This article originally appeared on VICE Asia
Disney movies are one hell of a happy nostalgic trip. They’re the kinds that take you back to simpler times when you were more concerned about Cinderella finding her Prince Charming than whether that fuckboy texted you back. And memories of such times are priceless.
But word around town is that VHS tape versions of Disney classics like The Little Mermaid, The Fox and The Hound and Beauty and the Beast are being sold for over $17,500. From the UK to Australia, these rare limited edition collectables cost more than what any of the evil queens are probably worth. These crazy, rich prices have been doing the rounds since 2016, and a quick detour to reselling retail store eBay.com shows that these box collections are worth more than millions of dollars, especially the Black Diamond editions that were released between 1984 and 1993.
Now for a nostalgia-jerking item like your favourite Disney movie to be trending at this value may seem too extra. But hey, Harry Potter and Polly Pocket collectables are now worth a fortune. So why couldn’t a relic of ancient(ish) animated movies that are basically boxed remnants of the 20th century’s cultural context be valued at this much? At least that’s the Alice in Wonderland ‘believing in impossible things’ approach most people seem to be following with this news.
But while Disney movies may maintain their morality, there may be a dark truth behind what’s driving up their VHS version’s value. Turns out, they might not actually be worth that much. The Balance Small Business Blog pointed out back in 2018 that a product’s asking price on eBay is kinda different from its actual selling price. So even while you may come across a Black Diamond Limited Edition VHS tape featuring like almost every Disney movie priced at rates as high as a million dollars, there may not actually be anyone buying it.
“There are a lot of people who just look and participate for fun and simply increase the bid, but don’t actually buy it,” Raju PP, the CEO of personalised tech media blog TechPP told VICE. “In this case, my opinion is that it is probably not every seller is genuine, but it’s been happening since 2016 and people who got to know are trying their luck or trying to sell it at this high price.”
Because eBay works in a way that allows its users to bid on an object even if they have no plans of purchasing it, the price people actually pay for it may not reflect in what is shown on the website. In fact, it is potentially also just a way to launder money or sell a banned substance under disguise. One of the few known exceptions to this may be The Little Mermaid Black Diamond box with cover art that was later banned for being “inappropriate” because the castle kinda looked like a dick, which now has an estimated value of approximately $9,594.
“With eBay, the challenge is knowing who the genuine seller is, which depends on the ratings they get by people buying products from them,” says Raju. “The assumption is that over the course of time, these reviews reflect the seller.”
Now there’s another catch here: Head to the eBay page listing these VHS tapes and you’ll see that even products that have a verified seller tag and over a 100 reviews don’t seem so genuine. Because how can a rare, limited-edition collectable that shows a quantity of one item in its product details have over 100 reviews going back to 2006?
It’s like that line in Beauty and the Beast, “She warned him not to be deceived by appearances, for beauty is found within.”
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