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Is the Action Figure industry broken and does it need fixing?

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GubernatorFan

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Some food for thought. I came across the following video, which seemed to have plenty of good points, some of which had occurred to me and others had not. I am not sure I agree with everything, but it does touch upon plenty of things that come up in our discussions. Take a moment, if you will, to check it out and let us know what you think -- what resonated, what you agree with, what you disagree with, what was overlooked.



#discussion


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Yep, babies smell.

Seriously, I think the market is better now than it has ever been. Plenty of competitors. More choice. Better quality. Some licenced figures are over-priced but cheap knock-offs keep prices from going too crazy. If you think something is too expensive then don't buy it. If you pay for something that is overpriced then you are contributing to these prices becoming normalised.


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Stryker2011

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While I can agree with some of his points, I agree more with shazzdan. Aside from ridiculously long wait times between PO and product, the options are far better than they’ve ever been, despite the loss of brick and mortar stores like Toys-R-Us.


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i agree that its a different time now. I only buy a few star wars figs when i see one i really want Vader,bobba Fett,Han and Chewy but i never can find them and to pay scalper prices is ridiculous.We have a huge problem with that here in north Texas guys literally have back door deals with stockers
that notify them of wave arrivals.
when i started in 1/6th i only had some old action man/Gijoes the 21st century hit the market and went from zero to hero with better bodies vehicles on and on i saw the rise of the 1/6th wave.
but man the late 90s and early 2000s were some cool times with brick and mortar stores stocking some cool stuff. my local TRU had some really cool displays with little bird choppers hanging from the ceiling. jump forward to today there isnt much in the way of those kind of marketing going on although ive been out of the hobby for the last six seven years ive been lurking lol.
yes the selection is cool but pre-orders product announcement to arrival time, canceled projects, limited runs (1/6th scale guns should not cost 45 bucks lol) i believe the wave has crested

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3D printing is in its infancy. We are just starting to discover what it can do for our hobby. In time it will be a standard piece of equipment. Instead of spending a fortune on a limited run 1/6 accessory, we will simply download a file and print our own.


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Thanks for sharing this video.  He brings up many interesting points.  

The paradigms of buying most things (not just figures) are changing radically away from brick and mortar stores.  There are many moving variables here, and he's right that it's hard to keep up.  However, he still seems a little stuck in the past though with his lamenting about the retail store aspect of the hobby.  That ship has sailed.  Another thing that he doesn't really acknowledge is the internationalisation of the marketplace.  That doesn't get mentioned as much as it should in many of the groups that are more North American and European focused.  An increasing amount of the consumer market is Asian, and what and how things are being sold is based upon a greater range of tastes and drivers.  You see it increasingly with Asian themed products.  Many will comment in the English speaking group bubbles that there 'won't be much of a market for that'.  They're wrong with this assumption.   The manufactures are not singularly focused on just a few markets any longer.  

One point he brought up that is fascinating is whether the younger generation will be as interested in physical object over digital.  It will be interesting to see how that evolves over time.  The way people interact and process with world around them is changing.

It's a really exciting time in my opinion because so many things are opening up and in flux.  I find it exciting that I can order directly from China and have a worldwide secondary market at my fingertips.  It's freeing in a way.  I'm not beholden to a gatekeeper in my local area or even country.  The middleman and retail stores are history.  Everything will continue to adapt or be left behind.

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GubernatorFan

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I agree with pretty much everything you guys have written above. And with a lot of what the commentator in the video said. Of course, he was talking about action figures in general, and perhaps least about the (usually high-end) sixth-scale figures we tend to focus on (at least within the bounds of this forum). And that last part makes his emphasis on brick-and-mortar stores a little off focus for our little world, as those (with rare exceptions) don't seem to have ever abounded there (their rise in prominence seems to have been contemporary with the shift in the general action figure hobby). That said, I do mourn for the decline of brick-and-mortar stores and wish that more of them expanded their online services fast enough to stay afloat and competitive and to employ workers. I don't know about you, but I am impatient enough to prefer picking things up in a nearby store to waiting for it to arrive after an online purchase -- unless it is a question of availability or a significant difference in price. Speaking of which, prices and preorders are out of control... the wide scope source material and inspiration that gets translated into sixth-scale action figures, on the other hand, is a great thing in my book. As is the opportunity to pick it up online even if there is no practical local option.


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I'm in Australia and our population is too low for many distributors to bother setting up. I've had no choice but to do most of my shopping online. I haven't missed bricks and mortar stores because there have never been very many of them and there are no specialised action figure stores outside of the capital cities. The local toy stores stock nothing except Barbie, Star Wars, superheroes, and fads like Bratz and Monster High. If I want to go shop at a specialised action figure store, I have to go to Sydney, which would waste an entire day, and even if I make the trip there is a good chance that they won't have what I want or I'll make an impulse buy and get something I never wanted in the first place. Shopping online is more convenient but it has its own set of problems.

Edit: This gives you an idea of what I have to deal with in my local stores.
https://www.toyworld.com.au/category/action-figures?p=1

There are 149 items that they classify as "action figures". Maybe two dozen of them are really action figures and none of them are 1:6 scale.


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I've never cared for the "pre-order" business model and have bitched about it in detail on other sites.

It is not the way I typically care to do business. Plopping down money in advance for anything based on a prototype that might not resemble anything close to the production piece is frickken silly.

But, we all do it...have to in order to remain in the hobby and not pay scalper prices.

See how the model works? We take a risk at the outset and pay for the privilege OR get our asses handed to us in the secondary market if we choose to mitigate risk. No risk to the entity that should be shouldering it.

Yep...pretty damn broken.

Best for me to stop here...

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Stryker2011

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dadrab wrote:I've never cared for the "pre-order" business model and have bitched about it in detail on other sites.

It is not the way I typically care to do business. Plopping down money in advance for anything based on a prototype that might not resemble anything close to the production piece is frickken silly.

But, we all do it...have to in order to remain in the hobby and not pay scalper prices.

See how the model works? We take a risk at the outset and pay for the privilege OR get our asses handed to us in the secondary market if we choose to mitigate risk. No risk to the entity that should be shouldering it.

Yep...pretty damn broken.

Best for me to stop here...

I think once the fickle consumers drive all of the online retailers out of business, and more manufacturers are forced to open their own online stores, the model could change significantly, and we the consumer wouldn't have to eat so much of the PO/to Production garbage (or at the very least, manufacturers would be forced to bring their A game or go out of business). Sideshow can produce garbage 1/6 scale human figures, because they rely mostly on their high-end statues, paintings, and the enormous amount of income brought in from being the only North American distributor for Hot Toys. But if they were the only source for their own 1/6 action figures, they'd either end up being in final straits or stop producing them altogether, if they didn't improve. The down-side to manufacturers being their own store -- they'd charge even more than they do now.


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Maybe I have a serious case of rose tinted glasses but the memories of going just about anywhere and finding an action figure (be it gi joe, ultimate soldier, bbi, power team, etc) is something that just disappeared along with the affordability of many of the items. Sure those weren't top tier quality items but they often times produced items that where unique, quality has increased but the feeling isn't the same (at least to me) and most releases seem to deal with TV and movie license which are a good thing but it starts to become tiresome when we see the fifth or tenth version of movie badguy or super hero or something (I'm looking cyclops  at you 20 something versions of iron man, I still remember lol). In my opinion the hobby needs variety, both in offerings and in prices, something for everyone in it at a wide variety of prices. Something else I also see a lot when action figures are brought up is that kids aren't interested in playing with dollies no more yet they sell nothing but hunks of plastic with almost no mobility, something to be tossed aside after 5 minutes of a kid trying to do something with it and finding out that pressing two buttons on a screen generates more entertainment than an "Action figure" with a serious case of rigor mortis.

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I remember finding swapped figures at ToyRUs, KayBees to me was better and were more customer friendly.
I wish I could find the podcast for flagpoints. There was an interview about the content sold with the figure for marketing(cartoons and comic books.)
From my view:

a) I could buy a license figure by DREAMEX from BBTS but I cannot get April Newshen from BBTS. So I now have to hunt for a site that has them.

b) Some stores have certain time windows to buy a figure (Scarlet Witch Costume version from AoU, or anything from Horsemen)

c) Pallet jack companies at Toy Expos or Comic Con. Imagine 100s of kids not getting a Monster High figure because 1 guy bought them all to flip.

d) Subscription fees before getting a figure (3A or Matty). Or in order for a kid to enjoy Voltron or Trollhunters, their parents have to get NetFlix.

e) Non-collector flippers. I cannot find a Tyrion under $400. Villa is $400? Sarina Valentina is $700? Thranduil is $500.

f) On again off again series. I avoided the COOModel knights because I thought it was just two, then 3 and 2 more become available. So far, I miss this entire series. Now the samurai series starts, I missed the first two and now 4 more pop up a few months later. Its good that the next two vikings come in a set.

g) genre collecting. I had to abandon military and star wars to make room for fantasy, GOT and TMNT.

h) Marketing is different now. It depends on the movie and the peg space for the movie.

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