Pokémon cards for 100 million yen? The vintage toy market is booming

Are there childhood toys collecting dust in the attic? They might be more valuable than you think.

The vintage toy market, which ranges from trading cards to retro games, has entered the global spotlight. Prices have skyrocketed with some rare toys commanding over 100 million yen (over $660,000).

Collectors of the generation that played with these toys in their childhood started the trend and now have deep pockets to finance their investments. Toys that were once considered exclusively for children have won the hearts of older generations as a promising asset.

One card pays 400 million yen

“So far, my card collection must be worth over 10 million yen (over US$66,000),” said a 24-year-old office worker from Edogawa, Tokyo. He has been collecting Pokémon cards since childhood.

His card collection took off while he was a student, and it became a viable investment when the Pokemon card boom reignited four years ago.

Spending an average of ¥100,000 JPY (+/- 700 USD) per month on cards, his most valuable item is a first-edition Pokemon card featuring the beloved Charizard, worth ¥1 million. JPY (+/- USD 7,000).

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As long as fans around the world seek out rare cards, they likely won’t lose their value, according to this collector. A similar card was traded at over 400 million yen (over $2,660,000) in the United States. Its mint condition, rarity, and holographic design contributed to its exorbitant price.

“There is no greater joy for a collector than when their hobby, in my case collecting Pokémon cards, becomes a good investment.”

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Why the sudden interest?

Kazuma Fujiwara is a public relations manager at Hareruya, a store in Tokyo specializing in trading cards.

“The demand for trading cards as collectibles increased during the pandemic because people wanted a hobby they could pursue at home,” he explains.

The rise of social media and marketplace apps has also encouraged person-to-person commerce. According to a survey conducted by Recycle Tsushina magazine focusing on the second-hand goods market, the domestic market for used toys and models, including collectible cards, reached 150 billion yen (+/- 1 billion dollars) in 2020, a impressive increase of 23.7% compared to 2019.

Unless trading cards are reissued, their rarity in the market keeps their prices high. Another advantage is that they can be traded more easily than stocks or virtual currencies. The rush of investors buying these trading cards in anticipation of rising prices “boosts the market”, says Fujiwara.

The same goes for old video games and Lego toys that are no longer produced and hard to obtain. An unopened Super Mario 64 video game released by Nintendo in 1992 fetched $1.56 million at an online auction in July last year.

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Pokémon card sold for ¥24 million JPY (provided by Hareruya)

Pay attention to taxes

Collectors need to protect their physical assets from theft or damage, but they also need to check whether or not profits are subject to tax.

Koji Tanaka, a tax accountant at the Hiroshima Sogo Law & Accounting Office, is familiar with online auctions. He warns that profits from buying and selling used toys fall into the category of capital gains, such as trading in precious metals or gemstones, when they are sold for more than ¥300,000. (+/- USD 2,000) per item.

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For toys under ¥300,000 JPY, profits may fall under miscellaneous income if there have been consecutive transactions, requiring the collector to declare taxes.

Even if the transactions involve the same toy, authorities may consider a transaction taxable based on the price at which the toy was sold and the number of times the toy changed hands.

Tanaka advises, “If you are unsure, consult a tax accountant to avoid trouble.”


(Read the article in Japanese at this link.)

Author: Dai Kuwamura

About Lola C. Chapman

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