Action Figure Expo February 2015

As the old saying goes, ‘sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.’

Normally, mainly due to table prices, the Action Figure in Mississauga ends up being a better show financially than a lot of the others.  Colin Douglas has been able to draw people for years, although in recent years sadly it is really all the same faces (not nearly enough new blood).  This, coupled with my stale inventory, a huge quantity of quality merchandise in the room, and frankly collector’s changing tastes, led to a poor show.  I’ll delve more into this later.  However, first the positive, the crowd!

Action Figure Expo 3

No matter how many of these I do, when general admission is let in, I still get butterflies, and especially for this show in particular, as the crowd was massive.  From 11:00 am when regular admission started the isles were jammed, right up until just after 1:00 pm.  Two hours of hard maneuverability through the isles is a good sign for these shows; keeps you on your toes (even after a poor sleep and being on day four of a bad cold).  But now with 15 years of experience doing these, and I know this will sound cynical, year after year you see more and more guys jumping from table to table just looking for underpriced items—they’re not collectors, the individual is simply looking for items to flip.  I find nothing wrong with this; it certainly isn’t sour grapes.  It’s just amazing to see the difference from when I started, where I’d estimate 80% of the buyers simply wanted the item.  They wanted to own it, and although price was always a concern, regardless of whether or not they could get back what they paid, that wasn’t the major factor on whether or not they bought it.  They wanted it for their display, to add to their collection, which was the over-riding desire.  Over the years this has obviously diminished, considering now it’s easy to have a side business selling on eBay or Kijiji and still work another job full-time.  Still, many times I yearn for the olden days.

Action Figure Expo 1

As for me and my sales though, regardless of the massive crowd, it simply wasn’t a good show for me.  Here are some of the lowlights:

  • 5 He-man Commemorative figures MOC $125
  • 3 SNES games $65
  • The LJN cage $30
  • Various loose vintage GI Joe figures

A big surprise for me was selling NONE of my Legion of Doom (as Animal was the guest of honour), themed toys or magazines.  I’d have to say this was the biggest disappointment of the day.

Now I know a big part of my poor sales has to do with what I brought to sell, as I do have a hard time sometimes in letting go of items that maybe aren’t as popular as they used to be.  However, as I mentioned earlier, I really feel the guys that are my age and I’ve seen around the shows for years are now into the new stuff.  And again, why shouldn’t they be?  The stuff coming out today is incredible: there is some really, really amazing stuff out there.  However as every year goes by, and Hasbro, or Mattel, or whomever releases their next amazing toy, it deflates the interest in the old stuff, and that’s just life.  But it certainly affects what I’m trying to do.

Action Figure Expo 4

Which leads into my final point, that maybe, just maybe,  I’m just a bit of a dinosaur, and my era of toys, the ones I like to collect and sell, are no longer worth bringing.  Similarly in the same way it’s hard as a comic seller to sell 1950’s westerns (as the men interested in those comics would be quite elderly now),  the era I grew up with, the early 1980’s, are now a long time ago, and the old guard basically have everything. Truthfully you see a lot of people now looking for Power Rangers, Batman Animated, Turtles, the early 1990’s stuff, which came out just as I was entering my 20’s (and consequently didn’t buy a lot of this). I started doing this because I was selling, with the opportunity of keeping and collecting don’t forget, the stuff I loved and grew up with. Although it’s basically been my job (my first job is still the kids, and I have taken other jobs over the years), it’s been pretty amazing because I’ve been able to immerse myself in stuff that I have great knowledge in AND I love.  Once you have to start selling stuff you don’t have as much interest in, and therefore not nearly as much knowledge in, it becomes a lot more like work.  But again, I guess that’s life!

Action Figure Expo 2

My next report will be from the Toronto Comic Book Show in a few weeks; hopefully I’ll have better luck there!

Jason Halstead
Jason Halstead

I'm the new guy here and a self described toy freak! As a Generation X who still actively buys, sells, and trades 70’s and 80’s action figures, I'll have some fun stories to tell and some insight on the state of each individual market currently.

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  1. Great post. Sounds like you’re identifying that some adjustments need to be made on your end. Great to see a strong gate. I think a strong gate is a good sign for these toy shows, now it’s up to you to try to figure out what they are looking for. I have full confidence in you Jay!!

  2. Thank you Walt, really appreciate that. Honestly I think I’m going to pull one out of the ol’ Walt handbook, and start by slowly but surely moving into comics and comic shows, away from the toy shows. I’ll still do a few of the old standards, but taking that next step up into the bright lights of Fan Expo and other Canadian Comic Cons, I really feel that’s the next step!

  3. Well you are light years ahead of me in the recent back issue market Jay and that is the hottest segment of the comic market. I think its a good move and one you’ll be glad you took!

  4. Just wanted to note the show name was Ontario Collectors Con – not Action Figure Expo. AFX is the fall show 🙂

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