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 Post subject: Variable ratio reinforcement and action figure hunting
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:17 pm 
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Variable ratio reinforcement is when a reward is given unpredictably. This kind of reinforcement produces a reward 4 times stronger than a predictable reward. This is why lottery tickets and slot machines have such a pull on some people.

It appears to me that action figure hunting also gives a variable ratio reinforcement. You go into a store, chances are there won't be any of the new, rare figures there, but, sometimes there is. It's unpredictable. And when you DO see those rare figures on the shelf, a light goes off in your brain. We have all felt that, that Eureka! moment when see those rare figures we've been looking for on the shelves, resulting in a surge of happiness. What's happening in this moment is dopamine is being released, it is a very similar feeling to the one a gambler gets when they scratch off a winning lottery ticket. And just like a gambler will buy several tickets in the course of an evening hoping to get that one winner, so will the action figure collector drive to several stores in an evening, hoping to find that one "winning store". Of course the gambler wastes money on the losing tickets, and the action figure hunter waste gas money driving around to all the losing stores. It doesn't matter to them though, because all this lost money is made up for when they eventually do find a winner and get that hit of dopamine. A reward that, again, is four times more powerful than if they went to a store already knowing the figure they wanted would be there.

It is my belief that a significant percentage of collectors are collecting primarily to get these hits of dopamine and resulting feelings of euphoria. If the unpredictability were taken away. If nothing were shortpacked, if one could walk into any store and find all the figures in all the current waves with no problem, I believe many of these people would stop collecting, or at least, drastically cut down on the number of figures they buy.


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 Post subject: Re: Variable ratio reinforcement and action figure hunting
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:05 pm 
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I'm sure this does apply to some collectors like Cephus, whom I know collect for the thrill of the hunt. For me it's a mixed bag. I enjoy finding stuff out in the wild, but I get just as much enjoyment having a package arrive at my doorstep. And I think you use the term rare far too loosely. Very, very little of what's been made in the last 20 years or so is actually rare.

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 Post subject: Re: Variable ratio reinforcement and action figure hunting
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:07 pm 
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I knew I shouldnt have read this and I did anyway--

and everytime I feel like the audience at the end of Billy Madison....

Maybe that is why you collected-- but I collect because I like little plastic people, and according to your other posts get high off the toxic fumes, die early and not experience life...

I would be fine going into every store and buying what I want-- I am tired of the hunt-- yes I get that feeling of excitement when I find a figure-- but if I know I could find what I want every time I went into the store - I would still go in and buy my toys-- When I was a kid, TRU always had every figure I wanted in stock -year round-- it wasnt hoping that they would have a figure I wanted when I got there-- it was getting the figure I wanted, and being allowed to take it home.

Besides I prefer to get my highs from engaging in relations with the opposite sex-- no toy finding ever really beats that feeling-- (and a bunch of more off color comments and double entendres--- )

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 Post subject: Re: Variable ratio reinforcement and action figure hunting
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:21 pm 
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While I enjoy a bit of a hunt, I can clearly live without it. It gets old after awhile.

You're probably accurate about a percentage of collectors, however. I'd put it around 20%, maybe lower.

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 Post subject: Re: Variable ratio reinforcement and action figure hunting
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:30 pm 
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I so didn't want to be the first to post. While it is possible to be addicted to anything for the same reasons as stated above I'd fathom a guess this holds true for a very small percentage of collectors. Maybe it's more true with people who are shopaholics but for collectors I'm sure it's not as much as James would think.

More so it's probably speculators who think every last thing is gonna be worth big bucks. In the comic world we have dealers how we call 'Chasers' they're always chasing that week's hot book or elusive variant cover and then flipping it for a huge end price.

I collect because I have nothing better to do with my time or money and it brings a smile to my kid's face. If I didn't have a son I might even collect as many Doctor Who figures as I do.

But yeah, this post makes me laugh. It's boring. Next someone will be applying this to love and everything else that is magical in the world. Why this need to take everything and reduce it to science and chemistry?

Why he bothered to post this I have no clue. I hope it was to get a rise out of people and infuriate a couple... right now that's the only excuse I'm accepting! :lol:

It's okay to analytical... sometimes and with some topics... but Extremely Analytical people lack creativity and imagination... and I blame the bully in high school who didn't pick on them enough. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Variable ratio reinforcement and action figure hunting
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:15 am 
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alcinde4 wrote:
I'm sure this does apply to some collectors like Cephus, whom I know collect for the thrill of the hunt. For me it's a mixed bag. I enjoy finding stuff out in the wild, but I get just as much enjoyment having a package arrive at my doorstep. And I think you use the term rare far too loosely. Very, very little of what's been made in the last 20 years or so is actually rare.


That is true and I think rarity actually harms Hasbro and Mattel instead of making more money for them. Rarity really only works in blind purchases, like CCG cards. You have to keep buying to get those rare cards because you never know what you're getting before you make the purchase. With open purchases like action figures, where you know exactly what you're getting before you put down your money, it's stupid. It's what causes, at least in part, the pegwarmer mess. People who want to buy an entire wave want to buy an entire wave. They're not going to buy multiple copies of the same figure because that's all that's on store shelves. Stores lose revenue because they are unable to put the figures on their shelves that consumers want to buy. The only people who make out like bandits are the scalpers in the secondary market. Really, Mattel and Hasbro make nothing extra and probably lose potential sales as retailers have to sit on all the pegwarmers and don't buy new product as often as they might if the case packs were more even.

But do they listen? Of course not.


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 Post subject: Re: Variable ratio reinforcement and action figure hunting
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 12:12 pm 
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No one really looses money. Hasbro/ Mattel get their money from the sales to the company over all. The company is always buying product, it's just not getting shipped to the stores with peg warmers... and those peg warmers do sell... come Christmas when everyone is buying anything for their kid... also... a store can request a Buy Back to free up space.

So why should they listen? Their system makes them money now as it is. You only think it doesn't but you'd be wrong.

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 Post subject: Re: Variable ratio reinforcement and action figure hunting
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 12:16 pm 
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Van Statten wrote:
No one really looses money. Hasbro/ Mattel get their money from the sales to the company over all. The company is always buying product, it's just not getting shipped to the stores with peg warmers... and those peg warmers do sell... come Christmas when everyone is buying anything for their kid... also... a store can request a Buy Back to free up space.

So why should they listen? Their system makes them money now as it is. You only think it doesn't but you'd be wrong.


It doesn't buy them as much money as it potentially could though. And those pegwarmers don't sell, at least not at full retail. If they mark them down far enough, sure, you'll get some of them to move, but that's more money lost. The local TRU had 20 pegs, plus three wingcaps of IM2 figures before Christmas. I was in there earlier in the week and you know something? They still have 20 pegs, plus three wingcaps of figures. They didn't move and they had some pretty serious markdowns on it. Same thing with lots of other figures like ZhuZhu Pets. They have tons of them. Haven't gone anywhere.


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 Post subject: Re: Variable ratio reinforcement and action figure hunting
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 12:22 pm 
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Oh I won't deny that they could make more money... but a mark down doesn't hurt Hasbro or Mattel, they already have cash in hand for a product... granted it hurts the profit for the stores but they pay next to nothing for that. Most PLCs are not loosing profits, they're still maiing a profit even off the discounted price. The only time not is if for example, TRU is marking down Green Lantern figures from 15.99 to 9.98 but the DCs are still buying cases of figures at the discount cost of 15.99 and not the 9.98 price.

At the end of the day, a company only cares about a coffee table figure and can't be bothered with the performance of one or two lines.

Most changes to a layout are done by computers and not people based on what SKUs pass through a register now-a-days.

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 Post subject: Re: Variable ratio reinforcement and action figure hunting
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 1:13 pm 
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No, markdowns don't directly hurt Hasbro or Mattel, it hurts the retailers. But when the retailers get sick of the same crappy case packing and decide to reduce their orders so that they don't have as much stock sitting in their back rooms or warehouses because the pegwarmers are clogging the shelves, that will.

Besides, it takes a really stupid company to see a problem, know they could fix it, and choose not to because it's just too hard to bother. I'm sure the shareholders would be really happy knowing that they could be getting 5-10% more dividends, but the board is too lazy.


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 Post subject: Re: Variable ratio reinforcement and action figure hunting
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 5:40 pm 
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alcinde4 wrote:
I'm sure this does apply to some collectors like Cephus, whom I know collect for the thrill of the hunt. For me it's a mixed bag. I enjoy finding stuff out in the wild, but I get just as much enjoyment having a package arrive at my doorstep. And I think you use the term rare far too loosely. Very, very little of what's been made in the last 20 years or so is actually rare.


Receiving mail, both snail mail and e-mail, is also a form of variable ratio reinforcement because you don't know when your package is going to arrive. Most days when the mail comes it's only bills, junk, etc, but occasionally there will be that day when something you care about arrives, hence a variable ratio reward.

With e-mail it's even worse because people can receive e-mail at any time, not one set time each day, so they'll constantly check it. Variable ratio reinforcement is what's behind e-mail addiction and the "crackberry" phenomenon.

As for what constitutes "rare", I will just put it like this, it's usually one or two figures out of each wave that are hard to find. Of course they aren't rare like a one of a kind artwork or something, but they're difficult to find and usually require several store visits to see one.

With the case pack outs I think they're doing good. It is annoying from a collector standpoint seeing a ton of Wolverines, or Spidermans, but they usually do get bought over a period of months and gradually disappear. Of course sometimes there is a miscalculation, like with the Multiple Man, or the entire Iron Man 2 line. But in general I think having the one figure per wave being rare, a few medium figures, and then one or two "mass appeal pegwarmers" per wave gets the most profit by attracting both collectors and people just buying the toys for their kids.

stewbacca wrote:

Besides I prefer to get my highs from engaging in relations with the opposite sex


I thought you were married, why is "relations" plural? :wink:


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