Jul 22, 2009

Economic Figures (or Why Does Luke Cost So Much?)

Can do the Kessel Run in less than twelve dollars.

No, I am not talking about the gloomy economic figures that are the provence of MSNBC, CNN Money, and their ilk. However, I am talking about the recent increases in the upfront retail pricing on figures. With the increases in oil prices last summer, it was only expected that action figure prices would similarly rise due to the petroleum costs. However, while oil prices have retreated, figure prices have not, and in most cases, have continued a steady rise. (and George Lucas is greedy does not count as a reason....at least not for this post).

Hasbro has been the worst offender with the basic 3 3/4" Star Wars, Marvel Hero, and GI Joe figures now fetching nearly $8 at retail and $12 for online stores apiece and the larger Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Hulk lines at $11 each retail. Don't even get me started on the $150 Millenium Falcon (what were they thinking? Notice how fast the price of that one dropped). The idea of the $15 midsize figure is no longer so far fetched. These high initial prices squelch collectibility for most of the figure lines since the average secondary market dealer is going to have to price the figures at $15 to $20 each in order to realize any profits. And for new figures - with very rare exceptions such as the recent Darth Revan and Wal-Mart exclusives DC Superheroes and Marvel Legends figures - that is just more than the market can bear.

Additionally, the quality of most of the Hasbro lines of the last year has been absolute drek. While there have been some bright spots in some of the recent Star Wars and Iron Man lines and GI Joe has been steady, the Marvel Legends, Wolverine, Hulk, Spider-man, and vast majority of Star Wars have been disappointing at best. The bendie Princess Leia figure in the Shadows of the Empire two pack, the not so intimidating Juggernaut in the recent Spider-Man classics, the entire undersized Wolverine and Marvel heroes line (what do people see in that?) - none of these figures cry out to be bought at retail much less secondary market levels. The situation appears that Hasbro is banking on the collectors and impulse buyers to bring in higher margin on initial purchases in order to offset smaller margins or losses when having to clear out the remaining inventory of peg warmers (see Hasbro's recent troop builder deals on its website).

However, this is not a bash on Hasbro post (Mighty Muggs are pretty cool). Jakks Pacific, Playmates (oh, those Terminator figures were muy malo), and McFarlane Toys figures are flirting with the $10 each level. Only Mattel seems to have been reigning in their price increases with the quality DC Superheroes and JLU lines. Less competition from a decreasing number of retail outlets also plays a part in rising prices. Kay-Bee Toy Stores - gone. Toys R Us - significant store closings. K-Mart - significant store closings and visibly lower stock levels. Suncoast - significant store closings. With less places to sell an equal or smaller amount of supply, the per unit costs increase. Even eBay, which used to be a large source of new figures at close to retail pricing, has dried up as a steady source of new product (but that is more due to eBay's own idiotic policies than anything else).

So...what is the average collector or parent to do? Unfortunately, the final solution is to be more selective in purchases, purchase in advance if possible from your local collectible store, or wait out for clearances or discounters like TJ Maxx, Ross, Big Lots, and Marshalls. Double unfortunately, the last two are really becoming tougher due to the declining amounts of clearance at the first line retailers (Wal-mart and Target) from leaner stocking levels.

Another possibility is via the free shipping available to Amazon Prime members or free super-saver shipping on some purchases at Amazon. New figures there tend to run near retail levels, and if you are an Amazon Prime member, shipping is free. If eBay can get their free shipping initiatives to take better hold, it will become another viable option. If in your area, toys shows are also a great place for picking up deals, especially when there are brick and mortar retailers present dumping off excess stock.

Ultimately, it is going to come down to voting with your dollars. The days of the $7.83 Marvel Legends Juggernaut (what an incredible figure!) and the high quality and low posabilty McFarlanes are gone. Secondary market valuation is going to be increasingly fixated on demand, scarity, and reissues. With the "eBay effect" that depressed collectible prices over the past three to five years becoming less and less, secondary market pricing on truly in demand, low production niche figures, and/or out of production items will start rising (a trend already noticable on a number of figure sites). So if you are looking for a common figure to fill a hole in your collection, you can probably wait it out and pick it up cheaper later on. As long as they are not later reproduced, the rarer items are going to level out and then continue a slow increase. Price tracking on eBay and Amazon, figure trading, and show shopping are the way to go with those. Once the toy makers get the message that lower quality, constant repaints, repacks, and reissues are NOT selling and are NOT bringing in new customers, then we may see a reduction in prices and better variety. Until then, make mine Marvel Legends (the Toy Biz ones)!

Gonna need more than this to buy my figure, buddy!
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Jul 14, 2009

FLASH....Ahhhhh.....Saviour of the Universe!

G4 was showing Flash Gordon last week, and from the opening credits of the classic comic panels, I was swept along a wave of childhood nostalgia and very guilty pleasure. So, while I was watching the lovely smoke special effects, the really bad acting, and the Floating Christmas Ornament of Doom, I was thinking that with the recent slew of reboots, "reimaginings", and "re do the movie to make some bucks" going on, this is a movie that is begging for do over. We are not going to mention that craptacular Sci-FI series from a year or so ago.

And here are the reasons why -

  • "Tentpole Movie" -Given the amount of original source material from the comics, a good studio could easily draw at least three movies bouncing around the different worlds of Mongo
  • Special Effects - like "Lord of the Rings" and "Spider-Man", the technology to fully visualize the movie was not available until the last half decade. All of the main elements - rocket ships, alien backdrops, different races, etc. - are all easily attainable. We can have real flying Hawkmen with feathery wings instead of the masses of extras worrying about falling off their strings.
  • Where Have You Gone Indiana Jones? - if the movie is not done in for camp, it could go after the same spirit of its original Saturday morning serials. The subject matter would be perfect for the high adventure approach as long as the director and producers could stay away from the "hip" references, sly jokes, and play it straight. Just remember, what would Indy do. Not what would Will Ferrel do.
  • Queen Soundtrack - keep the opening music and the character themes or suffer the wraith of Ming.
  • Star Power - Make it a big summer movie and get the appropriate actors to do it. Heck, tap into the cult love this movie has to bring in a quality director and screenwriter. Casting could be modernized, as long as the "90210" syndrome is avoided. So, let's kick around some ideas:
    • Dale Arden - Megan Fox (I know, way too easy) OR one of the Jessicas - Biel or Alba

      Ming the Merciless - Jet Li (easy choice). He can do the physical work and just has to look evil. A bit short though. A more atypical choice? Vin Diesel. He has the imposing stature, menacing look, commanding voice, and can turn on the devil's charm while running you through with a sword.

      Flash Gordon - Jason Statham. Athletic and versatile, just give The Transporter a ray gun and let the festivities begin! You say you want someone different? A "reimagination" of the classic hero? How about Dwayne "The Rock " Johnson? Having proven his mettle as a leading man and real actor, Johnson's charisma combined with his physical presence would make Flash "The Universe's Champion". "The Rock" Vs. Riddick - 'nuff said!

      So, we conclude this evening's geek out session. Farewell from the New World.

      Jul 10, 2009

      Greetings and Salutations!

      Thank you for visiting our Blog!

      Now that you are here, let's take a moment to introduce ourselves. We are New World Mike and New World Angi, and we run New World Toys and Collectibles - a nice little action figure, comic, toys, and more online retail establishment. We are also dealers and attendees at shows around the NC, VA, and TN areas.

      'That's nice," I can hear you thinking, but so what? Well, if you happen to be into or are looking for pop culture item, we invite you to check out Amazon Storefront where we are featured merchants in the Toys and Games category.

      Moreover, we will be announcing sales, upcoming shows, new acquisitions, and other business related items on here, so we hope you follow us as our business grows into a globe spanning plastic empire! "(New World Angi note - he is typing this, not me)."

      In addition to blurbs and sales pitch, we will also be offering different commentary on shows, conventions, toys, comics, hot and not, pop collectible trends, and whatever else tickles the fancy (hence the Random Musings part).

      So, Welcome to Our World - we invite you to be a frequent visitor. No passport necessary.