Author Topic: The Future of Action Figure Lines?  (Read 503 times)

Offline Brian

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The Future of Action Figure Lines?
« on: October 17, 2008, 12:39 PM »
It seems like these days there are more lines than ever on the pegs (heck, Star Wars alone has three assortments right now), and there's a lot more competition in the action figure aisles than there was even when I started collecting again in the late 90s.  We're seeing more and more exclusives, and now entire waves as exclusives (like Marvel Legends, and DCU Classics).  It seems like most, if not all, lines are getting more expensive across the board.  We're seeing prices for 3 3/4" stuff like SW, Joes, the upcoming Marvel Universe, Indy, etc. hitting $8 each in some places.  The larger scaled (6") stuff like Legends and DCUC range anywhere from $11 to $15 right now.  Anyways, where do you see the action figure lines headed in the future?  Do you think we'll start seeing less lines overall (and less individual releases within those lines)?  Will we see more of a shift to smaller scale stuff with oil prices (even though they are currently a bit lower) and have less and less 6" and taller scaled lines on the pegs?  Is the competition in the toy aisle going to start to weed out some of the various lines?

It seems to me (and I guess I'm thinking mostly of Star Wars, but it applies to other lines as well) that we're getting more releases than ever in a year (not even counting exclusives), but at the same time prices are getting higher.  Like I said, even ten years ago when I started collecting a little there was just a lot less in the aisle.  Now there are just tons of lines, many of which seem to be aimed more so at collectors, in addition to all of the "kids' lines" (I'm thinking like TMNT, Power Rangers, Ben 10, etc.) 

Anyways, sorry for the long post, but do you see any changes in the action figure lines in the next 1, 5, or 10 years?  In a way, it sort of reminds me of my days as a sports card collector when I was younger.  When I was collecting those (late 80s/early 90s), at the time there was (I'll use baseball as an example) Topps, Fleer, Donruss, Score, and a "new" company called Upper Deck (I might be forgetting a couple).  I can remember (about the time I got out of it), it started branching into more and more lines and sublines, prices went up (and you got less cards per pack), and collecting them got to be more of a chore.  It might have been age, and I don't know how the industry in general did, but it seemed like a lot of my friends and I got out of them almost totally at that point.  The action figure collecting area sort of seems to be heading that way too.  There are more and more lines all the time, prices are getting higher, there are more collectors, and in many cases we're getting less for our money (less accessories, etc.)

Offline Keonobi

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Re: The Future of Action Figure Lines?
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2008, 01:39 PM »
As a result of the lead paint problems last year in China, something like 2,000 toy manufacturing companies have closed in that country in the last year.

Will there be a shift in production away from China towards Africa perhaps?
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Offline ctonra

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Re: The Future of Action Figure Lines?
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2008, 04:54 PM »
I agree with you Brian, I wasn't a sports card collector back in the 80's/90's but I was heavly into Non-sport and Comics and when I started it was a few sets and a dozen or so titles and then came chase cards and variant covers, the foils, die cut, sub-sets, utlra-rare, one per case cards,  and hundreds of title and cross-overs, one shots. the 0's and 1/2 issues.  It reached a peek and then the bottem fell out.  Same as sports cards.  The figures I think have a few more years of life in them.   I do think we will start to see more and more 3 3/4 lines and smaller waves of movie lines that companys aren't willing to take a full risk on until it proves the lines got legs. 
« Last Edit: October 17, 2008, 04:55 PM by ctonra »
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Offline knashdx

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Re: The Future of Action Figure Lines?
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2008, 04:57 PM »
CNN has a video about closing toy producers in China. They mention that there have been many of these places closing. If this continues I suspect that the compition is going to be more for Star Wars collectors as there are fewer lines to buy.
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Offline efranks

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Re: The Future of Action Figure Lines?
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2008, 06:09 PM »
Even before the current financial problem in the country, I was surprised to see that Hasbro was really expanding their offerings this year.  Three parallel lines at one time is really kind of ridiculous in the best of situations but where we've been heading for the last year made it a real head scratcher.

If prices stay up I could definitely see a contraction to the hobby lines like those for the DC and Marvel superhero lines.  It's possible that it would have less of an impact on kid oriented lines of toys like Ben 10, Power Rangers, TMNT, and some of the Japanimation stuff.

It wouldn't surprise me if fewer movie properties got made in the next couple of years except where they're probably already licensed to a company like Hasbro with the Marvel toys and Mattel with DC stuff.  If the economy had been in this shape a year ago I don't think we'd have seen a line like Pirates of the Caribbean or Legendary Comic Book Heroes.

It seems like every year a movie gets a toy property that totally surprises me because I don't think it's a good idea, but it doesn't seem to stop.  I wonder, though, with this year's apparent failure by Hasbro to put the Indy line over the top, if other companies might take a pass at mass retail and maybe look to Neca, Diamond or McFarlane to do a limited collector run only.  TV series are already doing that with Heroes, the Stargate lines and others.

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