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Mr. Rant Talks Toys Prices

No, I’m not dead. Moving on…
I’ve been thinking about toy prices lately. Price is something important to all of us, but it’s not something we all agree on. I’ve been looking over some of the IAT crew’s recent purchases in regards to this season’s newest movie toys and wondering why they spend good money on some of the things they buy. I thought I’d get back on my soapbox for today and talk about my problems with action figure pricing.

Collecting toys is a hobby, but it’s not always a healthy one. Toy collectors can be an obsessive lot. Some of us wake up early on our days off to drive to the five closest Wal-Marts or spend our down time scouring the internet searching for the latest news about our favorite lines. Toy collecting can be our recreation, our drug, and possibly even our religion all in one. So when we do happen to spend that hard earned paycheck on our newest little totem, we want to feel like we’re getting what we paid for.

In common sense land, the amount of money you pay for an item dictates the quality of said item. This should be true with toys. Two ten dollar figures should be somewhat comparable, even across different lines. If the price of the figure is higher, the quality should also go up. This doesn’t seem to be the rule anymore though. I’m not sure if it ever was.

The official How to Train Your Dragon toys are on par with McDonalds Happy Meal toys. A MOTU Classics figure is $5 more than a DC Classics figure, even though they’re basically comparable. And how can a fairly-articulated Marvel Universe figure and a Toy Story 3 figure with only two moving joints both set you back $10? These days the toy collecting world is a very confusing place.

That confusion is only deepened by the toy companies themselves, who reveal very little to us about how the process works. I understand the need for secrecy and ambiguity in any industry. I’m not asking toy companies to broadcast production runs or fixed costs. But, at the same time, that has resulted in many fans not really knowing how much toys cost to produce; to not understand the effect that extra accessories, more articulation, or better paint jobs really has on the value of the unit. Common sense says that more pieces or work should cost more, but other than that, many collectors are left in the dark about how the different parts of production affect the final value.

My personal feelings on the subject are a little more basic though. Look at MOTUC. Mattel proudly advertises it as an “Adult Collector” line. I pay $20+shipping for a He-Man figure. For that price, I expect a certain amount of quality. There will always be some rotten QC in any production run, but snapping joints and poor paint jobs should be the exception, not the rule.

I don’t expect that quality simply because I’m paying $20. I expect it because I’m buying a re-used body every month with a few new pieces (maybe) and some new add-ons. I don’t expect Mattel to lose money, but shouldn’t I expect near perfection for that amount? Or should I accept that $20 only buys me a decent toy and not an excellent one?

I realize these companies aren’t Santa’s elves making toys for all the good kids. These are businesses with employees and boards of directors who need to keep the company profitable (sometimes largely profitable). But, these companies also must realize that if they want our money they have to earn it. $10 Toy Story toys should be fun, not immobile hunks of plastic. $20 MOTU figures should be near perfect instead of making me worry about getting a good paint job. It’s a give and take process, and if I don’t feel like I’m getting a fair amount of product for my money… well, Noisy is always telling me that my toy budget could make for a really nice vacation.

-Mr. Rant

13 comments to Mr. Rant Talks Toys Prices

  • Bo

    Here Here!! I agree with you!! It befuddles me how MOTU Classics get whatever they want and amazing accessories and Mattel keeps teling the DCUC fans that they would have to sacrafice paint/articulation points to give more accessories…ridiculous…and they charge VERY close to the MOTUC price now. I’d love to see some more realistic paint jobs on the face work…i.e. darker lip tone…I think that just makes a figure pop…

    It’s amazing how when ML (toybiz) was in its groove we got for the most part a great figure with decent to good paint (albeit sometimes stuck joints) with accessories and BAF pieces….and a comic…all for anywhere from 7 bucks to 15 depending on where you bought…

  • dayraven

    not to mention, admidt the recent global economic issues, new factors and costs of doing business are getting revealed to the general public that blow a hole in the myth that paying some poor little asian person in a sweatshop is really all that much cheaper… because w/ rising oil and steel costs, transportation is becoming rapidly more expensive. so while the goods are getting made in indonesia for half what an american would make to manufacture, shipping the bits to indonesia and then shipping the whole item back to the states is rapidly making the costs break even… if that’s the case, wouldn’t we as a nation benefit from bringing some of these industries back home? i’d mind a lot less the 20 dolalr motuc price tag if i knew american safety standards were being met or exceeded (cuz we could actually check in on the industry!) AND an american was being put to work to make the toys. more employed americans means more americans w/ disposable incomes… to buy things like toys!!

    the industrial dream is a farce, we over-mechanized our industries and then shipped what manuel labor was left off to third world countries… if you’re not employing americans, we can’t afford to consume… and if there’s one thing the world economy needs right now, it’s good old fashioned american consumerism… in the immortal words of gordan gekko “greed is good.”

  • Scissors

    I wondered about the same thing just the other day, when I picked up the Wal-Mart exclusive 6″ Mk VI Iron Man and War Machine. I’m in Canada, and these guys retailed at $12.96 — I think that’s the same retail price State-side. Odd, that never happened before.

    And then I looked at the 4″ Iron Man figures, which are retailing at $9.99 to $10.99. These smaller figures probably use half the plastic of their larger cousins, and they most certainly are produced in much, much larger volumes. Based on economy of scale, these 4″ guys shouldn’t cost more than $5 – $6. Something doesn’t add up there.

  • Tom Gruze

    It’s your fault.
    As long as you keep buying these toys at these retarded prices, they will keep overcharging you. You CANNOT continually spend $20 on a toy and then keep complaining about it. It makes you look like an idiot.

    This is not directed at anyone specifically…This is for ALL OF YOU.

    Knock it off or just shut the hell up and stop whining. You’re ruining it for the rest of us and if you’re not going to do something to change it, you’ve no right to open your mouth…You mouthbreather.

    • dayraven

      sir, i’d LOVE to read the list of “discount” lines you’re investing in, as clearly, to voice an opinion that vehemently, you must on to something the rest of us are missing, right? you’re supporting a line of fair trade and justly priced figures, right?

      oh, one other thing… you can’t say “This is not directed at anyone specifically…This is for ALL OF YOU” and use “you” as a plural pronoun then say “You mouthbreather.” which is obviously singular and aimed at someONE. 🙂

  • 3B

    Toy prices are out of hand. I’ve become much more selective when buying action figures this year. I’m only interested in MotUC for a few more figs, then it will be really rare for me to buy one. As for DCUC, very slim chance of me buying a complete wave anymore (last one was 12), it would have to be a really fantastic lineup, which I don’t believe they have a chance of putting together at this point. Also, no more purchsing on secondary markets, unless I can get them below retail. Slim chance, I know. But that’s what it is.

  • In the case of MOTUC as long as the Fanboys who want MOTU and 4H figures keep paying Mattels prices there will be no change in the prices anytime soon.

  • All i’m saying is that you guys are retarded fools for paying that price and then complaining. No need to get offended.

  • I lacked the foresight before starting a family to get educated beyond high school and as such have always been selective in my buying habits. I often only pick a few figures to get at retail that I think will be harder to get at clearance prices and such later on (i.e. Transformers ROTF Bludgeon) and then wait for said price cuts to get others, ebay and Amazon can be good in these respects.

  • […] this week saw reviews of Iron Man 2: Comic Series 1, DCUC4, and Shaak Ti while Mr Rant took aim at toy prices, Matty released the first shots of Orko in package, Tekwych gave us a history lesson on Micronauts, […]

  • manekochan

    My solution? Stop buying toys.

    • StrangePlanet

      Not a bad idea.

      If your toy budget could get you a nice vacation, then for all that is decent, you should really choose the vacation.