Value in vintage toys

Rewarding investment: Zulfadli says he bought this original Transformers action figure at RM18. Now it is worth RM500.Rewarding investment: Zulfadli says he bought this original Transformers action figure at RM18. Now it is worth RM500.

There’s a growing market in Ipoh for collectibles related to popular movies and animated tv series of yesteryears.

While collecting toys is usually associated with children, it is not uncommon these days to see adults holding on to a careful selection, with some even turning their hobby into a source of income.

In fact, several toy collectors from Ipoh, Perak, told StarMetro that it was their hard work of searching for particular toys and selling them for a profit that paid the bills.

Among them is Dzul Dzeckery Jamshid, 39, who has been selling toys for the past seven years.

“I sell via online platforms and at toy or anime festivals in Perak.

“The farthest I have been is Kedah, but I have customers from Brunei and Singapore.

“Each collector or seller has their own genre of toys and mine are those from movie franchises and vintage toys, especially cartoons from the 1990s,” he said.

Along with his Singaporean wife Siti Maisarah Dzulkifli, 33, the duo sold a vintage toy worth more than RM1,000 a few months ago.

“Our customers range from those who are looking for vintage toys such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Wars action figures to items from the Marvel movie franchise.

Dzul at his stall with toys from popular movies.Dzul at his stall with toys from popular movies.

“In Perak, we can see that a majority of our customers are interested in items from new cartoons or anime while in Kuala Lumpur, our buyers request for vintage toys,” he said, adding that he made between RM2,000 and RM5,000 a month selling toys.

“On Sunday, if we do not have any event to attend, we will set up a booth at the Pasar Karat (flea market) and I can make more than RM500 in a few hours,” said Dzul.

He said as a business management graduate, he adapted what he learnt and expanded his customer base online.

“So far, the response has been overwhelming,” he added.

However, buying and selling toy collectibles comes with its own set of challenges.

“I remember being at a festival at the Movie Animation Park Studio (MAPS) when it rained heavily and nearly destroyed my toys that were in mint condition,” Dzul recounted.

“There were also times when we joined a festival and could not sell much because it had been poorly timed, such as the festival being held in the middle of the month instead of at the end or beginning of a month when people get their salaries,” he said.

But for Dzul, this is more than a source of income. Collecting toys has been a passion since he was a child.

“My mother had bought a cabinet for me to display my toys and now, I am doing the same for my children.

Saravanan and his wife Nurazira Noormizi sell toys in Ipoh.Saravanan and his wife Nurazira Noormizi sell toys in Ipoh.

“My children enjoy collecting toys as much as I do.

“And they do not put the toys in a basket, as they are afraid that might damage the toys.

“So, we have a cabinet to display our collections,” he added.

Dzul said that during the Covid-19 movement control order (MCO), he relied on his online business to earn a living.

“It was hard because we could not go to events, so my wife and I had to work harder to sell more online.

“Luckily, we could still make some money as we sold collector’s items and limited-edition toys,” he noted.Full-time toy seller N. Saravanan, 37, spends his days searching for toys at a recycling place in Menglembu.

“Not many understand the value of toys, especially the ones released in the 1990s, so I often get to buy them at a very low price,” he said, adding that he once bought a Small Soldiers Archer toy for RM5 and now, the item was valued at RM300.

“I am glad that my wife and children share my interest.

“While I love action figures from the 1990s, my eldest son likes model race cars. He even customises the car before selling them.

“During the MCO, we sold toys in bulk online to make a living.

“We did not have any other source of income, so my wife promoted our business online continuously while I packed the toys to send them to the buyers,” he recalled.

Some rare toys can be found in pop-up booths like this in Ipoh.Some rare toys can be found in pop-up booths like this in Ipoh.

Saravanan noted that the market for toys was bigger in Kuala Lumpur compared to Ipoh’s.

“Those in Ipoh often negotiate for lower prices, while in Kuala Lumpur, they buy the toys without haggling.

“According to some of my customers in Kuala Lumpur, the items I sell are rare and they know how hard it is to find them.

“Either way, I am glad that we still have customers and we now have our own store in Buntong,” said the man fondly known as Gunny Bob among toy collectors.

Saravanan said Ipoh should have more toy festivals.

“It would be great if Perak (the state government or a private company) would consider organising a toy festival, not only for sellers but also vintage collectors because there are a number of us here.

“Although the purchasing power is higher in Kuala Lumpur, perhaps having one in Ipoh will draw crowds from other states and even other countries,” he said.

Similarly, Zulfadhli Lod, 42, believes that a toy festival can be held in Ipoh.

“Apart from toys, I sell vintage items such as vinyl players, skateboard decks and clocks.

Many collectors are looking for toys based on cartoons from the 1990s.Many collectors are looking for toys based on cartoons from the 1990s.

“I also have several collector’s items priced at more than RM2,000.

“Among the teenagers, I can see they look for anime and manga action figures such as Naruto, One Piece and Family Spy while my older customers look for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers and Voltron characters.

“It would be great if we could have an event for toy collectors, anime cosplayers, bundle (second-hand product) stores and local bands altogether,” he said, adding that he was willing to sell his collector’s items in the future.

Zulfadhli may have spent a lot on toys but he is only willing to part with an item if the time is right to sell something from his collection.

“Perhaps I can use the money to go on a pilgrimage or donate it to the mosque.

“Of course, I will be sad to see them go to another collector, but I have had some of the things for more than 10 years.

“So, as long as it goes to someone who values the toy as much as I do, I have no problem selling it,” he said.

He would also travel overseas to hunt for toys.

Zulfadhli said that anytime he went overseas to watch a concert, he would spend a couple of extra days in the town or city looking for toys.

“My limited-editions and special collections include items from Voltron, Thundercats, Power Rangers and BraveStarr.

“My BraveStarr toy collection alone is now worth RM5,000.

“I also have several Malaysian cartoon characters such as Upin & Ipin, BoBoiBoy and CelebriDucks’ Man Keedal, which can fetch up to RM200,” he said.

When contacted, Perak tourism committee chairman Loh Sze Yee said the state government would consider organising a festival for toy collectors.

“For 2023, we already have our events calendar to promote the sector.

“This year, we have 90 events that cover sports tourism, culture, arts, gastronomy and education, among others.

“Apart from the planned events, we always welcome cooperation with agencies, associations and clubs for any proposed events.

“This will indirectly enhance our tourism sector and make Visit Ipoh Year 2023 as well as Visit Perak Year 2024 a success,” added Loh.

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