In this post, I’d like to pay tribute to what I fondly call “the Magic Toys ‘R Us.”First, a bit of background. Back in ye old dayes of the 1980s, action figures were relatively plentiful. You could walk into Child World or Caldor’s and find a rack of C3PO, R2D2, He-Man, Skeletor, Trapjaw, and any other popular figure you were looking for. Some figures were a bit harder to find than others, but eventually you’d be able to find just about anything at retail.
That began to change in the late 1990s, when action figure collecting became an adult collector’s hobby as much as a kids’ childhood rite.
But scalping was taken to a whole new level–and not just in action figure collecting, but in pretty much any collector’s hobby you can imagine–by the advent of eBay. In the early days of eBay, there were plenty of deals to be had. I was able to amass quite a collection of old 1980s toys from my childhood for relatively reasonable prices. By the early 2000s, savvy eBay sellers had started to use the power of the Internets to make better profits. With a few clicks of a keyboard, a Midwestern grandmother can hit a toy website and find out those old G.I. Joe dolls her son left in the attic are worth $100 or more. Soon, prices for the action figure after-market went up as a whole.