I was perusing the toy aisle at Target as I often do when I noticed some boxed Marvel Legends figures. I don’t collect anything related to Marvel Comics. Not really. What caught my attention was the anti-theft device wrapped around the box. I then noticed the price. Target was selling these figures for $24.99.
If Target is selling these Marvel Legends figures for $24.99, it made me wonder what GameStop is selling them for.
GameStop is still clinging to the business model that if they charge more than Walmart and Target, customers will want to shop there. Considering how many GameStop stores have recently closed, it may be time they develop a new business model.
My early days of action figure collecting
I’ve collected action figures off and on since the early 90s. I was in the Air Force and stationed at Griffiss Air Force Base in central New York. My supervisor and friend was collecting Star Trek: The Next Generation action figures from Playmates. He had the entire first set except for Counselor Deanna Troi. She was tough to find. This was when toy manufacturers were still under the misconception that licensed action figures were made for boys to play with. Conventual wisdom said that boys would not want to play with a girl action figure. To compensate, makers of action figures made fewer female action figures than their male counterparts.
My boss needed the Counselor Deanna Troi, and he asked me to be on the lookout for her when I went to the store. So that’s what I did. Every time I went to Ames, Bradlees, or the Sangerstown Square, the Mohawk Valley’s premier indoor shopping mall, I looked for the Counselor Deanna Troi figure.
It wasn’t until I was home on leave (military-speak for “vacation”) in California that I found it. I was staying at a Holiday Inn near LAX the night before my flight back to New York. There was a mall near the hotel. After checking in, I went to the mall. I went into KB Toys and found the Counselor Deanna Troi figure just hanging on the peg.
I bought the figure and carefully put it in my carry on bag. I knew my boss kept his Star Trek figures in the packaging and was meticulous about the condition.
I brought the figure in with me on my first day back to work. He was ecstatic. He completed his collection.
The hook was set
I realized afterward that I missed looking for the Counselor Deanna Troi figure. I discovered I enjoyed the hunt. I went on to start my own collection of Star Trek: The Next Generation action figures. I branched out to also collecting Kenner Starting Lineup sports figures.
Over the years, I’ve collected all sorts of dumb things. I’ve developed a pattern: I will go hot and heavy collecting something, get burned out, and then sell my collection piece by piece on eBay. I then start collecting some other dumb thing and repeat the entire process.
The process has changed slightly. I don’t really sell anything on eBay anymore. When I get burned out collecting whatever I’m collecting, I’ll pack things up in plastic totes and put them in storage. I just did this with my Funko Pop collection. I got tired of looking at all of them.
$24.99 seems like a lot of money for an action figure, or does it?
When I first began collecting action figures in the early 90s, action figures are around the $5.00 price point. They’ve been steadily increasing ever since. The level of quality has increased along with the price point. There’s no disputing that today’s action figures look much better than past action figures. Does that warrant a price increase?
I think it does.
The massive increase in quality with today’s action figures makes the action figures of yesterday, in comparison, look like hot garbage. Take a look at the face of that first Counselor Deanna Troi figure.
She looks like a Palmdale prostitute.
With most collectibles, when things get older, they become more valuable. That’s not true with action figures produced in the 1990s. I think the quality of today’s action figures makes them immune to this problem in the future. I don’t think there will be much of a gap in quality between today’s action figures and action figures produced thirty years from now.
I think you can spend $25 on an action figure today and be confident future action figures will not make them worthless. I don’t think quality can get any better.