When AEW first announced their partnership with Jazware for their first action figure line fans rejoiced. As the first videos and pictures of the figures hit online, the reaction was positive. At C2E2 if you were fortunate to go to the convention before the pandemic took over the world. (I was one of the lucky ones to go for work purposes) you saw the figures live and in action for the first time. You could not touch them, but they were set up in 2 different rings and wave one of the figures were on full display in all their glory.
There were not many updates about when the figures would be in stores but when we got them here is what we found out. One, they would be Wal-Mart exclusives for the first wave. Two, you could pre-order wave one at ringside collectibles. Which is the place to find all companies’ action figures. You may pay a little more than in stores, but you will have the peace of mind knowing that your figures are reserved, and you do not have to go on a toy hunt to try and find the character you want.
Boy, That Got Out of Control
However, collectors are just a different breed of person. They like the hunt and the feeling when you can get your hand on that figure and buy it. But over the last decade there has been this dark cloud that has popped up. It has infected the collector market and live events. Now, I am not foolish enough to think that this is a new thing. But I know it has never been as bad as it is now. That is scalpers, some scalpers call themselves investors but here is why they are not investors.
Investors are people that invest in a product so they may buy a lot of toys or memorabilia because they maybe meeting a talent and want him or her to sign their stuff and sell it on eBay. But a scalper is when you buy up product just to sell it at a much higher rate. We have seen this with stub hub as well, spending twenty dollars on a cheap seat ticket and selling it for two hundred dollars. Now, if these places exist this problem is not going away.
The only way to counteract this is by pre-ordering the merchandise you would like. Not going to the secondary market and supporting these people. But remember when you take that stance you run the risk of not getting what you want at all. Or just waiting for the reissue which will happen down the road eventually. I bring this up because this is exactly what happened with the AEW action figures. They were set to release on August tenth but when consumers hit the stores early in the morning.
Collectors or Scalpers?
They saw empty shelves and no answers from the store employees. So, what do fans do nowadays when they want answers? Twitter of course! Jeremy Pawder is the spokesperson for the brand was bombarded with questions about the figures and why they were not in stores. A quick side note. In America due to the lack of actual toy stores since Toys R Us shut down. Target and Wal-Mart have taken the place where you can find most of your toy needs.
This is a problem has with toys being exclusives to certain stores that mean shipments get the bare minimum to each store and they sell out faster. Back to where I was going, the Twitter-verse spoke and Pawder had to answer some questions. He said that ‘There were some problems in shipping and that the toys should be hitting stores in a couple of weeks.” He apologized for the delay and said to be polite to the front-line workers during the pandemic.
Will Distribution Expand?
After a week wave one started hitting stores but then there was another problem. The distribution of the figures was off, many people never seeing them and calling them “the unicorn” of action figures. This got some collectors wondering, did they hit my market if no collector I know has even seen them? but also pictures popped up where you see scalpers literally buying boxes of the figures in the morning immediately jacking the prices up on the secondary market.
From my own personal experience, I was in a Wal-Mart one morning being an adult. Shopping for deodorant, food etc. when I decided just to check the toy aisle before I left the store. As I walked up the aisle a worker asked if they could help me with anything. I told him what I was looking for. He just so happened to have two boxes of the AEW figures he was about to open. So, he opened both boxes I received the entire wave except for one character which was Brandi Rhodes.
This was weird as neither box had any of her character in it. Asking around this was a thing in a couple of different states. Now, this was not a scalper issue but a distribution issue. Here is the thing about this problem now, you must go to the secondary market to pick her up and she is going for nothing less than one hundred and fifty dollars. In some cases, a thousand dollars. Now, this is obviously a snafu on the distributor’s fault and one I do not see happening again.
Toy Hunts – Thing of the Past?
However, the scalper problem will never go away that is here to stay and will only get worse. I do not know how to fix it except maybe make less exclusives to the major stores and send some of these figures to mom-and-pop comic book shops and bigger comic book franchises. Spread the love around so everyone at least can get their hands on the product. Now as of this writing Jazwares has expanded to Target, so the figures are not just exclusive to Wal-Mart anymore.
But with this product being on the market for eight months and some people still having never seen one of these figures in their local store is concerning. That is all about the distribution and that part can be fixed. These are limited-time figures and real collectors, and real fans should get the chance to get them before they are gone for good. These will not be peg warmers, these will be out of the door fast and at a fair price to the consumer. I believe Jazware will have a better plan moving forward and fewer scalpers will make money off the real collectors. Happy hunting!