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The Caffeinated Collector: Episode 19 – You Paid HOW MUCH!?!?!?

The Caffeinated Collector: Episode 19 – You Paid HOW MUCH!?!?!?

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Well, here we are. A week and a half away from Force Friday. I can’t wait to see all the new toys on store shelves. I don’t know how much collecting I’ll be doing, due to economic factors that nobody likes to think about, but I’m sure I’ll come home with a few figures, and maybe even a vehicle. It’s going to be a fun weekend sharing stories and pictures with the collecting community online and in my own local circle. The anticipation is always part of the fun, at least for me. Apparently, that’s not the case for EVERYBODY…

I’m writing this a week before it posts, and a few days ago some figures from Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens figures went on sale on eBay. I’m not sure how they were leaked to the public, or even if they were SUPPOSED to be available, but there they were. Figures that we can ALL buy in a few DAYS for around 10 bucks were being sold AND bought for 10 times that. Yeah, you read that correctly. A figure sold for 100 freaking dollars. Another sold for 125 freaking dollars. Why would someone pay 125 freaking dollars for something they could buy for a fraction of that in a matter of weeks? Is it REALLY that important to be able to say you had it first? It’s the same figure. Same packaging. There is literally nothing special about this figure, other than the fact that nobody else has one yet. Or at least not many people. In a matter of days (hours, even), the figure will be worth exactly the same as the one you can buy on the peg at your local store for around 10% of what you just paid for it. Someone please explain the rationale here. Please?

Look, I’m not one to tell anyone what to do with their disposable income. If you have an extra Benjamin lying around and you think “hmmm, I can get a look at this before anyone else, and make a few people jealous in the process,” and you decide that you don’t need to use that money on anything else, by all means, spend it how you choose. You earned it (one assumes), so you spend it the way you want. BUT I can’t help but think about the fact that you could buy the entire first wave for only slightly more than you spent on one figure. Wouldn’t it make more sense to support the businesses that are honoring the release dates and helping to create an event for fans like us rather than giving your money to a seller who has broken street dates and ignored the generally accepted rules? Yeah, I know, we Star Wars fans love rebels of all sorts, but I just cannot support this practice, especially when it artificially inflates the asking price for the stuff I want!

It’s possible this is just an area of collecting that I have never understood and will never understand. I get pre-ordering a case, or a wave, or paying a small premium to make sure your order is guaranteed when you’re afraid something is going to sell out. That’s part of the price we pay as collectors, especially if we are completists. But what is the benefit of grossly overpaying for something when simply being patient and enjoying the release with other collectors will not only save you money but allow you to be a part of an experience?

I admit that I have a different mindset on these things than many collectors. As I get older, I value experience over items, but I still love getting my hands on the items themselves. I can wait for the satisfaction of pulling the figures off of a shelf and taking them to the counter, sometimes having to tell the cashier that I am not, in fact, buying them for my kid, but for myself, and getting the “Oh, you’re one of THEM” looks (which I actually love and am not at all insulted by, by the way). I suppose if money was no object, I MIGHT be tempted to say “sure, I’ll shell out some cash to get one early.” Then again, I probably wouldn’t. It’s less about spending the money than where the money is going. I don’t want to reward those who prey on this mindset and who seek to artificially inflate demand for their own selfish ends.

I’m sorry this has been a soapbox month, but I’ve spent a lot of time pondering this, and these are the only conclusions I have been able to draw. I welcome your input. If anyone here has been someone who pays a significant premium to be the first to get something, please share your experience and your mindset about it, I would love to have a dialogue about it. Above all else, I want to understand every collecting philosophy out there.

Also, is there a particular item you’re excited to find on Force Friday? I’m anxious to get a look at all the figures, and I’ll make my initial selections in the moment, so a simple “EVERYTHING!” is my answer, what say you?

Until next time, May The Force Be With Us All!

Jeff can be heard weekly on Assembly of Geeks (www.assemblyofgeeks.com) and on his own podcast network, MarvinDog Media (www.MarvinDogMedia.com) where he hostsThe Pilot EpisodeTalking Toys with Taylor and Jeff, and Bantha Banter: A Star Wars Chat Show. He is also co-host of Comics With Kenobi with fellow CWK blogger Matt Moore, and part-time co-host for Coffee With Kenobi, which you have already found if you’re reading this blog

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2 Comments

  1. Melinda
    September 1, 2015 at 08:46 Reply

    Well, Jeff, here is my two cents — and then some 😉 — on the issue at hand…

    First of all, I agree with you wholeheartedly about those who feel it is necessary to skirt the fringes of propriety, and leak or sell something ahead of time. I also feel the same way about those who take a movie camera into a theater to copy and then pirate a show or film. I’m a writer, and I take copyright laws VERY SERIOUSLY. I have a tendency to transfer this same line of thought to anyone revealing pictures/storylines of mums-the-word films to the public, and people who somehow get their hands of items that aren’t even on sale yet (like those you pointed out above).

    Second, there are those collectors who yes, want to flaunt the fact that they got *whatever* first, but there are those, too, who are willing to shell out the extra funds for something on (say) Ebay because they do not want (or are unable) to attend an event like Force Friday, and don’t want to miss out on his/her “Must Have(s)”. There always is the possibility that an item might be in short supply, and a fan is willing to shell out an excess of cash for such an item. We’re all faced with choices…

    Third, there have been plenty of times when I have missed out on getting something I’d like to have, and have gone the Ebay route. For me, however, there is a limit to what I will spend for an item. Case in point: I was not able to attend CVII (but you and many of our brethren made me feel like I was right there with you 🙂 ), and (in one instance), I knew Hallmark was going to have a couple of exclusives at Celebration. I have a Star Wars Christmas tree that we erect in our Star Wars Room, and I thought I would try my hand at getting at least one of the exclusives via Ebay when CVII was all over. When I made my visit to the auction site, and saw the ridiculous prices being asked for the items (I am not talking about bidding driving up the prices; I talking the asking price!), I was flabbergasted! I can’t remember what the ornaments originally sold at, but considering the fact that I have most of the Hallmark Star Wars ornaments (purchased AT the store), I have a good idea of their prices. There was NO WAY I was going to spend more than $100 for something that cost (maybe) $12 or $15, even $30!!! I would have spent a little more than that (I am a Star Wars fan after all, and I love decorating with Star Wars come Christmas 🙂 ), but there was no way I could justify spending more than $100 for one little piece of plastic. My tree wouldn’t even miss it. 😉 This summer, I was able to go to the store to get each of the SW ornaments that were on sale then. My tree (and I 😉 ) will be happy with that lot. 🙂 (I just checked Ebay, and the Hallmark ornament from CVII that I was most interested in — the one depicting Ralph McQuarrie’s Darth Vader vs. Luke stance — still is going for more than $100. It’s a beautiful piece, but still, it is too high. Besides, I don’t need it. I have the Kotobukiya figures based on RM’s concept art. That’s enough for me. 🙂 )

    Fourth, it’s sad that some individual’s feel the need to gouge the marketplace, even the secondary marketplaces like Ebay. Supply and demand, I suppose. But what it all boils down to is — is the demand really so strong that a price point can be driven upwards by leaps and bounds? I suppose in some cases, that happens. That’s when frenzy sets in. I prefer the mindset of cooler heads prevailing. I don’t mind paying a LITTLE bit more for something on Ebay (if necessary), but there is a point I will not pass.

    Fifth, you are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT — why pay more for something that will cost far less if one just exercises a little patience. Like you, I don’t like to tell people how to spend their own money. However, some people are foolhardy with their $$$. That’s a shame. One day, they will regret spending so much for something that really costs so little. For a toy. As Yoda would say, “Patience!” 🙂

    Great blog, Jeff! MTFBWY 🙂

  2. Jeff McGee
    September 23, 2015 at 20:51 Reply

    Better late than never to respond, right? I’m with you, Melinda, a little patience goes a long way. I’m still looking for a few items, and that’s actually part of the fun for me, gives me something to do in my spare time, and gives me more stories to tell!

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