So, you have likely heard about BE@RBRICKS and have seen them in some of our auctions or on social media, but why are BE@RBRICKs so collectible? What makes some more expensive than others? How do you start collecting? Like with any collecting category there are many nuances but here are the basics you need to know!
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What is a BE@RBRICK ?
A BE@RBRICK is a collectible bear shaped toy designed and produced by the Japanese toy company MediCom Toy. The company was founded in 1996 to make limited edition toys and licensed products. Since creation, they have become one of the most collectible and recognizable characters in the world. Contrary to what may seem to be a children’s toy, the Be@bricks have been the staple of toy collecting today and thread the line between fine art and artistic works.
A key to the success of BE@RBRICK has been their ability to collaborate with other brands and artists (such as Nike, KAWS, BAP, etc.) and offer the toys in limited releases. As a result, they are now one of the most famous Japanese toys in the world and interspersed in streetwear and fashion culture today.
When was the first BE@RBRICK released?
The first BE@RBRICK was released on May 27, 2001 and was given out as a gift to the attendees of the World Character Convention in Tokyo, Japan. It measured 70 mm tall and marked the standard BE@RBRICK size — the 100%.
The market for BE@RBRICKs and collectible toys has developed significantly over the last few years. It is a category of collecting with a strong following and dynamic wide base of dedicated collectors. It is a market initially developed in Asia but has since gained global appeal and a large international audience. Many of these collectors choose to display their works together and collect as many of the different toy editions as possible. The value of a BE@RBRICK depends on the rarity: whom did they collaborate with, what is the limited nature of the release, and ultimately the scale of the toy. The size of the BE@RBRICKS are based on percentages.
BE@RBRICK Size Chart – What do the percentages mean?
It looks complicated but it’s very straight forward, check out the sizing chart below from A Beginner’s Guide To All Things BE@RBRICK on Hypebeast(1).
- 50%, 35 mm – These BE@RBRICKS are normally released in the form of keychains.
- 70%, 50 mm – First introduced in 2006, the 70% BE@RBRICKS were originally collectible items alongside other products.
- 100%, 70 mm – The most classic and common format. All BE@RBRICK series’ are released in this size and are available in blind boxes.
- 200%, 145 mm – A relatively new format and are only released in the “Chogokin” Series. These are all constructed of die-cast metal and weigh in at 400 g.
- 400%, 280 mm – The second most common format, most collectors buy BE@RBRICKS in 400% form.
- 1000%, 700 mm – The largest regular BE@RBRICK size, the 1000% is normally reserved as a collectible statue piece
How often are BE@RBRICK released?
BE@RBRICKS are most often sold individually or in “blind box” assortments, in which figures are packed in small, unmarked boxes. The only way to know which specific figure will be inside a particular box is to purchase and open the box. The box states the frequency of each figure in percentages.
Both are available online through the Medicom Toy’s website, although the online store does not take orders from outside Japan or ship overseas. This makes these exclusive figures more difficult to get for those that do not live in Japan.
At Heritage, we’ve found that there is a lot of demand of we have been selling them on behalf of collectors in our auctions. Buying at auction is one of the only ways to get the exact work you want. Many of the releases become highly coveted due to the limited nature of the release.
Why collect BE@RBRICKS?
BE@RBRICKS have pioneered the way people collect toys and have opened up a category to a whole new audience with their limited releases and collaborations. BEARBRICKS have positioned themselves at the forefront of fashion, culture and art. Can we add anything about the collecting value? Will these continue to appreciate over time? Are there limited editions that are worth more? Does incorporating current fashion and culture help with value over time?
Tips for first time BE@RBRICK buyers:
- Buy what you like – if you’re spending your money on it, make sure it’s something you want to live with!
- Check condition – Most BE@RBRICKS are kept in boxes but be sure to check condition
- Not all collaborations are created equal – for example BE@RBRICK collaborations with KAWS and Bape trade at a high price and are more desirable so keep that in mind
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