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Market Watch: BIONICLE™ A Poor Investment?
Posted by Mark on January 31, 2003 at 12:00 AM CST:
Let me start by stating that the following is pure speculation and opinion on my part. We don't usually jump up on our soapbox here at Mask of Destiny, but I would like to take this opportunity to share my thoughts with you. In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I do occasionally buy, sell, and trade BIONICLE™-related items.

As you may know, I keep a close watch on the BIONICLE market; especially eBay and BrickLink. This auction on eBay for 235 unique masks (KANOHI, KRANA, and KANOHI NUVA) recently ended with the lot going for $132.50. That amount is less than $0.60 per mask.

Now, up until the 14 Kt Gold HAU sold for over $2000, the previous high sale was $422 for a collection of 101 unique KANOHI. Has the BIONICLE™ market crashed?

For the vast majority of people, BIONICLE is not a series of collectibles but instead is a set of toys. And I truly believe that is the way it should be. BIONICLE toys should be opened, played with, and enjoyed. As a toy, I can think of no better investment than LEGO® sets.

That said, BIONICLE toys do have a great deal of collectible features and many people do collect them, myself included. But are they a good financial investment?

Expert collectors, which I am definitely not!, will tell you to collect what you love. The reason? If you are in it for the money, you just might be sorely disappointed. Such is the case, at least in the short term, for BIONICLE.

For example, if you examine the history of the seller of the 235 masks, you will note that he or she spent almost $130 buying them. That puts their profit at about $0.01 per mask.

Now, it is a bit unfair to compare that auction with the earlier auction of 101 masks. That earlier auction included the 14 rare European KANOHI misprints. Those misprints alone sold for over $350 once or twice and currently fetch about $250 on average.

The lesson here is simply one of supply and demand. Regular KANOHI, KRANA, and KANOHI NUVA are in abundant supply. Without overwhelming demand, their value is not significantly increasing and may actually be in decline.

Are there profit opportunities available collecting BIONICLE? Yes, there are. Because of the limited funds available to the majority of the BIONICLE audience, masks are generally worth more sold individually than when put together as a complete collection. Many more people can spend $15 on a special mask than can spend over $100 on a set of masks. The adult collectors with the deep pockets already have their complete sets, so the only people bidding (as on much of eBay) are those looking for a bargain.

The big short-term opportunities are in the rare display items category. If you can talk your local toy store out of that giant Pakari for free and then turn around and sell it for over $50, that's a profit! There are also spikes in prices for hard-to-find discontinued items. WHENUA sold for over $40 (over 1000% profit over retail) just after he was discontinued, but then supply caught up with demand.

The big "IF" on the horizon is the theatrical release of a BIONICLE movie in 2004. Should the movie capture the imagination of the populous at large and not just existing BIONICLE fans, demand could quickly overwhelm supply of even then-current sets. Just don't count on it.

Over and over again, storytellers tell us that a toy is never truly alive until it is loved. Collect what you love and play with your toys. That is why they are there.




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