The other day I was discussing with friends the promotional soda cans that had the Backstreet Boys faces on them and how I thought they were cool! I had seen them on eBay recently and would love to have them, but I wasn’t willing to pay tons to ship them from Germany. (These were a promotion in Germany.)
Someone said, “Hey, I have those!! or “I had them and I gave them away,) etc. I was still bummed that I didn’t have them, but I know if I bide my time, one day, I will find them!
There are a lot of random things (old phone cards, cameras, paper goods, etc.) out there with the boys’ faces on them, so how does one go about finding, buying (and not get ripped off), and preserving all these fun things?
I don’t claim to be an expert in all things Backstreet Boys, but I have been collecting things all my life and have some general rules (I admit I don’t always take my own advice!) to help the new collector start and not get taken advantage of.
First: Collect what you love.
This is a lesson I learned from my Dad. He would always tell me not to just collect what is “worth more” (I’ll discuss ‘worth” in a little bit), but instead, collect what brings you joy. If you collect based solely on what an item is deemed to be worth, then why are you collecting at all, sounds more like you just want to make money by selling!
In that case, you are not really collecting at all. If you love stuffed animals, then I say COLLECT AWAY! I happen to love the Backstreet Boys, Barbies, Nebraska Huskers, Polly Pockets, Pins, and more so that’s the stuff I collect. My Father loved Harley Davidson, Bicycles, Radios and A LOT MORE. My mother loved glassware, aluminum ware, character dolls, Renwal doll furniture, and A LOT MORE! Yes some are worth more but honestly, we did it because we enjoyed it and it was fun for us to do it together. It made each object mean so much more to us even if it didn’t to others!
Second: Do your research.
Don’t go in buying any object blindly. With the internet, there is lots of information that can be gathered quickly and easily so make sure to take the time to do it. Look at online sales – what are the average asking prices? Remember to look at asking prices if available to buy now, and bids. (Also how long left on auction remember bids will mostly come in at the end.) How “rare” is the item?
Just because they say it’s rare doesn’t make it that way. How desired is the item? If there are a ton on sale, then they are not that desired in a sense of if you don’t buy this one there will be more. What kind of condition should you expect? When/where was the item distributed. How many were produced? (limited editions, ect) Look for dates on the underside of items as well as company markings. These are all things you want to know when going into buying anything “collectable”.
Research is also imperative in making sure you do not get something that is fake or possibly mislabeled. When I look at items for Backstreet Boys, it’s critical that I look into whether the item was ever given out as a real promo, has a letter of authenticity (autographs), or if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
Watch for items that state one of a kind ect., it could be a homemade item, which while it is one of a kind, it’s not really what most are looking for. Also be aware that different countries have different trademark rules and quality control rules so be cautious when buying those items. As much as an item is really cool, remember that plenty of people want to just make money off you so always be careful before you buy.
Look at other places and make sure that these items look similar. Even in cases where something is rare, you can find information to help you ensure it is more than likely real or fake. My example of the soda cans is a good one. Yes I found them for sale in other places, yes, they were real, and as I stated my friends even knew about them so I can conclude that these are real products. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it takes a little more than that!
Third: Remember worth is all relative.
This another lesson my dad taught me early in collecting – something isn’t worth anything because we say so, it’s worth comes from what someone is willing to pay. For example, there is a rare set of Millennium single collection, when I first started to try to find one, I saw insane prices of over #600 dollars. Now I wasn’t willing to pay that much – as I stated before I felt like it was insane. So, was that what the item is worth 600.00? Well to me no, so I waited and waited, and I noticed that these items were not selling. The person selling had overvalued their worth and wasn’t able to sell. Eventually I found the set much cheaper and when I say much I mean HUNDREDS less. I had to remind myself that the item was only going to be worth $600 if I was willing to pay that. Otherwise it was just a number someone had put on it hoping to get that much. So if an item isn’t worth it to you or is just too expensive, I suggest waiting to see what happens, collecting doesn’t happen overnight, it is a slow process that happens over time. (which to me is the fun)
I had to remind myself that the item was only going to be worth $600 if I was willing to pay that. Otherwise it was just a number someone had put on it hoping to get that much. So if an item isn’t worth it to you or is just too expensive, I suggest waiting to see what happens, collecting doesn’t happen overnight, it is a slow process that happens over time. (which to me is the fun)
Fourth: Do Your Research, again.
Like I stated before, do research but along with that I suggest keeping a log or a spreadsheet of items. This will help you know what you are looking for, whether you have it (for items in series this is key), and how many versions are there.
While conducting your research I found it’s best to identify those objects/sets of items that particularly pique your interest. There are thousands of items out there and if you are not specific with what you are looking for you can quickly get overwhelmed and the fun really will diminish. I try to pick items that make me smile or bring back good memories, lately, my new project has been the trading cards and photo cards that BSB has put out throughout their careers. It’s a challenge and will take some time, and while it’s not the only “hunt” I’m on, it’s my current BSB hunt! It’s the same as having small goals that help you make it to your overarching goal!
Also while doing your research i would set some eBay alerts and watch items. This is handy when you don’t have time to check ebay every five seconds. It also helps sellers know you are interested and if an item doesn’t sell they can offer you a special discount! I’ve personally gotten many items that I really wanted but was just a little too much for me this way and was glad I waited!
Fifth: Have Fun
This is the most important thing, HAVE FUN. If it isn’t fun then don’t do it. It seems obvious but collecting can be stressful, and it takes patience. This stuff should bring you joy! I know through the years of collecting I have always loved the hunt for unusual items and the bonding time with my parents (back then it was more going to antique stores!) but I am also very cautious when collecting anything.
Sadly, there are a lot of people out there that want to take advantage of your love for an item. People make fakes and that is something that you will have to workaround. I have collected for my entire life, and I don’t pretend to be perfect or claim to be able to always spot fakes/scams, but sharing information is how we all get better! Happy hunting everyone!
Here’s an example of why it’s important to ask questions and be careful!
Item description on eBay:
“This is a Rare NICK CARTER Backstreet boys Tour Jacket only one of Ten in the world, I used to work for the Backstreet boys and the jackets went to each of the Backstreet Boys and the management team. This jacket is a must have and only goes up in value with time. Plus MTV award for the 1997- 1998 Best Group Video “Everybody, Backstreets Back” Last year at auction one sold for $10,000 Dollars….”
Here’s the facts and questions we have asked:
- Yes they did wear these kind of jackets, however we have NO way to verify that Nick either wore this one, or that these were the ones they all got at all.
- Why is the seller telling us how much another went for, if it’s so rare then why are they coming up for auction at a rate of 1 per year?
- In the listing, the item also says or best offer and has been listed on ebay for over a year (I remember seeing it listed).
- Remember this item is only worth what someone is willing to pay, and clearly, no one wants to pay that much
- For $10k this should have some proof of authenticity. Without it, this is really just a random person saying “no, really Nick Carter wore this” which in my opinion is nothing.
- This could be easily reproduced to look close enough to the right thing that you couldn’t tell until you got it.
SO BASICALLY, DON’T BUY IT!!!
Remember, have fun collecting!