The other day I was watching a YouTube video depicting the scarcity of Star Wars action figures. But the video didn’t focus on how hard items are to find, but how many where sitting in clearance bins. I was at a loss for words at first thinking this must be wrong. Then I decided to check out a few of my local toy shops. needless to say I didn’t find much at all in the way of Star Wars product on shelves, clearance or otherwise.
I have always attributed Star Wars action figure scarcity to the massive number of collectors in the world seeking a limited supply of product. At first, my explanation was simple, most other people are like me not interested in the spin off or animated stuff so naturally those toys aren’t selling. But then it occurred to me, when I was shopping for Phantom Menace stuff it was everywhere and retro stuff was hard to find. The collectors were very vocal about how they just wanted OT toys nothing from the new movie. I have felt this way myself about the Clone Wars, Rebels and other animated programs. Frankly I refuse to buy any product branded with the name Star Wars that features those designs and characters. For me, it’s obvious that is not my Star Wars.
But the animated shows remained popular as do the new Disney movies. Since the individual making the toy video I saw made really negative comments about the Disney Star Wars as a whole, indicating to me there was some bias, I decided to dismiss it as such and move on. My instinct was kids today will see this as their Star Wars and buy the toys accordingly. But I did notice something unusual. If the trend is for collectors to snatch up retro stuff and young kids to snatch up the new stuff, it would stand to reason the retro stuff would also be scarce. If, on the other hand, nobody was buying Star Wars stuff, or if the retro collectors were as they say burned out, then it would stand to reason the new stuff would be hard to get and the retro stuff would be in the clearance bins.
That was it. I decided to investigate. I didn’t come to the same conclusion as the person making the obviously biased, entirely negative video, but I did notice a trend. The stores I went to had an equal number of PT, OT, and Disney Trilogy toys for sale. The characters from the animated shows were nowhere to be found with only a few side characters from the new films available. My initial conclusion, based on this being the first day the toyline was refreshed and there was new stock in store made me question a few things.
I was shopping early in the morning. I headed to Walmart around 7:30 a.m. If the new toys were put out around say Midnight then the collectors must have camped out and picked them bone dry. All that was left were a few of the side characters I am sure nobody cared about. The one thing that stood out was the Return of the Jedi Skiff vehicle retailing for just under $40. That seemed excessive for me considering what it was. Especially since I recently picked up a decked out Rise of the TMNT Turtle Tank for about that and even a Scooby Doo 50th Birthday Mystery Van with Fred for half that price. This told me that the OT stuff still fetches a premium price tag and that the collectors were on the ball.
If there was a shortage of toys the first day it came out that doesn’t indicate to me a lack of interest, on the contrary it tells me the collectors, or at the very least scalpers, are out in full force. I will be keeping an eye on this trend now that it’s been brought to my attention. Of course, keep in mind I am only now getting back into toy collecting so my knowledge of the current landscape is fairly limited. Stay Cool.