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Doctor Who Figures Discounted and Remaindered: Why?
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Kambei



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 10:53 am    Post subject: Doctor Who Figures Discounted and Remaindered: Why? Reply with quote

I wonder how long it will be before more of these figures end up on the shelves in remainder shops like some of the new series carded figures, box sets and Sarah Jane figures currently are? On Tuesday I saw the Professor Yana box set for £6 in a shop. Brand new. I have seen the Sycorax figures at £3. The Classic Series figures seem to be selling very well, at the moment, but bar a select few, the new series figures are peg-warming. Having been around the collecting game for many years now, I think I know some of the reasons for this:

1) Price. The average price of an action figure in 4 inch scale in England is now £7. In America, it is $8. It makes collecting figures quite pricey these days. I have severely cut back on the collecting and am mainly buying figures for customising. It really tells the tale when it is cheaper to buy a figure including postage from Ebay US than it is to buy the same figure from Toys R Us in this country. Having said that, now that the Harry Potter figures have been remaindered from an average of £7 to £1.50, I have been supplying friends in the US in bulk. Again, the price was putting people off.
Doctor Who figures were about the same, and again the prices have dropped dramatically. The TRU website has quite a few at £2.99 each, and yesterday when I went into one of the stores, all of the figures except the classic series build-a-figure range were reduced to £2.99 When a company like that drops prices below 50%, traditionally it means that the toys are not selling. Let's be brutally honest here; if a Harry Potter range of toys cannot survive in the current market, and those figures were on sale worldwide except for America (because NECA cut an exclusive manufacture and distribution deal for the USA , much to the dismay of American fans), then what chance does a Doctor Who range stand after the initial sales buzz?

2) The toy buying public. Maybe I should add: the toy purchasing attitudes prevalent today. Action figures, especially larger scale, do not sell that well these days. Even wrestling figures. The group exception to this is collectors. The recent Indiana Jones action figure range has been cancelled by Hasbro because of poor retail sales worldwide, the same with the Adventure heroes range. Hasbro has been blaming the public for not buying multiples of each item rather than some of their rather bizarre marketing and distribution decisions, but they are partly right.
Toy buying has changed dramatically in the last thirty years, and more so since the advent of home computers and games consoles. If you look at sales figures, it seems that children would much rather spend time in front of the television or games console. The major exception to this being ranges like Barbie, or even Bratz. The latter at least until the next big thing comes along. Interesting demographic for you there. Girl's dolls sell far better than boys action figures. Any closet Barbie collectors in here? This may be because Mattel diversified its Barbie range bringing in ethnic dolls and also catering to teh collectors market.
Thirty years ago, These figures would have sold extremely well, even twenty years ago. Today, they are in a very competitive market that is extremely media driven. Doctor Who is one screen in new episodes for fourteen weeks a year, if you include the Christmas special. An American series is generally on for between twenty-one and twenty-four weeks. With modern attention spans being what they are, do the maths. Add that to the fact that in America, DW is on the Sci-Fi channel. Not the highest rating channel around. Rather specialist. From what I have seen, Cartoon Network generally gets higher viewing figures.
There are also gaming circles like Pokemon and Gormitti. Who is going to buy one action figure for their children when they can get two four-packs of collectible mini-figures, that can be used as part of a game that encourages social interaction, for the same price? It is adults in the main who buy toys for children. They want value for money and playability, not something that will collect dust on teh shelf or end up at the bottom of the toy box after two weeks.
It seems strange, and toy companies are highly reluctant to admit it, but collectors are now the main buyers of most action figures. The huge exception being Star Wars, especially with the new Clone Wars cartoon. As long as Lucas can manage to churn out an endless stream of media, Star Wars will remain the planet's biggest cash-cow.

3) Scale and playablity. Doctor Who figures are 5 inches high. The Daleks are 5 inches high. The Sontarans are 5 inches high. Anybody spot the initial problem here? The answer is scale. These figures should be different heights, but that is not the main problem.
Marvel Legends figures are 6 inches. DC figures are 6 inches. Halo figures are 6 inches. Wrestling figures are 6 or 8 inches. Star Wars figures are 4 inches. The newly released DC figures and upcoming Marvel figures are 4 inches. No toy company of any note has produced 5 inch figures for nearly a decade. The last major release in that scale I can remember were the Playmates Star Trek Next Generation figures. Most companies are switching to the 4 inch scale because of oil prices, and the fact that the toy industry in China is in trouble.
As I said earlier, Star Wars is the biggest selling action figure range. Kids are not going to want a 5 inch range that looks really odd with the rest of their collection, and let's face it, the Star Wars crowd is going to be one of the main non-DW fan DW figure buying group.
The DW figures also suffer from lack of articulation. Most of them have swivel shoulders, ie, arms that only go up and down. Even Mattel, never really known for articulation on figures, have started using ball hinged shoulders. Collectors and children alike are becoming more fussy about this. I also saw the new Torchwood figures in Forbidden Planet yesterday. Aside from the rather crap packaging, they look more like statues for collectors than action figures. These will be a definite pass for me. Couldn't tell if Gwen's arms even bend at the elbows. Meh!
This also leads to another question. Which group are the newer Classic figures aimed at? Collectors or children. If collectors, then CO have made a fatal mistake releasing them mass market. I am just waiting for the prices to plummet so that I can get a Giant Robot cheap. Either that or find a complete one on ebay.

Personally, I think that possibly the only figures that will continue to sell well will be the Daleks, and maybe the classic series figures on pure nostalgia. The daleks are too firmly rooted in the publics's imagination to take a nose dive. Character Options do seem to be doing a Hasbro and trying to release some very odd choices in the way of figures in each range. Having said that, at least they are not going down the Snake-Eyes/Wolverine/Darth Vader route and releasing three repaints/slightly different versions of The Doctor every other wave.

Interestingly, there is a website called Toy News International. It publishes photos of toy ranges from all over the world and has coverage of all the major toy fairs worldwide. The parent site also covers all the different kinds of media; comics, film, DVD, gaming etc. Check them out here:
http://toynewsi.com/
They recently held a poll for collectors, asking us which scale we preferred to collect. I think the results that I saw before the poll ended bear out my comments:

6 inch: 585 (47.5%)
3.75 inch: 560 (49.49%)
12 inch: 60 (4.8%)
5 inch: 26 (2.1%)
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_Liam_
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The new figures are pretty good, but as you say, the articulation is rubbish, the dalek's weapons and plungers don't move on the classic series 3 pack. They do on the mutant reveal new series one, but the gun moves to such a small degree, it really is taking the piss.
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Mike



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

_Liam_ wrote:
The new figures are pretty good, but as you say, the articulation is rubbish, the dalek's weapons and plungers don't move on the classic series 3 pack. They do on the mutant reveal new series one, but the gun moves to such a small degree, it really is taking the piss.

The weapons and plungers do move on the classic series pack, Liam, but they're as stiff as a fanboy watching The Stolen Earth. Try pushing them in and turning them, it'll get them going a bit. Another way is to pull the things themselves out of the little spheres and get the sphere going with a screwdriver, it does work.
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_Liam_
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Argh I had my suspicions, but I'm so terrified of breaking it Laughing I'll give it a go. It's a bit like those dvd cases you get where it feels like the disc will snap in two if you try to take it out at anything but an extremely gradual pace
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Mike



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

_Liam_ wrote:
Argh I had my suspicions, but I'm so terrified of breaking it Laughing I'll give it a go. It's a bit like those dvd cases you get where it feels like the disc will snap in two if you try to take it out at anything but an extremely gradual pace

Oh yeah, I know what you mean. I was shaking like a shitting duck trying to get mine going, would have been devastated if they'd have snapped! Laughing
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Kambei



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like quality control is an issue as well, although many of the major toy firms have also been having problems recently.
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Mike



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kambei wrote:
Looks like quality control is an issue as well, although many of the major toy firms have also been having problems recently.

Yeah, the Doctor Who toys have never been overly amazing in terms of movement.
Hmm, the Character Options factory is within walking distance of my college. Could go and get them to sort it out...
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Kambei



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

_Liam_ wrote:
The new figures are pretty good, but as you say, the articulation is rubbish,


This is one of the problems. It is hard to tell who the line is aimed at: collectors or kids. Both groups have very different buying habits. CO seem to have gone with aesthetics over playability, making the figures look wonderful and very accurate, but sacrificing playability. The packaging reflects this as well.
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Mike



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kambei wrote:
_Liam_ wrote:
The new figures are pretty good, but as you say, the articulation is rubbish,


This is one of the problems. It is hard to tell who the line is aimed at: collectors or kids. Both groups have very different buying habits. CO seem to have gone with aesthetics over playability, making the figures look wonderful and very accurate, but sacrificing playability. The packaging reflects this as well.

Interesting point. For me, it's the accuracy that counts, as they'll be sat on my shelf half the time, apart from when I have to get a new series figure for whatever reason, in which case, the matches will come out. Either that or I'll give it to some kid who likes Doctor Who.
Burning them would be more fun though (the figures, not the kids)
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Kambei



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike wrote:
Kambei wrote:
_Liam_ wrote:
The new figures are pretty good, but as you say, the articulation is rubbish,


This is one of the problems. It is hard to tell who the line is aimed at: collectors or kids. Both groups have very different buying habits. CO seem to have gone with aesthetics over playability, making the figures look wonderful and very accurate, but sacrificing playability. The packaging reflects this as well.

Interesting point. For me, it's the accuracy that counts, as they'll be sat on my shelf half the time,


Which marks you down as a collector. Exactly my point.
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Mistress Rani



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The figures have ben selling well the problem is the cse packing to shops. Some of the more popular figures are only packed 1 to a case and others eg Laszlo are multi-packed. Crazy
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B3



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw loads of New Who/SJA tat at heavily discounted prices in two shops in Nottingham this afternoon.

Cybermen and Daleks sell well, but who the fuck wants Lazlo?
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Mike



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the cheapest bit of cack I've seen from the new series range was a 'Destroyed Cassandra'. It's just the Cassandra figure...with no Cassandra.
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Kambei



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mistress Rani wrote:
The figures have ben selling well the problem is the cse packing to shops. Some of the more popular figures are only packed 1 to a case and others eg Laszlo are multi-packed. Crazy


That is called marketing. When a firm packs the popular figures fewer to a case, they instantly become 'chase figures'. This means that unless a collector is willing to pay over the odds, they are going to have to hunt the figure they want down. In the meantime, said company is hoping that the collector will pick up the other figures packed more to a case as they are more prominantly displayed. They know these lesser collectibles will be hard to shift otherwise.
Also a reason why some people go to work for firms like Toys R Us. They get first dibs when a new case is opened, buy the harder to get figures on their staff discount, and list them as 'rare' on Ebay teh same day for up to triple the RRP. Collectors will shell out extortionate amounts of money because they can't find them anywhere else and 'have to have this' to complete their collection.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike wrote:
I think the cheapest bit of cack I've seen from the new series range was a 'Destroyed Cassandra'. It's just the Cassandra figure...with no Cassandra.
That was a Woolies exclusive which explains a lot perhaps.
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