The GeeksverseToying Around #2

Toying Around #2
Published on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 by

The Internet has played a large role in the collecting world for several years, but more so in the last 5. Once thought only to be used for e-mail and pornography, the Interet has supplied a new means to collect with Internet toy-superstores, the increased communication between collectors and toy companies and between collectors, and has opened up the possibilities for toys we may never have thought we would own or even see.

Online stores like and Entertainment Earth have snagged a significant share of the market. Enough so that companies like Mattel considers e-stores to be an emerging marketto be on par with Wal-Mart, Target, and Toys R Us. Hasbro has even made exclusives for these companies with BBTS’s Transformers Seacons and EE’s Star Wars Joker Squad. While Mattel’s,Hasbro’s, and McFarlane’s online stores leave a lot to be desired, online toy storeshave given new means for those who live in highly collected or scalped areas. They allow for presales, and their estimated arrival dates give you a clue as to when a figure may show up at your local stores. These shops also allow you to buy cases of figures, waves, and individual figures when you may normally have to wait for a revision case to complete a wave, as with DC Universe Classics figures, and do so at competitive prices.

Communication has greatly improved between collectors. It used to be friends in a city or bumping into collectors in a store exchanging information and hoping you got real info and you act quickly enough. Now, people from other countries help one another. Finding a hard to find figure is now as easy as knowing several people around the country. I have connections with people in SoCal, Calgary, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Oregon if I’m looking for something. Most of us have met people online with whom you trade, and these connections have lead to partnerships of sorts. As a modern collector, you almost have to have this sort of connection anymore.

Another area where communication has improved is from collector to company. Hasbro and Mattel both do Q & A sessions with several websites (including this one) to relay information, create buzz, and for good will. Mattel’s Toy Guru also answers questions directly on Mattycollector and pops in on certain fan sites from time to time to say hi, give info, and settle the unnerved. In fact, there have been instances with inaccuracies have been spotted and due to fan response, things have been changed. This never would have happened prior to 1995. Granted, this has lead to some problems and a very vocal minority. Not everyone is going to be happy with every figure, but there are ways to respectfully voice your opinion. If you’ve ever gone to Mattycollector’s Facebook page on the 15thof any given month, it is spattered with foul-mouthed complaints about their website (I will go into this in more detail  in a future column). These companies don’t owe us anything and we should honestly be grateful that they communicate as well as they do, regardless of how vague their responses are.

Finding everything is hard enough without having to pay inflated eBay prices for convention exclusives. Some of these exclusives range from main characters like Orko and Prince Adam to character variants like Rise of Cobra business suit Destro, but for many of us, these are all essential. Until 1998, the only way to get these figures was at the convention or at other trade shows where people were selling their con goods. From 1998-2006, you could find these on eBay and other web-stores. Starting in 2007, started offering their con-exclusive figures. In 2008, Mattel followed suit by opening and their initial offering wer their 2008 San Diego Comic-Con exclusives. Many of these items sold out within the blink of an eye, and still do every July after SDCC, but the fact remains that they are available to the general public. There is a very loud vocal contingency that wants the companies to stop doing exclusives because they feel it alienates those who cannot make the trip to San Diego, New York, Chicago, or wherever. As a con-goer, I love exclusives, but I could care less if they’re not truly exclusive to the convention and are available online afterwards, even if that means that I missed out because a certain amount were held back for online sales. These items are called exclusives for a reason, and are made in extremely limited quantities when compared to retail releases, not everyone will get one, and nobody is entitled to one. Again, the toy companies don’t owe anyone anything other than high quality toys to the consumer and profits to the shareholders. If someone REALLY wants a Sgt Slaughter, they will find a way to buy one or trade for one. Hasbro doesn’t owe anybody one. Remember, before 2007, only con-goers had the chance to buy one at retail cost.

Internet exclusives have become increasingly popular. McFarlane started doing online exclusive figures some years ago for several lines. The figures were a machine to promote the online store, to release figures with a limited audience, and also to gauge interest in a certain style. This model has been used by other companies, specifically Mattel. Mattycollector sells only online exclusive including the entire Masters of the Universe Classics and Ghostbusters lines (with limited exceptions), JLU multi-packs, and previously sold DC Universe Classics 2-packs. These lines were met with very limited interest from retailers, so the best way to get these items to the collectors is directly. The business model has become so successful that Mattel has acquired Voltron and Back to the Future licenses, the latter was previously considered unthinkable as a toy line. The necessity to profit from these online, collector lines requires them to constantly assess the line and adjust accordingly. Quantities will be limited, but at least the figures are being made available. If you can’t find the figures, read up a few paragraphs.

There are so many complaints about the industry from production to availability, but in reality, this is probably the best time to be a collector since the 80’s.

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