I am an avid Teddy Bear collector and historian, and was the Boyds Tracker Editor for the 2004 Boyds Tracker book by Bangzoom Publishing. I used to write for Teddy Bear Review magazine and had a regular column on Boyds Bears. Buying Boyds on Ebay can be a lot of fun if you are an informed buyer. I hope to give you some tips !
The first thing to do as a prospective buyer is to learn to do a search. Boyds items can be listed in a number of categories, including toys, sporting goods, and Decorative Collectibles. Expand your search by searching all categories, including descriptions, then narrow your search based on areas of interest - "Bailey" for Bailey bears, "white tag" for older white tagged bears, "Cat" or "kitty" or "moose" if you want to look at only those items, or simply type in part of the name of the bear you are looking for. There are thousands of bears on Ebay and you can spend too many hours simply browsing, if you can define and narrow your search, you will have more success.
How do you know what you want ? Learn as much as you can about the bears available. Go to the Boyds website. Join the FOB collector club. Purchase a good secondary market guide, and yes I am biased, but the 2004 Boyds Tracker is still the most comprehensive book available for older Boyds. The secondary market prices have plummeted since the book was published, so check closed auctions to get a feel for current values on items. Look for old catalogs, or older reference books. Familiarize yourself with their products, be aware of their potential cost on the secondary market, and then set a budget.
There are a million ways to buy on Ebay, whether you bid early, bid late, or bid often. However you place your bid - decide what you are willing to pay and then stick to it. Unless the item is particularly rare, chances are it will show up again on Ebay. If you have a budget and stick to that figure, you will be less likely to experience that awful buyer's remorse known to appear when one gets carried away !
When you find a bear listed that you simply HAVE to have, check it out. Check the seller's Feedback thoroughly for any problems. READ the auction listing carefully so you understand the seller's policies and timetables for payment and manner of payment. ASK about shipping costs if they are not clearly spelled out and consider the cost as part of the cost of the bear when you are setting your budget.
If you are sensitive to smells or animal dander, ask about exposure to smoke, pets, or other problems that might make a bear a lot less attractive. Some things can be cleaned, but remember - the seller may not consider that exposure a problem or mention it, so it is up to you to ASK . If the pictures are not clear, ask the seller about condition. There are many many Boyds items on Ebay. Condition is a prime factor in value and appearance. If the bear is soiled, scuffed, missing ribbons or accessories - be sure you really want to buy the item in that condition. Don't buy a bear just because it is cheap - it may be cheap because of the condition it is in!
If a bear is not identified by name in an auction, and you don't know who it is - try to find out before you bid. Remember that early Boyds items had names hand written on tags and are sometimes incorrect or missing names - don't assume the seller knows if you are not sure yourself - check with someone who is more knowledgeable about Boyds items. I am always happy to help with identifications.
Remember as a buyer, it is up to you to follow through on your bid when you are the high bidder. Contact your seller and let them know how you will be paying and then pay promptly. If you have a problem with your item, contact the seller and try to resolve it before resorting to negative feedback. If you have a problem following through for health or other reasons, contact your seller and try to work it out. Your Ebay reputation is important to build, maintain, and monitor.
Ebay is about the most fun you can have sitting in front of your computer. Make your experiences positive ones and we will keep this community strong and healthy. Be careful, and have fun !