Are We Paying Too Much For Action Figures?
So this has been on my mind for quite some time now. Ever since I was a child, I held on to my action figures, whether it be a Star Wars figure here, a Transformers figure there, or even a comic book hero figure. I loved collecting action figures so much that my first job was at a KB Toy Store (Yes, I was one of those guys who had first dibs on the cool stuff. Hey, it was a perk of the job!).
Now, at risk of this sounding like a ”Back-in-my-day” type of article I remember around the mid/late 90s into the early 2000s the average action figure was 5″-7″ and had a cost between $6-$8 depending where you shopped (mall stores such as my former employer always charged a bit more). The major price point different came when Todd McFarlane’s Spawn figures started to gain popularity and they were typically priced at the $10 range. These figures were a bit bigger than the 6″ average, but the quality was there. A few years later when the Marvel Legend line was release, the figures seemed to follow suit with McFarlane’s idea. Slightly bigger figure, slightly better detail all around, better packaging, and with the added perks a slightly higher price to compensate for the added detail and possible materials gone in to making the figure. This became the new standard up until the last five or so years.
Recent action figures, such as many from the Hasbro you lines of the Marvel movies lines as well as the Universe line, a select Transformers line, and even Mattel’s DC line of Young Justice figures are being produced at the size of 3.75″ – 4″ or thereabouts. The quality of figure is still good, but the price for one of these smaller figures is in the ballpark of $8 or $9 (again, depending on where you shop). To many, that’s not much of a price cut for what is probably half of a figure they’re used to buying. On the flip side of action figure sizes, Hasbro (who recently reintroduced the Marvel Legends line) is now charging around a $15 price point for a 7″ figure with no more detail than what we were already accustomed to. Mattel’s DC Universe line also include a 7″ or so figure for about a $15. However, the recent Young Justice line’s deluxe figures are a 7″ figure with a platform for $20 – $25. This isn’t to mention some of the collector series of figures like the Marvel Select line or the DC direct which can range from $20 to $30 per figure. I’m sure some of the price is adjusted to make up for production cost. But are these price hikes of the last few years just the early stages of more to come?
The one exception, I find, only to the size difference is Hasbro’s Star Wars line. The figures have stayed the same size for decades, though quality of said figures do increase with time. However, the price point that used to be around $5 is now pushing the $8 or $9 area. Is this added quality to a figure smaller than 4″ really worth an extra $3 or $4?
This leads me to what I’d like to know, your opinion. Has the price fluctuation affected your collecting habits? Do you find that paying $15 for a figure that used to be $10 is worth the extra money? Do you find yourself only collecting a figure here or there as opposed to the entire line? Do you collect one price point more rather than another of the same figure line? Do you prefer to collect a specific sized figure? Have you stopped collecting action figures all together? Or, are you one of the few that don’t mind the the price increase? Do you continue to collect figures just out of habit?
These are just a few questions I’m curious about. I’m not too focused on what may or may not go into the production of a figure, but more so if these higher prices have affected you collecting hobby.