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The Friday Five: Christian Braun


The hobby of collecting grows exponentially year after year. With that growth, comes the importance of documenting collectibles as a way of preserving history. hobbyDB CEO Christian Braun talks about how his site takes on that task while also making the world of buying and selling collectibles easier (and less risky) for everyone.

What is the mission of hobbyDB?

hobbyDB is a hobby and collectibles database. We’ve built the next generation Wikipedia for collectors.

There have been some fantastic collectibles sites run by hobbyists, but they disappear as curators lose interest or no longer want to pay for web hosting. I hated that all that great information was no longer available. Wikipedia is an excellent resource for some topics, but it isn’t an in-depth resource. hobbyDB speaks the language of collectors for each type of collection. We go wide and deep with our expertise. We are a digital museum for people interested in collectibles, we are a resource for those who want to catalogue their collection, and we also make real-world connections between buyers and sellers.

We start where Wikipedia and other resources stop.

The Friday Five

How was the idea conceived?

I’ve been collecting since I was six or seven years old. I was an early eBay user and visitor to some of the early collectibles sites that are no longer around. The reason why these collectibles sites die is that there is no money in them. People got paid in fun and making connections, but it does take money to run these sites. I had the idea to build a database to allow people to manage their collections but one that also allowed them to buy and sell so that those transactions pay for the site.

It can be tough to sell pieces of a collection and even more difficult to sell an entire collection, especially if the collection isn’t your own. The collectibles market is 80% male. Men generally marry women who are five years younger than them, but the men die seven years before their partners. Women are left with these collections and it can be challenging for them to sell them because they often don’t know it’s value, how to describe it, or where to go to sell it without getting ripped off. When a collection is catalogued on hobbyDB, that selling process becomes very easy. There is no guessing at values or strangers coming to your house. You can sell it to other collectors right on the site.

The Friday Five

How many collectibles are represented on hobbyDB today and have you noticed any trends developing?

We have two types of entries: subjects and objects. We have 68,000 subject (brands, series, designers, etc.) entries and 397,000 individual objects. We also have data donations, experts and individuals with specific knowledge who contribute information about our subjects and objects. We have about 1.1 million items that we are still waiting to add to the site (collectors or brands have given us the information and photos and asked us to upload them, we call these ‘data donations’).

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Do you think toy collecting has flourished over the past few years or is it just more acceptable for collectors to talk about their weird and wonderful collections?

I think it’s much more acceptable now, but I do think that pop culture has exploded. The Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association estimates that $273.5 billion pop culture-related items have been sold. Many of the people buying pop culture items don’t think of themselves as collectors. Some people buy back the toys they loved as children; certain Hot Wheels cars, model planes, dolls, tin plate toys, model buses. As times and trends change, we’ll see the collectibles markets change also. There was a time when people took buses to go on vacation, particularly in England. As those children grew up, they collected buses. Then it was model planes as commercial flying became popular. L.O.L. Surprise Dolls will take the place of Barbie one day. Some collectibles are evergreen and make the generational jump, some things won’t, but there will always be collectors.

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What’s next for hobbyDB?

The site will never be complete. It hasn’t been easy to create a site that is good for all types of collections and collectors. We’ll continue to work on making the site easier and adding more data. Data is what we live for.

The Friday Five

Visit hobbyDB.com to explore the collections and learn about the Advisory Council lending expertise to the site. And if you like to get involved, reach out to them!

Five questions, one fascinating person (or team!) – look into the minds of movers and shakers in the nostalgia, game, play, or toy industry.