This toy collector has spent $35,000 on his collection
On average, he spends two hundred to three hundred dollars a month on figurines.
Walk into Kyle Ong’s room in a HDB maisonette in the East of Singapore and rows of action figures from Transformers, Dragon Ball and Star Wars greets you.
It should come as no surprise that Kyle is a toy collector. He has been collecting toys for 14 years and has amassed a collection of over five hundred figurines.
The passion for his hobby began when he was 12. When he was in his childhood, Kyle’s mother frequently travelled overseas and, as a way to connect with Kyle, she bought toys for him on her travels.
When he grew older and could afford to buy his own action figures, Kyle bought a figurine of Hotshot from the Transformers Cybertron line.
“This one is really special to me, although I can’t even pull out its legs anymore because it’s so old. It was one of the first figures I bought when I seriously started collecting,” he recalls.
“Now one of my favourite figurines is a Goku figurine that I bought when I first went to Japan – it’s actually what got me started collecting Dragon Ball figurines. This is the line that really exploded my collection, and my wallet,” he laughs.
Kyle admits that he “spends way too much” on his hobby. He estimates that he has spent about $35,000 on his collection.
“It’s not a cheap hobby and it’s not getting any cheaper – the first Transformer I bought was about $26.90 at the time and nowadays a figure of that size from that line would be about $34.90.”
However, Kyle doesn’t not simply get every single available collection that’s available. He has his own rules about what manufacturers and shows or games to buy from. While his collection is large, it isn’t unruly due to these parameters he sets for himself, to ensure he doesn’t fall down a rabbit hole.
Kyle says he tends to control himself not to spend beyond $300 a month, but there are times when he spends beyond that limit because the figures are priced much higher.
Typically, Kyle buys figures made by Hasbro, Bandai and S.H.Figuarts.
“My most expensive figure is the Haslab Unicron, which was eight hundred dollars. What makes it so special is that it was a crowdfunded figure, so it had to hit a certain number of backers before it was produced. They also only produced it once, and it’s the biggest Transformer they ever made – it’s about the size of a child.”
Yet, that isn’t Kyle’s most valued figure. Instead, it is one of Krillin from Dragon Ball.
“This one was very difficult to find – when I started collecting Dragon Ball figures, the line was already quite far along and this one was just very rare. I was able to find it on Carousell for a reasonable price, but this one has a lot of value to me because I was searching for it for quite a few years.”
For most collectors, knowing where and how to get figurines – especially the limited edition ones – is crucial. While Kyle knows many platforms to source for figures, he considers the collectors’ community an invaluable resource.
Within the community, there are people who will post about sales and kind-hearted collectors would frequently ask others if anyone needs their help to buy figurines, which helps those who do not have time to head down to the sale and get it themselves greatly.
“They’re willing to pay it forward in that sense – some of them don’t mind waiting half an hour or an hour to help others get stuff. It’s really quite a helpful community,” he shares.
Unfortunately, the community also has scalpers who are in it for a quick buck. Scalpers are people who buy lots of in-demand items, so that they can charge higher prices to those who weren’t able to get the item.
“Some people do it just to get by, but for people like me and collectors who get laid into a line, when you want to buy a figure to complete that line it’s hard. These people probably bought five or six of that figure because they know you’ll pay the amount (that they charge), and it hurts to pay that kind of money.”
At the end of the day, Kyle considers all these part and parcel of being a collector, and takes them in his stride.
“My biggest piece of advice for anyone who wants to get into collecting figures is to have parameters for what you want to collect- don’t buy things haphazardly. Secure the figure first, if you wait for a sale you might miss out on the chance of actually owning the figure or have to pay resale price.”
“My last note is to just be prepared to have a bigger budget. Collecting can be fun, but it’s also a rabbit hole,” he says.