Toy Collector's Market Is Open For Business!

Toy Collector's eBay-killing online marketplace for collectable toys and models is now fully operational, with all site users able to buy and sell.

Having launched in Beta mode in June, with access provided by invitation, the market is now fully-operational and open to the public. Initially, the focus is on vintage Dinky and Corgi Toys, with the intention of rolling out to cover other brands and areas of the toy, model and hobby market, catering for both antique and modern items, accessories and supplies. As of launch, several hundred items are already listed for sale, with more going up continuously.

Richard Hewis, trading as The Retro Trader has been part of the Beta launch and says: "I love the way the catalogue makes selling really easy and also how simple and straight-forward the rules are and predict that this will become my main channel!"

The Toy Collector Market is intended to create the ultimate buying and selling platform and environment for collectors and hobbyists. The group behind the site are collectors and web professionals who embarked on the venture out of frustration with certain aspects of eBay's treatment of the collectable toy and model market, and those who buy and sell within it. As such, the new platform has been specially tailored to the collectables market, will ultimately cater to both antique and modern items and offer a host of features designed to benefit both buyers and sellers in this popular arena, including the following:

1. Fast and Easy Listing

Items are listed through ToyPedia, the site's online database of collectable toys. Sellers simply browse to the item and click the "Sell" button, conveniently located on every item page. This will pre-categorise and pre-populate an item listing with information such as item reference number and years in production. There are also quick-and-simple dropdown selectors for condition of item and, if appropriate condition of a box or card (including categories for restored, customised and repro boxes), in addition to description boxes for sellers to add their own description text.

Where one is available, sellers will also have the option of using the item's standard ToyPedia photo, in addition to being able to upload their own images, a feature that's particularly useful for anyone listing brand-new-in-box items.

The Toy Collector team estimate that a mint vintage item or perfect brand new item can be listed in around 20 seconds from clicking the Sell This Item button on ToyPedia. The system has also been designed to be as easy-to-use as possible for both experienced sellers who are expert in their fields, and anyone who has never listed a vintage toy for sale in their entire life!

2. Multiple Free Images

Sellers will be able to upload up to ten images, completely free of charge.

3. Sophisticated Search System

The site's search system allows buyers to search listings by using the ToyPedia browser to select brands or browse directly to all listings for individual series or models, while the filtering system allows for quick and easy keyword search to further refine listings. Going forward, it is intended that buyers will be able to create custom searches on specific criteria like condition, themes, scale, country of manufacture and more. Items on sale will also appear in modules next to related content elsewhere on the site, including the site's popular blogs and forums.

4. A Simple and Fair Fee Structure

Items can be listed in either Buy-It-Now or Auction format (with a Best Offer feature coming soon.) There will be no listing fees: sellers only pay a final value fee once the item is sold, and this is kept low at 8%. For auctions, a buyers' premium of 8% is also charged to the purchaser, as in a real-world auction. This keeps things fair and ensures that final value fees are kept low for all concerned.

Sellers will also save the fees charged by PayPal (around 3.5%) as the site will operate its own Amazon-style payment system using the highly-respected Moneybookers service. Under this system, the buyer pays Toy Collector, who inform the seller that the item has been paid for and can be shipped. Payment to sellers is then made twice monthly.

This system also has the advantage of fees being deducted at source, before payment is made to the seller, so there are never any unwelcome end-of-the-month bills or invoices to be settled.

5. Maximum Protection for Both Sellers and Buyers

The site's checkout, payment and dispute resolution systems have been designed to be fair to both buyers and sellers. This incorporates a step-by-step shipping tracking process, where sellers can indicate that the item has been shipped (once payment has been received) and buyers can indicate its receipt. In instances where disputes arise, the system provides for buyers to indicate that items have been shipped back to the seller, and for sellers to indicate receipt of the item. Buyers will have a set time span to indicate if they are unhappy with an item, and refunds will be made only once a return item has been indicated as received by the seller.

6. Anti-Non-Paying Bidder Mechanism

Buy-It-Now Purchases must be paid for within a set (short) amount of time (currently 50 minutes), or the items will relist automatically (unless the buyer returns and requests more time, which is given in 10 minute blocks and must be renewed before each block expires). For auctions where that is not possible, sellers can relist items automatically anytime after 3 days if they have not heard from the buyer. And as there are no listing fees, there's the added benefit of not having to reclaim fees on any items that aren't paid for, since fees are deducted at source only after the payment is received.

7. An expert management team

As the team running the platform are sector experts and enthusiasts, they'll take concerns and reports about things like fakes and stolen items seriously.

And coming soon:

8. Feedback Goes Both Ways!

On this selling platform, buyers and sellers can both leave positive, neutral or negative feedback!

9. Sophisticated Currency Display Options

Regardless of what currency an item is listed in, buyers can set the site to display item prices in their choice of Australian Dollars, British Pounds Sterling, Canadian Dollars, Euros, New Zealand Dollars or US Dollars. The amount shown will include the conversion fee, unlike eBay, which adds this at the time of conversion where the buyer chooses to pay through PayPal.

With the success of Etsy, the specialist marketplace for handmade goods, and eBay's move towards more of an Amazon-like model focussed on consumer electronic, fashion and other consumer goods, it has become apparent that smaller, specialist marketplaces are the future of areas like antiques and collectables, and Toy Collector looks forward to its new platform becoming the second nature go-to place for buyers and sellers in this area!