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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Having been a fan of the original GI Joes from the 60s and 70s, I was pleased when Hasbro came out with new 1/6 figures in the 90s. That started my interest in the hobby as well as my collecting, and it expanded further in the early 2000s with the variety that was available by BBI, Dragon, etc. I started in the hobby fully then with several of the aforementioned brands. However, even at the height of the popularity in 2003-4 or so, when I was doing most of my collecting, the average price for a figure was $30-40, with limited editions and special variants of whatever going for $80-$100.

I got out of the hobby for a decade due to divorce, job situations, and moving. Now, I am trying to get back into it, but I am seeing that the average completely accessorized figure is around $150+. At first, I thought it was simple inflation, but to me that makes no sense. For a time I was absent, I didn't pay attention to the offerings, and I can find no real reason for such a jump in price. What is worse, I see the quality of the figures now to be equal or LESS than what was available 12 years ago. I also noticed that, obviously, the prices of accessories and clothing is through the roof. It is almost making it cost prohibitive for a lot of things I want to do. I was even asking about Phicen vs. Jiaou the other day, and their pricing is what really made me think about this.

Can someone tell me what I am missing that has caused the hobby to get so expensive? I have researched and can't really find an answer, including on this forum. Is it a case of retailers figuring out people will just pay exorbitant prices for what they want and are artificially inflating prices, or is there a legitimate reason things got so high?

Thanks for any info.
 

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in-the-closet lesbian
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The rise of Hot Toys and the shift towards licensed pop culture subjects over military lines, the elasticity of demand being good for the manufacturers with more wealthy collectors entering (due to the now more mainstream nature of the hobby and pop culture collecting in general) and of course other brands seeing HT's success and thinking they can charge similar prices now that the standard is set. These I think are the primary reasons for the now very high prices.

There is also of course the other factors that have driven prices up: inflation then the rising costs of oil, labour and licences among other things and of course the recent advances in production methods, body types, painting methods etc (though increased production numbers to meet demand mean that some of those costs and others should be reduced per unit due to economies of scale and automation/3D printing for rapid prototyping etc should also have lowered production costs in certain areas) while of course the increased complexity of newer products (more moving parts, more detailed paint jobs, more dedicated sculpted parts etc) has added to the price increases.

Probably missing a few other factors but I think the single biggest reason is definitely the elasticity of demand. People keep buying so they keep raising the prices. Doesn't help that only a couple of brands really dominate the hobby, they almost hold a monopoly over licensed figures (Ok, technically it is an Oligopoly but there is for sure one big brand that towers above the rest making it almost a Monopoly).
 

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From what I've reading it seems to go back to Hot Toys, yep when I took a 6 year hiatus from the hobby & when I came back in 2012 the sticker price was staggering.
 

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in-the-closet lesbian
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Hot Toys has done a lot of good to be fair in the areas of bringing the hobby into the mainstream, leading the market in developing better head-sculpts, paint apps and complexity of figures (even Iron Man haters have to admit that the figures are almost flawlessly engineered for the majority of releases) so credit where it is due, but the general state of the hobby as it is now (the negative aspects such as pricing) is also their doing, so they also deserve flak in that regard. They are the double edged sword of the hobby.
 

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Can someone tell me what I am missing that has caused the hobby to get so expensive? I have researched and can't really find an answer, including on this forum. Is it a case of retailers figuring out people will just pay exorbitant prices for what they want and are artificially inflating prices, or is there a legitimate reason things got so high?

Thanks for any info.
There are multiple factors involved, but having sold in this hobby for some time now I'll try to give some idea of contributing factors:

1) Rising labor costs in China. The Economist in an older article pegged wage increases at an average of 12% a year since 2001 (through 2015). Meanwhile an Oxford Economics report concludes Chinese labor costs are only 4% cheaper than in the US once worker productivity is factored in. Basically things aren't as cheap to make as they once were. This is further complicated by many commodities used by factories/suppliers being US dollar-denominated, meaning their raw material costs go up as the US dollar goes up.

2) Volumes. When prices were lower a military figure would sell by the container load in the US. That isn't the case with today's prices, which raises the costs per figure to produce. This is also further complicated by distribution not being exclusive on some brands, meaning you have several distributors bringing in the same product in lower quantities which effects the pricing they receive and can offer. This is particularly problematic as some distributors can't even get enough orders to justify bring in a release on it's own, which is why you are seeing delays in the US as distributors are having to combined multiple releases together to get shipping costs workable. Inbound shipping costs have gone up quite a bit as well so that is directly related to this as the cost per unit for freight is now higher, especially with retailers splitting their volumes with each distributor not knowing who will get product first. It doesn't take much for an extra few dollars here and there to add up in the supply chain.

3) MSRP pricing, or lack of it. Outside of tightly controlled brands retailers are setting their own MSRP prices. Depending on the brand, a retailer's stated MSRP may be as much as $15-20 higher than that actual manufacturer MSRP. The manufacturer MSRPs generally provide a reasonable level of margin that is not out of the ordinary for goods sold at brick and mortar, but the hobby has sellers of varying sizes with different overheads, but the concept of an MSRP has generally gone out the window in this hobby.

4) Regional pricing models. Some brands seem to be employing different price models for China and markets outside of China. You might see as much as a $50 difference in pricing between the two markets. Some of this is inefficient distribution where you have distributors buying from other distributors, some of it is due to differences in what distributors expect to make, and some of it is for no readily apparent reason.

5) Keeping up with the Joneses. The likes of Hot Toys have pushed up pricing and this has a trickle down effect. When a brand, retailer, distributor, or other participant in the hobby raises prices, others generally follow suit.

To give you a real world example of price inflation from a popular military brand, cost for an average figure (to a dealer) has gone up 16.8% since 2013.
 

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Wait, wait, just what do retailers have to do with price hike???
A manufacturer announces an MSRP. A retailer (or distributor) then marks up that MSRP. Likewise a retailer can always decide to set that lower.
 

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volunteercontentprovider
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Let's not forget the demise of Blue Box and Dragon Models (exit from 1/6). They were the ones offering the $35 military figures. And part of what took them down, I think, was the massive increase in the cost of oil between 2005 - 2008, which made both plastic, and shipping from China, a far more expensive proposition. Dragon kind of flooded the market too, and whether that affected demand as well, we'll never know.
 

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What is worse, I see the quality of the figures now to be equal or LESS than what was available 12 years ago. I also noticed that, obviously, the prices of accessories and clothing is through the roof. It is almost making it cost prohibitive for a lot of things I want to do. I was even asking about Phicen vs. Jiaou the other day, and their pricing is what really made me think about this.
Really? I've been around 20 years in this hobby and I can say without any doubt that the typical quality of figures these days is FAR beyond what was available 12 years ago. Far. Even with my rose coloured glasses on, I can't deny that a typical DAMToy military figure blows away what Dragon, HT, or even BBI were making at their height for military figures. Nevermind that movie, fashion, and fantasy figures are now the same or more popular than military figs.

I do agree with you about price though. I noticed especially that modern military weapons blew up in price beyond all proportion. It's not even the exotic guns, but the ones that are done over and over like HK416 and their variants. I have no real evidence, but I feel there was a point when Soldier Story was the first to release a high quality HK416 and a few retailers parted them out and tried to get $20, $25, $30 for them and actually got those prices. Then everyone saw what they were missing out on and piled on. Now it feels like every standalone gun release is $30 for a single gun. ONE gun. It's insanity.
 

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WWII Guy
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my point of view is this when the market crashed in 2008 it changed the game. As long a Dragon was selling X number of figures the price point could be met. Once the market crashed the ability of the average collector to afford even the cheaper Dragon figures became untenable. Dragons business dried up - once that happened Dragon's days were numbered in the hobby. While all this was going on the natural progression on the hobby took everything to the next level in detail which spurred the price increase. Now add in the holy grail Hot Toys (in my opinion) crap, the Hollywood licenses and just plain greed puts the price at what they can get and let's not forget they short run these figures to keep the price atmospheric on the resale market and you now created a market to justify the price they charge.

In fairness I'm a military based collector - although I do and have built some custom figures that would and are "Hollywood". The level of detail in today's figures really is better - when you compare the head sculpts of today's offerings to those of the older figures and the paint apps are way better today, in someways the sculpts them selfs may be better and I stress may be better.

I once had a conversation with Scott Crawfoed at DX'05 about how Dragon needs to buy thier boots from Newline Miniatures - the answer I got was we (Dragon) need to pick where we place our money that goes into the figures. We choose to put the majority of the investment into uniforms, head sculpts and weapons. It's real hard to compete with Newline and keep the price reasonable.

The key words here are compete and reasonable.....

Does anyone for one single minute think that the boots that DID puts in thier sets hold a candle to the ones you buy from Newline? Please not even close folks so the price raise I'll pass on and let me buy the boots....

Just my .02 cents worth

Cya
Hankster
 

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The prices on modern figures can be...sobering, to say the least. I can't blame anyone feeling nostalgic for a time when a fully accessorised cost less than 50$. But to state that there hasn't been any progress in the last decade or so, when by your own admission you haven't purchased a single figure in all that time (unless im misinterpreting your post), is a bit out there.
 

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Warning: Choking Hazard !
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To quote a wise man in a recent movie for you hawkdoc :
"Have you thought this through? I mean, chewed down to the bone? You got out once. You dip so much as a pinky back into this pond... you may well find something reaches out... and drags you back into its depths".
 

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It's all a matter of perspective. If these products were manufactured in let's say Germany or Canada, they would cost exponentially more especially with the hand painting and sewing.

People are used to WalMart pricing on things made in a sweat shop and don't appreciate the R&D, technology and still skilled handicraft that go into these. China is closing the economic and wage gap and the prices will go up for that reason alone as someone else said.

I think they are reasonable for what they are: plastic or silicone collectibles. It's really a niche hobby medium-high end item. They will continue to raise the prices as long as the target market (adult males in medium to highly developed countries with disposable income) will buy the products.
 

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Divine Intervention!
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....What is worse, I see the quality of the figures now to be equal or LESS than what was available 12 years ago......
I think that answer your own question as you have obviously misunderstood the current quality vs those of "12 years ago".
 

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Pug Lord
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There are multiple factors involved, but having sold in this hobby for some time now I'll try to give some idea of contributing factors:

1) Rising labor costs in China. The Economist in an older article pegged wage increases at an average of 12% a year since 2001 (through 2015). Meanwhile an Oxford Economics report concludes Chinese labor costs are only 4% cheaper than in the US once worker productivity is factored in. Basically things aren't as cheap to make as they once were. This is further complicated by many commodities used by factories/suppliers being US dollar-denominated, meaning their raw material costs go up as the US dollar goes up.

2) Volumes. When prices were lower a military figure would sell by the container load in the US. That isn't the case with today's prices, which raises the costs per figure to produce. This is also further complicated by distribution not being exclusive on some brands, meaning you have several distributors bringing in the same product in lower quantities which effects the pricing they receive and can offer. This is particularly problematic as some distributors can't even get enough orders to justify bring in a release on it's own, which is why you are seeing delays in the US as distributors are having to combined multiple releases together to get shipping costs workable. Inbound shipping costs have gone up quite a bit as well so that is directly related to this as the cost per unit for freight is now higher, especially with retailers splitting their volumes with each distributor not knowing who will get product first. It doesn't take much for an extra few dollars here and there to add up in the supply chain.

3) MSRP pricing, or lack of it. Outside of tightly controlled brands retailers are setting their own MSRP prices. Depending on the brand, a retailer's stated MSRP may be as much as $15-20 higher than that actual manufacturer MSRP. The manufacturer MSRPs generally provide a reasonable level of margin that is not out of the ordinary for goods sold at brick and mortar, but the hobby has sellers of varying sizes with different overheads, but the concept of an MSRP has generally gone out the window in this hobby.

4) Regional pricing models. Some brands seem to be employing different price models for China and markets outside of China. You might see as much as a $50 difference in pricing between the two markets. Some of this is inefficient distribution where you have distributors buying from other distributors, some of it is due to differences in what distributors expect to make, and some of it is for no readily apparent reason.

5) Keeping up with the Joneses. The likes of Hot Toys have pushed up pricing and this has a trickle down effect. When a brand, retailer, distributor, or other participant in the hobby raises prices, others generally follow suit.

To give you a real world example of price inflation from a popular military brand, cost for an average figure (to a dealer) has gone up 16.8% since 2013.
My question is about the Chinese labor only being 4% cheaper than US. If this were true, then it mean US retailing is massively gouging the consumer, cuz I buy a lot of Chinese made product because it costs a LOT less.

Forget I asked, I read the report and answered my own question. Smoke and mirrors number game with no actual support.
If manufacturing in the US was THAT competitive our so called " patriotic " wealthy class would be opening factories here and enjoying a BOOst in income from increased sales to Americans who would flock to their products.I would buy US made exclusively if it were priced comparably.
 

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1:6 Acquisitionist
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Maybe the thread's title should be . . .

What happened to us in the hobby in the last 10-12 years?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Ok, ok, ok. I get it. The quality is better barring certain accessories. However, some of Dam Toys head sculpts are "Annabelle" creepy to me, especially in the gangster kingdom line. Especially the female cop. The SAS trooper photos were convincing too. I think I get it. I didn't expect to get mildly flamed. If I offended anyone, that was not my intention.
 
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