The effect of inflation on action figure prices

He-Man.org member Mermisto has written up an interesting post examining inflation and it’s relation to the action figure industry. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do but never got around to it, and I think Mermisto did a better job anyway because he had access to the old Sears Wish Book catalogs.

I’m not going to blockquote what he wrote (it’ll screw up the page after the “Read More”). His post starts with the quotations.

“When the MOTUC series was first announced, I thought the $20 price tag was a little much for an action figure, but since I have been collecting vintage toys over the past decade, I am used to paying over $20 a piece for dolls and action figures anyways, so it did not bother me too much.

However, I was recently curious as to how expensive the toys I grew up with really were. I know a lot of times nowadays I tend to look at prices at Target and Wal-Mart with vintage goggles on, as I remember back to the 1980’s when I could get She-Ra or Catra for $6.99 at K-Mart back in 1985.

So, using a handy price inflation converter, I looked up all the prices in my vintage Sears Wish Books, and converted them into current prices. (I rounded the current prices to the nearest dollar, or five dollar increments if they were over $20.)

1985

Toy / Original Price / Price If Sold Today

Castle Grayskull / 29.99 / 59.99
Snake Mountain / 44. 99 / 89.99
Night Stalker / 8.99 / 17.99
Spydor / 24.99 / 49.99
Bashasaurus / 13.99 / 29.99
Fright Zone / 28.99 / 59.99
Hordak / 5.49 / 10.99
Thunder Punch He-Man / 6.99 / 13.99
Modulok / 7.99 / 15.99
Land Shark / 11.99 / 24.99
Crystal Castle / 32.99 / 69.99
She-Ra / 6.99 / 13.99
Enchanta Swan / 17.99 / 34.99
She-Ra with Swift Wind / 14.99 / 29.99

1986

Toy / Original Price / Price If Sold Today

Crystal Falls / 19.99 / 39.99
Starburst She-Ra / 6.99 / 13.99
Crystal Castle / 29.99 / 59.99
Starburst She-Ra with Crystal Swift Wind / 14.99 / 29.99
Scratchin’ Sound Catra with Clawdeen / 13.99 / 24.99
Sea Harp / 14.99 / 29.99
Butterflyer / 11.99 / 24.99
Eternia / 99.99 / 189.99
King Hiss / 4.99 / 9.99
Multi-Bot / 7.99 / 14.99
Horde Trooper / 4.99 / 9.99
Blaster Hawk / 17.99 / 34.99
Monstroid / 19.99 / 39.99
Fright Fighter / 19.99 / 39.99

Likewise, a MOTUC figure sold today worth $20 would have been $15 10 years ago, and $10 back in 1984. Battle Armor He-Man was 4.99 in the 1984 Sears Wish Book, which would be 9.99 today. Would MOTUC He-Man have been worth twice as much as a regular 5 1/2 inch He-Man?

With a good 2 more inches in height, several more points of articulation, better paint applications, and more accessories, if the MOTUC figures had come out in the 1980’s I believe they would have still been well worth the extra $5 back then. Likewise, today, a regular MOTU figure would be worth anywhere from 9.99 to 13.99 due to inflation, depending on whether it’s a regular or Deluxe figure. I now think the MOTUC figures are well worth the extra $6 to $10, and now I can’t really imagine them selling for any less, regardless of whether they are sold in stores or online.

I also converted the prices from the 1983 and 1984 Sears Wish Books as well. (Remember, I rounded off the current prices.) If anyone is interested?

1983

Toy / Original Price / Price If Sold Today

Castle Grayskull / 24.99 / 49.99
Attak Track / 16.99 / 34.99
Point Dread and Talon Fighter / 14.99 / 29.99
Faker and Man-E-Faces / 9.99 / 19.99
He-Man and Trap Jaw / 9.99 / 19.99
Ram Man and Skeletor / 9.99 / 19.99

1984

Toy / Original Price / Price If Sold Today

Battle Armor He-Man or Skeletor / 4.99 each / 9.99
Orko / 4.99 / 9.99
Castle Grayskull / 27.99 / 59.99
Snake Mountain / 42.99 / 89.99
Roton / 9.99 / 19.99
Dragon Walker / 19.99 / 39.99
Stridor / 7.99 / 15.99
Road Ripper / 6.99 / 13.99

I realize that today’s MOTUC figures also include shipping as well. The 8.70 for shipping would have been 4.25 twenty-five years ago.”

Poe here again. So, according to these estimates, a MOTUC figure would have been $10 in 1984. Of course, Sears catalog prices were always at least a little higher than what you would have paid at a big box store back then–it was the “online store” of its day. But if a deluxe figure like Power Punch He-Man sold for $6.99, then $9.99 for a MOTUC figure doesn’t seem unreasonable at all.

But that’s just my opinion. Do you think the larger size and improved sculpting, articulation, and accessories (but minus the action features) would have been worth that price back then?

Comments now closed (50)

  • No, $20 is too much, especially when they add exorbitant shipping. People are paying it, but anyone who thinks it's perfectly fair has lost it…

  • Vile speculation, but wouldn't the production run of the old MOTU be like, at the very least double that of new MOTUC? That would have to affect pricing, right?

    And in 1984, while better sculpts and articulation would've blown our little minds, and may well have been worth the increase of price, it would've killed the line stone dead. Why? Because back then, who bought all the toys? Parents, grandparents, relatives. They wouldn't have cared about the upgrade, and wouldn't front the price increase; and in 1983-84 there wouldn't be the adult collectors waiting with their wallets open.

  • @PJ: Perfectly fair? No, probably not. But I think this suggests $20 is not as incredibly unreasonable a price as some have complained. Also, this examination doesn't even take into account rising plastic prices due to petroleum shortages.

    I'm not saying Mattel didn't start these at a high price, and aren't making a great profit off of them–but I don't the prices are quite as much of a rip-off as many seem to.

    Another thing to keep in mind is it's quite possible the only thing keeping MOTUC from being axed by budget-trimming execs is its great production-to-profit ratio.

    In a perfect world, we'd all like these to be sold at Wal-Mart, Target and TRU–plus overseas retailers–for $10 a pop. But I'm way more realistic than that…

    @googum: I was thinking that in 1984, MOTUC would have represented "deluxe" versions of the characters. MOTU200X was the revamped "regular" line; MOTUC are the deluxe versions. It's equivalent to comparing the regular Prowl Transformer in the mid-1980s (regular 1980s MOTU figure) to the Transformers Classics Prowl (regular 200X figure) to the Alternators Prowl (MOTUC figure).

    Also, the larger production run of any given MOTU figure in the 1980s (and I suspect it was way, way more than double the average MOTUC run) would mean Mattel's cost per unit back then would have been much lower when you take economies of scale into account, so that makes the MOTUC price more reasonable, because you'd expect a higher price for a smaller run.

    Therefore, the $6 difference between the estimated 2009 price for a Thunder Punch He-Man (of which there easily could have been 100,000 made) and a MOTUC He-Man (of which there were 10,000-15,000 made) makes MOTUC's $20 price tag decent, given its production run was a small fraction of Thunder-Punch's (and due to the articulation, the MOTUC would also have a higher production cost per unit).

    Of course, I wasn't an economics major–I never even took an economics class in college–so I could be way off in my guesses here. If anyone has better insight into all this, feel free to jump in!

  • I know they're "technically" $20, but in reality they're more like $28. Considering it's an online exclusive, it's completely pointless to not include shipping when discussing them. Still, the price doesn't bother me since it's mostly just one figure a month.

  • Good show!

    Now try to rationalize the MOTU Artbook as not being a ripoff. Then maybe scalper prices on ebay as not being a ripoff.

    It might not make too much sense, but it will make a lot of us feel better about getting ripped off. 🙂

  • I can't rationalize the art book. It was FUBAR in pretty much every way except to Make-A-Wish, maybe.

  • I bet you are not accounting for a bunch of stuff, including technological advances that make these toys easier and more profitable to produce.

    I'm just guessing.

    But you know how I know they're a ripoff? Because people have to write articles like this to convince us that they are not….

  • It's interesting to see the differences in prices! Shoot time machine anyone? But it also reminds me of my father telling me about going to the movies when he was a kid. 10 cent popcorn, 10 cent soda and movies that cost 50 cents to get in. So it's all relative to the fact that a dollar stretches allot less then it did. When our kids buy their kids toys $20 a figure will seem cheap.

    Look at Hasbro's $8 almost nine bucks for a 3.75" figure! Sheesh!

    But If your counting by amount of plastic (Weight) 20 bones of 6" MOTUC is a better deal than 8 bones of 3.75" Hasbro figures!!

  • @Iz: I imagine any advances in technology would be largely offset by the aforementioned rise in plastic costs.

    Also, I don't think there's really any reason to assume the technology has improved in terms of the ease of production. It's obvious they've improved in terms of offering more detail and better articulation over the last fifteen years, but those changes probably increased production costs.

    Finally, I object to the notion that I'm "rationalizing" the prices, Iz. I've written many times that I think Mattel is making a fairly significant profit on these. And I think I've made it clear I'm no Mattel apologist (the first draft of that particular post was a lot meaner, but I try to retain a certain amount of professional decorum).

    To what degree MOTUC's price constitutes a "rip-off" is hard to say without knowing the actual costs involves (which neither you nor I actually know). All I'm trying to argue is perhaps the price isn't as unreasonable as they may seem at first blush.

    But I do suspect that without its presumably high profit margin, the line wouldn't exist. So take that as you will–you can either pay a high price for MOTUC, or get no MOTUC at all. Sucks, yes, but unfortunately there's nothing that guarantees us the right to cheap MOTUC figures.

  • Great article. Very well written. I haven't been to the Org today but I think this is front page worthy.

    Great job Mermisto!

  • I don't think either of us know enough about technological advances offsetting the costs of plastic. We're just guessing here.

    So ask yourself why does it seem to be a rip-off in the first place. We are talking about six inches of plastic in simple packaging for almost $30. Just a short while ago we were getting figures that were almost just as good for under $10. I would argue that some of the better Marvel Legends are just as good or better than the MOTUC figures.

    The first popular mass produced figures (recently) to break the $10 mark were Sigma Six figures with regular figures at $12.99 and the deluxe figures at $15.99. These were arguably bigger, better quality, had more accessories and had really nice packaging.

    Now we are paying almost twice as much (including shipping) for MOTUC figures. Don't get me wrong, they are great figures, but they are still a rip-off, no matter how you slice it.

    The other thing to consider is the fact that prices for all other consumer goods have either held steady or fell during the same period of time. Yes, we are getting gouged for gas, but that hasn't meant a huge increase in the cost of other goods.

    Toy companies on the other hand are trying to give us less for more. Marvel Universe figures for the price of Marvel Legends and the useless over-priced Mattel DC Universe infinite heroes line. They are making a conscious effort to see how much the market will bear and it has nothing to do with "inflation."

  • @Iz: You make good points here.

    In regard to MOTUC, though, as long as they're selling out in hours, I think we can expect to be paying this price (or more) for the foreseeable future. Clearly, the market can bear a $20 (or $30, w/ shipping) price tag.

    Out of curiosity, what do you think of Sideshow's 12" figures? They go for many times as much as MOTUC on Sideshow's online store. Do you feel they are a rip-off, or do you think all the clothing and so balances the cost?

    As you said, you think MOTUC are good figures. Let's compare a mass market 12" figure–say, Hasbro's 12" Snake Eyes ($25)–to Sideshow's Snake Eyes ($120). Do you think Sideshow's figure is a rip-off? Obviously you get a lot more with the Sideshow figure, but you also pay five times the price. Compare that to $7 for a 2002 He-Man figure and $20 ($30 w/ shipping) for a MOTUC figure. The MOTUC figure ends up being two to three times as much as the mass market figure.

    The question is, do you think MOTUC offers nothing more than your average mass market figure? I think they do offer more, although you have to look at the bigger picture, beyond just the figures themselves–the retro packaging, the bios, the character variety (such as obscure characters like He-Ro that cater to collectors and disregard concerns about appealing to casual collectors), and significantly, a surprising amount of back-and-forth with collectors on the development of the figures (fixing Teela's butt, Moss Man, and so forth).

    Do I think MOTUC figures offer as much compared to a 2002 figure as the Sideshow Snake Eyes does compared to the Hasbro figure? Definitely not, but then, proportionately the MOTUC figure doesn't cost as much to its mass market counterpart.

    I'm just trying to figure out what you think constitutes a rip-off. I do think Sideshow's 12" figures are a better model for comparison to MOTUC–which are intended solely for collectors and have much smaller production runs than mass market figures–than, say, DCUC or Marvel Legends.

    OK, I think I've already invested way too much time into this…I've got other stuff to do today 😉

  • Can something really be a ripoff if people are still willing to buy it at that price? Enough people that it sells out in three hours or less? It seems like as long as demand is greater than the supply Mattel could in theory raise the price. The inflation thing just makes us feel better about being willing to pay as much as we are.

  • While I agree that the profit margin is probably pretty good with these figures, I think a big amount of the cost is how small the economy of scale is. Comparing these figures to Marvel Legends or other mass market lines doesn't work because they are produced in extremely larger numbers.

    As Poe says comparing mass Market Hasbro 12" Snake Eyes to the Sideshow figure is similar in that Sideshow is producing both a better figure in numerous ways, but also drastically fewer figures. Even when things are the same quality those made in fewer numbers will always be more expensive for profit.

    Personally I think MOTUC should be about $15.

  • I love flipping through old catalogues. I have a Sears Wishbook from '92 or '93. There were no MOTU listings, but there were a few G2 Transformers and G.I. Joes, TMNT was in the height of its popularity then, so it had a full page.

    Fans will always moan about the MOTUC prices, realistically, yeah, these are $15 figures at most. That said, factoring in lower production runs, rising costs of plastic, and other factors, $20 isn’t really out of the ballpark. With characters like Skeletor, He-Man, Mer-Man, Zodac, etc. only require small re-tooling or just a new head sculpt, while characters they may not get to until later like Ram-Man or Two-Bad, which will require sculpts they won’t be able to get any re-use out of. The savings (or should I say extra profits) they have now can help absorb the extra expense those figures will incur. Not to mention anything additional like the bonus accessories or the white mailer boxes, and other miscellaneous expenses.

  • Not to double post here, but I think calling the MOTUC line a rip-off is completely un true. The definition of a rip-off is to “deprive somebody of something by deceit”. As in “The car salesman ripped us off!”; “we were cheated by his clever-sounding scheme.” QC and shipping issues aside, Mattel has been pretty forthright with this line. Comparing the ‘80s line, 2002, and MOTUC to G1 Transformers, Classics/Universe, and Alternators is pretty accurate. I’ve been fiddling with some of my 2002 figures lately, and they really don’t hold a candle to MOTUC. Design preferences aside, I think you’re getting a bigger bang for your buck with MOTUC.

    Also, I don’t think it’s fair to factor in the cost of shipping & handling. Do you factor in the cost of gas and time spent going from store to store hunting for figures? In a perfect world MOTUC would be available in box and specialty stores, but its not. Even at that, we’d have more problems to deal with having to compete with other collectors, scalpers, and employees raiding the cases before the figures even hit the shelves. At least with ordering MOTUC (MC.com issues aside) they show right up to your door.

  • @PrfktTear- Exactly. I also tend to think something is a ripoff when I'm forced to buy it at a premium, like repairs for my car or food at a baseball game. I part with my money grudgingly because I feel like I'm being cheated somehow. If I felt that way about MOTUC why would I even buy it? Why would anyone buy it? My general feeling about MOTUC is that they are expensive but worth it.

  • They are making a conscious effort to see how much the market will bear and it has nothing to do with “inflation.”

    Hmm. An interesting point. Being mostly a Marvel Legends guy, is that why some Wal-Marts appear to be clearancing Marvel Universe, because otherwise there's a 6" ML for $10.44 next to a 3 3/4" MU for $8.44?

  • Good points all round here. Yes $20 is too much for the figure you get. But, considering the relatively tiny production run and the kind of margin Corporate Mattel probably demanded before OKaying the gamble that these figures represented then I have to be realistic and "accept" that this kind of price is about what the market will bare.

    And it looks like prices on mass-market lines are actually galloping upwards towards the level of MOTUC while as Poe has pointed out – those paying the Subscription on next years figures should be immune to any Matty desire to increase the price beyond $20.

  • It boggles the mind how anyone can expect these for ten dollars. Do you live under a rock with your eyes closed and fingers in your ears?

  • Also, if I were to go toy hunting, I would need to drive at least forty-five minutes to get to a city where a store actually had any reasonable amount of toy space, then drive around further within the city, then another forty-five minutes. For me, the amount I pay in shipping is much less than I would spend in gasoline and less than repairs that would eventually result from the wear-and-tear.

  • What constitutes a rip-off to me?

    1) When you are getting a shoddy, inferior product. (Not the case w/ MOTUC)

    2) When a company or individual charges you way more for something than other companies charge for comparable products, simply because they can. When they don't take into account what a product costs to produce and they just try to get as much as they can for a particular product without regard for the consumer.

    This is done when there is a monopoly on a certain product or when a product is considered essential. That's why hospitals can charge you $15 for a q-tip and $20 for a band-aid. That's why a airplane toilet seats costs thousands of dollars when you buy them from government contractors.

    With MOTUC, Mattel knows that many collectors see having these figures as essential and will pay almost any price. These aren't really small run collectibles. If they were selling these as true collectibles they'd be numbered and we'd know exactly how many are produced, but they keep us in the dark about this so that we think these are in fact made in limited numbers and are thus "rare" and desireable.

    We can talk about economies of scale and production runs all we want, but the fact is Mattel can make these figures fairly cheaply. It's a HUGE toy company with HUGE advantages and it isn't like they are making only 250 of one figure like the Horsemen make with some of the Fan Ex figures. Yet the FanEx figures cost $20 even though the Horsemen lack Mattel's bargaining power and have far smaller production runs. And the Horsemen reward you by allowing you buy all the figures at once and save on shipping. They reward loyalty, Mattel doesn't.

    I'm betting that Mattel is making these for less than five bucks each. I don't begrudge them a nice profit margin and I think $15 would be fair.

    I also think they have no regard for their customers as is evidenced by all the extra shipping folks are required to pay. No reason they couldn't do what a company like BBTS has done, so their fans don't get dinged big time on shipping.

    The other thing that I take into account is that they are doing this in a down economy. If we were in an 80's 90's boom era, that would be one thing, but people are hurting right now, which makes gouging folks a little more distasteful in my book.

    As for the Sideshow / Hot Toys product, yeah those are big buck items, but what you are getting w/ Iron Man, Joker for example is infinitely better than what you are getting elsewhere. It's not even close. We're talking Ferrari vs. Ford Mercedes vs. Ford.

    Also factor in that Mattel's profit margin is increased because they cut out the middle man. Are MOTUC figures that much better than Neca's Street fighter line, that sells for less and shares a cut w/. Toys R Us and with the folks who own the Street Fighter License?

    I think the answer is a resounding nope.

    As a company-owned property, MOTUC is almost pure profit for Mattel. I think we are getting ripped off. Let's not kid ourselves. They are testing the limits with this line at our expense.

    I am looking at this just as an average consumer who isn't that invested in the MOTU franchise. Your mileage may vary depending on how much you like MOTU.

  • @Andrew: you forgot to mentioned with your head buried in the sand! 😉

    Its great to have these friendly discussions in a civil manner. I think most of us can all agree to disagree. At the end of the day though, it is what it is, and as Poe said, as it is now, its either having the option MOTUC at $20 a pop or having no MOTUC.

    Personally, after 200X line failed, I never thought I'd have another opportunity to buy another MOTU figure again. Which is why I went on to get all the stactions and such. Little did anyone know that a few years later we'd have MOTUC. Then again, if it wasn't for the interest generated by the stactions, and keeping the ball in the 4H's court, MOTUC might not exist today.

  • You know what I think is funny?

    When people ask, if these are a rip-off, then why are we buying them?

    Us buying them has absolutely nothing to do with their inherent value. It has more to do with the fact that WE ARE ADDICTS.

    Plain and simple.

    Why can drug pushers charge so much for heroin?

    Same reason bro.

    Let's not kid ourselves, here… 🙂

  • I have no problem with MOTUC's prices (well I do but you know what I mean) because of the limited run and quality behind them.

    If the quality of the figures slip or they start selling 50,000 (which they could be already for all I know) then I think the prices should come down a bit.

    The shipping is the killer.

    Studies on inflation and inflation calculators tend to be a bit of a bunk science. It's easy to say "this would cost this" but it doesn't always pan out. I've seen some instances where inflation calculators are largely debunked.

  • @NG: That's why I thought this was an interesting exercise, but I won't be citing it as a scientific study or something.

    Unfortunately, no one has the time or money to do something like that–especially me.

  • It's also not as much of a ripoff when you realize that these are not just "lumps of plastic," but detailed, multi-component figures, and that the cost of tooling, say, He-Man's head is probably around $50,000. Now, with all the reuse, they are still making bank, but that doesn't mean that because they are made of plastic that they are then by default cheaper to produce.

  • Unfortunately, it seems I have yet to attract any actual industry readers (or at least, any who feel comfortable posting) to discuss the nature of the modern action figure industry and whether they think Mattel is engaging in price gouging with MOTUC.

  • I hear you. I was speaking to head of casting for Hasbro a few weeks back, and asked if I could continue to pick his brain at a later date, but he declined. Oh Well.

  • Its funny how those in the toy industry guard their numbers so well. Obviously there could be ramifications if someone from Hasbro or Mattel started blabbing stuff deemed confidential, so I can definitely see how some may hesitate to come forth. That said, even in their public front, there seems to be a lot of smoke & mirrors regarding this stuff. I'm not specifically targeting Has/Mat, but they're two of the biggest. You'd think their info was National Security or something…

    "Studies" (and I use the term loosely) like this, or Poe's "Unscientific Analysis of Average MOTUC Aftermarket Prices" are fun for speculation and to try to give us an idea about what goes on in the industry both before and after market, yet still its all speculation. If you don't like something a company is offering, the best way to voice your opinion is with your money.

  • I think the only MOTUC figure I would have felt genuinely ripped off by would have been Faker due to the fact that he was essentially a repaint with no new tooling and fewer accessories than the original figure. Setting the bar at $20 I can live with. But delivering a product BELOW that bar is tacky. He needed at the very least the axe and shield or a secret accessory.

    Of course, I got mine for free due to some admittedly semi-scrupulous on-site scalping/trading of those Red Hal Jordan figures at SDCC so I guess I can't really complain, lol.

  • This is a great issue to bring up right now.

    First off though, the numbers I'm sure don't take into account the rate of inflation in proportion to average standard of living. Minimum wage was I think $4.25 in the late 80's and in some states it's barely over $7 now, so a dollars value does not go as far, clearly.

    Production numbers are key here for low quantity specialty items (MOTU Classics). Think about Toybiz. They had a close-knit, streamlined manufacturing situation and as recent as 2005 we're producing figures with just as much paint aps, more articulation points and tooling for a bottom line retail price of just below $7. That was only 4 years ago.

    Like Toybiz, Mattel has no licensing fees because MOTU is their property but production numbers were no doubt higher for Toybiz. Sideshow's figures are double the price they were a few years ago with editions of around only 2000 or less.

    A lot of it I still believe is what is referred to as perceived value. US buyers we're used to paying import prices for overseas figures, but once those same products got US distribution (Hot Toys) the price stayed the same. As long as the margins are good in Mattel's eyes their little Matty side-project will spurn more of the same, so no doubt the margins ARE good. That's great for collectors, but you'll feel it in your pocket book unless a major retailer takes it on.

  • I don't consider Faker a rip-off because he is his own character. It wasn't like they randomly decided to make "blue He-Man" or anything. Faker is an excellent example of how they can save money in their budget by reusing moulds and even the accessories for a completely new character, and still get $20 a pop. Presumably a figure like Faker was 99.999% all profit, aside from the tampo design, nothing new was done. Presumably, any time they save money in their budget from one month, they should be able to put extra money into the cost of tooling someone like Man-E-Faces or any of the aforementioned Horde or Snakemen.

  • @Emerald: You're right, its all about the percieved value. If people think the MOTUC figures are worth $20, plus S&H, they'll buy them. Its obvious from the way they sell that a lot of people believe they are worth that. $20 is a nice round figure, its high enough for Mattel to still make good profit, but not too high for people to say "GFY". If they were priced at say $50, then I think a LOT of people would be saying that. Mattel is in the business of making money. They're getting into fans wallets by tapping into our nostalgic weaknesses. They can charge whatever they want, and as long as enough people are willing to shell out that cash, they're in like flynn. You can look at other lines, like Transformers Masterpiece line. They're charging $100+ a pop for figures like MP Prime, Screamer, etc. Yet people still buy them. I'm not trying to draw any comparison to Masterpiece and MOTUC lines in quality, etc, but they are similar in that they are both collector lines priced for collectors.

    As for another example, just look at CDs (for those of you who remember what those are) or DVDs. The cost of the physical material for the manufacturer? Most likely pennies at the most. Yet we pay $15-$20 a pop.

    I grew accustomed to paying $20-$25 a pop for the NECA Stactions, highy detailed, yet no articulation. Perhaps that is why I was more forgiving about the hike up to $20.

  • you know, i am kind of appalled that no one has mentioned the obvious… action features aren't cheap!!

    when for example, comparing battle armor he-men then and now… the spring loaded waist and spring loaded chest panel are WAY more expensive in the end than the removable chest panel we're getting w/ MOTUC BAHM. do you patchouli oil is cheap? looking back at motu, it still amazes me how many water quirting features we got, extendable limbs, power punch waists, spring loaded bashers and crushers, flocking (AND pine scent… mattle hasn't said SHIT yet about whether or not motuc moss man will smell like pine, which is easily the deciding factor for me over the flocking) that stuff wasn't cheap… yet the prevailing attitude in the above posts is that somehow motu was this cheap crap bargain basement line and motuc is the rolls royce of toys.

    clearly, that is NOT the truth. motuc's are simpler to engineer… we're not cutting any new technological teeth here so far, AND this blessed global economy makes international shipping much easier and more cost effective… ask the postal service how long it took in 1984 to get a figure sized box from japan… vs how easy (& fast?) is it now?

    by the time you factor in R&D for those action features AND international shipping, i would wager good money that those old beat-up motu's we all fell in love w/ were not some cheap little toy. do you think modern extendar will be as cool as vintage extendar? i bet not.

    now, onto two other points i'd like to make… while we're having this discussion on moss man's flocking, i think we should go ahead and have the grizzlor talk too… he can't be in the fur onesie again w/ the modern articulation right? so how are we doing grizzlor?

    and lastly, to round out izdawiz's point, just because we'll pay something for a good/service doesn't mean the markup is justified. so the term rip-off is totally accceptable… especially when the party selling the goods won't come clean on the ACTUAL cost of doing business. and i think that's especially true when here a couple weeks ago mattel released their financial earnings report for this past quarter and they reported a marked decrease in sales, BUT a substantial increase in profits. the only way to get that math to work out is to overcharge for the goods you're selling. i don't need a degree to do that math.

  • i'm not gonna read through the comments, i'm just going to say this…the price of figures is determined by the current market. this post is totally just an apologist mattel post…you have to look at what current figures cost today.

    NECA figures cost under 20 dollars. there's no reason MOTUC figures cost almost 30 after shipping and mystery tax.

    allow me to provide my own statistics:

    your basic ML figure: 10 to 15 dollars

    your basic NECA specialty store figure: 15 to 17 dollars

    your basic DCUC figure: 12 to 13 dollars

    your basic DCD figure: 15 to 18 dollars

    you'll note that when it comes to articulated figures in the 7 to 8 inch scale, there is nothing even close to the price of MOTUC. trying to give us some convoluted inflation algorithm is useless. the fact is, compared to today's action figure prices, MOTUC is still ridiculously overpriced. keep trying to apologize for mattel's price gouging.

  • MB— you really ought to consider reading the previous comments by your fellow poesers…

  • I kind of agree with Monkey Boy. When I look at some of the awesome figures NECA is coming out with (which I purchase) with their terrific paint apps, great sculpts, and frequently now, very good articulation, and realize that I am only paying $1-$2 more than I do for DCUC, it makes me wonder how NECA can do this and make a profit, or conversely, how Mattel can do what they do and still sleep at night.

  • DayRaven raises an interesting question: Will Stinkor smell like patchouli? Or will I have to go down to the flea market and pick some up to bathe him in?! 😉 I actually never remembered Moss Man smelling like pine, maybe because I got him from a second hand toy shop, or maybe because I never thought to take a whiff. Its funny how scents can instantly bring back memories. One scent I loved was from Saurod, the figure who shot sparks from his mouth. I'm not sure how the feature worked, but I presume it was something similar to a lighter or something.

    I also agree, with DR, I think Monkey Boy should read comments before posting, or at least not blatantly dismiss them. Yeah, everyone's got an opinion, and there are some lengthy comments in here, some from yours truly. Maybe I'm a bit too touchy here, but that said, we're in the midst of a discussion and to butt in and completely dismiss all of the other readers' opinions is a bit inconsiderate.

    Secondly, while Poe gave his own opinions, I think Mephisto's unscientific look at inflation was pretty fair and balanced. This is all a crap shoot. Maybe we're all just over zealous fans with too much time on our hands. It’s just a little fun speculative banter. It would be great if Mattel was a little more transparent with their business numbers. I'm no business/law expert, but like any other business I don't think its fair to expect them to reveal everything. I'm surprised some overly "enthusiastic" fan hasn't paid off a Deep Throat within Mattel to get info. Even if we did know how many MOTUC figures are produced, whether its 5,000 – 10,000 – 20,000 or 100,000, it certainly won’t change the fact that come the 15th or so every month, these figures fly off the proverbial shelves. Whether its fans ordering multiples (one to display, one for the desk, one to display MOC, one for their great great grandkid’s college education, etc) or if it’s the mean and nasty “scalpers” plucking figures from innocent fans like taking candy from a baby. I think Poe debunked some of that theory, is it a factor, I’m sure, but I honestly don’t believe it’s can be the driving factor behind the fast sell outs. Then again, with “Scalp-Or” on the loose, no MOTU fan is safe…

  • trust me PT, out of the box, moss man was piney fresh. though, his pine smell was nowhere near as potent as stinkor's reek… i have two stinkor my kids now play w/ and they BOTH still smell… and those figs are what now, drinking age? stinkor can't legally "date" miley cyrus, that's all i know. 😉

  • My Stinkor still has a faint odour.

    I can't legally "date" Miley Cyrus, thats all I know… 😉

  • said it before, say it again; in australia, we get slugged 17.99 for a gi joe.

    remember that. if I want a covergirl, I have to part with a $20 note.

  • i didn't mean to dismiss anyone's comments. and actually, i DID read through a good lot of them. i was mostly just not able to read every single word of every single comment. however, i did peruse the previous comments, and did not dismiss them off hand, and i apologize if it seemed that way.

    but really, after further examining the replies, i stick by my original statement. i'm sorry, but a lot of you seem to be reaching and grasping at any straws not to feel ripped off. there is a lot of apologizing for mattel's tactics and saying "oh it makes sense because THIS and THIS and THIS" when in reality there really isn't another line in the same scale that costs the exorbitant prices MOTUC does. in reality MOTUC is only competing with itself, until mattel releases other matty-only lines that will no doubt be comparable in their outlandish prices.

    i cited many specific examples of toys that are in a similar scale with similar effort put into them (maybe some not as articulated but with nicer sculpts or accessories, etc.) and nothing comes close to what mattel is charging for MOTUC.

    the bottom line is if you buy them, they're worth it to you. just say "well i like them and i'll pay the current price" and be done with it. don't justify it as a fair price based on the current market because it's not. people are talking about the quality of the toys, but not so long ago there were numerous complaints about shoddy QC in the MOTUC line, with mis-matched parts and breaking joints…when did everything start coming up roses?

    also, this is a line that often utilizes very little unique tooling per individual figure. that may be to enhance the "vintage" nostalgia feel of the original shared bodies in the old MOTU line, but it's also got to be saving mattel quite a bit of money.

    you could also say "oh, well they're limited" and i would agree to a point, but in that case i think this whole inflation argument goes out the window. if mattel is jacking up the price because they're limited, then just suck it up and say "well if they're limiting the numbers it's going to cost more per unit" and have that be your defense. even though mattel sets the numbers, and the demand for the figures seems to be more than the small amount mattel is making per figure, seeing as how they all sell out. and, to be honest, it's not like mattel is producing 200 of each figure. while they are "limited" there are still several thousand being produced of each figure.

    i'm not saying people are foolish for buying MOTUC, for some people it's a dream come true and they'd pay anything. i'm just saying to keep seeing new and convoluted arguments as to why the exorbitant price makes sense is kinda grating at times. stop trying to say "oh, it's so simple, by adjusting for inflation, clearly MOTUC is not a rip off at all!" the current action figure market seems to nullify that argument immediately since i can't really think of any comparable toy line that is comparable in price with MOTUC.

    and i'm not trying to attack poe here, as he said he's just posting it as passed along food for thought "information" and he's not saying it's scientific proof or anything…but you really can't look at the MOTUC line in a vacuum, and only compare it to the MOTUC line. and it seems like a lot of people try to do that.

  • I think Mattel rips everyone off, Lets take a look at when DCUC wave 1 hit, it was $9.99 per figure at a retail store, a couple of months later They took out their Online exclusive and they sold it for 25 dollars for 2, (that's 12.50 a figure) people paid for that. Some time went by and the announced the figures would be 13.99 each/online exclusives are there to test prices; if people bite and they sell out,then they increase the price, if they don't then they get greedy and cancel the line and move on to another line. Inflation is bullshit-40% increase in a little under two years, give me a break. (By the way, remember some time back when the Mattel warehouse had a sale and had the DCUC wave at a clearance price of 3.99, its costs 4 bucks to produce the a figure, why sell it for 14.)

  • @George: just because they were clearance t o3.99 doesn't mean that is what they cost to make. they could cost 5.99 to make but decided that they can afford to lose 2 bucks and sell them for less or lose 6 bucks and not sell them at all.

  • and now they're charging 20 for the movie masters 6 inchers… and motuc (by comparison ONLY) looks like a bargain… why? because the bucks were already made for the mass market incarnation and they're much smaller than the motucs.

  • This kind of argument kinda relates to a discussion I had with some people a while back. Someone was trying to argue that the MOTUC and DCUC lines cost too much comparing them to the fact that Mattel can make a 10" Barbie with cloth outfit for $10 but has to charge so much for DCUC and MOTUC figures. My response was "When the day comes where little girls are buying nothing but MOTUC and DCUC we can complain about the prices." This is a collectors' line and I personally find the prices to be very fair and accurate for a 1-2 figure a month set up. For those that constantly bring up Toybiz and Marvel Legends I must honestly say a great majority of those figures are nothing spectacular. I do have many of them but there is a point where too much articulation takes away a lot from the figure on top of the fact that their articulation was never consistent. With MOTUC and DCUC their articulation is constant across the entire lines. I collect both MOTUC and DCUC and have yet to be disappointed with any of the figures. My only complaints were with the way MC.com sometimes ran but they have be constantly working on everything and are taking it all in a great direction by offering better MOTUC figures and even starting to carry the DCUC waves on the website.

  • @monkey boy: Hey… I'll admit, when the comments get up around 50 or so, and you're new to the thread its hard (and time consuming) to read everyone's replies. I hope I didn't come off being too righteous or anything there. So no harm no foul.

    I'll be honest. I do not believe these are $20 figures, but I do not feel ripped off. That said, these should be $15 at most.

    With the revelation of the MM line for $20 a pop, I feel those are a rip-off, but I still may seek out a couple figures to "complete" my TDK characters.

    I still don't think I'm an apologist (and I'm not trying to internalize or make this personal either, I'm just using myself as an example), I'm just trying to understand why Mattel is doing what they're doing.

    I know the line is not all roses & cherries. My Man-At-Arms' right arm is messed up. It won't turn all the way at the shoulder, and the bicep is a bit loose, and I know I'm not the only one. My Hordak's left foot is loose. My Beastman's leg is very loose as well, it takes great effort to get him to stand.

    By utilizing little tooling per figure, it certainly does enhance the nostalgia feeling. It also makes them appear to be more uniform and makes them look like they belong. The savings they reap on easy re-paints and re-uses of molds they can hopefully apply to giving us unique characters that they will not be able to get much use out of. I don't know if that’s rationalizing it or not. I actually prefer the look as it does lend to the nostalgic value. In other posts we've been speculating abut what other characters we may be getting based on what other parts we already have or we know are getting. For instance, with Trap Jaw's legs, that opens the door up for Man-E-Faces and Roboto.

    I guess now to get personal; I don't feel the need to justify these purchases to myself. I like them and I'd like to continue to support the line for as long as I can and as long as they make it. I just enjoy taking part in conversation regarding something I enjoy.