1Up!: Finally finding those sought after finds. 

Every collector knows, every collector has that little sub list in the back if their mind every time you go game chasing, that list of must haves that you can’t live without and take priority over other finds. I recently completed the #1 item on my list, I finally got my hands on a Virtual Boy. 

I had only ever had one experience with the Virtual Boy when in grade 10 science class someone brought theirs in for everyone to check out. The teacher let us kick back and mess around with it and I remember the only games they had were Mario Tennis and Teleroboxer but it was something different from anything we had seen before in gaming. Yes, we all know the Virtual Boy was a flop, caused headaches, had a very limited amount of games, and was a horrible set up for a “portable” game, but it was unique, it had cool commercials and I remembered wanting one after seeing it in Nintendo Power magazine. 

Well 20 some odd years later and a lot of hustling later I can finally scratch one of my last sought after systems off my list. Outside of Ebay, I’ve found the Virtual Boy next to impossible to come by in my area, but came across this one in my favourite out of town game store and after begrudgingly trading off a Smash Bros melee for GC and a couple Gameboy Pokemon games I was able to bring this gem home and get it a home on the already stuffed to the brim game room display shelf. 

I’ve always enjoyed putting together mini goals in collecting, I have a thing for accessories and always have my sub list in mind when I go hunting as I never know when I might find that NES Satellite or Four Score I’ve been looking for. I didn’t have any of the accessories really as a kid and outside of Nintendo Power, didn’t even realize many of them existed. One I recently found that I was unaware of was the Nintendo Double Player wireless controllers. 

I came across them on a local buy and sell and had to look them up to see what they were before scooping them up. I find stuff like this unique as there was so many 3rd party controllers available that weren’t sold in all stores. Everyone remembers someone having a NES Advantage or Max, maybe a Power Glove, but I don’t remember any kids in my neighbourhood having wireless controllers so these random controllers have always intrigued me and have become a strange obsession of mine to collect. 

Speaking of the strange, I also like games that even if not fantastic, have a unique place in gaming, maybe it was the first game to use a certain style of graphics, physics or a new feature not seen before. One I recently found had an interesting distinction: 

That’s right, it’s the first actual talking game for NES. Nobody is really hunting around too hard for Big Bird’s hide and speak except for me and the completionist collectors, like I said they’re not always the greatest games but speech was a feature never seen in an NES game before. Games tried to create speech before but it was never truly real speech, just sound effects meant to seem like speech such as the “TKO” Mario says in Mike Tysons punch out. 

My other mini obsession is completing the mini sets within collections, like having a full set of Tengen games, all the game show games and series such as the Ninja Turtles set or the original black box games. I find them to be fun milestones as getting a complete NES collection is realistically out of my financial grasp, but these mini sets make nice goals to complete in the meantime. I’ve also been collecting gameboy equivalents or sequels as some games I had for the gameboy I didn’t have for the NES at the time and some I didn’t know we’re actually part of the same series until much later. 

Fortunately I still have more than enough of these mini collections left to complete to keep me hitting milestones outside of just my main collection for a while, so best of luck to all the collectors who are looking to check off the last items on their lists as well. 

See you in the wild, happy chasing! 

#retroredneck

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Level 19: Why stuff isn’t selling anymore. 

If you’re like me you probably frequent your local kijiji, Facebook sale groups, game shops, 2nd hand store, Craigslist,  yard sales, etc, and chances are in the last while you’ve also noticed a trend, things are sitting around much longer than ever before. There was a time when ads for retro items would come and go quickly as people snapped up whatever items came up, but I’m not only seeing items being posted for longer but also the same items being put out there over and over as they haven’t sold. 

I’ll see items bounce from kijiji to facebook to the auction sites and back again as the sellers try to flip their items. I’ve also noticed sellers having to drop prices in order to see the item sell, things like consoles that once went for $100 have started dropping to $80 and below to generate interest. I see the same ads listing the same NES games consistently and with the sellers trying to max out top end prices the stock never seems to change. 

Twice recently I’ve managed to grab up some boxed items that have been posted on Facebook several days after their original post and after contacting the seller I’ve been interested to find out I’m the only person who’s shown interest aside from the local sellers who have offered their usual generous 1/8th of the original value. I remember in the not too distant past where if you missed these posts when they originally came up they would be sold within an hour or two..

So what happened? 

The retro game craze is still going, I still know plenty of collectors who are curating very nice collections, but something has changed. The change is something I saw coming for a while and have touched on before,  the market is saturated with sellers but there’s more stock than buyers are looking for. Like I said I see the same games over and over, and at 400 cartridges they’re ones I’ve already got and fir the most part ones that my collector friends have also, same with systems, most collectors have rounded up the systems they want by this point in time and unless you’re a casual collector you probably also have the accessories you most want. 

The prices are a major deterant as well, in my area sellers for the most part haven’t adjusted their prices on their inventories so the $250 they’ve been asking for that Action 52 has off put casual buyers who don’t care about its status and keeps collectors like myself away as it’s something I know enough about that i’ll wait until the craze is over to find one when the price falls again. Now because most of these buyers have invested hundreds in purchasing these collections they want to profit from them, but when price and selection aren’t changing, the stock sits unpurchased. 

There are some things that always sell well such as 1st party franchises like Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Final Fantasy, Kirby, etc but the stagnation has already set in as far as the common and even uncommon market goes. As people have rounded up many if these common titles it’s become more and more unlikely that people are searching them out, more likely that they’re the games that people are putting back into the market as they get bored of them or leave the hobby and it’s leading to multiple sellers have 4-5 copies of that Seicross or Ice hockey that just isn’t selling for the $10-15 they’re asking for it. 

I’ve noticed even game stores are starting to not only get picky about what they’ll take for retro games but also more wary about offering what they did for them even 6 months to a year ago because once these items come in they’re finding themselves having to sell at a lower price to move them, tend to have them purchased by local sellers who put the price back up and sell it to someone who trades it back in again starting a vicious circle where the same games keep rotating around. 

The odd item pops up that peaks my interest but it’s usually a harder to find boxed accessory or a system box I can use but even then, I find those easier to get than a they were a year ago because sellers will have them sit unsold because they’ve asked what they’ve seen them sell for in the past or just went for the highest ebay price they saw so after a week or two will usually take a reasonable offer because they aren’t seeing any interest in their item. 

Many of the serious collectors I know have the same opinions, and as people are starting to get out of the hobby we’re just going to wait until the market adjusts as it floods with more stock and prices fall to bother rounding up those last sought after bigger name carts. Also it’s worth waiting as the price of those common fillers are already starting to drop to a point where it’s worth buying them agaim as many are only needed to fill in gaps and round out the collection. 

So for the next while there’s going to be a bit of chaos as sellers grasp to squeeze that last but of profit out of their stock but the point of no return has been past in retro gaming and it’s only a matter of time until the gravy train I’ve touched on before will roll back into town but this time in favor of the collectors. 

Keep hunting.

#Retro redneck

Level 17: Peak Retro? 

Has the retro market reached peak saturation? We may be at a tipping point where the demand no longer warrants the price on many items now with some exceptions like Pokémon and some rarer titles. 

Every finite resource has to reach a peak at some time or another before the market will no longer bare the price being asked. It only takes a quick trip onto your local kijiji or Craigs list, etc to see that retro games that used to sell quickly at a high price are either sitting there longer than usual or seeing price drops before it will finally move. 

Many serious collectors have already built up all or the majority of what they need/want and the resellers are really just trying to get the highest price possible off those who have don’t have it or new collectors entering the hobby who want to have some of these prestigious items for their collections. 

Some games will always carry a higher price due to factors like rarity, etc but over the last few years prices on common games continued to rise as more people entered the hobby. With the popularity of YouTube shows like the Game Chasers, Pat the NES punk, Angry video game nerd, etc the interest in retro games caused the market to explode and games that once only fetched a few dollars started to climb to 5, 10, 15…until a wall would be hit as to what people would pay.

A good example of this that I ran into was Atari 2600 cartridges, there was a time  when 2600 games were a dollar or  less even on “premium” titles and as people starting becoming interested in them again the prices began to go up to 3, 5, and beyond despite the fact that there are always boxes and boxes of these carts laying around every game store, junk shop and flea market. 

Even though the demand for Atari games quickly dropped off again after the initial resurgence in interest the prices have remained high as stock starts piling up as people lose interest and start trading them back in. I’m using the Atari as an example because it’s a niche market in retro gaming, the hardcore fans already put complete collections together back in the 80s when stores were blowing the stock out during the crash and even they they were getting factory sealed games for a dollar.

So these games that have been sitting around gathering dust and for the most part are usually in poor condition only saw a price jump because of a renewed interest which was short lived. The dealers seem to be in denial that these games continue to hold a value, I frequently see Atari consoles trotted out on game sale pages with similar listings like: “vintage rare Atari”, “Atari 2600…RARE”, and far too frequently “no hookups not sure if working but it’s a rare game system”. None of these statements are true, Atari 2600 systems are a dime a dozen, finding a working unit can be harder but there’s just not much of a demand for them to claim them as rare. 

The frustrating part is always the price tag ad it’s usually in the $100 range, for a working unit with controllers, paddles, and decent games…maybe, but for your dusty old Atari 2600 jr that’s been in the garage for 30 years with no hookups and some basic games…no chance, but as long as people see these as valuable the prices stay the same. 

One person sees one on ebay for $100 and the assumption is that theirs is worth the same, with no research you may not see that the system has been sitting there for months because:

A: the price is too high

B: there’s just not the demand for a 2600 compared to other retro systems that do sell for $100. Being 40 years old does not a valuable system always make. 

The same is starting to happen in the NES market as well, I recently popped into a local game store and they were telling me that they couldn’t believe that they had been sitting on an NES for weeks now seeing as it was only $45. This doesn’t surprise me as many NES guys like me already have multiple NES consoles for backups and most people who jumped into the hobby during the resurgence have already purchased systems so without new collectors nobody is clamoring to get one even at half the price they were a year ago. 

I see a lot of people watch online auctions go over $100 who later list their system and don’t see it sell. Again they don’t understand why the other item went so high because they are not in the hobby and didn’t realize the auction went nuts because there was a copy of the Tengen Tetris with it, not because people are just willing to spend $100 on an NES. 

I have found recently that more NES titles are wandering into second hand stores, many at lower than previous prices but that also means you have to jump on it because resellers are using the lower prices at the retail level again to corner the market for pricing on games they don’t want to see go down on like Contra but even resellers are finding themselves with more and more copies without customers to buy them. 

Many collectors I know have reached a point where there’s only a certain amount you’re willing to part with for games, I know myself and others that have no problem passing on games that will at a later time show up at a better price. I know a few resellers too who are starting to get out of the NES market for this very reason, the money just isn’t there like it was the last few years and are often looking to just squeeze the last few dollars possible out of them before having to offload them. 

So if we have reached peak saturation and there is a breaking point coming we should start seeing more and more stock coming into stores and being offloaded online and as more stock arrives the balance in price/demand will have to shift as well. Don’t plan on seeing the good old days of dollar games again just yet but at least the days of reasonable prices is dawning again. 

I’m always interested to hear how the market has changed or not in other people’s areas so feel free to drop me your thoughts on the topic. 

May the deals be with you. 

#8bitliving 

Boss battle: “The Ad” 

Everyone has seen these ads, maybe you have one yourself, it’s worded differently but the message remains the same, the age old battle of collectors vs resellers, entitlement vs capitalism and greed vs fair business. 

Any collector who has been on any forum, Facebook group, kijiji, Craigs list, etc is more than familiar with the variants of these ads promising HARD COLD CASH for your unwanted games and systems. All collectors have/do sell items as I’ve talked about it before and you can usually quickly identify whether it’s a collector or a reseller you’re dealing with on the other side of the computer. 

When I’ve gone looking for items, I don’t make lowball offers, I tend to like to see what the seller was hoping to get before either taking it if their price is fair or making  a counteroffer that works for both parties. There’s usually an item or two in that lot I’m interested in and as long as the remainder covers the initial cost and both parties are happy then it’s a good transaction. 

Now we’ve all responded to one of these ads, maybe for a laugh to see what kind of offer you’ll recieve for your complete in box R.O.B or limited edition “fill in the blank”, as a collector we know the value of the item but I know I’m never not surprised by the responses I get sometimes. They can range from lowball to insulting and it often leads me to wonder how much thought they put into their response. 

I had a situation where for fun I offered up a working power glove just to see what kind of top dollar I’d be receiving, I sent my inquiry and a pic of it clearly working, the response came back quickly: “I can go as high as $20”. Now where I live a working power glove seems to sit around the $100 mark, even offering 40-50 still brings a profit but I’m guessing this guy is thinking I either: 

1. Don’t know what I have.

2. I just need the cash and will take anything.

3. Is just greasy and looking to maximize profit. 

I find a lot of the times unfortunately it’s the 3rd option, on the sites where you can look at the sellers profiles many have zero to do with gaming outside of knowing how to look on ebay for prices on them. These are often the guys you quickly recognize by the following catchphrases: 

1. “I’ll do you a favor and take ____ off your hands for (incredibly low offer)” 

2. “I’ll give you (greasy offer) if this doesn’t sell”.

3. “You know you can get this from (insert store) for (fake price) but I’ll take it for (minimally higher than fake price)”.

4. “I’ll give you ($5-10 range) for (insert item you’ve listed for a fair value)”. 

I frequently wonder if any of these tactics ever really work? Does anyone just stop and say to themselves “maybe I should just take $10 for my Nintendo and 20 games because they said they’d do me a favor and pay cash today”. Even if you do want to take their offer there’s always that one last thing and we all know it’s coming……”can you bring it to (town that’s at least a half hour from you)?”…so on top of the lowball price their paying you they want you to drop a few bucks in gas to bring it to them? 

In my city there’s a few of these ads that seem to circulate frequently, if people want to go for it that’s all fine and good but there’s nothing that drives you nuts more than when these guys decide because there isn’t any suckers giving away their stuff that they should start responding to ads by people who know what their selling.

This is where things really get confusing, these guys want your item for cheap and will come at you with not only the above methods but strangely sometimes come in with the attack inquiries: 

1. “I know you got this from (insert store) so where do you get off asking (fair market price) I’d give you (not even what you paid) for it”. 

2. “I can’t believe you’re charging (a good price) for (item they want to profit off) and you should feel bad for (doing exactly what they’re doing)”. 

Somehow the rules of the open market and capitalism only apply to these guys? If I see an ad offering an item for a price I don’t want to pay, I pass it by, I’m not going to get into an argument with someone because I feel their charging too much because only 1 of 2 things will happen: 

1. Seller doesn’t care, blows off my comment, carries on with life and sells item to someone else. 

2. Has stupid argument with me, nobody budges and item eventually gets sold to someone else and all you’ve accomplished was burning a future bridge. 

Both of these options end the same…no item for you. I find its better to just make a reasonable offer and if it’s rejected move on because I’ve learned another one will come along if you can wait and you may be able to get a deal off them at at different time on a different item. 

Same with buying lots, if the sellers amount they’re hoping to get is beyond reasonable and they don’t like my counter offer it’s easier to just walk away from the deal rather than try to bully a seller to take an offer, it’s amazing how often you get a message in a week after they’ve hit up the pawn shops, game stores and online resellers and have discovered your offer wasn’t so bad to begin with. 

So this has been a rant I’ve had on different aspects of the dual edge sword of collecting/selling but I’ve seen so many of these ads lately that I thought I’d just touch on it. I have no issue with collectors who do sell as well as I’ve had many great transactions with them but the people who work behind these ads are the guys who keep the prices high on the hobby and they do it by paying pennies. Although in their defense I guess coins are the hardest of the “hard cold cash”, the fistful of hundreds in their ad is just meant to represent how they make out on their end of the deal ha ha! 

So long story short, if you sell don’t be like the examples I’ve given today…it’s up to collectors to help keep the hobby legit and get it away from the hands of the Wario’s in the marketplace. 

#8bitliving