Living and Dying in Wal-Mart (Because eBay isn’t fast enough)

Living and Dying in Wal-Mart  (Because eBay isn’t fast enough)

Friday, August 3rd, 2007 5:29pm CDT

Categories: Site News, Toy News, Site Articles
Posted by: Hotrod   Views: 59,665

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It has been awhile since our last site article. Our own Counterpunch has posted an insightful article in the toys forum that we thought everyone would enjoy. With out further delay here is Counterpunch's article:


NOTE:
This is an article I wrote, it is themed as a conversation or argument even. Hopefully it sparks some discussion and helps some of the new guys out as they get into the hobby. For those interested, this kind of article may become a regular thing.


Punch: This one’s about the market folks or more specifically the current market for Transformers collecting. We’re going to look at a few trends, traps, and realities of what may be the most stable and profitable (read: Expensive) toy collecting fandom.

Counterpunch: Any discussion of this issue would be completely off base if we did not first separate the market into two distinct and equally treacherous branches: G1 and everything else.

Punch: Agreed. However, in saying ‘everything else’ we aren’t meaning to degrade or somehow put off the non-G1 toys. It’s simply that the realities of the G1 market merit their own side discussion.

Counterpunch: There are basics to all manner of Transformers collecting that we are going to first and foremost agree on. There are three cardinal rules where if we and more importantly you can’t accept, you should just quit reading right now.

The Rules:
1. Pay to play. Don’t kid yourself, ever. Pound for pound, collecting Transformers is about banking money and understanding that you are going to pay early, often, and in considerable sums.

2. Prices do not ‘go down’. Unlike StarWars or other collectable where technology consistently improves and the toys are actually better than they were 20+ years ago; Transformers only becomes different. Sure, articulation improves, but essentially, a car is still going to unfold into a robot. Even the oldest Transformers toys are no where near as time dated as the 1990’s Star Wars stuff. So, Transformers fans never have to ‘upgrade’ a character. Where as a 1990’s Luke Skywalker is a retarded hunk of plastic compared with an SA version.

Punch: and third:

3. Quantities are limited. As for some of the mass-produced figures like Classics Starscream or Energon Tidalwave…where are they? Shouldn’t these be on the shelf when we want them? Why am I literally battling Wal-Mart to find Cybertron Wingsaber? The popularity of Transformer combined with you, me, kids, and sweaty fan-boi #7 really ensures that toys do not linger on the shelves. (Though Energon Ironhide is a note worthy exception. ‘F’ that toy, right?)

Counterpunch: So we’re in agreement then?

Punch: Most certainly. I think we should dive right into the vintage market and address this issue up front. This of course means tackling the big issue, the elephant in the room per se.

Counterpunch: The movie?

Punch: The movie and its relevance to the vintage market is very, very important. What we’re seeing is not even a gradual assault on the formerly stable vintage market. We’re seeing a bump in prices which approaches 30% in most areas. The movie has awakened hordes of former fans who now want a piece of the action. They are older (about 25-30), have jobs, and are willing to drop some cash to reclaim their childhood.

Counterpunch: I agree with you that the movie is the driving factor here. I am not entirely sure it is purely Gen-Xers that are fueling this though. Sellers are doing their part as well. Looking through eBay of late reveals that many vintage figures are simply placed online with considerably higher BuyItNow prices than they were drawing even a year ago. The marketplace is taking advantage of the movie fervor by upping the cost of entry into the collecting game.

Punch: I will concede that even the dealer room of BotCon this year was very difficult to find a deal of any kind in.

Counterpunch: And I can concede that there really are more people out there to snatch up any deals that do lend themselves to the market at any given time.

Punch: At any rate, the vintage market is a tough sea to navigate properly. Remember when the reissues were announced and everyone thought that the values of those reissued toys would crash?

Counterpunch: Indeed and it never played out that way at all.

Punch: Exactly, this all goes to support my demand side for this discussion. The demand from the growing fan-base is enough to support even several rounds of reissues.

Counterpunch: Touché good sir. You are indeed a scholar and a gentleman. All things considered, the vintage market remains a solid investment. It follows the 3 rules perfectly. Prices are prohibitive, even in the best situation you aren’t going to find ‘deals’ which means the market is steady and people recognize the worth of the toys they have.

Punch: Right, and to further this, Prices do not go down. We already mentioned the reissue, issue. The market is varied enough (incorporating both ‘true’ vintage, read: originals, and character vintage, where the figure, not the date, is important).

Counterpunch: And lastly, quantities are limited and more limited every year. G1 figures break and degrade into uselessness more so every year. If you don’t believe this, go out and try to hunt down a good condition Vroom. If that proves too difficult, go with Jetfire. Approaching 25 years in age for most of these toys means they are becoming real antiques.

Punch: So we move on now to the Post-G1 era. This will encompass everything from G2 through Classics (Beast Wars/Machines, RiD, Armada, Energon, Cybertron, you name it)

Counterpunch: If you had asked me about the value of these toys a year ago, two years ago, I would have pointed to the wasteland known as eBay as proof that these toys just do not have or hold value.

Punch: Now in retrospect, that would make you an ass.

Counterpunch: Indeed it would.

Punch: Something has happened to this side of the market and no one can really point to a time or event that was the catalyst. Even the movie can’t really claim credit for this one.

Counterpunch: I first notices the trend at Christmas a year or so ago when several people were commenting that they were having trouble finding Cybertron Leobreaker on eBay for a reasonable price. My disbelief was considerable especially since the toy had been so absurdly plentiful not long before.

Punch: Before we continue, be assured that there is an argument about to develop in this discussion, we’re not all sunshine and lollipops on this issue at all.

Counterpunch: Right, but we have to agree that there are many, many figures that have been released over the past few years which are now seeing close to 100% increases in their value on the secondary market. Noteworthy mentions include the aforementioned Leobreaker- $50, Brave Maximus $250-$350, Classics Starscream- $25, Armada Starscream $40+?, Energon Omega Sentinel- $65-100, BW Rattrap (75$ F’ing dollars for a basic?!?), Alternator Camshaft, Swerve, Decepticharge, Mirage…- More $$ than they should be…. and so forth.

Punch: That we do. I’ve seen Universe Tankor and Obsidian sell for upwards of $35-40 on eBay. Those are horrible toys people and you should all be ashamed of yourselves.

Counterpunch: So, we’re left with a choice; to pay now, or to pay later. Many collectors have taken up the mantra: If I find it, I buy it. I subscribe whole-heartedly to this concept. It’s much better to pay retail on sight than it is to suck it up and pay (grudgingly) 2-3x the MSRP on eBay.

Punch: On the other and potentially more intelligent hand, I can not remember a line in recent history that has NOT gone to clearance at sometime or another. Maybe there are 3-5 figures in a given line that will perform very well on eBay and the secondary market. That leaves 30-40 figures that will not increase instantly. The real incentive and smart, practical move for any collector (or completionist) is to wait out these deals. What you will save over time, should be considerably more than the premium you may or may not pay on those hard to find figures.

Counterpunch: As compelling an argument as that is, it ignores our firmly established Rule #1: Pay to Play. For that matter, it basically ignores Rule #2 as well. If prices will not go down, they can really only go up.

Punch: You should realize that those rules apply to the long-term for collecting. It’s taken Energon up until now to see those realized values for the toys. In the short term, playing the retail market to its fullest can help keep the frugal collector afloat. Keeping with Energon, there were a lot of people who were able to acquire the majority of the line after the Christmas season it ended and all on clearance prices.

Counterpunch: That’s a great single instance you pointed out there. It did not happen in Armada, Cybertron, or Classics. For that matter, good luck finding Titaniums or Alternators from the first wave or two 3-4 months after release (which people never did). Mass market lines have the potential to provide excellent clearance prices under the right circumstances, all I am cautioning people on, is that in no way should you make a strategy of that when looking to acquire a line or even a specifically popular figure, otherwise, you end up paying $40 for Energon Tidalwave like an ass (of which the author of this article is guilty, but would like to redeem himself by saying that he bought Alternator Swerve on sight just because he’d ‘probably never see it again’)

Punch: Fair enough, since you were able to concede the G1 analysis to me, I can let this one go to you. Despite all the ranting and venomous assaults on the quality and design of the new age of Transformers toys, they have been undeniably popular. While I can’t understand exactly just who out there is buying these things, they are leaving the shelves.

In Conclusion:

We either pound the pavement, in search of these toys as they hit, or we fume on eBay in vain attempts to not fund ‘scalpers’ as we try to get the best deal on the latest figure. The ‘wave’ release system has gone a long way to almost demanding our presence in stores to hunt down the latest figures. Recent trends have shown that the cost of not being up to date on what is available and when will literally cost us in the long run. On the other hand, there is a whole lot of satisfaction in buying a $20 figure, only to see it approaching 40-60 dollars on eBay in a year or so.

The vintage G1 market is and has always been a bed rock of collecting. In almost no instance will your investment in these toys, over time, see you at a loss. It’s a hard market to deal in, because condition, completeness, and availability are all demons that will haunt you as you collect. Prices are rising for these toys for a variety of reasons and kind of like the housing boom, these reasons will most certainly cause a permanent increase in value no matter how much we’d still like to find affordable G1 Wheeljacks at $60 (Try the $100-120 range for a nice C9 version…)

Good luck to you in your hunting endeavors. Just know that whatever figure you are looking for in Wal-Mart, I’m there snatching up before you at the butt-crack of dawn and when you get sniped for that G1 figure you really wanted on eBay, well, check back with Rule #1.

We’re out.

Credit(s): Counterpunch


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Re: Living and Dying in Wal-Mart (Because eBay isn’t fast enough) (262039)
Posted by Hotrod on August 3rd, 2007 @ 5:34pm CDT
This was so good and informative, I posted it in the news.
Re: Living and Dying in Wal-Mart (Because eBay isn’t fast enough) (262051)
Posted by Psychout on August 3rd, 2007 @ 5:42pm CDT
A very good article, spot on too.

Nice work CP. Hope to see more soon...
Re: Living and Dying in Wal-Mart (Because eBay isn’t fast enough) (262052)
Posted by Tigertrack on August 3rd, 2007 @ 5:42pm CDT
Hotrod wrote:This was so good and informative, I posted it in the news.


Nice, I was happily surprised to see that that was green-lighted.

Good job CP/P!
Re: Living and Dying in Wal-Mart (Because eBay isn’t fast enough) (262074)
Posted by Hoistimus on August 3rd, 2007 @ 5:52pm CDT
Hense why I'm waiting until the movie hype dies down and I can afford to buy TFs on eBay again.. until then..
Re: Living and Dying in Wal-Mart (Because eBay isn’t fast enough) (262084)
Posted by Counterpunch on August 3rd, 2007 @ 5:59pm CDT
Hotrod wrote:This was so good and informative, I posted it in the news.


Holy Crap! Something other than obscenities got me on the front page of the news! :grin:

Thanks boss!

I hope to do more articles like this if people can stand to read it.
Re: Living and Dying in Wal-Mart (Because eBay isn’t fast enough) (262088)
Posted by Hotrod on August 3rd, 2007 @ 6:02pm CDT
Counterpunch wrote:
Hotrod wrote:This was so good and informative, I posted it in the news.


Holy Crap! Something other than obscenities got me on the front page of the news! :grin:

Thanks boss!

I hope to do more articles like this if people can stand to read it.


Very cool :grin:
Re: Living and Dying in Wal-Mart (Because eBay isn’t fast enough) (262109)
Posted by soundwave13c on August 3rd, 2007 @ 6:17pm CDT
greatest artical ive read so far. very intertaning cp
Re: Living and Dying in Wal-Mart (Because eBay isn’t fast enough) (262141)
Posted by Pierrimus on August 3rd, 2007 @ 6:45pm CDT
What irks me the most is the fact that Wal Mart doesn't seem to think our store is important enough. I have yet to see any of the 2nd or 3rd wave Alternators and the eBay prices/competition for these figures is off the scale!

Back when Armada was around I thought, oh I'll wait for Starscream to go to clearance, bad move. Ended up spending about $40 just to get a Japanese version of him.

Did not get and am still hoping at some point to pick up an Energon Swoop/Grimlock pack. They never were at my Wal Mart/Kmart and I kept looking for them at Target during that time...nada.

I was able to pick up the Classics Ultra Magnus vs. Skywarp package off eBay after checking 4 different Sacramento, CA (this is the state capitol) area Targets for almost twice a week when the toy was supposed to be in stores. Yes, I was perhaps lucky to have only paid $10 more than the retail price.

The market's fickle. I definitely agree on the whole pay now or pay later mantra. The only exception is that sometimes you want to wait to see if the repaints will be more to your liking. I did this with several of the Cybertron toys. I preferred Galvatron over Megatron, liked Skyshadow over Jetfire, this time I decided more Decepticon character repaints were better than some of the original Autobot toys.

Of course, I then broke that rule entirely with the Movie toys. I probably bought every single one as soon as I saw them, especially if they were on sale. Now I wish I'd waited for the repaints. Those G1 styled Ratchet, Jazz and Starscream toys are much more interesting. And I'm out of free cash to play with...

Great article and topic. 8) Thanks.
Re: Living and Dying in Wal-Mart (Because eBay isn’t fast enough) (262207)
Posted by Prowl76 on August 3rd, 2007 @ 7:33pm CDT
Very good and very agreeable. i buy from ebay as well as stores and have noticed these price jumps but never thought about it much other than that the movie was coming/out.
Re: Living and Dying in Wal-Mart (Because eBay isn’t fast enough) (262226)
Posted by Collector Maximus on August 3rd, 2007 @ 7:43pm CDT
Counterpunch wrote:
Xgamer wrote:"why would I live and die in WM?"


It's a reference to the absurd amount of time we spend in and the crazy hours at which time we visit Wal Mart.

I mean, going into WalMart at 1 am because you know that's when they take break and the pallets are otherwise unguarded...

that's not right. :grin:


Good read. A lot of truth in there. I would like to point out that deals, or at least lower prices, CAN be had if you research sources and are VERY persistent. Or at least this had been the case before the movie came out. I do expect there to be a period when prices start decreasing as interest and popularity subside between or after the release of subsequent movies.

on another note...

At Wal Mart They start bringing the pallets out at 10:00 pm, and around here they go on break at 12 am, thus leaving the pallets ungaurded.
Yes,
I've known that for years and I lhad a good laugh when read it in your post.:P
Re: Living and Dying in Wal-Mart (Because eBay isn’t fast enough) (262231)
Posted by Relic Dinobot on August 3rd, 2007 @ 7:45pm CDT
Very nice article and a good read at that. And so true from start to finish, too. And it's people like fan-boy#7 that've made me start to collect less and less TFs, up to the point of a few figures per line.

Well, 'cept for Classics. Just need to find a good-priced Devastator somewhere on eBay now (like that'll happen anytime soon. :roll: :lol:)
Re: Living and Dying in Wal-Mart (Because eBay isn’t fast enough) (262264)
Posted by Flux Convoy on August 3rd, 2007 @ 8:03pm CDT
Hey, great article bud. I'd love to read more. I'm with you on all those points and sometimes wish I had the violence in me to knock sweaty fan boy #7's teeth out. Maybe my split persona will do it for me. No wait, that's your schtick!
:BOT:
Re: Living and Dying in Wal-Mart (Because eBay isn’t fast enough) (262286)
Posted by --B-- on August 3rd, 2007 @ 8:14pm CDT
Do you pay a group rate at your psychiatrist?

Just kidding. Great read, so refreshing to see a little smarts on the boards.
Re: Living and Dying in Wal-Mart (Because eBay isn’t fast enough) (262287)
Posted by Counterpunch on August 3rd, 2007 @ 8:15pm CDT
Flux Convoy wrote:Hey, great article bud. I'd love to read more. I'm with you on all those points and sometimes wish I had the violence in me to knock sweaty fan boy #7's teeth out. Maybe my split persona will do it for me. No wait, that's your schtick!
:BOT:


Actually, that's his schtick..

(I hate him so much...)

:grin:
Re: Living and Dying in Wal-Mart (Because eBay isn’t fast enough) (262323)
Posted by Dclone Soundwave on August 3rd, 2007 @ 8:39pm CDT
Good read. I noticed a lot of the stuff you put in there is what I've seen happen. That's why I always try to buy everything when it first comes out, or else some of it will sky rocket. Again, good read.
Re: Living and Dying in Wal-Mart (Because eBay isn’t fast enough) (262338)
Posted by Zeds on August 3rd, 2007 @ 8:53pm CDT
I have never read such a well thought out post on a fanbased website before. Puts my 'completist' inclinations into perspective and the fact that I choose TF collecting as a form of investment and enjoyment instead of those damn Mutual Funds that are screwed from yet another Corporate scandal of white collar crime more often than not! Can't really display Mutual Funds so well in one's space as welll as one's G1 TFs (see attached pic for proof).

Well done Counterpunch! Look forward to more of these from you. In fact you should be applauded and in fact I will :APPLAUSE:
Re: Living and Dying in Wal-Mart (Because eBay isn’t fast enough) (262350)
Posted by Sideshow Sideswipe on August 3rd, 2007 @ 9:07pm CDT
Great article! I'm kicking myself for not replacing my broken G1 prowl BEFORE the movie.
Re: Living and Dying in Wal-Mart (Because eBay isn’t fast enough) (262369)
Posted by Geekee1 on August 3rd, 2007 @ 9:18pm CDT
I've been anticipating this article ever since you mentioned it to Ryan last month. I am not disappointed.

It seems that I have already been following Rule #1 since I got back into collecting. And so far it hasn't gone wrong for me. In fact I practiced it today when I saw Voyager Megatron at Wal Mart. Although it seems that I haven't had near the difficulty that a lot of people on this board have had getting the movie toys.

Keep it up CP, I'll be looking forward to more of these!
Re: Living and Dying in Wal-Mart (Because eBay isn’t fast enough) (262425)
Posted by Cliff Jumper on August 3rd, 2007 @ 9:45pm CDT
awesome cp. Very true.
Re: Living and Dying in Wal-Mart (Because eBay isn’t fast enough) (262431)
Posted by Anonymous on August 3rd, 2007 @ 9:49pm CDT
g1transformers wrote:I have never read such a well thought out post on a fanbased website before. Puts my 'completist' inclinations into perspective and the fact that I choose TF collecting as a form of investment and enjoyment instead of those damn Mutual Funds that are screwed from yet another Corporate scandal of white collar crime more often than not! Can't really display Mutual Funds so well in one's space as welll as one's G1 TFs (see attached pic for proof).

Well done Counterpunch! Look forward to more of these from you. In fact you should be applauded and in fact I will :APPLAUSE:


Oh my...noe THAT is a collection! If those are all originals, and MISB...if you sold those individually...you would have WELL OVER $10,000 US.

I am going to be sick...of jealousy.

Great article, CP. Keep them coming, we need more discussion within the fandom regarding the collector's market. It is something I often think about but never hear enough of.

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