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Gene Siskel

In collecting, today's boom could be tomorrow's bust

AS PARENTS scramble these days to locate the latest hot toy or trading cards, they face a dilemma:

Do they allow their children to roughhouse with, say, a hard-to-find Beanie Baby, or do they store it away with tag intact in the hope that it's a ticket to early retirement or Johns Hopkins tuition for the kids?

More and more adults -- and children -- are opting for the latter, collecting with an eye toward future value, collectible experts say.

Rick Hubata, owner of the Dugoutzone collectible superstore in Ellicott City, says he discourages children from buying with profit in mind.

"We really strive with the kids: 'Don't buy it for future speculation. You're...