Don’t Eject Those Old Videos

ParcelHero’s customers include many people selling items on eBay, Preloved and other marketplace sites. As the former Editor of Model Price Guide, Coins Market Values, Area 51: Sci Fi Collecting and a wealth of other, slightly anoraky, collectors’ titles I’m often asked what items are cheap today but could become tomorrow’s collectables. When you’re spring cleaning this year, is there anything you are about to throw out but will kick yourself you didn’t hang on to in the future?

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I believe one potential collectable is the, currently unloved, pre-recorded video movie. You might find it hard to believe the much-maligned VHS could ever be wanted in the future, but there are good reasons why videos may become more desirable than some items promoted as collectables today. I’m always wary of buying new items such as coins, stamps and model vehicles that are marketed as ‘Exclusive Collectors’ Edition’ or similar. You’ll pay a lot, and everyone else will be collecting them and saving them in pristine condition. The trick is to identify something that’s common and disposable today, but is attractive and may inspire nostalgia in the future. Something that will be highly desirable when today’s kids grow old enough to become misty-eyed over their childhood, and are earning enough to do something about recapturing it.

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It’s time to learn the lesson of vinyl. Many once unloved and discarded original LPs and singles are now worth significant sums. Most groovy and hip teenagers who bought the original Beatles’ White Album release played them to destruction; they had no idea they might be very valuable in the future. Now the album can be worth up to £7,000 for the right version, with mint record and sleeve.

Take also 1960’s and 1970’s Dinky Toys, Barbies or Sindys. Mint and boxed they can be worth thousand, simply because most had their heads or wheels pulled off, were fired out of windows or languished in the sandpit (am I giving too much away about my own childhood?). Original 1970’s Star Wars figures still in their bubble packs are worth eye-watering sums today.

In the same way pre-recorded commercial videos of much-loved movies, particularly sci-fi and cult films such as Star Trek, Doctor Who or Bruce Lee movies, are being wiped from our memories today; but could one day be worth significant sums. Don’t eject all those old videos when spring cleaning: fast-forward a few years and they could be valuable.
Why should you believe video movies will ever become collectable? There are probably fewer items around your home as unloved and unwanted as an old video cassette. Let’s face it, the tapes themselves were awful things. I remember a trailer for the original Star Trek VHS series release claimed ‘Yours to keep forever’. A nice idea, but in fact most videos buckled and snapped when you rewound them too often, or became afflicted with ever-more surreal and distorted tracking problems.

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And how many of us still have a working video player on which to watch them? Just as we once binned vinyl records when our music centres and Hi-Fis died, so videos are being thrown out faster than you can say ‘Betamax’. You can’t even give them away to charity shops. No one wants them. But look again at those attractive covers. They capture the magic of movies and are a handy size for display and storage. Do you remember how often you or your kids watched The Land Before Time, Thomas the Tank Engine or Beauty and the Beast until the tape broke? It’s just the kind of thing to create a nostalgic glow in the future.

Pre-recorded commercial videos of much-loved movies, particularly sci-fi and cult films such as Star Trek, Doctor Who or Bruce Lee movies, are being wiped from our memories today; but could one day be worth significant sums. There are already the first stirrings of a future market. An original ex-rental copy of Star Wars in the short lived V2000 format, sold on eBay for over £80 recently.

If you are serious about building a collection that could become valuable, keep those releases unlikely to be made available on DVD or other media: 1980’s music promos are one good area. VHS won the format war, but Sony’s doomed rival, Betamax, tapes add an extra element of scarcity. And video store boxed tapes are often larger, scarcer and more attractive. I’m holding on to my ex-rental Peter Cushing Doctor Who movie videos.

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Condition is all-important. Few videos will be bought to actually watch. Most movies on VHS are easily available today in much handier formats, such as DVD, Netflix etc. In addition magnetic tape deteriorates over time and videos will be even more likely to break when played in a decade’s time than today. Their value will be all about their ‘displayablity’, if there is such a word. That’s why mint and boxed condition is crucial. Ideally your video box will also contain any original promotional leaflets for, for example, the opening of Disneyland Paris. It’s this kind of thing that could add value in years to come. You can’t rewind the future, so hang on to those mint and boxed movies.

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