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 The Balrog: Demon of Shadow and Flame !
Attakus | Bowen | Gentle Giant | Master Replicas | Sideshow | Weta

Collector's News (Page 2)

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1/17/09 2:12 pm - Check out Special Collector's Edition Magazine!
Hey All - You may want to check out a cool new online magazine called Special Collector's Edition, published by Anthony Gibbs at his own website. It's a nice blend of product reviews and interesting articles from personalities around the collecting community. The recently released second edition includes a two page article about the origins of ToyTracker.Net, which Anthony was kind enough to ask me to contribute. Also on the site are some very interesting journal style entries detailing his interest in computer animation and design.

11/6/08 6:20 pm - Updates to the Bowen Designs Section
Hi All - The Bowen Designs section has received an overhaul, with around 50 new items entered into the database, and definite product numbers and edition sizes entered for several of the older items.

The SpaceMan

10/30/08 11:13 pm - Major Updates to Valuation Algorithm
I have a very important bit of site news to share with all of you. It involves a redesign of the fundamental algorithm which calculates item values. There are any number of techniques which one could imagine to assign a single representative "value" when given a long history of individual trades. The simplest, and one of the worst, is the good old fashioned average. The problem with this technique of course, is that it becomes stagnant and fails to respond to recent trends up or down in the price. On the other hand, one doesn't want to get too carried away with a few potentially anomalous recent sales, and forget the solid grounding of established history which may exist. I've been actually quite pleased with the techniques developed over the years to balance the competing goals of current pricing relevancy and a respect for intrinsic long term worth. A plot of the classic value algorithm is shown below for all recorded trades of the legendary Balrog figure.

Classic Valuation

I came to the conclusion lately though that I could do a bit better, and that my primary "VALUE" statistic should shift slightly toward the more agressive (current) end of the spectrum. At the same time however, I wanted to retain a more conservative option, and thus was born the new "STABLE" price index. The final form of each of these algorithms was established only after careful consideration of several competing options, and extensive testing of the effects (and sometimes artifacts) which each produced. The total number of distinct pricing indexes offered by ToyTracker.Net has now risen to NINE, each of which has their own strengths and purposes. Although this is a LOT of information, I am optimistic that the layout of our main console (shown below for the Balrog's detail view page) remains largely self explanatory. Nevertheless, there is certainly some background which can improve your user experience, and allow you to usefully digest a greater portion of the information presented.

Value Console

The main "VALUE", as mentioned prior, is now our most volatile index, and it is designed to rapidly reflect changes in established prices. From a technical point of view, the "VALUE" is now computed with a 2nd order quadratic fit, rather than the prior linear technique. Proprietary methods are used to enhance the prominence of recent sales while compressing the collective effect of historical trades. Also, as was the case before, sales which are flagged as "Damaged" or as an "Artist Proof" are greatly reduced in computational weight. Presence of an "Autographed" flag, and/or the remaining options "Low Edition", "New or Mint", and "Free Shipping" also exerts some supressing effect. The move to a higher order (quadratic) fit also had another benefit. Previously, our "TREND" arrows had been computed in a very simple way, by comparing most recent sales to the main value. I was never fully satisfied with this approach, and wanted a more robust algorithm with improved statistical relevance. I now use the slope of the quadratic fit (increasing or decreasing) averaged over "recent times" to establish the trend assignment. Moreover, this is compared to variance of the main fit to establish how statistically meaningful the trend is. A single arrow up or down has some significance. The double and especially the flaming arrows represent much more significant trends. This analysis is subtly distinct from the prior system, where a down arrow meant that recent sales dots were below the established value, and the value had not yet "caught up" to these lower prices. An image of the modern "VALUE" follows.

Modern Valuation

In some ways, the new "STABLE" index is the closest thing to the prior implementation of the main value. It is again based on a linear first order fit, although some changes in the "time compression" and flag weighting have been made. As advertised, it is intended to maintain a more even keel than the "VALUE", and smooth over potentially isolated data points. The "RANGE" statistic is associated with this index, and gives an interval of confidence in the stated price. Trades within plus or minus one factor of the stated "RANGE" may not really be highly distinquishable. A greater availability of historical data will tend to reduce this number, while great variation between individual trades will tend to increase it. As usual, flagged auctions contribute to the variation in a sharply diminished manner. The "AVERAGE" ("AVG") is the third and final index which takes all sales into consideration. It represents the "zeroth order" fit, to continue the language used to describe "VALUE" and "STABLE". Like them, flagged trades are diminished in contribution to the total, so this index would more properly be called the "weighted average". Each of these three indexes also mixes in the "MSRP" one time at the end so that each of the valuations will naturally and smoothly converge to this point when no data is available. Note that situations where existing data is scarce are marked by a special "TREND" icon, the yellow warning circle. Plots follow for "STABLE" and finally for "AVG".

Stable Valuation

Weighted Average Valuation

There are four pricing indexes which limit themselves in scope to a smaller number of trades. Any auction with any of the higher penalty flags (Damaged, Artist Proof, Autograph), or all three of the common flags, is fully excluded from these computations. Otherwise, they are calculated in the straightforward manner. "LAST 5" averages the last five common sales, and "15 DAY" limits itself to the stated timespan. The all time record "HIGH" common sale is provided, as well as "LOW 60", the low price for the last sixty days. This time limit blocks out low trades from much earlier eras, which may represent a time before the figure in question became rare or highly prized. The eighth price index is the already mentioned "MSRP", and the ninth, "USER", is a straight average of all auctions checkmarked by the user which updates dynamically as given entries are marked on or off in the browser window.

The field "PER WEEK" is another brand new statistic which indicates the likelyhood of a given item trading during the next weekly interval. Note that it again pays greater heed to the trading interval of more recent sales. However, it retains the value in effect at the time of the last recorded sale. In other words, if trading was once very active, but suddenly for some reason stopped, this long final delay would not be factored in until the time of a new sale, at which moment a new number for "PER WEEK" would apply. The design decision was made deliberately that only intervals bounded by known trades should be included, to the exclusion of the unbounded interval to the current moment. The "DAYS" field counts time elapsed since the first recorded sale, "SELECTED" marks the count of user checked trades, and the overall count of recorded trades is simply called "TRADES". Also provided when known are the edition size "EDITION" and manufacturer's identification code, or "STOCK ID". "RANGE", "MSRP", "HIGH" and "LOW 60" are rounded to the nearest one dollar, while all other reported monetary figures are rounded to the nearest five dollars.

Thanks to all for your interest in the site. I continue to enjoy working to make it better, and I hope that you continue to enjoy using it. Your assistance in bringing these effort to the attention of a wider group of fellow collectors is always appreciated!

Until Next Time,
the SpaceMan

8/14/08 2:16 am - KISS and Tell

Our summer contest "KISS and Tell" has come to an end. My thanks to all particpants and especially to co-sponsor Sideshow Collectibles. A special congratulations to the Grand Prize recipient Jessica, as well as the three other winners. Full results are available here.

8/14/08 2:09 am - Upgrades to Weta Sorting
The Sideshow*Weta section is the original line of figures which I began tracking, and it has traditionally been our most reliable and popular index. However, as Sideshow Collectibles has released an increasing amount of LOTR product under their own branding alone, the Weta collaboration listings have become polluted in some instances. I'm pleased to report that new measures have been implemented to keep the separation of these sibling product lines more clear. Updates to the Sideshow section itself are the next order of business. Enjoy! The SpaceMan

7/5/08 1:44 am - Major Overhaul of the Bowen Designs Section
I've been giving a lot of attention lately to improving the database and sorting algorithms. The latest section under the microscope is Bowen Designs. This area had been neglected for too long, and it is now in MUCH better shape. Of course, there is still room for improvement, and I appreciate your help in fixing any remaining missorts which you happen to spot with the user editing system.

Enjoy and Happy Collecting!
The SpaceMan

7/5/08 1:40 am - Add This!
In hopes of spreading online awareness of the site, I've added a new "Add This" link (orange plus sign at the bottom of the outside right column) for bookmarking and social networking.

My thanks to all of you who help me to get the word out!
The SpaceMan

7/5/08 1:33 am - Mail is Working
Hi All. For too long now my incoming mail service has been disrupted for reasons arising from my transition to a private dedicated web server. If you have sent me a letter which was never answered, this is the simple reason: I never received it. I always reply personally to messages from site users and enjoy keeping in touch. I'm pleased to report that this issue is finally resolved, and look forward to hearing from some of you on my spaceman@toytracker.net address.

The SpaceMan

6/20/08 4:23 pm - Upgrades to Detailed Item Reporting
There are a few new features to announce which I'm very proud of. All of the most recent work is on the detail view page of each item, which is reached via the magnifying lens icons on the main category summary pages. Firstly, underneath the transaction date, the coutry of origin for the sale is now listed. Secondly, in connection with the recently announced inclusion of store format sales, I have now subdivided the indicator in the bids column for fixed price sales to disambiguate standard 'Buy-It-Now Style' Transactions from 'Best Offer Style' , 'Buy-It-Now OR Best Offer' , 'Store Format Buy-It-Now' , 'Store Format Best Offer' , and finally 'Store Format Buy-It-Now OR Best Offer' sales.

The features which has me the most excited however, is the addition of a tiny thumbnail image for each new sale. Running the mouse over the tiny image will pop up a larger (but still very small) and more more detailed copy. For auctions within the last 90 days, the image is also a link to the full listing at eBay. The thumbnail sits right next to each auction's edit link , and I'm thinking that they will be a big help to those of you who assist with resorting misplaced auctions. Your efforts in this regard continue to be much appreciated, by the way! As an aside for new readers, simply registering for a free collection manager account will enable you to particpate as a member of our editing team to correct bad sorts.

Thanks and Happy Collecting!
the SpaceMan

6/15/08 8:34 pm - Store Format Listings Now Included
Previously, Toytracker reported statistics solely for Auction Format eBay sales. We have now expanded to include the Store Format fixed price and best offer sales as well, which make up a sizeable fraction of all online collectible trades. Enjoy!

The SpaceMan


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