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Are the blind box collectibles money draining or worth gaining?

Alyssa Wang and Robert Yu
Despite the lack of practical value of blind box collectibles, these figurines bring joy to collectors who are willing to spend money on them.

Blind box collectibles — small figurines inside windowless boxes — have been popular among teenagers for many years. The anticipation comes from not knowing what’s inside the box while opening it. A typical collectible costs around $10, with more valuable ones costing hundreds. Although these products have reached immense success, many view them as a waste of time and money. However, these collectibles have a lot more meaning to their owners, as the happiness that collectors get from buying them justifies the high prices.

Sonny Angels — baby angels with different headgear — and Smiskis — tiny glow-in-the-dark figurines in different poses — are among the most popular brands of blind boxes. Collectibles often depict figurines in fun poses and features. Collecting has become an even more widespread hobby, with some students owning displays of 20 to 30 figurines.

“I use the collectibles as decorations around my room,” senior Allison Wu said. “I like the mystery of opening the box, and the suspense of seeing if I get the one I wanted makes me happy.”

The method of hiding figurine is not new; in fact,  they have been popular since the mid-1990s. Examples include Dunny, which are tiny rabbits decorated in unique art. The collectibles’ long-term popularity shows the lasting power that this trend has, and how addictive it can be for collectors. The business model is simple: to gain more customers by adding a sense of uncertainty or mystery. By collecting more figurines, the collector is trying to recreate their original excitement.

Toys may have little practicality, but they’re also just nice things that make people happy.

— Rebecca Cai, sophomore

“The tactics that businesses use can greatly influence collectors,” business teacher Andrea Badger said. “Consumers can also influence other consumers by driving it on social media.”

Another method that companies use to retain customers is to make different models of these items. By regularly adding more to the catalog, collectors will go into stores trying to get a specific character. Trying to get a specific model is up to chance, so many other models  could be bought repeatedly before finding the desired one. The constant pursuit of specific models can even lead to collectors reselling their figures. There are more than 1,300 different models of Sonny Angels, so the chance that a collector finds the one that they want is minimal.

The common addiction to buying doesn’t dismiss the values of collectibles, and the passion that collectors feel is valid. Regulating how much collecting one does is a difficult solution to maintain, but if done correctly, would alleviate issues such as splurging. Many collectors have found buying to be a drain on money or time. However, the happiness that they gain from the toys makes collecting worth the trouble.

“They can be really expensive and they sometimes feel like they aren’t really worth it,” sophomore Rebecca Cai said. “But they’re just cute and it’s a nice way to add to your general aesthetic.”

Although many value the figurines, some simply don’t understand the appeal, calling out collecting as a waste of money, time and space. They claim that the lack of practical value that the collectibles have makes them unnecessary. However, if others find them to have no value, it’s important to also realize that it is happiness, rather than practicality, that are the collectibles’ defining value. If collectors derive joy or passion from buying them, the figurines are worth the money.  An object shouldn’t have to have utility in order to have worth. The worth of it is decided by the owner.

“It’s the same reason why people buy toys,” Cai said. “I think that toys may have little practicality, but they’re also just nice things that make people happy.”

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About the Contributor
Rohan Kakhandiki
Rohan Kakhandiki, Staffer
(he/him) Rohan is a sophomore as well as a first-year staffer at the Epic. He enjoys to play guitar and hang out with his friends in his free time.

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