Thoughts from a Marvel Universe Toys collector
Hi, my name is Aitch and I am a Marvel Universe toy collector. There, I said it. At last check today I have nearly 175 3 ¾ figures in my collection and I don’t think that includes all of my loose figures or figures that are up for trade. So what’s the appeal of these figures? What makes some of us chase after them? 2 factors are availability and cost, the others will be added in as I go.
As far as I remember, I have been a collector for a long time. If it wasn’t comics, it was trading cards or any other piece of memorabilia that caught my eye. Initially when I started collecting Marvel figures, it was for the nostalgia factor and also they were really nice looking figures. I missed out on getting the original Toy Biz Marvel figures which one of my other friends collected years ago and Marvel Selects at the time were a little too deep for my pockets. Plus also at the time, I also considered and still mourned the fact that when I was a kid, I had a ton of what is now vintage Star Wars figures and I regret giving them away but hey, 30 years ago, we didn’t know any better and now people are paying crazy prices for them. As easy as it would have been to start back collecting Star Wars figures when I started, the one nagging thought in my mind was there is only so many times Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Darth Vader can be done and re-done and it just didn’t appeal to me. But somehow, the Marvel figures were a no brainer. Being a comic collector and reader, it was cool to see these toys in a small package with this much detail so after a month of collecting, I may have had 10 figures and after a year 5 times that number.
So what’s the allure? When you look at how Hasbro has handled this line for the past few years, a few things one notices are cost and availability. When I first started collecting, the figures was just starting to hit that 8 dollar range and just nudged up to 10 dollars within the past year. And to be frank, I think Hasbro knows what it is doing and is aware that most of the consumers of this product aren’t adults buying these for their kids to play with, but are adults who collect these as a hobby. So they can’t price themselves out of the market because there are still a few kids who actually do play with these toys. As far as these toys being available, most of us in the collecting community know that a trip to a Target or Wal-Mart can yield good finds just as well as a long trip to the scattered Toys R Us stores. By the way how many of you miss K-B toy stores now?
The catch however, is that Hasbro and most any other toy maker of figures of all things pop culture know that the way to keep these toys popular is to release a few characters at a time. For those that are new to collecting will notice that if you want certain figures, you have to be quick or miss out. And once you miss out, sometimes the only way to get that one figure you need is through 3rd parties and it may cost you more at that point. It works well for Hasbro but at the same time it hurts them too because one of the biggest negatives from the collecting community is how lazy and lax some of the products can be especially when a Marvel movie is about to be released. If anything, Hasbro needs to pay close attention to the work that has been done by customizers have done to either improve on current figures or bring forth figures that have not been released.
So, how has Hasbro handled the Marvel license? A few ways I can answer this and it’s only my opinion. First off I remember when Hasbro made the decision to take a step back from Marvel Legends and do the 3 ¾ figures and a lot of collectors were not happy over that. I think it’s safe to say we got over that really quick. As far as the characters that have been released over the years, Hasbro has done a good job of bringing out characters that many people forgot about or were never introduced to. As much as people complain about the insane amount of Spider-man figs in the MU line one of the most high sought after figures at the moment is the Bag-Head Spider-man, which is a variant of the FF Spider-man introduced last fall. While Hasbro I think has done an admirable job with characters, the one thing that hasn’t been good has been releasing them in a timely fashion. A lot of flak came out of the community when Hasbro released figures from Waves 18 through 20 with some places not getting some if any of those waves at all. Some people got Wave 20 before 18 and so on and made things difficult for collectors. Worse was how many overseas stores were getting them and charging insane rates for those just as insane to pay for them just to say that they had them. And if that wasn’t enough, how supply and demand from last year’s SDCC drove 3rd party prices up and also crashed their website. Some can chalk it up to Hasbro not being prepared or some can say Hasbro knows what it was doing to keep the demand for these toys way up high.
And I haven’t even talked about the fact that Hasbro brought back Marvel Legends last year and how they are still hot toys with Hit Monkey currently the newest sought after BAF.
One thing I can say is this, anyone that has taken a long time to jump on, they have missed a lot of good items to come along ( but then so did I with the Toy Biz stuff) and now is a good time to get when while it lasts..
So for anyone new getting in to this how does one keep up with what’s new and current? If you have a facebook account there are 2 groups I am currently in:
Make Mine Marvel and Marvel Toylines
There are few web sites that can give you an idea of what’s out and what’s coming and I strongly caution anyone to think before you purchase especially when looking at Big Bad Toy Store and Toy Wiz as sometimes they overcharge for certain items that you could find cheaper on Amazon or eBay.
If I had a wishlist right now of figures I would like to see officially introduced into the Marvel Universe toy line they would be:
Cloak and Dagger
So new collectors, there is still a lot to be had out there. Hasbro has put out some good packages and have managed a few duds especially when it comes to distribution but don’t let it stop you if you are new to this. The best things I can tell anyone is spend wisely (and for the love of Pete don’t expect to get rich off of this hobby!) and have fun and you can have a collection worth showing off.
Great post. As a fellow MU collector, the initial appeal was the scale and price. I have always wanted Marvel Legends but that particular collection was well into several waves and have become costly. MU gave me a chance to start at the very beginning and collect my favorites.