Jump to content

TNI Editorial - When Collecting Is No Longer Fun


JayC
 Share

Recommended Posts

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

  • Thanks 2
  • Sad 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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........

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

spacer.png

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

 

183816056_2820807464899101_2134412450052882999_n.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

33 minutes ago, DrLava said:

well in 2021 you can pull a card of value and not have to wait 20 years or have it graded to have it be worth thousands of dollars. i dont think youre understanding the differences between figures, comics, and cards. in 1990 not a single card was autographed for upper deck and placed into packs. it wasnt a thing. for a card to be worth serious money you had to invest the years and hope. now though, even their comic cards have autos from the artists. the autograph is where the value is. you get the autograph and certificate of authenticity right on the card. rookie autos can have massive value even that same year. you talk about 22 years after the griffey cards release it sold for $7k. go see what a 2017 patrick maholmes auto card goes for just 4 years after release. that same year if you pulled that card, you pulled yourself a new car. that same day. thats why theres the insanity there is in the card collecting scene. 

A so called autograph is no different than a limited edition variant or a chase figure. It’s just another tactic or gimmick to try and make people think it’s rare and hence valuable. Again I don’t really follow trading cards anymore but my guess you have no idea of how many so called autographed cards are out there. It’s no different than blind bag toys where you have that one so called hard to find thing. These kind of tactics are nothing new. The reason why the Ken Griffey sold for 7k in Feb and then a fw short months later was lucky to get 2k is because the perceived value wasn’t real. It was an illusion that has slowly warn off as more and more of those cards started to re enter the market. If the card was really rare it would only go up in value. The reason why  a mint condition copy featuring the first appearance of Superman is truly rare and valuable is not only because Superman is a popular character, but also because when people bought it when it came out, they weren’t buying it thinking one day it would be valuable. They bought it to read and then would generally roll it up and toss it away. So over a long period of time the number of mint copies left in existence became very small and hence was actually rare and actually valuable. The truth is something is only worth as much as someone else is willing to pay, so the trick is how many people one can convince or con into thinking something it rare and hence supposedly valuable. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, DrLava said:

actually you do know how many. it even says on the card and that number is released well before the set releases too. no secrets or trickery or marketing ploys. we're not talking a refractor or sepia or any other chase insert card. you keep trying to compare collecting autographs to action figure variants and its not a good comparison. the value of the auto comes from who signs it, not the rarity (or perceived rarity) of the card itself. the rarest card in a set isnt always the most valuable. sports collectibles is another world compared with toys. 

Yeah sorry man, I dont by it. I grew up in the late 80s and 90s and got burned to many times by these companies to be willing to fall for it again. Anytime I see companies drastically trying to artificially create demand with some kind of scarcity tactic it turns my stomach. Its one of the reasons I am not a fan at all of Funko POP stuff.  There are plenty of people beyond just the trading card companies themselves making big money off this latest mad craze trading card frenzy so there plenty of people out there who have an invested interest that the proverbial curtain isn't pulled back on this stuff to reveal what a house of cards (pun intended) this stuff is built on, and your welcome to believe what you want. Maybe you have some of these cards that you've been led to believe are really valuable, IDK. Again having gotten burned in the 90s on that stuff myself I realize how much it sucks when you start to realize all that stuff you spent time, energy and money collecting ends up being mostly worthless, but when you deem something an actual "collectible" and people start buying it to be a "collectible" and companies then start using  tactics to make it seem like something is rare, well that's generally what you end up with. Sure the short time flippers, scalpers ect ect might be able to make some quick money, but long-term wise your essentially left with fools gold.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, DrLava said:

actually you do know how many. it even says on the card and that number is released well before the set releases too. no secrets or trickery or marketing ploys. we're not talking a refractor or sepia or any other chase insert card. you keep trying to compare collecting autographs to action figure variants and its not a good comparison. the value of the auto comes from who signs it, not the rarity (or perceived rarity) of the card itself. the rarest card in a set isnt always the most valuable. sports collectibles is another world compared with toys. 

I can get the argument that autographed cards have an inherent value, but how does that apply to Pokemon cards? Ain't like Pikachu is signing cards. 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

  • Find Action Figures on Ebay

×
×
  • Create New...
Sign Up For The TNI Newsletter And Have The News Delivered To You!


Entertainment News International (ENI) is the #1 popular culture network for adult fans all around the world.
Get the scoop on all the popular comics, games, movies, toys, and more every day!

Contact and Support

Advertising | Submit News | Contact ENI | Privacy Policy

©Entertainment News International - All images, trademarks, logos, video, brands and images used on this website are registered trademarks of their respective companies and owners. All Rights Reserved. Data has been shared for news reporting purposes only. All content sourced by fans, online websites, and or other fan community sources. Entertainment News International is not responsible for reporting errors, inaccuracies, omissions, and or other liablities related to news shared here. We do our best to keep tabs on infringements. If some of your content was shared by accident. Contact us about any infringements right away - CLICK HERE