In 1996, the year that Entertainment Earth began on the burgeoning Internet, I left home for college with The Barenaked Ladies blaring on the radio.
I left a lot of stuff behind at my parents’ house and have used it as storage for many things ever since. Well, 20 years later, my parents are moving and I’ve been asked to reclaim a few of my things. Among those things: a tremendous baseball card collection.
Started in the 80s, and armed with a Becket Collector’s Guide, I had a plan to collect every Topps baseball card. I managed pretty well, collecting every set from 1986-1996. The funny thing is, I was never that interested in baseball! I was interested in collecting and fascinated by the prices that many cards fetched at conventions and stores. The plan was that someday I would sell them all and retire.
Last weekend, I took my collection of cards to a baseball card shop. You know what I found out? Those cards are no longer worth the gum they came with. At some point in the early 21st century, the bottom fell out of the baseball card market and I was left with a lot of portraits of people I don’t care about. And stale bubble gum.
But that isn’t always the case! One of the exciting things about the collector’s market is the way it changes and fluxes.
The original Entertainment Earth website launched the same time Furbys were running wild, people were obsessed with Beanie Babies, and Star Wars was in the process of being given a second life. Of those tidbits of cultural cuisine, the only one that Entertainment Earth touched was Star Wars.
But, boy did they ever! The genesis of Entertainment Earth gave the internet a place to shop for Kenner Star Wars figures, Galoob micro-machine Star Wars toys, 12-inch Star Wars collectibles, and replica lightsabers. Under their “Coming Soon” page, they promised “More Products, More Star Wars!” What else?
Today, many of those collectibles can still be found on Ebay and through nostalgic toy sellers all over the country. A few of them have ended up becoming quite valuable.
For example, there was a short-lived sub category of Star Wars: The Power of the Force figures inspired by the Nintendo 64 game Shadows of the Empire. Entertainment Earth sold packs of these figures, knowing that they would be collector’s items. From that line, many have gained a lot of value. There was a Luke Skywalker toy that came with a brown Jedi vest. This was a real rarity, since Luke’s main Jedi robe was always black in every other incarnation. This figure regularly sells online for $90 these days and can often be found for a little more or less across the country.
If you were a collector in the 90s, and you didn’t put your money into baseball cards, Pokémon cards, or Magic: The Gathering cards, there is one place where you could have spent your money for an enormous return: Entertainment Earth sold Icon replica lightsabers of Luke and Vader’s. They sold for a steep $299 on opening day, in stock and ready to ship. How much do they go for today? $3899. A return like that is worth hunting for!
Entertainment Earth has grown up a little. Actually, quite a lot! They’ve branched into every genre of collecting and popular culture, selling items for every taste.
And, I think, that’s the lesson that I’ve really learned: not only did my baseball cards not keep their value – much less appreciate – but even worse, I was never interested in them! Since you can never predict what will be valuable in the future, you should chase your interests, let your collection build up to be an expression of yourself. There is no better place to develop your collection as a reflection of yourself than Entertainment Earth!