In the Toy Book‘s annual State of the Industry Q&A, Nicole Colombo, general manager of collectibles and trading cards at eBay talks about the demand for limited-edition collectibles, consumer spending habits during the pandemic, and more.
The Toy Book: What do you think will be the short- and long-term impacts of the global coronavirus pandemic on the toy industry?
Nicole Colombo: Although the pandemic has forced consumers to push the reset button on their purchasing behaviors, the passion of collectors hasn’t waned. Our State of Trading Card Report shows that after the pandemic began, more than 4 million more trading cards were sold on eBay than in the prior year, and following lockdown, April 2020 was the biggest month of baseball trading cards sales, with sales spiking 82% from March.
Despite lower production yields and factory closures last year, toys were exceedingly popular. We saw significant growth for our toy categories with action figures and building toys being top sellers on our marketplace, and now more than ever, consumers are willing to pay more for items that cannot be found anywhere else.
With families spending more time at home, toys are no longer just a hobby for kids, and parents are sharing their love for nostalgic collectibles with their children — and this helped drive unseasonal demand. To fulfill the shopping void, people are turning online more than ever before to get their collectible fix, while also supporting small businesses. We suspect that long-term shopping behavior will change significantly with a renewed focus on toy collecting.
TB: How will you continue to evolve your collectible toy department this year?
NC: We’re always looking for new ways to enhance the eBay experience for buyers and sellers, especially within categories like toy collectibles and trading cards. In 2021, we will continue to explore opportunities where we can build more features that resonate with the different communities that use eBay to purchase and sell their favorite toys, collectibles, and trading cards.
Collectors have been some of the most enthusiastic and passionate on our marketplace; they come to us knowing they can find exclusive, trending, and unique items from fan-favorite franchises, including Pokémon, Star Wars, and more. Last year, for example, we celebrated our community by partnering with Funko Pop! to auction over 100 super rare, ultra-limited, and sold-out Funko items, including multiple prototypes.
Star Wars is another franchise that continues to surprise us. In 2020 alone, we sold more than 4.8 million Star Wars items, having sold nearly 4 million Star Wars LEGO sets in the past five years. We also saw Marvel increase in popularity following the launch of Disney+, with more than 4.2 million items sold on our marketplace. From trending cultural moments to notable collectibles and exclusive trading cards, eBay is the ultimate destination to score vintage and new-to-market favorites.
This State of the Industry Q&A response was originally published in the February 2021 edition of the Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue!