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Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Economics of Swapping

We take a look at the economics of swapping and whether there are some toys you should keep hold of.Panini Sticker SwappingI GREW UP in a golden era, as technology products were slowly becoming affordable (and not taking up entire houses). I remember saving up months of paper-round money to buy my first Walkman, and then later for my first CD player.

The epitome of all this was taking a product home from the shop and having it permanently installed in my life. Without any real means of selling-on aging devices I would keep hold of most of this technology until it no longer worked (or I was persuaded to pass it down to my younger brother).

I've noticed that these days, with technology changing ever faster, I have a different perspective. Rather than seeing gadgets as something I'll keep for the long haul I often find myself eBaying last year's model to upgrade to something newer.

My kids seem to have a similar idea too. They buy and sell games without even batting an eyelid. At first I was worried that they wouldn't be able to look back on their old toys and games and reminisce. But then I realized that if they did want these things back they would be able to find them online for a fraction of the price.

With their recent interest in Skylanders, and other collectable figure toys, they have come up with another way to deal with their purchases: swapping. They will buy a figure, play with it for a while and then make a decision about whether to keep it or not. The ones that don't make the grade go into the "swaps" box and are used as playground collateral to exchange with friends.


Make Your Own Halo Army

I remember swapping Panini stickers as a child, but this is at a whole other level. The problem here is that swapping a toy with another child can become tricky if either party changes their mind. In fact there have been a few Skylanders swap wrangles where various parents have tried to decipher who originally owned which figures. Such was the web of exchange it was almost impossible.

In this light I think that the Disney Infinity approach to its upgrade tokens will make things a little easier. Not only are these closer to the stickers I used to swap (and sold in the same foil packs) but they are also less valuable. Seeing a child swapping a plastic token is very different to them swapping a toy.

Swapping seems to be the new economics of our family life. But I'm still trying to teach my kids that some things you want to keep even after you've finished/completed/broken them. There are plenty of trinkets I appreciate still having from my original dot matrix Gameboy to some prized PS1 games (MicroManiacs in particular).

To that end I've created a "Keep" box next to their "Swap" box. So far it's pretty empty though, apart from a half eaten chocolate bar my son says reminds him of his favorite movie.

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