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July 2004 | Vol. III - No. 7


Collectors Bid Top Dollar for Film Based Action Figures

NPD Funworld Senior Industry Analyst Mike Redmond watches the annual summer movie market closely – especially those that involve licensed characters. While movie releases such as “Harry Potter” and the “Prisoner of Azkaban,” “Shrek 2” and “Spider-Man 2” are geared towards kids, it’s not just kids that will be hunting for hot movie-related merchandise.

Enter the avid toy collector - buyer of all that is new and old and willing to pay top dollar for it. Like Redmond , the collector also watches the movie market closely – but for different reasons. Licensed toys and action figures were hot commodities upon the release of movies like “Spider-Man,” “ Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines ,” “ The Matrix Reloaded ,” and “Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers” – driving collectors to their local toy stores and eBay to snatch up action figures before they sold out. Redmond expects this same frenzied trend to continue with the release of “Spider-Man 2.”

Utilizing laser scan technology, companies like McFarlane Toys, Toy Biz, Art Asylum, and DC Direct, produce collectible action figures that are detailed and lifelike, with full-range of motion in their shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, and fingers. Such types of collectible action figures tend to create quite a demand. Ken Reinstein, public relations director of The McFarlane Companies, noted that they consistently sell out of exclusive (short run of 2,000-3,000 pieces) McFarlane sports figures at shows, only to have them turn up on eBay selling for $300 or more.

But it isn’t just new action figures the collector wants. A trip over to eBay found older action figures and accessories commanding big money:

  • 1967 Spiderman Captain Action Uniform Set mint in the box – over $11,000
  • A Mego 1972 RC Batman #1301 mint in the box – over $700
  • 1978 12-Back Vinyl Cape Jawa character from Star Wars – over $2,000
  • Six Million Dollar Man action figure, mint in the box – $150

Experts agree that eBay has revolutionized the collectibles´ market, making it easy for collectors to locate and purchase those hard-to-find limited edition or short run figures – no matter what the cost. But for the die-hard action figure collector, cost isn’t a factor when it comes to owning a piece of new or old action history.

“There are different types of collectors out there,” said Ken Reinstein, public relations director of The McFarlane Companies. “Some collect action figures because they’re conversation pieces, others because it’s something from their childhood that they identify with, and others because it’s a sports product or something from a favorite movie.”


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