A small turnout at auction house Dunbar Sloane's sale of vintage and rare toys this week reflected the shrinking market in New Zealand, with collectibles tightly held.
At its Wellington auction, items under the hammer included Kewpie dolls made in Japan, handcrafted Gollys, 1930s dolls of child star Shirley Temple on rollerskates, as well as tin soldiers and train sets.
Dunbar Sloane auctioneer Bettina Frith said there were no sensational items because movements in the market were so limited.
"We used to have three or four doll and toy auctions a year but they've boiled down to about one a year now. It's the sellers' market shrinking. There are certainly plenty of buyers out there but I think a lot of the toys out there are in big collections," Frith said.
"There were some nice toys in the auction but nothing that was going to wow the market or anything."
The top-selling item was an unglazed porcelain bisque fashion doll that was under negotiation for about $1400, and a Schuco Yes-No teddybear went for $600. Turnout was "quiet", which Frith said was a sign of the times.
Wellington's Featherston St teddy bear store Bears With Attitude manager Claire Cordery said people still bought the toys for grandchildren but a slump in the number of serious collectors buying could be related to the recession.
"Maybe there are not the serious collectors out there in younger people - they're more older people - but I suppose it's just like anything - is it a necessity, do you really need another bear?
"People just aren't buying the more expensive bears because they don't have the money for them."