Odds ‘n Ends > Mattycollector sale day, Grayskull thieves, 4H news, Star Wars 3.75″

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  • It’s another Mattycollector release day. Today’s sale includes DC Universe Classics Ra’s Al Ghul, John Constantine, and Elasti-Girl; Watchmen’s Ozymandias; MOTUC Geldor and stackable stands and a number of re-releases.
  • Castle Grayskull ships soon, but Pixel Dan won’t have an early review due to assholes who nicked bits off the display piece at NYCC.
  • In Four Horsemen news, rough cuts of the Raven arrived at 4H HQ, and they’ve also been running a feature detailing the creation of my personal favorite Power Lord, Sydot the scientist. I must say, the various exclusives they’ve done to this point are nice, but I think the Power Lords need to be fully-painted to really be appreciated. I’m hoping we get those, but I’m wondering whether funding is becoming an issue for this line. If so, why not hold another Kickstarter to make themselves more financially comfortable? I doubt they would need as high a budget target they did for the Raven. That said, I must admit I’ve noticed very few, if any Kickstarter projects for Glyos-related toys.
  • In the course of getting back into Star Wars via Star Wars Black, I’ve actually gone back and picked up a few of the 3.75″ figures – just my favorites. What’s been interesting about it is that some of the most definitive versions of these characters are nearly a decade old. For example, I picked up the Vintage Original Trilogy Collection Han Solo from 2004; it’s a great figure with great articulation and the best head sculpt I’ve ever seen in this scale. I also got the VOTC Chewbacca¬†and Boba Fett. Each of these figures has been reissued at least once or twice and they’re not that hard to come by. I also picked up the Holiday Special repaint of Fett, because fun. The only other figure I picked up was the Vintage Collection (not “Vintage Original Trilogy Collection”) ANH Darth Vader. This was the only one I had to think about; the VOTC Vader had the better ESB design and a ball-jointed neck but cut rather than hinged elbows, and every other decent Vader Hasbro has made has cloth on the front of his outfit. The VC ANH Vader also has ball-jointed hips, which seemed novel, so I went with that. It bums me out he doesn’t have a ball-jointed neck, though. Not that Vader was constantly cocking his head in curiosity like Data, but I’d like him to be able to look up and down somewhat to add some character to his poses.
  • Another thing about Star Wars 3.75″ – the line seems to be on a sudden downhill trajectory, at least for collectors who want well-articulated, highly-detailed figures. The quality on the Star Wars Black 3.75″ appears to be pretty bad across the board, and the Saga Legends figures have only five points of articulation. It’s odd how a Star Wars figure made in 2004 is far superior to most of what’s being produced now. (Though the Vintage Collection just ended and seems to have retained that level of quality – again, this downturn seems to be recent.)

Comments now closed (14)

  • The first series of 3 3/4 Star Wars Black figures mostly were holdovers from a Droid Factory wave that didn't get released or rereleases of stuff (like the Biker Scout). The newer stuff is starting to trickle out now and looks a lot better. It seems to sell fairly well, too, from what I've seen. More EU stuff coming out too, which is always good.

  • 2004 money was different. I think the decline in action figure sales, as well as the decrease in POA as prices rise/hold steady, is all about the financial pain of making action figures today vs 10, 20, or 30 years ago.

    For a real eye opener just look at 1978 sales numbers for Kenner's Star Wars figures. 40 million action figures in one year. Forty. Million.

    I feel safe saying: That will never happen again.

    • Oh sure – same goes for comics. In the mid-1940s, Captain Marvel was selling over a million copies per month. Nowadays the most successful comics manage maybe a third of that (although I'd be curious to know how many copies of the first Walking Dead trade sell, in both print and digital, per month – including Amazon sales figures, which I’m not sure are included in the usual comic tracking lists).

      • A great read on the birth of the comic industry is "Men of Tomorrow" by Gerard Jones. Really fun and educational!

        But on declining sales (to bring another post into play): I blame the "Long Tail" model and the lowering of the bar to market. When I was a kid (hey, get off my lawn!) everything cost more to make so less was made. Fewer TV shows. Fewer comics. Fewer toys. Fewer options so a lot of us collected around the same things.

        But, today, it's easy to make stuff. And so there's more. The TDI article's discussion of "action figure movies" kinda backs what I'm trying to say. (Say poorly. I blame being tired on my stupidity today.)

        • Yeah, it's so easy to make stuff now! Hmph! That darn Matt Doughty, robbing Hasbro and Mattel of collectors' hard-earned dollars with his indie toy lines… ;)

          Theoretically, wouldn't the long tail suggest that the total sales of / money spent on action figures would be the same, just spread out over many different toylines? (I suppose you could argue that's exactly what's happening with Skylanders.)

        • "Theoretically, wouldn't the long tail suggest that the total sales of / money spent on action figures would be the same, just spread out over many different toylines?"

          I think that may be happening. How many dollars are spent outside of the standard channels? Not only the designer/collector market — I bet 3A, Onell, and the entire adult 12-inch market isn't tracked by big box retailers and TDI — but also collector money spent on eBay and such.

        • Actually, your eBay comment reminds me of something the owner of a used toy store mentioned to me. A lot of his "used" toys are actually just old MOC toys. He's got racks and racks of MOC action figures, and every one is sold for $10 (maybe $7-$8 for 3.75" figures) and he'll make a deal when someone buys in bulk. He told me he gets a lot of parents buying, for example, late 1990s Star Wars figures, because why buy a new SW figure of Chewbacca for $12 at Target, when they could get one for $8 at his store – or even better, get Chewie, Han and Luke for $20?

          What occurred to me was that perhaps part of this is a question of critical mass. In 1978, there had never been a Luke Skywalker action figure before. Today, there are millions of them in existence. And if you disregard specific characters, and just think "action figures," then there are billions of pre-existing toys out there, in thrift shops and on eBay and being handed down from siblings and uncles and parents. Hell, as I said, when I went to buy a 3.75" Han Solo figure, I bought one from ten years ago, not one in stores now.

          New videogames offer new experiences and the experience of playing with them can't really be replicated by a game from thirty years ago. The same isn't really true for a Luke Skywalker figure. I love super-detailed sculpts and extra articulation – and I always have, even as a kid – but I'm under no illusions as to the fact that most kids would be as happy with a vintage Luke and an X-Wing fighter as they would be with a modern set.

          And that's to say nothing of the vintage collector market, of course. Today's older collectors are probably spending as much if not more on eBay on the toys of their youth rather than new items (though it's an open question as to whether that market even existed in the 1970s and 1980s, so it's arguably not a loss for the industry).

        • What you say about vintage collectors is very, very true. A MIB complete Matchbox Voltron, in decent shape, for example, goes for the same price as three cases of Avengers/Marvel Universe figures.

          You can see the glut of products reflected in the price of 90's nostalgia; not many of those lines go for anything close to their 80's or 70's counterparts. Whether this is because there was so much more produced, the 90's collector's movement made people save more MISB, or just too early to gauge interest, I don't know.

  • If the Evolutions ESB Boba Fett had the same head as the OTC version, he'd be near perfect (OTC ROTJ Fett is a tad on the short side).

  • All this Star Wars talk, and on a Mattycollector sales day, no less! Is there no one here who wants to lose his shiznit that he can’t buy Seahawk?

    Nobody?

    Thank God.

    But I will note that perhaps the last Mattycollector item I will ever buy shipped the other day (Ozymandias). No more RSOD, WSOD, DOS, cherry picking, Digital River, Newgistics; how many words are leaving my vocabulary this month? How will I cope?

    • Are you planning to collect all the Power Lords stuff? BTW, if you contact the Horsemen they might be able to replace that duplicate part you have on your Soldier (if I'm recalling that correctly).

      I might have been more interested in Sea Hawk if he wasn't so tubby-looking.

  • The VC Darth Vader is probably one of the best figures Hasbro has done in years. All it needs is a ball neck and an unlight lightsaber to hang from its belt and it would be perfect!