkyries hit the same prices as on eBay.  Many Clover mecha sold at the expected price mark.

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Less collected items, especially new toys, were a deal.  One could argue the new toys were just not old enough, and the potential collectors were not in their prime income earning years.   Takemi Machine blaster toys, odd character toys, and bulk Popy lots sold at good prices. Toy animation cels didn't bring much, even when professionally framed.  

Deals-- In my opinion the purchaser of the Nomura Baldios DX got the deal of the day.  As I recall it sold close to $320, and It had a uniqueness,  condition, and rarity to command more.  Those that scooped up a few of the Diaclone sets (non-car robos) did quite well for themselves.  Then I was floored that there wasn't more action on the Popy Kamen Rider Stronger (sold for approximately $320) and specific DX combining toys like the Tryder Kanzen Henki Gattai (sold for about $950).  The Yamato Scopedog 1/12 Red Shoulder Toy Fair exclusive sold at about $80 if memory serves me correctly, Deal! Popy's Combine-In-Box sold for closer to $2500 in dead stock condition; hopefully it is appreciated as much as I did.  New Transformers Alternators toys sold for less than the cost of their AFA grading and case.

Oddities-- Then there were new blips or trends or oddities.  I found the $800+ sale for Mekanda Robo ST to be odd, but it MAY be a new trend.  It was a shocker, but I do recognize that it was dead stock and an awesome robot.  The $2000+ sale of Diaclone Smokescreen was another shocker.  Here I attribute strong advertising and Morphy Auction house's work as a determining cause.  The robot, though, was dead stock and as good as it gets.  Someone may have just been ahead of the curve and with strong resources.  I've never regretted paying top dollar for top notch robots.

Strong Performers-- Cream rises to the top.  In the case of the auction results, I confirmed what had been long suspected, in that premium condition and premium character robots are fought for.  Competition for the best of the best often pushes higher and higher prices at the top end of rare robots.  This happened with tin, and is happening with diecast. 

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Tetsujin 28 in Godaikin box sold for $2700; premium toy in a premium box.  Production was limited.  The SG-01 Popy release of it sold over $4000; rarity comes into play here as does condition. 

The ultra-rare Takemi Pegas sold at this well publicized auction for one of the first times.  Its condition was flawed and it needed accessories.  On the plus side, the Pegas did have a box and looked good with hand made replacement parts.  So here rarity trumped all and it sold closer to $2200; it was a strong performance considering condition.

In the Diacone "large robot world" I was struck by Fortress X selling under $1000 and Great Robot Base selling near 1k.  Each toy was in new old stock condition with light box wear.  Double Soldier was the sleeper.  It is indeed rare, and its price outstripped its bigger brothers--  $1200.

Finally Diaclone Car Robos broke the bank.  Transformers fans must have come into play, and these seminal character toys were feverishly bid up.  Ultra Magnus' father toy, Big Powered Convoy, went for over $10,000.  The Pre-Bluestreak toy known as Fairlady Z sold for over $5000 as did the "Marlborojack" Lancia.  Pre-Transformers favorites and pop culture dominated the auction.

Premium Popy toys mostly sold for solid Popy prices.   Gatchaman F Gatchaspaltan DX, Dantanious DX, and Black paint diecasts were all sought after.  The blue missile variant of GA-50 DaikyMaryu was feverishly bid up (yes, all the box inserts were present).

Wrap up Details

Most of the auction attendees met up after the auction at the Black Horse Tavern.  Thanks to everyone that attended, as the visit was exceptionally special to me.  It isn't every day we can hang out and chew the fat. Thanks everyone for making the trip and I appreciated the kind words of support.

Thank you to the online army that supported the sale too.  I enjoyed messaging, emailing, and conversing about details and the hobby.

Readers may not have known it, but  I had some toys returned to the auction house.  After three months I had a few items shipped back after non-payment or purchase issues.  There were only about 10 items, but honestly, it was a bit of a treat.  The one-of-a-kind Megatron and Shockwave comic art was returned.  I was ecstatic, as it was a complete story line framed and nice to have back.  Then Big Dai X by Takatoku was returned and is being enjoyed again.  My AFA Optimus Prime was returned too, making a new Christmas present to myself.

Perspective

The auction was freeing, and it felt good to reduce the materialism in my life. 

-A few thoughts from Wikipedia:

".... Materialism denies the existence of both deities and 'souls.' It is therefore incompatible with most world religions including Christianity, Judaism and Islam. In most of Hinduism and transcendentalism, all matter is believed to be an illusion called Maya, blinding us from knowing the truth." 

I now recognize that for me, less is more.  I have removed 80% of my display cases and kept a few duplicates, returned toys, and "family favorite" toys to relish.  It is satisfying to see just a few items displayed properly. 

I've regained more home space and a feeling of balance.  My office "feels" better and is much more relaxing.  The hobby is back to being a hobby and not as dominating.  Principles of feng shui may be in operation here.

Then cash has been set aside for both of my kid's education.  It is a giant feather in the family cap to have their future planned for.  My hope is that my kids will get all the opportunities in life.

Now I need to go to Japan.  My intention is there, but the kids need to get a bit older.

The choice to sell much of the collection was absolutely the right one.  Life is again in balance and my hobby is less dominating and more enjoyable. 

I look forward to the continued growth of Robot-Japan, more site content, and more friendships in the hobby.

Best Regards,

Ed

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