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TNI Editorial - When Collecting Is No Longer Fun


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If you haven't heard, starting on May 14th Target will no longer sell MLB, NFL, NBA and Pokemon trading cards out of concern for safety of their employees. This move by Target is reportedly due to a fight that broke out among 5 people at a Target parking lot in Brookfield, Wisconsin on May 7. This was over a dispute involving trading cards where a gun was actually drawn.

The secondary-market prices on many trading cards have been sky-rocketing in recent months due to a perceived scarcity from limited production runs for many of these cards including Pokemon. This in turn like always has drawn many people to the hobby who's only interest is to be able to make a quick buck by getting them at cost and then turning around to re-sell them on sites like eBay for a much higher price.

Now the production shortage of these cards has primarily been blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic which I am sure has certainly played a part. However this type of thing really isn't anything new for those who collect any kind of pop-culture memorabilia. It doesn't matter if it's trading cards, action figures, POP! Vinyl figures or what-have-you. These things often seem to get produced in limited numbers at least starting out, which was happening well before COVID.

In my view this is a tactic called Scarcity Marketing, which is something I see being used more and more. For those not familiar with the practice, scarcity marketing is a marketing tactic that capitalizes on a customer's fear of missing out on something. It's based on the psychological principle that people want what is difficult to acquire. When something is "deemed" scarce, it then miraculously becomes more valuable on the secondary market. Once something is "deemed" valuable, people who wouldn't normally be interested in said item all of a sudden want it, hence increasing the overall demand for said item.

The downside to this however beyond things like fights breaking out in Target parking lots is that it simply takes the fun out of collecting. People who where collecting said item simply because they liked said item can no longer find it on shelves. The people running in to get said item only to turn around and resell it at a significantly marked up price (Scalpers) end up becoming the dominate demographic of the hobby which then eventually drives away regular collectors.

While thankfully we haven't quit gotten to that point where people are drawing their firearms in the parking lots of their local Target's for action figures, one has to wonder how long it will be until we see a similar story pop up involving people trying to get something like the latest Target exclusive Cobra Island figures or NECA TMNT figures? And as sad as that sounds, the way things are going in this hobby, wondering if that might happen I don't think is to far-fetched.

185504188_2825161704463677_4757287784606504509_n.jpg

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Yes, when you take a hobby too seriously things can get out of hand plus the scarcity, the poor or lack of distribution and the way in which companies are handling their figure lines nowadays add even more tension. I see it sometimes in the way some conversations about toys get heated and I wonder: what's the fun on that? or are we still getting fun on collecting toys?.

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52 minutes ago, JayC said:
If you haven't heard, starting on May 14th Target will no longer sell MLB, NFL, NBA and Pokemon trading cards out of concern for safety of their employees. This move by Target is reportedly due to a fight that broke out among 5 people at a Target parking lot in Brookfield, Wisconsin on May 7. This was over a dispute involving trading cards where a gun was actually drawn.

The secondary-market prices on many trading cards have been sky-rocketing in recent months due to a perceived scarcity from limited production runs for many of these cards including Pokemon. This in turn like always has drawn many people to the hobby who's only interest is to be able to make a quick buck by getting them at cost and then turning around to re-sell them on sites like eBay for a much higher price.

Now the production shortage of these cards has primarily been blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic which I am sure has certainly played a part. However this type of thing really isn't anything new for those who collect any kind of pop-culture memorabilia. It doesn't matter if it's trading cards, action figures, POP! Vinyl figures or what-have-you. These things often seem to get produced in limited numbers at least starting out, which was happening well before COVID.

In my view this is a tactic called Scarcity Marketing, which is something I see being used more and more. For those not familiar with the practice, scarcity marketing is a marketing tactic that capitalizes on a customer's fear of missing out on something. It's based on the psychological principle that people want what is difficult to acquire. When something is "deemed" scarce, it then miraculously becomes more valuable on the secondary market. Once something is "deemed" valuable, people who wouldn't normally be interested in said item all of a sudden want it, hence increasing the overall demand for said item.

The downside to this however beyond things like fights breaking out in Target parking lots is that it simply takes the fun out of collecting. People who where collecting said item simply because they liked said item can no longer find it on shelves. The people running in to get said item only to turn around and resell it at a significantly marked up price (Scalpers) end up becoming the dominate demographic of the hobby which then eventually drives away regular collectors.

While thankfully we haven't quit gotten to that point where people are drawing their firearms in the parking lots of their local Target's for action figures, one has to wonder how long it will be until we see a similar story pop up involving people trying to get something like the latest Target exclusive Cobra Island figures or NECA TMNT figures? And as sad as that sounds, the way things are going in this hobby, wondering if that might happen I don't think is to far-fetched.

185504188_2825161704463677_4757287784606504509_n.jpg

Hate to say it Jay, but you're completely wrong on this one. I've seen and heard of people getting jumped for shoes, jackets, game systems, political affiliations, religious beliefs, body type, racial origin, sexual preference and a hundred other equally ridiculous reasons for harming your fellow man. The bottom line is, if a guy is itching for a fight, he's gonna go out and find a reason . . . ANY reason to get in someone's face.

Take the game card thing. Anyone who would pull a gun on another human being over a matter of Pokemon cards has a loose wire upstairs. Chances are, if he hadn't drawn down on that person for that reason, it would've been on someone else for an equally stupid reason.

Don't look at things to explain why people commit violence, look at the people themselves.

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Wow I had no idea that card collecting was so popular and crazy. I think as far as action figures are concerned exclusives are nothing new while it has gotten worse since the pandemic started I finally started to get tired of it so I came to the conclusion that if I can't get a certain figure due to artificial scarcity because of exclusivity I simply will due without. There are so many awesome lines out there to collect that I'm content enough to not bother. 

I have since stopped with the G.I. Joe Classified line because of exclusives being so prevalent in this line in particular. Didn't evenn start with the Neca Turtles, who needs the aggravation.

This is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby and I'm treating it as just that.

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I mean, the violence and such, absolutely unacceptable, but the scarcity issue alone was enough for me to quit buying the NECA cartoon turtles. Fortunately, I've been able to preorder all of the movie stuff, so I've not missed any of that. 

TMNT is my main thing (check the username and profile pic). But I got so frustrated being unable to find the cartoon product on shelves. I ended up giving up and switching to Super7. 

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1 hour ago, JayC said:
If you haven't heard, starting on May 14th Target will no longer sell MLB, NFL, NBA and Pokemon trading cards out of concern for safety of their employees. This move by Target is reportedly due to a fight that broke out among 5 people at a Target parking lot in Brookfield, Wisconsin on May 7. This was over a dispute involving trading cards where a gun was actually drawn.

The secondary-market prices on many trading cards have been sky-rocketing in recent months due to a perceived scarcity from limited production runs for many of these cards including Pokemon. This in turn like always has drawn many people to the hobby who's only interest is to be able to make a quick buck by getting them at cost and then turning around to re-sell them on sites like eBay for a much higher price.

Now the production shortage of these cards has primarily been blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic which I am sure has certainly played a part. However this type of thing really isn't anything new for those who collect any kind of pop-culture memorabilia. It doesn't matter if it's trading cards, action figures, POP! Vinyl figures or what-have-you. These things often seem to get produced in limited numbers at least starting out, which was happening well before COVID.

In my view this is a tactic called Scarcity Marketing, which is something I see being used more and more. For those not familiar with the practice, scarcity marketing is a marketing tactic that capitalizes on a customer's fear of missing out on something. It's based on the psychological principle that people want what is difficult to acquire. When something is "deemed" scarce, it then miraculously becomes more valuable on the secondary market. Once something is "deemed" valuable, people who wouldn't normally be interested in said item all of a sudden want it, hence increasing the overall demand for said item.

The downside to this however beyond things like fights breaking out in Target parking lots is that it simply takes the fun out of collecting. People who where collecting said item simply because they liked said item can no longer find it on shelves. The people running in to get said item only to turn around and resell it at a significantly marked up price (Scalpers) end up becoming the dominate demographic of the hobby which then eventually drives away regular collectors.

While thankfully we haven't quit gotten to that point where people are drawing their firearms in the parking lots of their local Target's for action figures, one has to wonder how long it will be until we see a similar story pop up involving people trying to get something like the latest Target exclusive Cobra Island figures or NECA TMNT figures? And as sad as that sounds, the way things are going in this hobby, wondering if that might happen I don't think is to far-fetched.

185504188_2825161704463677_4757287784606504509_n.jpg

 

19 minutes ago, mako said:

Hate to say it Jay, but you're completely wrong on this one. I've seen and heard of people getting jumped for shoes, jackets, game systems, political affiliations, religious beliefs, body type, racial origin, sexual preference and a hundred other equally ridiculous reasons for harming your fellow man. The bottom line is, if a guy is itching for a fight, he's gonna go out and find a reason . . . ANY reason to get in someone's face.

Take the game card thing. Anyone who would pull a gun on another human being over a matter of Pokemon cards has a loose wire upstairs. Chances are, if he hadn't drawn down on that person for that reason, it would've been on someone else for an equally stupid reason.

Don't look at things to explain why people commit violence, look at the people themselves.

It amazes me what people are willing to do for something as relatively insignificant as a trading card. 

I agree with JayC that this tactic of "Scarcity Marketing" is a big part of the problem, however I also agree with Mako that you have to have a screw or two loose to pull a gun on another human being over such trivial matters. 

The way I see it is  the combination of this somewhat shady marketing technique and so many people on the edge out there makes for an explosive situation full of potential for violence. Its a truly bewildering and sad situation, especially for what should be a relatively harmless, fun hobby of collecting toys. 

I guess the real issue is how can we ratchet down the level of stress and tension in our society so that people aren't so willing to potentially kill for a hobby........

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I’m guessing this is the tail end of the good old days. It feels like the sputtering of comics in the 90s. People will eventually just bail on the hobby. Hasbro is ever closer to the 30.00 range now. That alone is is going to push people out of collecting. Take into account secondary markets prices that many will pay because it’s not available in stores, that bumps the price to 50-60 range. And that’s just for a marvel legend. Whatever companies are thinking, this isn’t going to end well for them. 

Only a small slice of collectors will be willing to pay those prices. 

Since things are planned out years in advance no one really cares about the problems. They probably don’t really see it as a problem that effects them. They just came off a huge year of parents buying toys for their kids because they where all stuck inside.  And its clear manufactures are dead set on raising cost and blaming the rising cost of raw materials. I think that’s partly to blame, but they also see morons are willing to pay 50 bucks a figure, why not just start charging that. the writing is on the wall. 

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1 hour ago, mako said:

Hate to say it Jay, but you're completely wrong on this one. I've seen and heard of people getting jumped for shoes, jackets, game systems, political affiliations, religious beliefs, body type, racial origin, sexual preference and a hundred other equally ridiculous reasons for harming your fellow man. The bottom line is, if a guy is itching for a fight, he's gonna go out and find a reason . . . ANY reason to get in someone's face.

Take the game card thing. Anyone who would pull a gun on another human being over a matter of Pokemon cards has a loose wire upstairs. Chances are, if he hadn't drawn down on that person for that reason, it would've been on someone else for an equally stupid reason.

Don't look at things to explain why people commit violence, look at the people themselves.

I don't think I am wrong with my description of the tactics that are being used to create artificial demand which in turn has caused legit frustration and drives people out of the hobby, and no those aren't tactics just limited to the toy industry. That being said, no matter how frustrated someone might be over trying to collect, there is no justification of committing acts of physical violence like described with the Target incident, and yet as you point out there are always those who are seemingly unhinged enough that do those type of things.

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Tldr: I agree, this is sad, about as sad as companies allowed to sell "booster packs/loot boxes" to children which encourages these companies to rip off their "customers" even more.

 

I've always been uninformed on Pokemon Card Formats, but I used to really enjoy Magic the Gathering before the Commamder Format became popular, & blame Wizards of the Coast's Tournament changes for lessening my overall interest.

 

Basically, in my early 20's when WotC went from Type 2 Tournament decks allowed to have cards released from roughly 2 years prior to only 4 months prior, I would have had to double my income & lose all my expenses to continue that hobby.

 

I feel bad for some hobbyists obviously, I feel nothing for the WotC "TCG" creators though.

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see youre comparing gi joe and tmnt figures that have no actual value ($100 maybe) to a baseball card that can currently sell for $10k. topps isnt using scarcity marketing to sell cards. theres literally 100 cards autographed by each player they had signing. thats the point. its not a scalper thing, its a gambling thing. if you buy every box from the case youre guaranteed autos and relics. so spending $200 has the possibility to net you $20k-$50k. at worst you should be able to resell the cards and make back your initial $200. thats why the fights happen. walmart stopped selling them months ago. people wait for the topps and panini reps and harass them. its terrible. it was even worse 2 years ago when they actually sold hobby boxes. they stopped that and went to blasters but then people would post the reps schedules online and people would wait for them to show up at the store.

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I agree with dr lava - comparing to action figures is a bit apples and oranges due to the randomness as to what cards you get. I suppose you could argue that in terms of exclusives there is a random factor in terms of what stock a particular store has. 
 

also for clarification of the incident being described, my understanding is 4 dudes tried to assault another guy in the parking lot who then pulled a gun in self-defense (and no shots were fired). This wasn’t a case of someone robbing somebody else at gunpoint, fwiw.

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Two parties to blame on this one:  manufacturers for purposely making limited supply of course, but more so the mentally deficient grown adults.  This is exactly like when little children behave badly and have nice things take away as a punishment.  Except these are grown @$$ men.  Sad, pathetic grown men.

I can absolutely see it come to a point where these signs are hanging in the action figure aisles, and that's going to be a sad day.

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I never got jumped or attacked in a parking lot over something I purchased or wanted to buy but situations such as this is a reason why I stop hunting at stores.  It doesn't help when people in the stores or who work at the stores are giving me dirty looks and glares because they see a grown man in his 40's in the toy aisle or asking someone about toys.  I've had stores call the police on me when I would walk around the toy department.  Stores think I'm there by myself so I'm looking to rob the place or looking to pick up little boys and girls and I'm a pervert.

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1 minute ago, Outsiders said:

I've had stores call the police on me when I would walk around the toy department.  Stores think I'm there by myself so I'm looking to rob the place or looking to pick up little boys and girls and I'm a pervert.

Ugh, don't you just hate these thin-skinned snitches?

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2 hours ago, DrLava said:

see youre comparing gi joe and tmnt figures that have no actual value ($100 maybe) to a baseball card that can currently sell for $10k. topps isnt using scarcity marketing to sell cards. theres literally 100 cards autographed by each player they had signing. thats the point. its not a scalper thing, its a gambling thing. if you buy every box from the case youre guaranteed autos and relics. so spending $200 has the possibility to net you $20k-$50k. at worst you should be able to resell the cards and make back your initial $200. thats why the fights happen. walmart stopped selling them months ago. people wait for the topps and panini reps and harass them. its terrible. it was even worse 2 years ago when they actually sold hobby boxes. they stopped that and went to blasters but then people would post the reps schedules online and people would wait for them to show up at the store.

I am comparing items that are perceived to have an increased value when they really don't using certain kinds of marketing tactics to artificially inflate that value. So comparing modern trading cards to modern action figures I dont think is apples and oranges. Truth is something is only as valuable as what someone else is willing to pay, but you start convincing enough people something is "rare" and therefore valuable all of a sudden its magically valuable, at least until the truth comes out and people discover its not really rare and therefore not really valuable. We've seen this happen time and time again whether its comics, trading cards or action figures.

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29 minutes ago, chickenfeetrfun2eat said:

Ugh, don't you just hate these thin-skinned snitches?

The first time it happens, it's annoying.  But it's more funny when the store is freaking out because I will come back again and the Police will yell at the store and tell them to stop calling the Police on me for nothing.

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40 minutes ago, JayC said:

I am comparing items that are perceived to have an increased value when they really don't using certain kinds of marketing tactics to artificially inflate that value. So comparing modern trading cards to modern action figures I dont think is apples and oranges. Truth is something is only as valuable as what someone else is willing to pay, but you start convincing enough people something is "rare" and therefore valuable all of a sudden its magically valuable, at least until the truth comes out and people discover its not really rare and therefore not really valuable. We've seen this happen time and time again whether its comics, trading cards or action figures.

but there isnt any marketing tactic needed for an autographed lebron james card, or autographed mike trout card. the value isnt perceived, its real cause those players are some of the very best. the reason those cards are valuable is because its signed by the player, not cause of what someone will pay. once they ink that card, it already has a defined value. and its not topps and panini setting that value either. topps and panini arent out there telling us who the top athletes are or who the most popular athletes are. thats already established.

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21 minutes ago, Outsiders said:

The first time it happens, it's annoying.  But it's more funny when the store is freaking out because I will come back again and the Police will yell at the store and tell them to stop calling the Police on me for nothing.

lol i bet you enjoyed that $100 gift card though

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I've been slowly dropping a lot of lines cause of scarcity, I've been getting more and more into the Reaction figures as they are easier to collect and cover a lot of the intellectual properties I like. He-Man, Thundercats, Robocop, Toxie, Universal Monsters and TMNT? Hell yes! Bit pricey for what it is but at least the Super 7 sculpts are nicer than the Funko ones that were out a few years ago for $10. 

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Yeah I would say I'm not surprised about this incident, the collector market is booming right now, and in a up swing, I think largely a ton had to do with last year, I have also seen tons of stories from collectors on the net in regards to the cards section being wiped clean and heavy madness in the card collecting department, stories of scalpers putting bugs on the trucks and the stocking vendors vehicles and following them around to each store to clear them out, I never really noticed until recently that at EB games here in Toronto they lock up the Cards, because of scalping and thieving, not even high end statues are locked up, only things are Cards! and it's not like the cards were always locked up it's a new thing.

It's really sad grown men trying to make a quick buck is horrible , because kids love these things too, and bad apples have to ruin it for everyone.

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2 hours ago, DrLava said:

but there isnt any marketing tactic needed for an autographed lebron james card, or autographed mike trout card. the value isnt perceived, its real cause those players are some of the very best. the reason those cards are valuable is because its signed by the player, not cause of what someone will pay. once they ink that card, it already has a defined value. and its not topps and panini setting that value either. topps and panini arent out there telling us who the top athletes are or who the most popular athletes are. thats already established.

Im not that much into the trading card scene anymore and I don't know your age, but let me take you back to a time in the 90s and tell you a story about this little card here. The Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie card. See Mr. Griffey at the time was an up and coming shinning star in the world of MLB. This card at the time was herald as the holly grail of baseball cards. Everyone at the time thought if they had one, one day they would be able to sell it and retire or pay for their kids college tuition. Yes Griffey was a good ball player but thats not why the card was deemed so valuable. It was deemed valuable because people were conned into thinking the card was rare. As it turned out Upper Deck who was well aware of how popular this card had become began printing these things out like there was no tomorrow so they could make lots of money. Eventually it was discovered what Upper Deck was doing at which point the perceived value dropped to pretty much nothing. 

Now fast forward to the present. Now you have these grading companies who if you pay a modest fee will kindly based on their expertise tell you if your card is a high rating or not. Of course if you get like a 10 its now perceived valuable. So take this Ken Griffey card, even though they are still a dime a dozen, if these grading companies were nice enough to give you 10 you could then run to eBay and sell it for big money. In February a PSA 10 Ken Griffey was going for around 7k. A few months later as more and more Griffey cards started hitting eBay again as word started getting out they were selling for big money the value then dropped. Now they sell for 2k which is still way over priced, because again the card isn't rare. There tons of them out there and most people because it was deemed a "collectible" took care of it and they are all still in really good condition. These grading companies as I understand it are doing bookoo business these days (hmm I wonder why) as word has spread if you have a high graded card you can all of a sudden sell your worthless cards for big money because people have been convinced that actually means something. These grading companies have gotten so backed up it will not take you months to get your cards graded. So if you can't tell just like the trading card industry in the late 80s and 90s have found ways to artificially create a bubble that has heighten demand for said products which sooner or later will burst.

Now if you have time I can tell you similar stories about the comic book industry in the 90s as well.

 

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