The 10(-ish) NC Wearables You Had No Idea Were Cool
Anyone who's stumbled upon the Neocash scene knows that there are some wearable items that, for reasons of rarity or popularity, are incredibly expensive--the most famous of which, Balthazar's Bag of Bottled Faeries and Sputtering Grey Mini-Monster, as collectors' items rank at a whopping ~350 cap value on the NC's currently most-comprehensive value guide, ~Clara**. But here are some wearables you may not have known about that tend to be extremely hard to find (or HTF)--while their Clara cap value is 5 or fewer, if you're after one of these coveted items you may well have to put in significant time and even a substantial "overoffer" to hunt even a single willing trader down.
**Note: Though I refer to ~Clara values for the purposes of making an even guide, it's best to consult alternative guides and make a value-check board for any of the items on this list before attempting to trade for them. Some newer guide options I highly recommend include ~Lyl, an alternate (though not yet as comprehensive) value guide intended to serve as a comparison to ~Clara, and ~Leie, a past-trades database to follow and track populars and HTF items. For historical data on older items, Jellyneo's Item Database is a great resource, as is the defunct ~Filigrees and more recently abandoned ~Saphronn.
1. Crochet Winter Hat
With Neopia firmly in the Month of Celebrating, many have chosen to begin dressing their pets in a fun wintery customization. But, buyer beware--one of the most difficult NC items to find is the Crochet Winter Hat.
Ranked at only a 3-cap value on ~Clara, the Crochet Winter Hat is a collectors' item that slips under the radar of most casual NCers. However, it's amongst the most rare NC items in the game. Why?
It was released as a bonus item in the 2013 re-release of the Limited Edition Christmas Quiggle Key Quest Token, replacing the previous bonus item, the Holiday Light Beanie. However, it was retired and re-released a second time in 2014 and yet again held a brand-new bonus item, the Festive Holiday Lamp.
So, not only is it an older item, meaning many who have held it have taken a hiatus or quit Neo due to natural turnover, it was also primarily only collected by those interested in collecting the Key Quest tokens in the first place and THEN opened between the 2012 and 2014 item change-over, making it somewhat a niche item. (Today, the unopened Token still grants the Festive Holiday Lamp, if you can find one UFT.)
2. Snow Covered Flowers Foreground
Another timely, wintery item on our list is the Snow Covered Flowers Foreground. Ranked at only 3-4 caps on ~Clara, this foreground is gorgeous and seems like a bargain. However, if you're looking for it, be prepared to spend days on the boards hunting one down.
I recently traded one for my Royal Girl Bori, Iralina, and was told by my veteran trader who'd hung onto hers that she remembered it first coming out in the (now defunct) Jubjub Power Bounce game in the Mall, and that it was regarded as sort of a common 'junk item'. Thus, a lot of traders who originally had one chose to donate theirs away through the use of Upcycle Cookies. This means that people who didn't otherwise have any access to NC had a chance to snag one from the Money Tree--and this was the days before Trudy's Surprise gave out free boxes to try to enable more trading, so each donated item essentially took it off the market permanently and thus added to its rarity today.
3 and 3.5. MME18-S4a: Gothic Blossoms Foreground and MME16-S2c: Luminescent Tree Foreground
Speaking of flowery foregrounds, let's not count out the spooky and beautiful Gothic Blossoms Foreground, ostensibly valued at ~3-4 caps--and, because I would feel remiss NOT mentioning it, let's also add in its very similar and roughly equal popular counterpart, the Luminescent Tree Foreground, valued at ~2-4 caps.
These two items trade within each other fairly often--they have a similar hue, are roughly equal in shape, size, and area of foreground coverage, and were only released about six months apart, both as components of Mysterious Morphing Experiments, otherwise known as MMEs.
For those who are unfamiliar with MMEs, participants must purchase an expensive and generally small item that becomes part of a multi-pack of items--over the course of about a week and a half, the item will change in a player's inventory to a completely different one, day-by-day. When the experiment is fully over, players will be rewarded with each "stage" of the item they received in their inventory.
However, the main excitement over MMEs comes from each purchase item having a different ID number, which determines WHICH items you eventually receive from the set. The 16th and 18th MME, for the Tree and the Blossoms respectively, held an "a" pack, a "b" pack, and a "c" pack of items--so that adds to the fun of the morph, because when you purchase your initial MME stage item, you don't quite know what you're going to receive, and can plan to trade or keep your items accordingly after the MME is over. Thus, only the lucky C-buyers of MME16 and A-buyers of MME18 received these items.
Still, MMEs are quite popular purchases, so why is it so difficult to find them? Simply--they're aging items that are just very, very popular. Both have an even and well-distributed area of "ground" coverage, and look nice on a variety of backgrounds from spooky to sweet. They function both as good short-range goals for traders looking to build up an impressive wardrobe, and also very stable value fillers to be added in as part of larger trades. A little determination goes a long way in tracking these two down.
4. Sun Prince Markings
Sun Prince Markings, ranked at ~4-5, are an interesting item in that, again, they too seem like they ought to be much easier to find. They aren't much over a year old, and there are already lots of other great options for gold markings available on the market at varying costs (Queen of the Lost Desert Markings, Magical Golden Markings, and Rose Gold Markings, to name a few).
Historically, they were an exclusive bonus item from the Sun Prince Superpack, which was slightly less popular than its counterpart Sun Princess superpack. In my trading experience, because there are fewer items marketed towards owners with male pets (don't even get me started on the lack of items for male babies), they tend to be harder to find, and because the Sun Prince items were also available for individual purchase, there wasn't a rush to buy the Superpack particularly. I was startled when I returned from a hiatus to find their popularity to have shot up so significantly.
Then again, golden items do always seem to be popular amongst NC traders, so perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised.
5. and 5.5 Dyeworks Gold: Bandit Mask and Dyeworks Gold: Pirate Knots Shirt
Did someone say 'golden' and 'popular'? ....Oh, wait, that was me. *cough* Anyway, the next items on our list are the exclusive and very sought-after Dyeworks Gold: Bandit Mask, valued at 3-5, and the nearly equally popular Dyeworks Gold: Pirate Knots Shirt, valued at 1-2.
Most retired Dyeworks items have been proving tricky to track down for even quite experienced traders (I don't have room to list every retired Dyework item here, of course! But some of the most popular are the Cherry Blossom Garland, Amongst the Clouds BG, Polka Dot Holiday Dress, Baby Winter Sweater, and Baby Holiday Ruffle Dress item dyes). Oftentimes, you may see the original item before you see its dyed counterpart on anyone's tradelist. These Dyeworks Gold items are a special category /within/ the HTF retired Dyeworks items, so while their value may look low, don't expect anyone to part with them for less than souls, kidneys, firstborn children, etc.
These two items are rare mostly because their dyeable window was so short, and the Gold results were rare within that teeny window of opportunity. Most who own these two items have them off their public lists to avoid getting swarmed with questions about them, so to the traders desperately seeking these, be prepared to scour the boards and work out multi-way trades for these bad boys when they become available.
6. Vintage Lantern Garland
Yet another popular Golden item in our countdown, but the first on our list designed by the new art team, is the Vintage Lantern Garland, valued at ~4-6.
Prior to the artist changeover, most Neocash items had some degree of animation, which set them apart from their Neopoint counterparts at a glance. The Vintage Lantern Garland was one of the few dangling light/lantern items that didn't twinkle, sparkle, or swing at all. At its release, some users expressed annoyance and thought that lack of any impressive animation was indicative of an overall downgrade in art quality, at a time when faith and trust in the new, outsourced art team was already shaky at best.
The rarity of the Vintage Lantern Garland, I believe, was due more to the general NC purchasing dropoff in the difficult period for everyone of adjusting to this new NT team rather than any lack of quality. Many Neopians are now actively seeking this item out, favoring its minimalistic but intricate detail in design and unique dangling coverage, only to find that it's as rare and lovingly squirreled away as many of the much older items on our list.
7. Silver Key Garland
All that glitters is not gold, of course, and nowhere is that more evident than the Silver Key Garland, valued at ~2-3.
Like the Crochet Winter Hat, the Silver Key Garland was a first re-release item temporarily available as part of an LE Key Quest token, this time the Silver Poogle. However, ~Clara itself gives you a good indication of how wildly inaccurate the value on the Garland is. The Silver Potted Rose Foreground, permanently released with the token's final re-release in 2014, is listed at a whopping 15-cap value, and can still be hard to find even at that large ticket price. Based on that information, and based on cap and trade information of similar popular LE Key Quest items (the Sparkling Silver Bouquet and Jewelled Silver Wings, for instance, often sought-after along with the Silver Key Garland), an accurate value is probably more in the 15-20 cap range. Hopefully you are starting to see why being willing to make overoffers is so valuable, and that value guides truly are not law!
8. Altador Cup Team Glitter FPs (all teams, esp. Moltara and Darigan) and Jester Hats (all teams, esp. Altador and Virtupets)
Sometimes all that glitters isn't gold OR silver, and in this case that's the recent series of Altador Cup-inspired Team Glitter Face Paints, all listed at ~1-2 on ~Clara. Also worth noting is the older and rarer but slightly less popular Team Jester Hat series, valued anywhere from ~1-5.
Retired Altador Cup items often become popular and expensive after the fact in the Neopoint world, and that's true on the Neocash side of things as well. At last sweep, there were only three traders on Dress to Impress, Neopets's officially-recognized fansite hub for customization and NC trading, who were publicly listed as having any one particular face paint. The Jester Hats have even fewer, with the Altador hat in particular listed as having only a single public owner.
I personally traded for the Moltara Team Glitter Face Paint recently, and it took me about three months to find a trader who was willing to part with one--she ended up valuing hers at 2-3, based on the fact that TNT may or may not re-release them with next year's Altador Cup. (Please consider it, TNT, they're beautiful!!)
However, the Team Jester Hats are old enough that they will likely not be re-released. One particular trader has been searching several months for an Altador Team Jester Hat with upwards of 50-cap overoffers, with no luck finding one thus far.
9. Spring Teal Sandals
My hunt for a pair of Spring Teal Sandals was actually what inspired this article. The Sandals were released while I was on hiatus as part of the 2013 Festival of Neggs' Honest Pete NC event, and I thought, since they weren't released that long ago and they didn't have an overtly high cap value at ~2-3 caps, that they would be easy to trade for.
How wrong I was! In the several months I've been seeking a pair, the traders I've found with a pair have them permanently glued to their closet. Their reasoning? They, and many other traders, feel like Neopia actually just lacks a lot of cute and casual shoe options. Even the 1-2 cap Striped Flower Shoes I ended up more or less happily settling for took a couple weeks of patient searching.
I've since offered on two pairs of Spring Teal Sandals I've come across and been extraordinarily politely and firmly rebuffed both times, even when I was clear that I would be willing to overoffer past its supposed "guide value." All's well that ends well--Ehvie has shod feet, and I have more trading experience--but I'm still secretly longing for a pair of those sandals!
10. Baby Summer Wings
I mentioned other Baby items briefly in my Dyeworks shout-out, but the fact is that Baby items are difficult to trade for simply because there are so few options. Today, those who would like to trade for Baby wings currently have only three shape options, compared to the multitude available for "regular" pets: Baby Cloud Wings, Baby Summer Wings, and Baby Valentine Wings, the latter now having three popular Dyeworks options to choose from as well.
However, despite the increasing rarity of the Valentine wing dyes, the Baby Summer Wings are still arguably the most popular, and while their value is listed at only ~4-6 caps, finding a trader willing to part with theirs is an uphill battle,to say the least. One of the things I personally think makes the Baby Summer Wings noteworthy is their size--because Baby pets are so tiny, it's easy for them to look lost amongst trinkets, backgrounds and foregrounds, but the Wings are a stunning and large attention-grabber that shouts "Hey! I'm down here!" while still being girly and fun. They also match the Gnorbu and Draik, two of the most popular baby pets, very well in color, adding to their popularity.
Now, veteran NC-ers reading my guide are going "Wait!! You forgot one!" Well, probably, but I really like even numbers and...oh, alright; we'll round up to 11!
11. Specialty Shop Spectacles
There are several cute glasses options available for your visually-challenged Neopet (or those who just want to look it--hey, we hear nerds are in this year!), but perhaps none so difficult to track down as the Specialty Shop Spectacles.
The Spectacles, valued at ~3 on ~Clara, were released within the NC Mall Styles Treasure Map back in 2013, along with the wildly popular Accessories Shop Dress, Accessories Shop Wig and Hat, and the relatively unpopular Neopet Shop Mustache. (To give you some idea of the discrepancy, the Accessories Shop Dress is listed at a whopping ~50-60 caps. Talk about luck of the draw!)
While competition for the few Spectacles on the market isn't nearly as heated as for some of the other items on this list, especially with the popular NP item Black Square Glasses and the much less expensive, previously buyable Smart School Girl pair filling the niche for the average Neopians, it's something that I see new traders finding and getting discouraged about, so I thought it warranted a mention.
......What? You like even numbers best too? Well, alright, ONE MORE. And....drumroll please....
12. Pop-Up Birthday Card Background
This one, tiny little background has been the bane of hundreds' of NC collectors' existences since its short 2-week release in 2013. It was an item that came out during my hiatus, so I polled the boards and asked what traders remembered about it. From what I could glean from others on the NCC, it was simply an item that flew under the radar until a few users noticed it and started seeking it.
To the best of community knowledge, it's never been re-released, and because its availability window was so short and directly between a slew of new Halloween items and the release of the Black Friday cap sales and winter holiday events immediately after, it's simply an old item where its rarity is due to people saving their NC for different things. Thus, like many of the other items on this list, having one has become its own sort of status symbol.
The waters of the NCC can seem sometimes seem murky to newbie and veteran traders alike, but hopefully armed with just a little more research and preparation, you can decide what's worth it to you to track down, and what you'll decide to find a substitute for! I'll leave you with a few words of advice, for someone who's fallen in love with that tricky item a time or two before:
1) Be realistic.
Traders who have these items, in general, know their value, despite what guides say they "should" be. The fewer items you have to offer, the fewer offers you're going to receive. If you're offering a tiny list of mostly buyable items, don't expect to trade for these big-ticket, HTF wishes right away--try snooping around the boards, seeing what items look nice to you or seem popular, and make trades up to "better" items when you have the opportunity to.
2) Be polite.
Trading for these tiny items is frustrating. "But you're not even /using/ yours!" you say to yourself, and feel like tearing your hair out. Rest assured, this is totally normal, but it is absolutely imperative that you DON'T take out your disappointment or frustration out on a potential trader. Don't whine, or complain, or beg for posts upon posts--politely thank them for their time, whether it's for checking your wishlist or leaving you a good-luck bump. Alienating the people who would, under ordinary circumstances, like to help you, is no way to go through Neo-life.
3) Be flexible.
The number-one mistake I see traders make is that they aren't willing to bend on what they're asking for, whether it's staunchly following a value guide as law, exclusively insisting on top guide-price for their very common items, etc. Don't be a doormat or make a trade you think is grossly unfair, but also don't be afraid to ask for questions or advice, make a value check board, or make multi-way trades. Ask if someone will hold an item for you if you can track down a wish of theirs. Ask if they're looking for anything else outside of their wishlist, or if they'd be open to browsing through your items. Don't be afraid to apologize and have a good chuckle at yourself if you make a mistake, and forgive others theirs. Besides staying polite and stay positive, there's no real single path to NC success.
4) Take friendship breaks.
I firmly believe that making connections with people you meet on the boards is crucial to your success on Neo, not only as a budding NC trader, but also just to have a good time here! Wish people luck on their boards, whether what they're searching for is big or small. If someone else is tracking down a tricky item, see if you can find someone who has one available. Start a little ice-breaker or get-to-know-you game on your board. Be someone /you/ would want to trade with, and it really does come back your way. (Plus, your new friends can keep you from getting down when you want to quit!)
5) Don't give up!
If that item is really your dream, keep going! So much of trading is being in the right place at the right time. People have traded with me before, multiple times, because they or one of their friends saw me just keep hunting for it.
I hope this guide gave you a little more information about some of the tough items to find out there in the great wide world of Neocash! Wishing you all the best, and I'm always lurking, so please don't hesitate to mail or find my boards if you're in the market for advice :)