Claiken, I trust you mean 2005? 2004 is when the Plus/V1 came out.
How did people start out collecting?
I was around back in the 90s when the virtual pets first hit the globe. However, oddly enough I never had any Tamagotchis then. I was more interested in Dinkie types, and I remember going after those. In 2005 I bought my first Tamagotchi (V1) and fell in love with it. Shortly after, the V2 came out and it wasn't too long when the V3 followed through. I just kept buying each new version as they came out with no conscious decision to collect them. It wasn't until I purchased my first vintage Tamagotchi (angelgotch) that I thought, "Y'know, I think I'd like one of each version ever released since its inception." I went after all of the vintage Tamagotchis first, before moving on to modern Japanese releases. But yeah, that's how I got started with my collection.
Do people collect like all versions of Tama's? Or do people collect shells that they like? Because I think I would be the second of the two. There are many beautiful shells, especially for the V2 and V4.5 I find.
I did the first of the two. I went after all versions of Tamas and currently have a complete collection.
How much does it cost to amass x amount of Tama's in a year? And where do people usually get their tama's? Via like trades, ebay, etc?
Depends on which versions you're after, really. I can proudly say that I've never paid the full amount for any of the Tamagotchis in my collection. I've made incredible deals over the years and I guess that's a consolation for the overall price of my collection lol. However, a decent sized collection can cost well into the thousands. Collecting Tamagotchis isn't a cheap hobby I'm afraid lol. I've mostly bought through eBay and Yahoo Japan Auctions. However, I've done a few trades over the years and shop online at Amiami, HLJ and CDJapan as well.
What would be the *best* time to get a Tama? Like, when they are most commonly around on ebay/amazon/import sites.
Before it actually comes out. When you pre-order on sites like Amiami, HLJ or CDJapan, you get them for much cheaper than waiting for them to pop up on eBay.
Is there a price guide generally for Tamagotchi? Like example, the cost of a New V3 in package vs a loose one?
It's exceedingly difficult to price Tamagotchis, as it all depends on demand. The market fluctuates so rapidly. A very good example I could give you would be the IDLEs. When they first popped up, they cost roughly around $80-100. But when more and more people started going after them, they sky rocketed to $200 on eBay. The best bet is to browse through several pages, look at all of the different prices of the particular model you're looking for, and do an average. Ordinarily, loose ones will cost less than MIB ones. But not always so.