Many of us will remember swapping and collecting trading cards on the school playground, but collectibles have come a long way since. Nowadays, collectible characters have more of a focus on artistic expression, but for many they still provide a way of tapping into our childhood nostalgia.
Whether it’s NFTs, vinyl toys or collectible technology, collectibles allow you to get closer to your favorite brand, express your personality and engage in a new wave of art.
Wondering how to start your own character collection? We take a look at a short history of modern collectibles, and let you know how you can start your own collection.
Pokemon Trading Cards
Collectible characters aren’t always in the form of figurines. Collectible trading cards have a long history behind them, from the first baseball cards in 1865 to one of the most popular collectible series, Pokemon cards, which were launched in the mid 90s, and have been the gold-standard for collectible cards ever since.
Many of us remember desperately trying to get our hands on every card – even the super-rare and near impossible characters, such as the Super Secret Battle No. 1 Trainer, which was sold for $90,000 in 2021.
The famous catchphrase ‘’gotta’ catch them all all’’ had never felt more relevant. Today, Pokemon cards are still popular, with many YouTubers such as Tricky Gym, basing their career around them.
From trading cards to physical characters, we’ve all seen the iconic bobblehead style figurines. Funko POP! vinyl characters draw inspiration from modern pop culture, having created Marvel, Stranger Things, Star Wars, Naruto and Lord of the Rings collections, to name a few.
The figurines were first created in the late 90s as a nostalgic themed toy, but they’ve since moved far past this, becoming a cult-favorite collector’s piece.
Nowadays, Funko POP! models can be found in games rooms and on bookshelves by avid fans who want to express their personality, or by collectors who want all of the rarest characters in their inventory.
You’re probably familiar with the anthropomorphic, round-bellied BearBrick (stylised as Be@rBrick) figurines. BearBrick was first launched in the early 2000s as a free gift to visitors of the World Character Convention in Tokyo.
However, the designer figurines have since gained incredible popularity, and have collaborated with the likes of Chanel, Swarovski and Squid Games, and even boast Pharell Williams and BAPE founder Nigo as fans.
BearBrick figurines merge collectibles with art, but draws upon the mystery we felt from trading cards, as the BearBrick figurines are usually packaged in a box that gives no clues about what’s inside.
KAWS collectible figures are the brainchildren of artist and designer Brian Donnelly – otherwise known as Kaws. Most people will recognise KAWS figurines for the crosses over the eyes, distinct graphics and Mickey Mouse-esque formation – all features that have dubbed them as pieces of art work as opposed to merely toys.
With famous fans ranging from Drake to Pharell Williams, KAWS collectible figures are one of the most popular inhabitants of the urban vinyl toy market, and have previously reached incredible sums at auction.
A particular favorite is the rare ‘Passing Through’ design, which has been labeled as a self-portrait, depicting Kaws’ own grapple with fame as an artist.
And speaking of art, NFTs are seen more and more as the normal way to collect character-based art.
Through NFTs, you can purchase a character or piece of art similar to a BearBrick figurine, or Funko Pop model – only in this case it’s wholly digital. But the fact that NFTs are virtual makes them even more exclusive – which is often a collector’s dream.
NFT characters or avatars, which are essentially digital profile pictures, are becoming commonplace within the tech community. Among the most popular are the CryptoPunk, Hashmasks and Bored Ape Kennel Club, and in many cases these avatars act as a ticket to deeper functions within the metaverse.
While NFTs can’t be used as a decorative piece of art in your home like other collectibles, they appeal to collectors through their exclusivity, creativity and utility.
Ready to start your collection? Stay tuned for GravaStar’s own collectibles. In the meantime, shop GravaStar’s range of speakers here.