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The State of the Market

Jul 5, 2010

    1. I spend a lot of time perusing the marketplace, even when I'm not 'in the market' for a new doll. Within the last year or so I've been noticing how things have changed. I see dolls for sale, dolls that once would be snatched up in an instant at any price, lingering... Dolls that were once out of reach pricewise offered for more reasonable terms. I've noticed the same thing on YJ, not just here in DOA's marketplace. I've taken particular note as of late, as I've been trying to sell a couple dolls, and with one exception, I can hear crickets chirping around my sales posts.

      I was wondering, what do you think is causing it? I've come up with several possible reasons.

      A. the economy is bad, people don't have as much money to spend on extras like dolls, and people also find themselves in the position of selling in 'a pinch' more often than they used to.

      B. the hobby has 'peaked', with an abundance of dolls to choose from these days and a leveling off of new interest, the law of supply and effect comes into play and people are less interested in used dolls.

      C. people's interests, or what's popular has changed. there's less interest in say for exampl older volks limiteds like Shirou and Tsukasa, and more interest in the latest Soom MD. If you ahve the right doll you'll still get good money quickly.

      D.Doll manufacturing technology and techinque has improved to the point where people are going to be less interested in older dolls, dolls that pose less well, dolls made of resin fomulation that don't protect against UV light, etc... If you have the 'right' doll FS you are going to get interest no matter what.

      What do you think is the primary moving factor behind that changes in selling trends. Or do you think its a combination of things? Do you even think there has been a change in the secondary marketplace for BJD and what do you see the future being?

      I hope this is a good debate topic, and pardon me for not searching to see if its been done before as the search button doesn't seem to work for me on this computer (I'm at work).
       
    2. I actually find your topic rather interesting and I thinkt he issue is a combination of factors, like you have stated.

      Certainlyt he world economy and economic panic are up there among the reasons, and this si when we saw the serious slow down in dolls

      Doll fashions certainly play a part, it is harder to get excited about a Bermann when everyone is talking about Sard, no matter how beautiful or desirable the doll once was it will at some point go out of style, the good news is with some of them they come back in again.

      Doll engineering has definitely changed, afterall why would you pay $400 for a single jointed body when you can get a double jointed one for the same price?

      I don't think that the hobby has peaked at all however, it has certainly grown. One thing we are seeing now is a massive drive of "fashionable" dolls. This has always happened but with things like the Soom Monthlies (yes, releaseing a new doll every month is actually a VERY prolific production of sculpts) with almost every company coming out with limiteds, with the constant drive to create something new well...it is hard! Every month i watch certain people post raves about their dream doll (soom monthly, IH noctana limited or whatever) and the moment they have the doll it is on the MP to raise funds for their new dream doll that is EVEN BETTER!

      The sheer number of companies sculpts and all availale now makes it even more difficult. it used to be that if you wanted a pretty boy sculpt there were 20 "pretty boys" to choose from, now it is more like 100's! The companies have to fight for market share and so to the second hand sellers. Think about it, if you are selling an El it used to be easy, he was so popular, but now there are so many alternatives, stylistic variations and sculpts that would suit the "el buyer" besides the El that they have a LOT of choice and are LESS likely to actually be interested in El. My first doll was a Hound, and I have never regretted getting him, however I know that if Nayuta Kenzo had been available at the time I would have argued with myself a lot more, if there has been a white one I would have been lost, no Hound, and would have a Nayuta today. I know Elf Yder would never have come home if Angelheim Venito had been around, and no Juri 05 either if Heliot or Cuprit had been out there. There is just so much more choice now days that what buyers are out there are simply spread more thinly
       
    3. I think that this is an interesting topic. I have seen similar to what you have seen. I joined this forum around two years ago and I myself have peruse the marketplace from time to time to just get a feel as to what the market is like. I do agree things aren't selling as well as it use to. I have encounter that not only here but also outside. Though I am not an economist, I believe you give many examples that I think are valid. The economy is definitely a main factor in why the market has been the way it is. Back then, I thought it was okay to spend more money on a LE Volks doll but now, I'm leaning towards either I get the doll at Volks' price or I leave it because I am anticipating more chances in owning other as beautiful dolls.

      In addition, it took quite a while for me to sell my doll even though she was limited. Compare to as back then, it would have been quicker. If one factors bjds as a luxury on a demand curve. It is typically very elastic, meaning a slight change to the price will cause the demand to go down. With an unstable economy like this, the demand curve is very erratic, I think. I think it's one of the reasons why I had to let go one of my dolls for less than what I could have typically got earlier in a better economy.

      In this bad economy, people are more aware of the effects of spending as it has been brought huge attention not only by the media but also at home with the inability to find a job.
       
    4. I've noticed this too--dolls that I think of as rare/desirable just sitting there on the Marketplace. I was rather shocked recently to be able to buy a Dollstown Soph head on the MP for $25. Granted, her eyes were modded and she was a little yellowed, but still. When I got into the hobby 2 years ago, Soph heads were $150 plus, and even ones with mods were $100 or so.
      I think as the hobby has grown, and also as DoA has gotten bigger, the marketplace has gotten much more difficult to navigate. I've seen, for example, a WTB for a Soom Culprit, and one for sale at the same time, and those people don't seem to be finding each other.
      I'm not sure if the hobby has crested--I think it's still growing. But I do think it's become a buyer's market--there are so many companies now, and the inexpensive companies are better than they used to be. The new Resinsoul/Bobobie body sculpts are much nicer looking than the old ones, for example, but they cost about the same. There ARE a lot of sculpts to choose from now--more are coming out every week. A supply has arisen to meet the demand, I guess you could say.
       
    5. Competition plays a major role. Just looked today at ebook readers: both Nook and Kindle are down to just under $200 and the better one, Bookeen is down as well at $190. Competition will drive down prices.

      Economy. In California we have a 12% unemployment. That's folks who are counted as unworking. Gods only knows how many are really not working and never signed up for assistance. No jobs, no money.

      And for those who are working, hours cut, pay cut, cost of living up, cost of doing business up and no end in sight.

      If someone has bills to pay, or house payment to make, that nice doll they had is suddenly worth rent money and so up for market. But good luck selling it!

      I work in transportation; I see the lack of business everywhere here. Shops closing, online companies suddenly gone. All these factor in to what goes on in DoA's little marketplace as much as the local green grocer or whether the saleryman in the house can bring home the money!

      As for the dolls themselves, with so much competition out there, I think we'll see a prioritization. A specialization if you will of one company doing more toward one kind of doll or dolls. My example with that would be to look at Soom and their on-going special limited dolls.
       
    6. I know that there are some 'chase' dolls I have interest in eventually obtaining -- Sard and Beryl, for example -- that have come and gone, some more reasonably priced than others, on the MP. The truth is? I don't have the large chunks of cash at one time that I would like to make these purchases, though even in the case of layaways, I find that I don't even look. I have a huge wishlist... but I'm not looking to fulfill those particular dreams just now. (Or, if I do, I'm prioritizing the ones still available at retail, new.)

      I don't even look because, in part, they are 'chase items'. I know they're going to cost a premium. Is that giving up before even giving it a try? Yep, it sure is. Buying a premium item just isn't realistic for me at this time, no matter what it is. Buying a number of smaller items on payments, which easily adds up to the same amount over time, is strangely much easier to contend with (for everything but my shelves, yegods).

      I have to wonder how many people are doing the same. The older limiteds mentioned are long held to be 'grail' items, or hard to come by, or often costly. When people have less to spend in general, I'd think that fewer people are going to be looking to see what's even out there, even if they eventually want to add a certain item to their collection.
       
    7. Most of it has to do with how the hobby has grown in recent years, members, companies, everything. Perhaps in more prosperous times it wouldn't be so much of an issue, but coupled with a bear market, not as many can afford dolls. I'd venture to say that more people who are interested in buying a doll will opt for a cheaper doll. LE's not selling also probably has to do with the number that are put on the market more quickly because they're worth more, and therefore more worthwhile than to spend time with the whole ordeal of selling lots of cheaper dolls.

      Also, I'm sure the Problem Transaction forum doesn't help for the second-hand market. I personally am very wary of buying second-hand dolls from someone that doesn't have many pages of good feedback. If I can get it from the company, I would rather do that. I doubt I'm the only person with this mind set.
       
    8. I think the abundance of choice must be playing a big role. These days, if doll X is unavailable, there are always similar sculpts Y and Z. Also, with DoA itself having gotten so big, the marketplace may be getting more anonymous and people aren't so quick to trust a seller they don't know. And while price may have been a motivating factor for people to buy second-hand, these days there are companies that sell new at very low prices.

      I really wonder how many more new companies the market can support. I was out of the hobby for a few years due to my location and was shocked when I got back at how much the scenery had changed! Whereas before CP/Luts was really dominant, I feel like now DoA has gotten so big and fragmented into little groups of people who support different companies. You couldn't really name one "most popular sculpt" these days; before it was clearly El, but now the popular sculpts run the gamut from pukis to MDs, each with their own group of supporters. So while the overall audience has gotten bigger, the number of sculpts has grown even faster. This could also be making people's wishlists longer.

      It'll be interesting to see where things go from here, for sure. I remember when double-jointed elbows were that odd-looking newfangled thing, and now they're practically taken for granted. And remember when magnetic headcaps were state-of-the-art? Personally I'm running out of room for all these great new dolls!
       
    9. too much choice spread over too small a market combined with the bad economy and general fear of buying anything because who knows if you're going to lose your job next week. the marketplace is a bit cluttered and hard to navigate without use of the 'search' option, sometimes, which can be stressful and intimidating.

      i also think that people are scared to buy second hand. there's a lot of dishonesty out there and it intimidates people. no one wants to be that person that makes the five hundred - seven hundred - thousand dollar mistake on the market. but out of my eight dolls, only two are new, because i couldn't find either of them on the mp. i'd much rather do business person to person.
       
    10. It's kind of...shall I say, depressing? I honestly feel bad for the dolls being sold at ridiculously low prices because that's what the market is allowing it to sell for. I just am about to snatch a Volks head for 50 bucks. Weird. I don't care if it's been modded, it looks fine to me. I get wanting to sell fast, but really?
      I agree with what others are saying, cometition between companies and expansion of the hobby are both factors. Bringing up Sard again...Soom was one of the first companies to do the whole goat-legs-and-horns deal. They also went crazy with unicorn horns and different skin colors and antlers and all sorts of things. All of the sudden...Peapoddolls pops up with some hooves. Resinsoul makes a new doll with hooves and horns. Other companies make similar themed dolls when something popular springs at lower prices to compete with demand. If I were looking at a 2,000 dollar Sard in comparison to a 200 dollar RS doll, as a collector new to the hobby with a low budget because of the economy, I would probably go with the RS (not me personally, but I'm speaking hypothetically here).

      I too feel as if sometimes the original companies are getting swallowed by the newer ones, and it's not always a good thing. Sure, expanding the hobby is great, but just how far are we going to go? If we keep going like this, someday 1 out of every 5 people will know what a BJD is (not have one, know of their existance), and there will be like 500 companies to choose from. Just how many different sculpts can be made?

      I think the older something is, the more original it is. I love old things, especially vintage toys. I know someday, I'll love a doll that came from a company like Volks more than a new company, simply because it's older, and the new company probably doesn't put as much time into dolls as they used to.

      I've acutally noticed that lately...companies have started slacking a bit when it comes to quaility and customer service. Not all of them mind you, but I have been seeing it a lot.

      I enjoy buying a doll off the second hand market. If it's not being loved and taken care of properly, I'd love to 'adopt' it and take it into my home where it will be appreciated properly. I don't really have a problem with it as long as the price is right. Buying a Sard with a broken and chipped set of hooves and horns plus a faceup I don't take a liking to for 2000 bucks however...no thank you. I can buy 3-4 dolls with that :/ But on the other hand it's all about what you love and what you're willing to spend what on. I'm a collector of various things, and I know what I would drop on something someone else might not. It's complicated, really.

      *please forgive any typos or grammar mistakes. I shouldn't be typing at 1 A.M.
       
    11. I think this is a big factor.

      I know that for the most part I don't need to look at used dolls and the old dolls I'm really interested are so rare they never come up for sale. Most of the dolls I have bought second hand were already discontinued in 2005 when I joined DoA. Every single other doll has been made during the time I've been in this hobby and if I had wanted them I would have bought them years ago when they were new. Except for the Bix in the house - I just didn't realize how much I loved him until it was too late. In the end we lucked out and bought him from local friend. No MP involved in that transaction.

      I also think the bulk of BJD collectors that have money to spend have already purchased a large number of dolls. After five years, I have more than 20 dolls which is 15 more than I ever thought I'd have. I'm still collecting but I've slowed down, most of my cast is full! I also know what I like in doll faces: the grumpy quota is full, the really full lips quota is full.

      And I agree that it's hard to know who to trust these days. If I am not at all familiar with a seller, I don't buy from them. (I also don't buy from anyone who charges Paypal fees and a lot of people do.) I don't mean to penalize people just for being new, but I don't like feeling like I'm throwing money into the wind.
       
    12. I haven't really bought anything other than the doll body from Domuya (on sale). I can't really afford them.
      The companies have different sales pitches. They also have different styles. Some companies can't live long if they don't churn up something new. Others are too out there to even be favorable to the general public's tastes. Fantacy, fashion, elegance, cuteness, flexibility, etc. I don't really know about being obsessed, because I never had one. A few are more interested in making them rather than buying. They end up buying anyway once they get frustrated with experimenting. XD

      The doll market seems small compared to the rise of doll companies and doll products. They end up having to make up something "different" just to sell. The preorder and first come first serve gigs are a part of it. The more the buyers are pressured, the more they give in. The small companies seem pretty happy since they don't really need that much profit to live compared to bigger ones. In the case of Soom, they make serial dolls to get loya followers. It's a good idea. This also gives them the chance to make prices higher.The current state of the economy is a big hindrance though.

      I don't know how many are still exited about the next new fad and stuff like that anymore.
       
    13. With this I'd like to agree and add that, (indirect quote of a quote from a HauteDoll article) it would be nice to have less molds/companies, but of higher quality (end quote) but it is convenient and interesting to have such a variety.

      I can't input much to this debate, as I'm inexperienced with marketing in general and for now prefer to buy retail... I'm sure in the future I'll use the MP a bit more, but currently I'm overwhelmed as it seems to be a lot of hassle or even danger. I also don't see myself selling my dolls... The only time I could possibly imagine selling a doll would be if I just completely could not bond with it at all... and that'd be hard to do, because I'm extremely picky about researching and criticizing a doll to make sure I really want that one before I even start saving for it. About that, I've noticed people that have huge doll families tend to sell more, since they need money for new dolls, run out of room, sometimes have bonding issues, etc...
       
    14. I'm sure that the economy has had an effect, although I think (even with LEs at Volks events not selling out as fast as you'd expect) that there has been improvement there. Y!J and Closet Child are moving dolls again whereas about a year ago they weren't. At a super fast rate? Well, CC's prices are decent so they seem to be turning stuff over pretty fast.

      There are also a lot of companies, and different trends . . . It reminds me of complaints anime and manga fans made about the growth of those industries, about having too many titles to even know what to get. I don't know how much this actually affects sales, though. There might be a bit of weekly "new LE with this new skintone and these parts/this outfit" overload happening for some people. Trends have also led away, as people have pointed out, from the original styles of sculpt. This may turn off some long-time members of the hobby.

      As for the MP here, I don't buy much at all from it because it's just unwieldy to go through and I'd rather buy from a company if I have the option. I haven't had a single bad experience on the MP, though, so I don't feel worried about being ripped off there.

      Honestly, I think it's really hard to say, as most of us have no access to sales figures, nor can we go around interviewing all BJD owners to get their opinions. My guess is the economy and the companies producing so much new stuff all the time are making it hard for used dolls in the MP to compete.
       
    15. I agree that there are a combination of factors affecting Marketplace sales. The economy definitely has a lot to do with it. If your job is at risk or worse, you're unemployed, it would be irresponsible and risky to spend hundreds of dollars on a doll. I don't think that's going to change any time soon, unfortunately. I think the economy is going to stay bad for a couple more years at least.

      People's interests definitely change, too. A lot of people are more interested in buying new releases than they are in paying 'collector' prices for older dolls. I'm very pleased to see new companies designing new dolls. Not all of these companies will last, but there are a lot of terrific new choices for collectors now. I definitely think that all of this variety and availability affects sales in the secondhand market. There are so many gorgeous new dolls out there. Why take the risk of buying something secondhand from a stranger when you can spend the same money and get something new from a reputable manufacturer?

      I've had very good luck buying dolls from the Marketplace (1/2 my collection came from the Marketplace) but if I think a doll is priced too high, I pass on it every time no matter how much I may like it and want it. IMO, only a small percentage of the older dolls and LEs are really going to go up in value significantly. I've seen too many people reselling dolls for prices that are just too high simply because the doll is a couple of years old. I don't think that people should sell things at a loss, but I also don't think that people should automatically expect to turn a profit when they sell their dolls.
       
    16. From what I've seen and studied about economics in general, all the options listed are what's coming into play. Less money, less trust, and an increased variety of available sculpts are contributing factors. I enjoy the variety and the new sculpts, and I've seen both good mp transactions and bad. I've done little shopping there, mostly because I'm broke, but the time I did, the seller did not have pages of feedback and was absolutely wonderful.

      So...while I'm doing better financially than I ever have before, until I pay off my debts, I won't be able to take advantage of the buyer's market going on now, as much as I'd like to.
       
    17. I think everything mentioned already factors in... but also dolls are just so much easier to get now, and I don't just mean the many new companies and variety of price ranges. English websites... easy to use cart systems... taking Paypal... there are a lot of things that have gotten easier over the last several years (although I only joined DoA in 2007 I first stumbled across BJDs in 2004 when... a lot of this stuff didn't exist, or existed in more more limited capacities). Just looking at Volks... back then there was, I believe, one store in Florida that sold Volks Super Dollfies for the entire US market, and I don't recall whether they had access to limiteds or not. A secondhand doll was worth more in part because a new doll was a bit hard to get your hands on. Now if you live in the US and want a Volks doll you can shop at their US site or their international site, if you see a limited you want you can enter the lotteries for the stores that act as their dealers as well. If you have to go to Yahoo Japan there are a range of shopping services with varying policies and fees... and as has been posted recently you can buy from Madarake overseas as well. The world is opening up on the internet, and what used to be a rare and hard to get item may have turned into something easily obtained.
       
    18. As odd as it may sound, I think that because the "wow" factor has gone up, it has also gone down. What was new and special a few years ago, feels common and a bit standard now. I mean this in the sense of novel innovations, but also on a personal level. When I started almost four years ago "a" BJD was special. I now have more than 20. Although I'm still excited about new releases and old dream dolls, I've reached a different level of enjoying the hobby in which new dolls are not top priority and where enhancing my current dolls with new outfits, wigs, eyes, etc. give me satisfaction.
      I'm glad my buying dolls like crazy days are over. :sweat

      Something different: A lot of people say that they'd rather buy a new doll from the company than a second hand doll. Not everybody feels comfortable to use a credit card or bank transfer and send hundreds of dollars to a company in a far away country. For those people the (local) secondhand market was a good alternative, but now-a-days there are a lot more dealers selling dolls from a lot more companies. In most cases you can buy a new doll in your own country when buying through a dealer.
      A lot less people are "forced" to buy from the secondhand market with local dealers carrying many brands of BJDs.
      [edit] It seems that skwerlie wrote something similar while I was typing my post. It shows that it is not a weird assumption. ^_^
       
    19. I think the marketplace is kinda self-defeating right now. I think the appeal for a lot of people is the comfort we have had for years knowing that buying a doll isn't tooooooo big of a deal because we can resell for a price very close--sometimes higher--to what we paid. When you see a doll you love sitting there for $650 who used to go for $900, you might not be too tempted. If I buy it, will the price just get lower? Will I be able to recoup my price? Will I see another XX doll for $550 the next week?

      Reminds me of the housing market. People won't start buying until people start buying. Dolls won't start selling until dolls start selling.
       
    20. I have to agree with this for the most part:
      A lot of it with the EU collectors is also that with the fall of the Euro and the susequent slump of the $ to £ exchange rate, we're now looking at ASTRONOMIC importation taxes on top of already expensive shipping charges at a time when very few of us have the money to spare for luxuries anyway. Two years ago I was buying second hand dolls for $300 which was £150, NOW that $300 has turned into £200 and that extra £50 makes a lot of difference when the importation tax is 4%, the VAT is 17.5% rising to 20% in the new year, and EMS prices seem to be rising daily. It's essentially no longer affordable to buy dolls from outside the EU for a LOT of people and that HAS to be denting the MP here.

      When you combine that with the reasons everyone else has mentioned, you end up with what we have, a saturated market incapable of the sort of movement that we've become accustomed to. Now on the one hand, if you were just starting out in the hobby now, this is a gloryhole of discoveries going for the sort of prices we would never have believed a couple of years ago, but on the other, you now have a lot of weary, LEARY collectors who've been in the hobby a long time and see the increase of scamming and flakey dealers as further incentive not to buy, so it's a vicious cycle.

      From a personal point of view, I no longer trade here at all, I got burnt once too often so I now prefer to deal only with people I already have a working relationship with and I can name you a world of others who do the same. If we assume that is representational of the collectors that have been in the hobby as long as me and have established collections (I'm making wild suppositions based on the group of doll people I know), the slow sales on the MP here start to seem entirely inevitable if for no other reason than where once, one or two of us would have bought a few "fixer upper" dolls every couple of months, worked on them and sold them on, there's no longer any room for profit in there and those dolls will remain there.

      It's slightly different with accessories (wigs, clothes and eyes etc) of course, but the basic principal remains that there is just too much of it in a disordered pile and the majority of it's not of a high enough quality to be worth risking firstly the actual deal with someone you don't know and can't necessarily trust, then the importation, and finally the off chance that it won't fit/work and you'd need to sell it on again.

      This is one depressing thought process *snort* Stopping now! Interesting thread tho!