Exmouth retro enthusiast shares his tips on how YOU can start your own collection
PUBLISHED: 11:19 21 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:05 21 March 2019
Tucked away in Exmouth’s indoor market lies a treasure trove of childhood nostalgia.
Darth Vaders, Marvel characters from bygone eras and figurines of now-retired wrestlers don’t even scratch the surface of what can be found in the goldmine of retro toys and merchandise.
David Burton, who owns Wonder Years, has been an avid collector for almost 50 years – with his passion starting thanks to his nan, a former cleaner at Bristol University between 1958-78.
Responsible for tidying the American dorms, David’s grandmother would bring home comics for David and his brother, which proved to be the foundation for his lifelong thirst of collecting.
Now, Mr Burton has revealed how anyone can start collecting toys – while locking in or increasing their value. However, there is an art to it…
“Obscure and interesting”
“If I was going to buy toys and keep them, I would look for obscure and interesting toys,” he said.
“For example, there are hundreds of Batman figures of varying qualities and grades.
“The most interesting piece I had in recently sold very quickly, for £30.
“It was from a very good Batman story where villain Hugo Strange pretended to be Batman. The figure was beautifully done, and really interesting.
“If you pulled back Batman’s mask, it would have Hugo Strange’s face beneath.
“It was totally different and I hadn’t seen anything like it.
“It stood out because it was the Arkham series and really well executed.”
Mr Burton said wresting figures have also rocketed up in price since they were first put to market.
“The prices that early Hasbro figures are going for now are unbelievable,” he added.
“A really nice Mego figure, which is very rare, in the box would cost £300 roughly.
“Hasbro season one carded figures [in their original packaging], built in the mid to late eighties, are fetching even more than that.”
“Follow the trends”
Mr Burton said it is important to follow the trends, as things are always going in and out of fashion.
“Take Buffy the Vampire Slayer for example,” he said. “When all the series finished and there was no TV coverage, you could buy original figures for not a lot of money.
“Then it started to be replayed on two or three channels – now you would not be able to pick up a carded figure for less than £12 unless you’re lucky.”
Mr Burton said TV exposure can play a crucial part in a toy’s value.
“Be aware of anything that is syndicated,” he said. “Once a show exceeds seven seasons, it comes up for syndication – and once that happens, the show will be continuously shown on one channel.
“If something is quality and it appeals, it has a good chance of being cross-generational. This will be reflected in the price.
“For example, in 1990, you could have gone to a charity shop or a car boot and bought Star Wars figures for 50p each.
“You could have bought them by the boxful!
“Now, with new films still coming out and the appeal still being there, a lot of the same figures are now worth around £6.
“My point is even things like Star Wars products could be bought cheap at one point. Only the best stuff was very valuable, while ordinary products were very cheap.
“There’s a chance of revival”
“If you are looking to buy, look for things that are coming round again,” Mr Burton said.
“Remember – form is temporary, class is permanent. If something is good and it captures the public’s imagination once, there is a very good chance when the generation which has grown up have an income, it will catch the public’s imagination again.
“Look at Game of Thrones – products now will be quite dear, but I think it will fall into a bracket in five years’ time where they will be really cheap.
“If you think something else will be done with GoT, like Lord of the Rings, that’s the time to buy.”