Remember When "Exclusive" Meant Exclusive?
April 2, 2009

New York Toy Fair Darth Vader logoMaybe I’m older than I feel, but it doesn’t seem like it was all that long ago when a convention exclusive was actually exclusive to a convention. If you weren’t going to be there in person, you either had to have a connection who could cover you, or you had to hunt for that figure and pay a little (or a lot, in some cases) more for it. These days, the big toy manufacturers make their convention "exclusives" available to non-attendees via their web sites after the shows. I have a request for those companies: Stop.

I’m not condemning anyone for taking advantage of the opportunity. In 2008, I ordered Mattel’s Justice League Unlimited Giganta figures and Hasbro’s G.I. JOE Cobra Commander with podium online myself. In addition to my order with MattyCollector.com, I also obtained a Giganta set the same way I’ve acquired previous San Diego Comic-Con exclusives, though, by having someone I know pick it up for me. That’s how I got the Justice League Unlimited Solomon Grundy figure, and I received the three-pack with John Stewart, Shayera Hol, and The Ray in a trade with AFI’s own Julius Marx. In fact, the only convention-exclusive figure I have from actually attending its respective event is my Rowdy Roddy Piper figure from JoeCon 2007 (okay, I have two of those). We don’t get any exclusives for HeroesCon here in Charlotte.

2006 SDCC exclusive JLU Solomon Grundy
Born on a Monday!

But even when I was planning to order those exclusives online last summer, I still didn’t care for the idea. Sure, it would cost more money to buy them on eBay, but selling them to the general public diminishes the… well, the exclusivity of the item. I won’t be going to San Diego any time soon, but if I did, the thought of picking up something that’s only sold on the convention floor would definitely appeal to me. The way I see it, the people who spend the money, fight the crowds, and wait in long lines should have a chance to get something that no one else can buy at the same price. When I couldn’t make it to a convention, getting my hands on an exclusive actually meant something. My "chrome" Toy Fair Darth Vader from 2002 isn’t worth close to what it was six or seven years ago, but it’s still special to me because it wasn’t sold to every STAR WARS collector on the planet. An old friend hooked me up with it for twenty bucks while they were selling for more than $200 (thanks, Travis!). Like the Toy Fair Vader, the fact that people went out of their way to make sure Grundy and Shayera made it into my collection gives them more significance than many recent exclusives. Piper has the most meaning of all, because I actually stood in line to buy him. More than just a figure, he’s a memento from the experience, one that never saw a wide release.

JoeCon 2007 exclusive Rowdy Roddy Piper
…I’m all out of bubblegum.

Then again, I’ve also missed out on my share of exclusives, too. If I don’t have a hookup for an item, I either cough up the cash or I live without it. I got the Celebration-exclusive George Lucas figure on eBay when I missed going to Indianapolis, and despite its current value being maybe twenty percent of what mine cost, it’s a special piece to me. Why? Because it was an actual exclusive and something that had to be tracked down at the time. The Celebration III Darth Vader that I ordered from StarWarsShop.com? I don’t even remember what it looks like, to be honest. I know it talks. I didn’t get the SDCC Destro figure in 2007, even though they were sold through HasbroToyShop.com after the convention. By the time I knew that was an option, they had sold all of them. There aren’t many holes in my 25th Anniversary G.I. JOE collection, but that’s definitely a noticeable one. So why haven’t I tracked one down? In my mind, it’s just not that great of a figure. I don’t want it that badly, so I just live without it. If the figure was really on my list of wants, though, I’d suck it up and buy one.

I really just preferred the days when an exclusive meant exactly that, an item made available by the vendor at a specific event only. While these companies set aside a percentage of their stock in response to complaints about things not being "fair" for everyone sitting on the sidelines, what’s "fair" about that deal for the people who actually made an investment of time, money, and effort in the event? What was once a treasured piece of convention memorabilia is now just a preview of something that will be sold to the general population a few days later, and that’s not what an "exclusive" should be. The word itself comes from the Latin excludere; that some would be excluded is the very nature of the concept. Yes, it would mean that I have to find someone willing to wait in line for me or pay the premium on eBay, but so what? If I really want something, I’ll work out a way to get it.

2002 NY Toy Fair Darth Vader and JoeCon 2007 Piper
These were genuinely "exclusive" figures.

And so for Mattel’s DC Universe Classics exclusive at this year’s Comic-Con, a Wonder Twins two-pack with Zan and Jayna, only attendees who purchase the figures at the convention will receive the Twins’ space monkey sidekick, Gleek. I view this as a step in the right direction. Personally, I would like to see a return to the way things used to be, with a set that only those people who brave the madness of the convention have a crack at buying from the manufacturer. That’s not about "punishing" people who can’t make it (remember, I’m one of them); it’s about offering something truly special to the fans who spend the time and money to go. Should Mary get to meet Neil Gaiman, even though she blew off the book signing? Should Stan get front-row tickets to a concert, despite not waiting in line like thousands of other fans? So why is something like a collectible toy any different? Yes, there will be plenty of those in attendance who will buy extras and sell them on eBay, and so what? That just means you’ll have the opportunity to buy something you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to acquire, and if participants want to capitalize on the demand for an exclusive, then so be it. They paid for plane tickets, convention passes, and hotel rooms. They used vacation time to make a trip to San Diego. They waited in line for hours to buy the figures. Mary and Stan stayed home. Should they really be afforded equal access? No way, and I hope Hasbro and Mattel decide to make exclusives exclusive again in 2010.

I’m happy to see Mattel rewarding those who go out and support this event by offering a character that will only be sold at SDCC. Remember, not going to the convention doesn’t mean you can’t get Gleek. It just means you’ll have to work a little harder for him.

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Jon "Caped Crusader" Edwards
Born in April of '77, Jon quite literally grew up with STAR WARS. His mother took him to see it barely two months later and started buying him the figures before he was even old enough for them. G.I. JOE and Super Powers came along in the '80s, and an action figure addict was created. The moment he decided he was "too old" to play with his toys, he started to collect carded figures, beginning with Super Powers. No longer in possession of the toys or comics of his childhood, he rediscovered collecting with The Phantom Menace, and has moved on from STAR WARS to JLU, DC Direct, G.I. JOE, Marvel Universe, and various characters from movies, television shows, and comics.
Read other articles by Jon "Caped Crusader" Edwards.

 

 

 

86 Comments »

  • MisterPL says:

    Exclusive shouldn’t be synonymous with elusive.

    I can understand the necessary evil of a retailer exclusive. It’s designed to promote foot traffic to a particular chain. That’s fine. Great for competition.

    But what exactly is SDCC competing with? There’s no need for convention exclusives. Having to be at a certain place at a certain time in order to complete my collection has led me to quit collecting certain lines altogether. (That would include Playmates’ last “Star Trek” line and Mattel’s “The Batman” line, for anyone interested.)

    If manufacturers need exclusives to drive traffic to their convention booths, debut the product in PACKAGING exclusive to the event. But don’t deny your core consumers the opportunity to complete their collections by retiring the PRODUCT after three or four days of release. Offer it again in different packaging so everyone can be happy.

  • Miry Clay says:

    Are we really going to drag Latin into this? Really?

    I’ll say only this… it took about months of carefull eBay hunting to snag a Grundy at what I considered a reasonable markup. Never did snag the Ray 3 pk exclusive, cause the price never looked “right”.
    By comparison, getting Giganta was really a breeze, and was no less satisfying in the end.

    • There’s no need to “drag” anything anywhere, as it was part of the original commentary. And see? The market worked exactly as it should for the previous exclusives. What you personally consider to be a “reasonable markup” led you to purchase Grundy and pass on The Ray.

  • Daniel_Lioneye says:

    I enjoyed your post, and in some ways I agree. I definitely feel that if they hadn’t said they intended to make the Wonder Twins available on Matty after the Con Gleek-less there wouldn’t have been as much of a fan-wrath explosion in regards to having to acquire them some other way. I also wish the Wonder Twins were Con only because I’m really not in the mood for another Matty facebook post shaking his finger at us because the Wonder Twins aren’t moving as fast as they’d like them to, especially in this case when there’s a perfectly understandable reason: the absence of Gleek.

    I personally love exclusives like these no matter if they are available on a site like Matty or not, in many cases they allow us to get characters we seldom would otherwise. In 07 they only way we could have gotten a Grundy was as an exclusive, this was before the dawn of Target 6-packs. When the Con was over I found a reasonably priced one and bought it because I wanted it bad enough. I live in VA and am a college student working full time so it’s not like I have the ability to travel across the country just to get an exclusive, but when they hit the secondary market I’m happy to pay a reasonable price for it, because even if they mark it up to twice what they paid it’s still a LOT cheaper than traveling to SDCC. So what’s the big deal about “scalpers?” You either pay what someone who could go asks or you don’t get it because you couldn’t go. Would it be easier for me if Mattel sent their exclusives to me as an absentee for cost? Sure, but it’s not going to happen, so I find an acceptable solution.

    The only exclusives I have a problem with are the ones where a MAJOR CHARACTER is made for a certain line and only 100 are made, which precludes almost anybody from getting one. If the Con exclusives go that route I will be very unhappy, but as it is I’m happy to have a chance to get something new and exciting, and every year I always look forward to what the SDCC exclusives will be, so I can’t understand how people let something like this upset them when there are options available. Are they perfect? No, but come on, if you’ve bought pretty much anything from Mattel in the last few years you should be used to that.

  • The Hitman says:

    Look, I’m not an avid toy collector. I collect a specific line because I like them. I’ve spent a great deal of my time and money tracking down these specific toys because I like them. As a consumer and a collector of these specific toys, I think I should be entitled to maintain a complete set of them without having to be taken advantage of by toy scalpers who can justify the cost of going to the convention due to their marking up of goods I have no reasonable way of obtaining myself.

    Do you think it’s right that casual collectors like myself have to spend $50 to $100 on ebay for a single “con exclusive figure” just to complete a set?

    I’m not in this to show off my impressive, superior collection to other people. I don’t collect this as an ego boost to make myself feel better.

    Frankly, even if I had the money and the resources, why would I spend hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars to go to a convention that I otherwise have no interest in?

    I could understand if these toys were something that was exclusive to hobby shops, direct marketers, etc. The DC Infinite Heroes line is in Walmart, Target, and Toys R Us. If 99% to the general public, than 100% of it should be available as far as I’m concerned.

    It’s a $5 toy, it’s not a $20 collectible. There’s no reason to manipulate them into something they were not designed to be.

    • Do you think it’s right that casual collectors like myself have to spend $50 to $100 on ebay for a single “con exclusive figure” just to complete a set?

      Sure. Why not? Why should the “casual collector” be exempt from market value? As long as we’re not talking about defective, counterfeit, or bootleg merchandise, I don’t look at the sales of toys as having anything to do with right and wrong. And is the collector still “casual” when he feels compelled to be a completist?

      Frankly, even if I had the money and the resources, why would I spend hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars to go to a convention that I otherwise have no interest in?

      So don’t go. Save your money and spend a little extra to pick up an exclusive on eBay.

      It’s a $5 toy, it’s not a $20 collectible.

      Except when people are willing to pay that much for it, then it absolutely is a $20 collectible. What you’re saying is essentially this: “Even though others are willing to spend $20/$50/$100/more for this collectible item, the laws of supply and demand should not apply to me. I should get it for $15/$10/$5/less.” You feel “entitled” (your word) to it. Sorry, but I don’t buy into that.

  • Realist says:

    Mr. Edwards, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    Exclusives are dumb. People defending exclusives are even dumber.

  • The Hitman says:

    Caped Crusader-

    We’re not even dealing with real market value anymore. An average person cannot get an accurate read on what the “market is”. The advent of eBay has resulted in the proliferation of every slob on the street thinking they can make a profit on toys. While the market of toys is certainly more than a hobby, it’s not meant to be a business for everyone.

    The people that I have issue with at conventions are the same people who will literally scoop up every single toy in every single store within a 20 mile radius of their home. Then they’ll go on eBay, lie about its rarity and mislead averages consumers who went to Wal-mart, Target, etc to find an empty shelf, into paying more for the item because they’re manipulated into believing it legitimately is rare.

    Go on eBay right now and look at the DOZENS of unsold, unbid on DC Infinite Heroes action figures. These aren’t regular merchandisers, toy shops, etc. These are gougers, manipulators, and scalpers.

    Moreover, I do feel entitled to something as a large purchaser of a certain product line. You can bet your last dollar I feel more entitled to the SDCC exclusive Anti-Monitor than you do, if I bought $200-$300 worth of that toyline and you bought none.

    Why do you think businesses have loyalty clubs, frequent flyer miles, etc? Businesses understand and appreciate the concept or customer appreciation and retention, but for some reason you don’t?

    I have over 200 anti-monitor points, but since I can’t go to SDCC, they are useless. Why? Betty Crocker, Kenner, and a long list of others have always made sure their point holders are appreciated and rewarded equally, not just for whoever shows up at the right date and time.

    I remember mailing away my points to Kenner in the 80’s for a Clark Kent 4 inch. Why can’t Mattel offer the same thing 20 years later?

    If you want to support Comic Con exclusives, I can understand your side despite disagreeing. What I can’t agree with, and what dumbfounds me on your part, is why a promotion set up by Mattel to reward it’s Frequent Customer base can allowed to be ruined by a “hey, bring us points…or just give us $10″ deal at SDCC. It’s not right, any way you slice it.

    • We’re not even dealing with real market value anymore. An average person cannot get an accurate read on what the “market is”. The advent of eBay has resulted in the proliferation of every slob on the street thinking they can make a profit on toys. While the market of toys is certainly more than a hobby, it’s not meant to be a business for everyone.

      The “average person” needs only to search eBay using the completed listings feature. I have no sympathy for anyone who can’t be bothered to do a little research before making a purchase. If someone just dives right into a transaction without the small modicum of investigation required to determine an item’s value, that’s his/her problem. The “market” is far simpler these days than it was prior to the popularity of eBay, precisely because there is a public record of what was bought and sold and for how much. And what makes you think it’s your place to determine who is or is not “meant” to be in the business of toys?

      Go on eBay right now and look at the DOZENS of unsold, unbid on DC Infinite Heroes action figures. These aren’t regular merchandisers, toy shops, etc. These are gougers, manipulators, and scalpers.

      Applying the word “gouging” to toy collecting is silly. Once again, I have no issue with “scalpers”. Can they potentially create an inconvenience for me? Sure, but it’s nothing more than that, and it’s certainly no reason to get worked up into a fit. Personally, I don’t enjoy spending my time in Big Box retailers. A “scalper” that can save me from having to drive all over Suburbia in search of a new release and deliver the goods straight to my door is providing a valuable service. There’s no grand deception taking place on eBay, and deep down, I don’t think it’s really the “scalpers” that bother some collectors so much.

      Moreover, I do feel entitled to something as a large purchaser of a certain product line. You can bet your last dollar I feel more entitled to the SDCC exclusive Anti-Monitor than you do, if I bought $200-$300 worth of that toyline and you bought none.

      You feel “entitled” to the Comic-Con exclusive, even though you’re not going to Comic-Con. Well, that’s the very problem right there, and that’s part of why I would like to see Mattel, Hasbro, and all other toy manufacturers stop offering convention exclusives outside of the convention. Collectors need to be reminded that they’re not entitled to these items.

      Why do you think businesses have loyalty clubs, frequent flyer miles, etc? Businesses understand and appreciate the concept or customer appreciation and retention, but for some reason you don’t?

      That’s not the same thing as saying, “I bought this much stuff, so I’m entitled to something for free.” I’m driving my fourth Honda, but I don’t feel like I deserve a free car for it. Yes, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on their brand over the years, but that doesn’t mean I’m entitled to anything other than the good cars I received in exchange for my money.

      What I can’t agree with, and what dumbfounds me on your part, is why a promotion set up by Mattel to reward it’s Frequent Customer base can allowed to be ruined by a “hey, bring us points…or just give us $10″ deal at SDCC. It’s not right, any way you slice it.

      Of course it’s “right”. It’s Mattel’s promotion, and they can implement it in any way they choose. They always intended to allow collectors to redeem those points at SDCC, and they made that announcement months ago. Mattel is under no obligation to conduct their business on your terms or check with you to ensure their stategies will fit into your schedule. With all the time you’ve spent bemoaning the redemption process, have you bothered to use the internet for something more constructive? Like trying to find someone who doesn’t collect DC Infinite Heroes, but will be standing in Mattel’s line for exclusives? Better yet, have you seen how much people have been getting for large lots of Anti-Monitor points on eBay? You could have sold yours and made more than enough to get your hands on the exclusive figure. The internet is good for more than just complaining about how unfair everything is.

  • Poe Ghostal says:

    Good post, Jon. However, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with you. I outline my reasons in this post: http://www.poeghostal.com/2009/04/poes-point-gleekocalypse.html

    There’s a slight distinction I want to make, too. I have much less of a problem with convention exclusives that are just repaints or non-canonical gimmicks, like silver Darth Vaders or Jorg Sacul.

    But unique characters, like the Wonder Twins & Gleek and He-Ro, should definitely be offered to those who can’t go to the convention. They’re great toys that go above and beyond the “normal” figures, and to prevent the majority of collectors from being able to get them seems, at best, a poor business decision. If I couldn’t get He-Ro, I would definitely see that as a huge, gaping hole in my MOTUC collection, and would consider dropping the line and not spending $30 a month on a toy line whose manufacturer made an awesome figure that most fans weren’t able to get.

    The biggest difference between the old days and now–and I mention this in my piece–is that we now live in the age of the Internet. Ten or fifteen years ago, if there was a bonus figure at a convention, the majority of collectors might not even be aware of the toy’s existence, so a toy company could get away with offering this nice little “bonus” for those who went to the convention.

    Now, however, any collector can instantly know everything about a toy line via the Internet, and many of them are completists. So rather than being an added bonus for the few people who can afford to go to the convention, an exclusive figure–even just an accessory, like Gleek–becomes a hole in the collection of countless others.

    • That some items will be more limited than others, and therefore make their way into fewer collections, is the nature of this hobby. If that kind of thing bothered me, I would spend my time and money on something else. The limited edition release is a common practice with vinyl records, trading cards, comic books, and many other collectible items. For some reason, though, there are some action figure collectors who feel like manufacturers are picking on them. Limited editions appeal to some of us, we enjoy adding them to our collections, and we’re willing to put in the extra effort or money to acquire them. That may not sit well with some, but as long as there is a market for it, I don’t see any reason to put an end to the practice. Are the complaints of “completists” who feel slighted when the choice is between paying a little more than retail or doing without a figure really more valid than others’ interest in collecting exclusives? The “countless others” always have the option of tracking down a Gleek on the secondary market. That’s what I did with Jorg Sacul and Hush Jason Todd.

      • Poe Ghostal says:

        Well, as I said, I respectfully disagree. And I’m thankful that Mattel and Hasbro appear to be agree with me, and prefer to make greater profits by offering their convention exclusives via online sale.

        • Well, I certainly never expected everyone to agree with my take on the subject. There is just as much profit to be made in allowing vendors to purchase as many exclusives as they want on the final day of the convention, though. There are more than enough dealers on hand at SDCC to take any remaining stock off the manufacturers’ hands. If they still had leftovers on Sunday, I wouldn’t view selling those via their online stores negatively, so long as they didn’t plan to do that in advance. :-)

          • Poe Ghostal says:

            I still think it’s worth making a distinction between different types of exclusives–repaints and unique characters. It’s the unique characters that drive collectors nuts. If the accessories that came with the WT and Gleek were exclusive to the convention, and not Gleek himself, there would not be this much furor.

            I think the best sort of convention exclusive are cool, desirable repaints something like the NYCC variant Mr. Freeze from last year. It’s a great thing for collectors to have, but those who can’t get it don’t feel like their collection is incomplete.

        • Yeah, I’m on the opposite side of that fence. I actually like it when new characters, rather than repaints, are released as limited exclusives. I’m hoping Hasbro’s G.I. JOE exclusive is a unique character, rather than another version of one we’ve already had several times like the previous two convention figures.

  • What? says:

    Fuck I hate this neckbeard whining garbage. Toys are meant to be enjoyed, if your so desperate to feel special that you need to hoard a toy no one else can have you need to get a real life.

  • nameless conscript says:

    it’s a problem when I can’t even go to wal-mart and get toys because some jerk has come and bought all of them at all the stores in the area, just to sell them on ebay. that’s not fair and it’s not right. i’d love to see you justify that.

    I do agree on con exclusives, however. but, once the con is over they should put the remaining stock online for those who couldn’t attend. that way, the con goers get their cake, and the remaining stock doesn’t get melted down/sit in a warehouse for eternity.

    • it’s a problem when I can’t even go to wal-mart and get toys because some jerk has come and bought all of them at all the stores in the area, just to sell them on ebay. that’s not fair and it’s not right. i’d love to see you justify that.

      No need to “justify” anything. Once someone buys merchandise, he/she is free to use it, store it, burn it, or resell it. It’s “not fair” that someone else who wanted something got to it before you did? His/her reasons for wanting it are irrelevant. All that matters is that someone else beat you to it, so you’ll have to look elsewhere. First-come, first-served. I don’t disagree with your second point, and said so a couple of comments above yours.

      • nameless conscript says:

        oh, so it’s “fair” that a jackass can go and buy every single toy available, in an entire geographical area, just to sell them on ebay at 300% markups?

        i suppose it’s also “fair” if i take a tire iron to his face and give children those toys for free.

        • oh, so it’s “fair” that a jackass can go and buy every single toy available, in an entire geographical area, just to sell them on ebay at 300% markups?

          Absolutely. Not only is everyone in this country free to buy low and sell high, but it is the most fundamental basis of the American economy.

          i suppose it’s also “fair” if i take a tire iron to his face and give children those toys for free.

          I find it disturbing that anything as trivial as toys would even put such a thought into an individual’s mind. The idea that criminal acts of violence are comparable to buying a toy and reselling it for a profit is not worth discussing. Have a nice weekend.

          • nameless conscript says:

            yeah, i can’t wait to see the video of frankie breaking you in half.

            enjoy buying toys at hundreds of times what they cost.

  • Ghetto Frankenstein says:

    You are a neckbearded fuckstick. Die in a fire.
    If you have any quarrel with my statements I’ll be at Heroescon this year.

  • TRAZZZ says:

    Disagree with this to the highest level!!!! If your going to have exclusives, don’t make them figures of characters no one has, make them repaints of already made figures….. so so stupid.

  • Captain Cold says:

    I think in Gleek’s case, the CHOICE of exclusives is the problem. Not the concept of exclusives.

    Most companies offer up variants as exclusives. Like the Chrome Vader mentioned by Jon.
    However, would he be singing the same tune if DARTH VADER himself was never sold to the masses and only made available to some country he can’t get to.

    Palisades used to offer Muppet Exclusives at Cons which were awesome, but not essential to a completist. I never complained about those and bought them otherwise. Gleek was the simply wrong choice because it creates a hole in the Zan and Jayna set.

    Chrome Vader? Pimp Daddy Destro? Indiana Jones Kermit? None of those are essentials but they are cool exclusives nonetheless.

  • nerdbot says:

    Wow.
    What a hot button topic, huh? There’s quite a dialogue going here.

    It seems to me there at two basic and somewhat contradictory attitudes toward toy collecting that are at play here: one favors enjoying the toys themselves, and the other favors the hunt. From that standpoint, some folks seem to take the somewhat absurd steps of citing socio-economic theory to back up their argument.

    I’d also like to point out that relying on personal anecdotes and opinions as evidence is rather weak. I don’t really care if a silver Vader is “special” to Mr. Edwards (and therefore enjoyed more than a regular toy) — just as I’m sure he would not care that many of the toys in my collection that I most enjoy were easily obtained. I think it comes back to the two basic approaches toward toy collecting. It would appear that Mr. Edwards values the experience of finding items, and attaches special significance to them. While I mostly enjoy the toys for what they are as objects.

    By the way: To those of you who claim that for you – or someone you know – a major draw for going to a convention is access to the “exclusive” swag: even if that is true, I believe you are in a tiny, tiny minority of convention attendees.

    If you couldn’t tell, I don’t particularly care for convention exclusives. As for why- I agree with the arguments that Poe Ghostal eloquently made, and I won’t make any effort to argue them again here. But I will reiterate that convention exclusives are an outdated concept. The collecting market is not what it was ten – or even just five years ago. There are far more collectors out there, and far more sources of information about toys. The dynamics of supply and demand are a hell of a lot different than they used to be. While I can’t deny the simple logic that a third party has the right to make a profit by reselling convention exclusives, I also think a toy company has every right to cut-off those speculators and claim that market for themselves. I’m not sure how someone could rely so heavily on free market loving arguments and still be opposed to that.

    I’m sorry that certain toys are not as special as they had been for some people. Sometimes it sucks when things change. But hey- if it is too easy now, and you aren’t enjoying convention figures – don’t buy them! That way, if the majority of people feel as you do, they won’t sell! Then the toy companies will see the error of their ways and go back to making extra special shiny and rare treats for you – so you can know that you are one of the lucky few to have them. That’s how the free market works.

    • From that standpoint, some folks seem to take the somewhat absurd steps of citing socio-economic theory to back up their argument.

      If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

      and therefore enjoyed more than a regular toy

      Not necessarily. I can’t speak for anyone other than myself, but I personally enjoy exclusives in addition to basic retail releases. In fact, none of the exclusives, variants, or otherwise “hard to find” figures in my collection are among my favorites. I’m not sure why some people feel compelled to draw a line in the sand when it comes to toy collecting. For some people, it’s opening the toys. For others, it’s graded figures. And sometimes, it’s anything that can’t be had for the same price as a regular retail release. “You enjoy this, so have fun with it,” is something they never say. Some collectors seem determined to make their way of enjoying a hobby come across as better, the way a true collector does things. I’ve never quite understood that.

      I think it comes back to the two basic approaches toward toy collecting. It would appear that Mr. Edwards values the experience of finding items, and attaches special significance to them. While I mostly enjoy the toys for what they are as objects.

      Why are there two approaches? Why can’t both aspects of collecting be enjoyed by the same person? Perhaps some people really are too “basic” for that, but I have fun with many facets of this hobby.

      That’s how the free market works.

      Much to your chagrin, I’m sure. :-)

      • nerdbot says:

        By offering the suggestion that there are two basic attitudes behind collecting, I was merely trying to get at the fact that there are two groups talking past each other because opinions about convention exclusives are just that — opinions! Trying to construct arguments supporting the pros and cons of them is just asinine. We disagree. You resent the recent trend toward making convention figures more obtainable, and I see it as a positive thing.

        And for the record, I did not mean to suggest that they are hard and fast groups (or even the only groups) that collectors fall into, without any gray area. The point of your initial post, after cutting through the list of exclusive you either have or wanted, seemed to be that exclusive figures should be preserved as special rewards for folks who go to conventions. My response is that is one opinion, and one I disagree with almost entirely.

        When you answered some of the complaints that convention exclusives merely stoke the secondary market, you said, among other things: “what’s wrong with a little profit?” Agreed. No problem there. So what’s wrong with the toy companies getting that profit instead of vendors or other insiders who happened to be at the convention? Because exclusive figs have almost always been available after the show, the argument ultimately falls back on semantics: an item is an “exclusive” because the manufacturer only sold it at one place for a limited period of time (and is therefore held more dear by a certain number of collectors). What is the functional difference between a separate retailer buying up remaining cases and offering them for sale, and Mattel selling them online after the fact? How about if toy companies changed their language to something like “SDCC limited edition” instead of “exclusive?” Would that satisfy you? Probably not, because the root problem is that making items more available means you feel less rewarded, less special.

        Also for the record, I have no problem with the free market. I do have a problem with obnoxious bores who justify their advantage by chalking it up to the free market and then whining when the system changes a bit and they lose that advantage.

        You just wrote: “Some collectors seem determined to make their way of enjoying a hobby come across as better, the way a true collector does things. I’ve never quite understood that.” Jesus tap-dancing Christ! Do you really not see that that was exactly what you were doing in your initial post!?!

        I might add that this whole dialogue has reminded me of people I used to be acquainted with (and thankfully no longer know). These guys were libertarians; both were a few years into masters degrees everyone around them knew they were never going to finish; elicited rolled eyes whenever they walked into a room; and ‘won’ arguments by going in circles until their ‘friends’ stared off into space or wandered away muttering “whatever…” Does any of that sound familiar? ;-)

        So go ahead and pick this apart and add whatever snarky comments you want. I doubt that I’ll waste any more time revisiting this. I’m now strolling away, shaking my head and saying “whatever you say, man…”

        • So what’s wrong with the toy companies getting that profit instead of vendors or other insiders who happened to be at the convention?

          Absolutely nothing. Manufacturers are free to do with their products anything they choose, which is why I said I have a “request” for those companies. I certainly never hinted at there being any “right” or “wrong” way of doing so, but rather my preferred way.

          Do you really not see that that was exactly what you were doing in your initial post!?!

          If that’s what you got from reading the post, then you clearly misunderstood it. I was referring to a method of selling action figures, of making them available, not any particular way of collecting them.

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