Hello there! I feel like a slight introduction is in order before I drop my first bundle of toy collecting wisdom. My name is Ann but I also go by The Nerdy Gimp. I am a twenty something college student, toy collector, and furry creature enthusiast. I am many things but most importantly, I am a proud member of the Texas Chapter of the D20 Girls. In addition to enriching my community through the awesome dose of girl power that is the D20 Girls, I pride myself on having a pretty great toy collection. I collect everything from Star Wars, Masters of the Universe, and My Little Pony. As a child of the 80’s and early 90’s, I have refused to leave the bright and colorful world of Saturday morning cartoons behind me. I feel like I am constantly looking on eBay for my latest toy conquest or making weekly trips to my local toy store. Because the D20 girls can usually be found on the convention floor or maybe even behind our own booth, I decided that my first article should be a survival guide for convention goers so that they may enjoy their Dealer Room experience with wallets still intact, or if not, at least leave with a bounty of plastic treasures.
Tip One: Know what you are looking for.
This requires a bit of pre-con reflection, but having an idea of what you have versus what you would like to own helps when making purchases. Have a certain Marvel Legends Build -a -Figure that needs completed? Note the Missing pieces so that you can complete the poor thing. Armin Zola, still needs an arm, gosh!
Tip Two: Exclusives!
Knowing what you are looking for also concerns Convention exclusive toys. Larger conventions like San Diego Comic Con have had exclusives for years and smaller conventions are joining the bandwagon. Check Con Websites prior to the con and you might be the proud owner of a special convention exclusive Pop! Figure. For the collector, finding an exclusive could be a great way of commemorating a convention as well as adding a new addition to their collection. Not to mention, exclusive items tend to go up in value.
Now that we have covered the prep work we can discuss tips for when you are at the Con!
Tip Three: Always bring CASH.
Many dealers now take cards with devices like Square, but this can be a hassle at times. With mobile card readers, connection may be spotty and not always work depending on the internet inside of the convention. Having cash allows for a quick transaction and in many ways, it is easier to keep track of your money.
Tip Four: eBay still is your friend.
Find that special toy that makes your heart go pitter-pat? Not sure if the asking price is too high? Or maybe you have never seen it before? Check eBay. Cell phones make it convenient to check eBay from the convention floor. Conventions can be a great place for finding new things and not have to hassle with shipping but, eBay still has its uses. If you check the listing price on the item or even “Items sold” you can gage the going price for the item. In the case of vintage toys that might have some wiggle room price wise, this may allow you to haggle a more comfortable price.
**eBay pro-tip: By typing “complete” at the end of your search, you will be able to see if the figure you are eyeing is missing an accessory or wand. If you get the figure at a great price, you can track down the missing items at a later time.
Tip five: Dig to find the treasure!
Digging through bins at conventions is my favorite part. I get all sorts of excited. This is largely due to not knowing what you may find. A lot of vendors categorize bins in order to save booth space. A lot of vendors usually put the figures in little baggies but sometimes it is a free for all and you can find rarer figures for cheap.
Tip Six: Scan the Room.
If you are at a con for several days make sure to make time for the dealer room each day. Local vendors may bring different items or add to their stock depending on the day. It is also handy to befriend vendors and mention specific toys you are looking for. They may bring something the next day or the next time the convention rolls around, for example, I always have one vendor that brings plushies especially for me. Last con, I got a prized Princess Kneesaa Ewok Plush from one of my favorite vendors!