City Weekend

Overnight queues, resale wars and rented storage: the world of Hong Kong’s toy collectors

A chronic lack of space and ‘scalpers’ who mess with market prices for profit have not dampened the passion of high-end toy collectors

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 March, 2017, 8:30am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 March, 2017, 1:26pm

Being in a small market starved for space has not dented the enthusiasm of Hong Kong’s toy collectors.

Douglas Mok Tak-wai, a property manager who is also an administrator for local toy interest website Toys Daily, said: “We as toy collectors are at an advantage here. There are a lot of annual toy fairs in the city, and limited edition stuff is available.”

Toys Daily has more than 100,000 members, and Mok claimed it is one of the biggest online platforms for toys in Asia.

Toying with fantasy: how Hong Kong collectors have caught the superhero bug

Another toy enthusiast, Mars Tsoi Chun-chung, said: “For an event opening the next day at noon, I’ll go with some friends as early as 6pm the night before to queue up.”

And seeing double is a good thing. Tsoi said: “I usually buy two of each figure, and if I don’t like it much, I may sell the other piece.”

For some other collectors of limited edition fare, it is more than just about the novelty of ownership – prices of these items can skyrocket.

The Post found that an exclusive 30cm-tall Iron Man Mark 4 “Secret Project” action figure can command up to HK$10,000 on eBay, almost seven times its original retail price in 2011.

Superheroes statue lover Juan Marvin Wirjomartono, an Indonesian computer programmer in Hong Kong, said a pet peeve was the presence of scalpers – people who buy up large quantities of a rare item and sell them later at inflated prices to desperate fans.

True fans like Tsoi, though, are hanging on tight to their limited editions. He said: “I don’t really encourage speculating in collectibles. If I do sell anything, it’s more for lack of space.”

From action figures to the Tamagotchis: why Hong Kong’s obsession with toy collecting is more than just child’s play

Both Tsoi and Mok said they knew of other enthusiasts who spend HK$500 monthly on mini-storage rents to house their toys.

Ultimately, high resale prices and the struggle for space reflect how the collectibles hobby has gripped fans. It is a trend expanding as fast as Hollywood can churn out flicks on the genre.

Here are some places the Post visited that offer the closest look into this microcosm:

In’s Point, 530-538 Nathan Road, Yau Ma Tei: Three claustrophobic floors of collectible shops pack this building, and at weekends the narrow corridors can be a challenge to navigate among the toy-mad masses.

Richmond Shopping Arcade, 109 Argyle Street, Mong Kok: Four musty shop levels – as well as a basement – selling various rare collectibles pack a narrow block.

Toyzone, 8 Shipyard Lane, Wah Ha Factory Building, Flat B, 4/F, Taikoo Shing: A vast collectibles shop in an industrial district, hoarding second-hand gems, consignment goods and long-lost retro knick-knacks.

G-Link (Hong Kong) Limited, 33-35 Tseuk Luk Street, Victorious Factory Building, 9/F, Block C/D, San Po Kong: Call 2997 6001 for an appointment to view the gallery of XM Studios superhero statues.