Sadly I am basically at the end right now. Or it's just a funk I'm in. Anyway here are some reasons lately.
1) The past several months I can't find a damn thing I want. It's all peg-warmers. I never found any of the AOTC wave. NONE! I have never seen Death Star Escape Luke, Han Yavin, etc. I sure as hell can't find Dagobah Luke, AOTC Clonetrooper, or even Lando. Heck, I never even a saw a $10 Wicket in the wild.
2) The price is basically $10 a figure which means even if I were to find a whole wave I'd only be able to buy maybe 2-3 tops. Maybe a couple more.
3) I HATE buying cases of figures. I have to drop $100 for about 8-10 figures. I just can't do that even on a credit card because I don't wish to add to my minimum per month. Plus, there are always a couple of figures I don't want. It's a pain going on the boards or wherever to dump them off on others.
4) I have pretty much lost any interest in going on toy runs. It's a waste of time really to go in and see all the same pegwarmers.
5) My overall enthusiasm has dipped to an all-time low.
I am hoping the Blu-Rays rekindle my interest. Or that I can find at least one sought after figure either at the store or HasbroToyShop. Maybe that will help my funk.
I'm going to kind of steal your post Broem, because it's the same kind of crap that puts me to my rope's end with the hobby... I'm not there yet but I'd put myself as "close". Especially now that Hasbro has done THREE good Rebel Army builders, they've really hit my top wants now and I'm not as interested in newer figures as I was in getting that last key guy (Fleet Trooper, obviously) knocked out.
But to just kind of pile onto what you said...
1) I didn't have the same trouble finding stuff as you did, to some degree... I ordered Wave 6, glad I did as I haven't seen much of it. Mostly Wave 4 and 5 are just shipping here, which tells me a couple things... First, Wave 6 may ship for a while, and that Wave 4 and 5 are clogged up in the system because they continue to ship here. I JUST saw DSE Luke for the first time ever at retail on Thursday evening, so my advice there is don't give up yet...
Patience is always a virtue in this hobby. I've never once had it not be. You know that though, but it always bears repeating I guess. I'm seeing more Wave 5 now than ever... Wave 4 I'm still seeing in some capacity, and even Wave 3 still dribbles out in some form or another.
But I can't blame anyone for frustration there... I ordered through our site here, at EE, and I was really happy I did on Wave 6. I'm abandoning relying on retail to find stuff. Instead I'll use it for extras I may want. I'm getting cases from here out though I think.
2) I'd be the last person to argue with anyone, ever, on price driving them away... Figures are $8.99 at WM/Target, and $9.99 at TRU and K-Mart. K-Mart at least has their Rewards Card Program, which works at Sears as well (and I buy tools semi-often there since I like Craftsman stuff). With that, I have K-Mart down to reasonable now... At $9.99 I wouldn't shop there though otherwise. I haven't bought a basic figure at TRU in over a years. TRU can choke on the green weenie.
Ultimately though, price is what will force me to quit... $8.99 is my threshold... I think this is absurd for the basic line. Everyone has problems right now, and Hasbro is cranking out stuff where they've cut back on paint aps a lot (Every figure I examine pretty much has a corner cut that just a couple years ago wouldn't have), they're on the cheapest cardbacks ever to produce, and they re-use mroe and more parts or repaint more and more figures... For me they have to get the line to something more reasonable.
I've quit army building anywhere near what I used to. I'll buy Fleet Troopers, but that's the only exception I'm making. I've also basically abandoned figures for fodder unless it's like the $6.50 Legends/CW stuff. Hasbro's lost a lot from me financially in the last year.
By comparison, in 2007 I want ape**** buying figures... I was buying tons of Legends, tons of basic figures. Almost every figure in 2007, I bought at least 3 of, and with army builders (even McQuarrie stuff) I wound up with a dozen or more in many cases. How the line's prices shift from here out will determine whether I stay or not. I can't blame you for not wanting to buy $10 figures.
3) Can't argue with people who don't want cases... I think for people wanting to stay, like me, it's the only option right now. For those not wanting to stay, I can't blame them. Fortunately some army builders were cool extras to have (for me... this varies for everybody obviously). At the same time though, I really don't want that extra Bar2D2 I have, ya know? I don't blame you at all for this either... For people REALLY wanting to hang in there, and tired of hunting for things they can't find because of gas prices, I think cases are the only way to go. EE was great with me, and it went back to the site so I'm obviously shilling that a little bit because I care about Jedi Defender, but it's also the only way I think I'd legitimately stick with collecting right now.
4) Toy Runs still happen for me, more on the weekends now though when I'm out anwyay and in an area with more stores. While out, I stop in. Sometimes I see something, sometimes not. Even with cutting my runs down, WM still has steadily gotten new in... But in dribs and drabs. With new figures 1 to a case, it's easy for everything from a case to get bought by one person, when the other 90 figures on the pegs are white Phase 2 Clones and E3 Obi-Wans.
I wont' give toy runs up, but I've not done toy runs lately, any time other than when I was out for something else. Where I live, I'm 45 minutes to anything really, haha. I have to go, to go shopping at places I sometimes need stuff... So I just fold them into that.
5) This is probably the thing that just really varies the most for collectors... How do you get pumped for something you're just not pumped about? I still get kind of giddy looking at a new figure, but I've got a sense of exhaustion too about collecting. Certain figures just wear me out anymore I guess.
Hasbro's overall quality is good for me, but some of it is just a letdown (Much of wave 5, for instance), and that hurts enthusiasm for anyone about the hobby I think. I haven't hit the point where I'm disinterested when I see something new though. Usually when i see new, I still get the "new figure giddies" enough... I still care I guess. I've got a million other worries/responsibilities though, so toys get pushed back a little more every year.
Right now, for me, the biggest shot in the arm is if the line goes back down by at least $1/figure at retail (and if TRU would actually slightly attempt to compete with other retailers instead of just going all Kay-Bee on us). I'm ok on overall quality... Distribution could use some tweaking, but overall I think it's a case of "one bad apple" right now (that white Phase 2 Clone)... If he weren't in such heavy rotation, I think more Vintage would ship... He's the only heavy pegwarmer in my area. There are others, but nothing like that guy. Couple that with K-Mart and Target just not restocking for one reason or another, and TRU sort of pricing itself out of selling or even getting anything in since Wave 2 (my area... Wave 3 in others), and it's a situation ripe for people to lose interest.
I'm sort of curious right now if Hasbro feels sales of Vintage have been good or not. If they feel they recaptured that collector core that they felt they lost. Build-A-Droid was pretty slick... A free figure or two per wave, if you bought everything, was interesting incentive. We lost that then... basically lost 1 or 2 figures per wave, even if they were random repainted droids or whatnot, plus figures shot up by a buck... All for a cardback that looks nice, but I'm buying toys instead of cardboard... To me, that got off on the wrong foot from the get-go I guess.
Regardless, I'm not out... Not yet. I could easily jump ship next week though if something went wrong with the line and I just said, "f this, I'm out". There was a time that I'd sludge through something crappy... Hell, I stuck with it in 2002. That was the worst time for me, as a collector who liked articulation and neutral sculpts. This is yet somehow worse, but not so much because the figures suck, like back then.