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, 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 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 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.

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.





  • j1h15233 says:

    I had a feeling a post like this was coming from someone and I really enjoyed your comment on Facebook. In fact, I even quoted you on one of the threads here. I agree with this to a certain extent. There’s no way I could ever afford to go to San Diego so I’m glad that Mattel is offering their exclusives online as well but we’re also lucky enough here to have a good group of members who help each other so I know even if it wasn’t offered online I could get my figures. I can see why people are getting riled up over this but there is a real satisfaction in hunting down figures like Grundy and Shayera and I wish the complainers would realize this. Great blog.

    • The logistics of San Diego make it an impossibility for me, at least at this point in my life, as I can’t fly. I hope to make it out there one year, though. And yes, while I don’t get the “thrill of the hunt” concept when it comes to searching for standard releases in Big Box retailers, I do enjoy the feeling of adding a true exclusive from one of the conventions to my collection.

  • Scott says:

    Not all of us “know people” who could pick up stuff for us. I wish I was able to get Grundy, the JLU 3-pack with Shayera, and Keldor.
    That said, I might feel a little differently if they treated each convention equally. They pour on the good stuff for SDCC, yet for NYCC, which I’ve attended every year since it began, we get repaints of figures which weren’t all that hard to find in the first place. I don’t think the last one had anything besides Faker and a few leftovers of earlier figures.

    • Yeah, I didn’t “know people” for Celebration II or SDCC 2007, either. That’s why I missed out on Jorg Sacul, Destro, and the Shayera set. Like I said, though, I wanted the Rebel Pilot Lucas figure, so off to eBay it was. I just haven’t felt like it was worth it for Destro, but if I wanted him badly enough, I’d buy one. I got Shayera and The Ray via a trade right here through this very site, but that didn’t come until almost a year after the ’07 convention. As I said in a post on the AFI forum, SDCC is THE comic book convention, and that will likely always be the case, regardless of how much NYCC continues to grow. I would like to see better (and *actual*) exclusives for that show, though. With it moving to October next year, hopefully there will be lots of improvements and even more growth.

  • Chip Cataldo says:

    If Mary’s hot, I wouldn’t fault Stan for staying home.


    Chip ;-)

  • CantinaDan says:

    I don’t know what to say other than it just a really mature viewpoint and one not easy to espouse when you’re essentially on the short end of the stick. I do agree with the point of your blog. That may be easy for me to say since I’ve been lucky enough to get out to San Diego for the Con the last few years. The exclusives are a very special part of it for me.

  • Wildcard says:

    I used to go to San Diego merely for the exclusives. I wanted the figures badly that I would spend up to $700 on airfare, hotels, rentals and tickets. It was part of the thrill of being there. So even though the real reason of going to Comic-Con should be the con itself, nowadays, it just doesn’t seem worth it anymore when I can easily order half of what made the con exciting online.

  • I should also add that while it isn’t the big media event or a place where toy manufacturers feel compelled to have a presence, part of what I love about HeroesCon here in Charlotte is that it is a *true* comic book convention. There are toys and statues for sale, of course, but the focus is always on comics. That makes it a really fun show.

  • Ham Salad Ham Salad says:

    Back in 2002, I heard that Hasbro would be offering an exclusive Jorg Sacul figure at Celebration II. Not knowing if it would offered later, I made plans to go. And I got my two.

    Later that year, I heard that Mattel would be offering an exclusive repaint of He-Man at Comic-con. I had just gotten into the new line, and decided that I needed it. After hearing that Mattel wouldn’t offer it elsewhere, I made plans to go on Saturday. And, despite the horrible raffle system, I got one of the 1000 they made.

    I have gone to Comic-Con every year since, mostly because there has been an exclusive that I’ve wanted to buy. And every year more and more of those exclusives are offered online. It’s gotten to the point that I’ve considered not attending and ordering online. Honestly, it’s refreshing to see Mattel offer an extra incentive to attendees, since the original incentives (the figures themselves) have become passé.

    • From talking to other collectors, I know there are plenty of others for whom the exclusives are at least a big motivating factor, if not the primary motivation for going to SDCC. There are already plenty of non-retail figures being sold through, so what’s special about a Comic-Con exclusive when it just becomes another of those?

  • Brian says:

    You get to go the convention and see, experience, etc everything that is there. That is your “reward” for paying for the cost of transportation, hotel, etc.

    It’s toy companies’ job to sell product and make money. Online sales allow them to make more money and offset the cost of manufacturing the exclusives. Also, it’s possible since exclusives have been getting more elaborate over the years, that online sales are needed to offset the costs.

    They are still exclusives since they are limited in production and availability.

    • The online sales aren’t at all necessary. There are more than enough vendors on hand at SDCC to purchase any remaining stock by the case on Sunday. It’s just a matter of removing purchase limits. Also, “limited in production and availability,” is not what “exclusive” means. Once you sell what you advertised as a “Comic-Con exclusive” on your web site, it’s no longer a “Comic-Con exclusive”.

    • Ham Salad Ham Salad says:

      Going to the convention and seeing and experiencing everything there is not a “reward;” it is getting what you pay for.

      Getting a freebie thrown in with the puchase of convention merchandise? That’s a “reward.”

      • And just as you described, having the chance to buy some actual, honest-to-god exclusive items IS a big part of the experience for many, many collectors.

      • Hourman says:

        Yeah but who’s getting the “Reward”? People who have the disposable income to afford to pay for the hotel, the airfare, and to take the time away from work. It sounds like they’ve already got it pretty good, and plus they get the freebie on top of that. Its like celebrities getting gift baskets at the Oscars – giving free stuff to people who don’t need free stuff. If you want to “reward” somebody, “reward” the guy who’s working overtime that weekend to make sure his house doesn’t get foreclosed on or that he doesn’t default on his credit cards. If you can afford the expense of a 4 day SDCC vacation, you don’t need freebies.

        • Ham Salad Ham Salad says:

          Just because someone can go to Comic-Con doesn’t mean they are living the high-life.

          If someone needs to work overtime becasue he is struggling to pay his mortgage and credit card bills, clearly he shouldn’t be attending Comic-Con. To go even further, perhaps he shouldn’t be collecting toys.

        • If I’m a toy manufacturer, I’d much rather market my products to someone with disposable income than, “the guy who’s working overtime that weekend to make sure his house doesn’t get foreclosed on or that he doesn’t default on his credit cards.” Besides, it’s not like everyone who goes to SDCC is filthy rich. For some people, that’s their annual vacation, and they save up for it all year. And to echo what Ham Salad said, I don’t think someone who’s in that much of a struggle to pay his bills should be worrying about a toy collection right now, never mind convention exclusives.

  • The Hitman says:

    I’m not a big fan of true “con exclusives”. They in no way guarantee that the real enthusiast and collector gets rewarded. I am more than willing to bet that when SDCC 2009 rolls up, there will be a ton of profiteers and toy scalpers that will go in with accomplices, grab as many exclusives as they can throughout the weekend, and sell them for ridiculous markups to people like me here in NJ, because I have no way of getting out there to get one myself.

    An example is the DCIH Anti-Monitor. I have accumulated roughly 200 “anti-monitor” points. That translates to a lot of money spent and support towards Mattel and the toy line. These points are now basically worthless since I won’t be attending SDCC to redeem them in person. But meanwhile, some profiteering clown with 0 points can walk into the comic con and buy one for $10.

    So we have a San Diego local who invested $0 in the product, and he gets an exclusive for $10 that he can turn around and sell for profit. Meanwhile, we have a NJ local who has spent over $400 on the product, proven himself a true enthusiast, and now has to pay the SD local $50 or more on eBay to get something I deserved more in the first place?

    Doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m a big fan of proof of purchase giveaways. Have them at conventions and through mail-away forms you can print online and send in. That way only the real, proven collectors, regardless of locale, get what they deserve.

    • See, I don’t agree with what you said there, that you “deserve” anything “more” than the guy who’s at the convention. Yes, you spent money, but you got products in return. I’ve spent a small fortune on Hasbro’s G.I. JOE products since the 25th Anniversary line debuted in 2007, but I didn’t “deserve” a Cobra Commander figure “more” than someone who paid to get into the convention and waited in line for it. For every dollar I spent, I got merchandise in return. Hasbro and I are square, and buying one thing doesn’t entitle us to the next.

    • Scott says:

      They actually did say from the start that the points were going to be for use at SDCC.

  • Loco says:

    Just for the record, the Toyfair Vader was availible online for about two hours the day after toy fair. I know because I was able to purchase 2 without going to the con.

  • Captain Cold says:

    If they also have exclusives in Asia and Europe, I’d agree. I think the American collectors can avail of what you said but the rest of us aren’t as lucky.

    We have to get VISAs to go to SDCC. And that’s just for starters…

    I wish that every year they’d have figures that you could ONLY buy here. And not even import to America. Just to be fair.

    • Off the top of my head, STAR WARS had the Jedi-Con C-3PO and Japan had the Gentle Giant Black Hole Stormtrooper bust, and not many others. You definitely make a good point. For any larger gatherings that rival SDCC in size, foreign exclusives would definitely be cool.

  • Arcdeluxe says:

    I think exclusives are just a bad idea. Why have exclusives at all? If you think about it, are companies really helping their consumers by having exclusives at all? I don’t think so. The average kid who gets his mom to buy his toys for him won’t care about an exclusive Wonder Twins set with Gleek. The majority of collectors can’t go to conventions to buy the exclusives anyway, so they’re sore out of luck. Who benefits? The ones who go to the conventions. Who are these people? Let’s see… the vendors. Oh yeah! The ones who make money off of selling hard to find stuff for double or triple their price. Who else? Scalpers. The ones who sold stuff on ebay for exhorbitant prices, then use that money to buy more and sell them for more money, and they have enough time and money to go to these conventions. And then there are the people who go to the conventions just to buy the exclusives. Some will treasure them, others will sell them on ebay. So, from that perspective, exclusives are a way for companies to help out the vendors and the scalpers, and say a big F-U to fans. Don’t tell me that the companies had the best of intentions when they set off to make the exclusives. No one is that naive. They know who attends these conventions, and they know what their exclusives will be worth.

    Which brings me to my second problem. So we know Mattel is making the Exclusive Wonder Twins with Gleek available for the “convention goers”. And they supposedly “threw us a bone” by allowing us to purchase the Wonder Twins without Gleek online. How generous of them! It’s like if I go to an expensive restaurant and order steak and lobster, I’ll keep the bones and give it to my neighbors so they can enjoy what I enjoyed. Am I being generous, or am I a total dick for doing that? Personally, I’d prefer they not have it available online at all. At least then, they can say they’re just rewarding the con-goers, which they are. They’re not helping the fans this way. I’d still be getting it from ebay anyway, but without the insult. An incomplete set is an incomplete set. It’s like if they made the Ghostbusters and never give us Peter. Sure, they did us a favor by making the Ghostbusters in the first place, but would it be the Ghostbusters without Peter? The same is true of Gleek. He’s as much a part of the Wonder Twins as Zan or Jayna. Sure, some people may be crying just cuz they’re not getting something other people are, but I think for most fans, Gleek is an integral part of the Twins.

    Just my 2 cents. Sorry for rambling.

    • “Personally, I’d prefer they not have it available online at all.” – I completely agree. I see Gleek as a compromise, but I would like to see manufacturers return to selling convention exclusives at conventions exclusively. On your earlier points, though, I don’t have any problem with the vendors, “scalpers”, and fans who sell some of their exclusives. Not only do they not bother me, but some of the coolest items in my collection were purchased from people just like the ones you described.

  • Oddjob says:

    Exclusives are stupid. Mattel is the worst with exclusives because they tend to make their most wanted figures be exclusives. It’s a terrible practice that makes little sense.

    Companies should offer the items online, because they all end up online anyway, but marked up 100X on Ebay.

    Mattel and other companies should TRY to get a piece of that pie by selling the figures online, instead of letting fans gouge other fans. It’s silly.

    • Gouge? Such melodrama over little plastic men. If Mattel was going to do that, they should list them as auctions on eBay, rather than selling them for the same price on MattyCollector. Would that solution work for you?

  • tedmic says:

    IMO exclusives are for very selfish people. The only people who want exclusives available ONLY to Con attendees are scalpers and collectors whose only joy in life is having something you don’t! If you NEED an exclusive to enjoy a Con, you’ve got issues. My solution would be to either make the exclusive a very minor character OR have it available to all after the Con on-line. Why should the scalpers profit off the fans?

    • You’re obviously a very grumpy fella, but what’s wrong with a little “profit”? If you can’t discuss exclusive toys without saying things like, “only joy in life,” and, “you’ve got issues,” I think it’s pretty clear who’s harboring “selfishness”.

  • tedmic says:

    Mr.Jon Edwards, “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.”

    You make it sound like going to a Con is such a hassle and hard work. No one’s putting a gun to your head to go, unless of course you’re only there to either grab as many exclusives to scalp or proudly show off to your score to envious fellow collectors! And what’s the difference between you having a friend pick up an exclusive for you or just getting one online?

    • I don’t care one way or the other about “envious” collectors. In fact, I think they’re the worst part of this hobby, much worse than “scalpers”. And yes, there’s a lot of effort into making a trip to a convention and coming back with those exclusives. Just because something is fun, that doesn’t mean there’s no work involved.

  • Zauriel says:

    Your argument has some flaws.
    Specifically, you complain about the lack of availability of the toys you like, but still brag about the ones you did obtain. The name-dropping of your friends is rather sad, too. You mention one friend and prominent member of this blog that’s in so tight with the toy companies that he regularly receives review samples to display here. And now you’re following the company line about exclusives being exclusive.
    The largest problem with con exclusives right now is the secondary market. Even you mention this multipile times. You seem to belong to the camp that thinks con attendees have a right to re-sell their exclusives to offset the suffering of waiting in line.
    I have another suggestion.
    Eliminate exclusives altogether. If waiting in line is such a trial for you, you could enjoy the con itself and there would be no such thing anymore. No complaints from us without your elite ‘friends’, no hoarders (you yourself display two of your precious grail fig in your post), no eBay scalpers, no pain.
    I’ll even echo your plea: “Stop”
    Stop all exclusives.

    • Your argument has some flaws.

      But your response is gospel, right?

      Specifically, you complain about the lack of availability of the toys you like, but still brag about the ones you did obtain.

      Actually, I didn’t “complain” about the lack of availability of anything, nor am I “bragging” about my collection, either. It’s not like any of these figures are extremely difficult to obtain.

      The name-dropping of your friends is rather sad, too. You mention one friend and prominent member of this blog that’s in so tight with the toy companies that he regularly receives review samples to display here.

      And we’re not especially close, or anything. I like him, and all, but it’s not like we’re BFFs. We’ve never met, we’ve never corresponded outside of this site’s forum, and we’ve exchanged all of three or four messages not specifically related to our trade. This guy who was, “in so tight with the toy companies,” was missing the Fire & Ice JLU three-pack, so he traded me the SDCC exclusive pack for it. Ten bucks cost for ten bucks cost. Wow, what a way to exploit our insider connections, huh? I’m sure he would have done the same for anyone who participates on this site.

      The largest problem with con exclusives right now is the secondary market. Even you mention this multipile times. You seem to belong to the camp that thinks con attendees have a right to re-sell their exclusives to offset the suffering of waiting in line.

      I “belong to the camp” that believes anyone has the right to sell any piece of his/her personal property. I have no issue whatsoever with the secondary market, nor is it a “problem” for me. It’s only a “problem” for those who can’t stand the idea of anyone else having something they don’t have, too. There are lots of cool things I’ll never own, and that doesn’t bother me one bit.

      Eliminate exclusives altogether.

      No, thanks. I don’t mind buying them on eBay.

      no hoarders (you yourself display two of your precious grail fig in your post)

      “Hoarders”. Ha! That’s such a silly word. Guess what? I have over 100 Cobra Troopers, too. Does that also bother you? I plan on buying even more, and I’ll continue to spend my money the way I see fit. The day someone singing a tune of Toy Trotskyism starts paying my bills, then he can make what I buy for my collection his business. Until then, your action figure version of, “to each according to his need,” is completely and totally wasted on me, sir.

      • John Cage says:

        >>Your argument has some flaws.

        >But your response is gospel, right?

        I don’t recall him saying that, just that he disagreed with you. I understand taking some of the back and forth personally — and “Zauriel” did go after your “name dropping” and etc — but he just disagrees with your argument. And as someone who probably won’t have the resources to get to San Diego this year, so do I. I get why it’s special having certain figures as exclusives to the con, but having the Matty Collector site to get Giganta was worlds easier than trying to get an affordable Grundy on ebay. I guess keeping other figures or accessories exclusive to con is a good compromise, but I don’t see why another non-retail method shouldn’t be considered for offering convention figures.

        Have a good day.
        John Cage

        • I don’t recall him saying that, just that he disagreed with you.

          Actually, he didn’t say he “disagreed with” me even once in his post. He said my, “argument has some flaws.” In order for that to be the case, one has to accept the idea that reselling toys for profit is wrong as an absolute. One has to operate under the notion that the secondary market for collectible toys, items that appeal specifically to adults with disposable income, is an inherent evil. It’s silly. Based on his comments, one would also have to misinterpret what I wrote as “complaining” over any particular item’s “lack of availability”.

          I understand taking some of the back and forth personally — and “Zauriel” did go after your “name dropping” and etc — but he just disagrees with your argument.

          I didn’t take anything he said “personally” at all. I got quite a chuckle out of it, especially when I made it to the “hoarders” crack at the end. He didn’t spend much time disagreeing with my argument, though. He was far more interested in disagreeing with the idea that individuals are free to spend their money or sell their property as they wish.

          I guess keeping other figures or accessories exclusive to con is a good compromise, but I don’t see why another non-retail method shouldn’t be considered for offering convention figures.

          Because they are, as you said yourself, convention figures.

  • stardust says:

    I disagree with the blog in its entirety. I collect action figures for fun and a way to relieve the stress and hassels of life, work and family. The act of collecting them shouldn’t be a hassel in and of itself. It is difficult enough finding the regular releases of the DCUC figures because of poor distribution and when you are lucky enough to find them then you have to contend with quality control issues.

    Clearly a lot of the toy lines these days are directed solely towards adult fans. The toy companies realize that children of the 70s and 80s are their buyers. Otherwise toylines like GI Joe, the Super Powers-inspired DCUC line, the MOTUC, Transformers, the Retro Mego Star Trek dolls wouldn’t have been resurrected. Obviously the companies are keen enough to play on our nostalgia. They know we would buy them. They know we are completists. They aren’t dealing with kids who may pick or choose only a few select figures. So they should be as astute to realize that it would cause an uproar to not get Gleek. Most of us are completists.

    I mean many of us have always wanted to see the Wonder Twins immortalized in action figure form and to finally have that come to fruition only to find out you can only acquire him at the con sucks. Personally, I think Mattel should be a little bit more appreciative to its collectors. I mean we are willing to pay a rather bloated price for the MOTUC figures. We put up with their poor distribution. We stick with the line despite the hassel of trying to find figures that have no sloppy paint issues or mismatched parts. We find enough money to keep apace with the lobbing at a ridiculous rate of wave after wave right on top of one another. But then to penalize a collector who can’t attend a con for whatever reasons-financial, logistics, scheduling etc– is ridiculous especially when they have an online means to get these figures to us at cost.

    Frankly, I would do away with exclusives altogether unless they are readily available in sufficient quantities.

    • Erik superfriend says:

      “We put up with their poor distribution. We stick with the line despite the hassel of trying to find figures that have no sloppy paint issues or mismatched parts. We find enough money to keep apace with the lobbing at a ridiculous rate of wave after wave right on top of one another.”

      This I agree with. I think increasing the waves to 7 characters and doing more than one wave per quarter is expensive to keep up with.

  • Erik superfriend says:

    Man, you opened a can of worms here. Glad to see it.
    Until I shelled out the money to get to a con, I had no idea the cost involved.
    Transportation – Plane, train, or car and gas.
    Place to stay – hotel.
    Time off from work.
    Time away from family.
    It adds up.
    I’ve changed my tune. I think that non-attendees should realize the cost of attending before moaning about paying a little more than the con-attendees paid.
    Also, the cost tends to peak during the con and go down a bit if you can wait.

  • stardust says:

    re: expense to attend the con

    If someone is attending a convention just to get an exclusive figure then they are going for the wrong reasons. They should be going to enjoy the environment and the interaction with other fans. If they consider a good time to be standing in a line for hours on end on the offchance that they might be able to purchase a figure then they clearly don’t know how to have a good time.

    Frankly, I’d do away with exclusives altogether. They are a hassel and turn off fans. I have no problem with a company debuting an item there and then the item goes onto mass release. I have no problem if they want to put a sticker on the package saying these are the first 1000 sets produced and come with this special sticker. I have no problem say the way DST did their Trek exclusives where a retailer has them available first at the con then has them up for sale the week afterwards. I have no problem with doing it like DST did with the Khan or Marlena figures–where if you purchased all the Mirror Mirror or TWoK figures you got a polybagged bonus figure.

    My enjoyment comes from having the figures and looking at and displaying them. Playmates was never the same after the 1701 Star Trek debacle and I wonder if this could be the final straw for DCUC collectors who have had to put up with poor distribution, paint applications, mismatched parts, missing BaF pieces, the WalMart wave 5 fiasco etc.

    • There is no such thing as a “wrong reason” for doing something you enjoy doing. People “should be going” for whatever aspect(s) of the convention they enjoy. It’s not up to anyone else to dictate those terms to someone. As for turning off fans, there are obviously plenty of fans who enjoy the idea of exclusives, or they wouldn’t have been so popular for the years in which they were not sold through the manufacturers’ online stores days after the events. It wasn’t just new characters, but repaints and novelty figures, as well.

  • BKP says:

    Thanks for the well thought blog.
    My thoughts…
    Do exclusives really exist anymore?
    The gist of this blog is that exclusives at shows are to reward people. To make them feel special. No doubt, many years ago, that was the case. But now? In the days of internet and ebay? What is really “exclusive”?
    Honestly, the only thing that remains exclusive is the price. Everything else can be had elsewhere. ebay, contacts, bbts, other online avenues… nothing is really “exclusive”. So, do attendees still feel… “rewarded” or like you’ve received something “special”?
    It seems to me that nothing, in this internet age, is truly “exclusive”, nor can it ever be again.
    I may not like the monkey situation, but I know that the only thing con attendees are getting that I won’t, is a better price.

    • You’re welcome, and thanks for taking the time to read it. I don’t disagree with anything about your comment. I touched on your point briefly when I said, “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.” Even the elusive “holiday” Hal Jordan figure made it to eBay a few times. In my mind, the exclusivity has to do with the original point of sale, not the secondary market, where everything (even test shots) is eventually bought and sold. Before eBay, exclusives made their way into hobby shops owned by guys who either made the trip or bought them from attendees. The “price” being what’s really “exclusive” is part of what makes getting one of those items at the convetion “special”. If someone who didn’t go wants it, they’ll have to put a bit more time and effort into it than they would with a regular retail release. Selling them on HasbroToyShop or MattyCollector actually means less effort is required. That’s not to say ownership itself is limited to those who attend, though.

  • jzachery says:

    I remember. Great blog. I never had a problem with exclusives, and was always more than happy to pay the price for an exclusive figure, even on the secondary market. I really hope the exclusive stays alive… It’s sad that it’s dying off by being offered online. It’s no longer special.

  • Miry Clay says:

    Yes, yes.
    It was better before.
    Things meant something.
    The good guys were always stalwart and true and the bad guys easily identifiable by their black hats and twisted mustaches.
    We walked to school in waist high snow, uphill, both ways.
    Turn down that ridiculous noise you call music.
    And get off my lawn.

  • Brainlock says:

    Does anyone think we’d be having these arguments if they said the Zan-bucket and Jayna-Hawk were the SDCC exclusive pieces instead of Gleek?

    I. don’t. think. so.

    I also don’t think people would have this p1ssed off if, last year, the Savage Land set was only Ka-Zar and Shanna, no Zabu (which was itself a re-use of a GI Joe set Tiger!).

    I’m a big ML fan, but I still don’t have the Savage Land set, and am not really bothered by it. Nor am I bothered by the fact I don’t own Fin Fang Foom (which was sold as a set at SDCC last yer) or Red Hulk BAF, because of one thing: The Cost. I even found the new XMO ML 2pks this week, but I’m passing on them on account of the cost as well. $24 for 2 MINOR repaints with one new head each? PASS.

    Would that this year’s exclusives were sold at Chicago and NYCC as well, there would be lots less b1tching and moaning, but even a trip from St Louis to Chicago (where I could crash at my sisters, hopefully, and save money spent on a hotel room for a night or two) is out of my budget.

    But I digress…

    btw – I’d still LOVE to get JLU Grundy, but can live without him. Someone else was kind enough to GIVE me JLU Ray after yet another lament about not having him, despite owning his original mini and majority of his subsequent ongoing. I really appreciated the gesture and Ray is on display with the rest of my JLU.
    I did offer to GIVE Dan a Fire/Ice set and more recently, offered up several figures from my own collection that he had stolen from him. Apparently, you got to him first on the former, and several others on the latter.

  • Briggs says:

    I’m sorry but I disagree completely. There are those of us without either the time, money or connections to get “exclusives” any way other than a website. I shudder at the amount I had to pay for my Grundy. And while my hobby is important to me the less I spend on it the better I feel. Gven the way money is these days…Heck even when times are good I prefer to spend less when possible.
    So,Sorry but I’m thrilled that I can get these a site like And whie I agree the thought of having someone pick these items up for me is better, it just isn’t realistic for most of us.

    • There are those of us without either the time, money or connections to get “exclusives” any way other than a website.

      My reply to that is to repeat that exclusives, by their very nature, are intended to exclude some people.

      • Briggs says:

        No, that is incorrect. The word is “exclusive” not “excludive”. The first shows some special meaning… i.e. you can’t just happen upon one in a store and buy it. The second thought (your response) boarders on mean and petty. The idea that; for it to be special means you need to exclude others is telling. Is that really where your ideals on this subject stem? Tell us then, how having someone get an item for you when you can’t go is different than loging on to a website and ordering it because you couldn’t attend? Becasuse according to your response you should be excluded.

        • As I mentioned in the blog, both come from the Latin excludere, and there is no linguistics debate to be had over the matter. Part of the idea behind an exclusive is to exclude others from having the same opportunity to purchase the item at the same price. Is it “mean” or “petty” to have items limited to 500 or 1,000 pieces? If I thought so, I’d have a different hobby. Yes, I should be excluded from having the chance to buy it directly from the original source for the original price, unless I am able to attend. I’ve been saying that all along. If I know someone who works at a car dealership, I’m going to get a better price on my next vehicle purchase than someone who walks in off the street. If I know someone who’s going to Comic-Con, I’ll ask that he/she pick up something for me. If I don’t, I’ll pay market value for what I truly want to have in my collection.

          • Briggs says:

            Wow. Way to miss the point. I wasn’t challenging you to a debate on dead languages. I was pointing out that you’re complaining about something that really helps other people. Something that others have wanted (demanded) for a long time (that’s why they do it…demand). Telling the manufacturers to “stop” so others have to “work harded” to get an item makes you look like a jerk. That is Latin for Jerk.

  • He-Ro says:

    Hey, I appreciate your blog and your thorough justification for this viewpoint, however, I completely disagree. When Mattel offers something like He-Ro, a completely new sculpt, etc, for a character that has never received a figure, I do not classify this as something only a select few who can get to the west coast may have. I’m sorry, but the availability of these exclusives online are a must.
    1. They protect against scalpers insane resale prices
    2. Products like He-Ro and the Wonder twins are essentials to a serious MOTU collector, and should NOT be limited to con exclusitivity
    3. Because companies are able to sell the figures to more people, we can get much better exclusives because of their increased profit margin. (He-Ro is a completely new sculpt, not just some crappy repaint)
    4. It’s not fair to raise a bar to collectors by saying, “Only if you have the time, money, and resources to get to San Diego although you live in Kentucky, can you be considered a true fan worthy of this exclusive”
    5. Trying to insinuate that the exclusives aren’t as “special” because other people get a crack at them is ridiculous and absolutely fueled by the greed of the collector who uses that term.

    If we ever hope to have a strong action figure community we will stop support exclusives, and start supporting inclusives. Thank you

    • For me, I think using the word “greed” when describing other collectors in this hobby is far more detrimental to the notion of a “strong action figure community” than the idea of exclusive toys. Why does everything have to be “fair”? I don’t share in that sense of entitlement, nor am moved by complaints about “scalpers”. If I want something I didn’t have a chance to purchase for the original price, I have to decide if I’m willing to pay secondary market value for it. Not everyone can drive a Cadillac; some people have to settle for a Kia. I see absolutely nothing unfair about that.

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