Author Topic: When is it okay to charge more than retail for a figure?  (Read 678 times)

Offline JediJman

  • Jedi Sentinel
  • *
  • Posts: 13801
  • Everyone is ignorant, but on different subjects.
    • View Profile
When is it okay to charge more than retail for a figure?
« on: September 9, 2011, 08:46 AM »
Okay, so I want to get people's opinions on this.  I had a recent experience where I asked more than the original retail price for an extra carded figure.  Without going into too much detail, the figure is over a year old and I was going to put it on Ebay, as it's going for 4-5 times the original price.  I offered someone $5-10 less than the lowest price I found on Ebay thinking I was going to help them out.  That person was pretty disgusted that I was asking anything beyond the original retail.

So I want to hear what people on JD think about asking more than your original retail price for figures.  The easy route is to say vintage figures used to cost $2 and now they easily go for 10-20 times that, but those are really old collectibles.  What about more recent stuff?  Toy Fair Vader and FF Weequay come to mind as items that shot up in price right away.  I'm a kubrick collector and it just goes without saying that if you want a chase figure, you're going to pay way more than the original price.  The recent vintage Wedge fiasco is another example.  What if Hasbro was not rereleasing this figure and you had a spare available?  How would you handle it?  What if you found a Hot Wheels Treasure Hunt at retail - would you sell it to a HW guy for $.99?

I'm much more inclined to sell at cost with friends or people that have helped me out in the past.  When TRU had their crazy sale on the EU wave ($5 for the first figure, $1.50 for the second), I bought multiple sets of the figures and offered them up to the MN group at average cost I paid per figure.  A year later, I'd be less inclined to offer that price, especially to someone I don't really know if the figures are going for $15-20 each on Ebay.  If I buy extra, its generally with the thought of helping out the MN JD collector group or trading for something rare I need later on, but when it comes time to sell, I want to know what others would do. 

My own perspective is that rare stuff is going to cost more.  As the Kubrick guys know, I just shelled out a lot of money for some rarer Kubes that would have cost much much less at retail.  Since I'm one of the guys willing to pay more for something rare, then I have an expectation that I should get also something more for something rare.  Doesn't have to be top dollar, especially if I'm helping out someone at JD or a friend of a friend, but I do think asking more than retail is fair.  Am I off base on this line of thinking?  Would appreciate hearing others' point of view.

Thanks!
"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason. " -Jack Handey

Offline McMetal

  • Jedi Knight
  • *
  • Posts: 3959
    • View Profile
Re: When is it okay to charge more than retail for a figure?
« Reply #1 on: September 9, 2011, 09:10 AM »
It's a great question and something I have thought about myself several times. I frequently come across rare/HTF figures in my hunts and have occasionally bought them and put them up for bid on eBay. Some people would call this scalping but I prefer to think of it as simply relocating the figures from a dusty peg to someone's hands that actually wants it.

In those situations I always try to let the marketplace determine the price. So I would set the starting price at the MSRP and then let the bidding determine the ultimate value. That way you are offering the item for more or less exactly what you paid for it, and if the price goes up it is not your fault, it is simply a function of collector demand.

Where it gets a little tricky is when you start factoring in things like shipping and handling, sales tax, etc. That stuff can vary from state to state, and it can be hard to find just the right balance.

When you think about it, there HAS to be some sort of premium put on the item to cover things like: the cost of the actual shipping package, fuel costs driving to the post office, etc. You can roll that all up under shipping but it does start to add up.

That's pretty much my take. Sometimes eBay restricts how much you can charge for shipping and you are FORCED to jack up the list price just to avoid losing money. I have run into this problem several times shipping records.
Slice you open like a tauntaun, faster than the Autobahn,
Or a motorbike in Tron, do the deed and then I'm gone.

Offline Dressel Rebel

  • Jedi General
  • *
  • Posts: 8427
  • En Sabah Nur
    • View Profile
Re: When is it okay to charge more than retail for a figure?
« Reply #2 on: September 9, 2011, 11:36 AM »
Here at JD I have both sold, traded, and bought numerous HTF figures that have been out for a year or less, all for retail.  At least 5 occasions in the last 2 years.  I have never been asked to pay more than retail and I have never done it either.  All of these figures go on eBay routinely for $35 at least and 2 of them go for $50 - 70.  I let it go for $8.  And I have bought them for $8 or traded another figure retail value straight up.  This is a collector website, if you want to sell a figure you picked up at retail for $8 for 4-5x the price, I suggest you take it to eBay, where the scalping belongs.

This principle goes back to the RS days "collect to collect".

I honestly thought scalping was flat out against forum rules, but I guess I could be wrong.
« Last Edit: September 9, 2011, 11:38 AM by Dressel Rebel »
This is what happens when you invade Wakanda

Offline Jeff

  • Administrator
  • Jedi Council Member
  • *
  • Posts: 20070
  • i stay down with my demons
    • View Profile
    • www.JediDefender.com
Re: When is it okay to charge more than retail for a figure?
« Reply #3 on: September 9, 2011, 11:50 AM »
Here at JD I have both sold, traded, and bought numerous HTF figures that have been out for a year or less, all for retail. 
[snip]
This is a collector website, if you want to sell a figure you picked up at retail for $8 for 4-5x the price, I suggest you take it to eBay, where the scalping belongs.

I agree 100%.

I honestly thought scalping was flat out against forum rules, but I guess I could be wrong.

No, you're right - scalping is and always will be against the rules at JD.  From the Classifieds Regulations:

"[2] Figures that are currently shipping and/or have been released within 1 year of the time you post your sales list, must be sold at retail price. No exceptions. Threads that disobey this rule will be locked.

[3] Figures that do not pertain to rule 2, must follow the following regulations. No "scalper" prices will be issued on this board. If in doubt that a price is not reasonable, please contact a moderator to assist you."

If anyone sees a classifieds thread that is breaking these rules, please forward the link to one of the staff guys and we will happily warn the poster and/or delete the post if they do not change the price accordingly.
« Last Edit: September 9, 2011, 11:50 AM by Jeff »
Editor-in-Chief  - www.JediDefender.com
Follow me on Twitter - @jedidefender / @jlsmentek

Offline GrandMoffNick

  • Jedi Knight
  • *
  • Posts: 3273
  • I am now using steroids to enhance my posts.
    • View Profile
Re: When is it okay to charge more than retail for a figure?
« Reply #4 on: September 9, 2011, 01:03 PM »
Is anyone interested in a Vintage Collection Cloud Car Pilot for $100?
"A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he'll give you his. How many people can you say that about, how many people can make you feel rare?"

Offline JediJman

  • Jedi Sentinel
  • *
  • Posts: 13801
  • Everyone is ignorant, but on different subjects.
    • View Profile
Re: When is it okay to charge more than retail for a figure?
« Reply #5 on: September 9, 2011, 01:13 PM »
This is great feedback, thanks guys.  I am on board with frowning upon someone buying a figure that is currently shipping or still available at retail for a marked-up price.  That said, I feel very differently about figures that aren't available anymore and have a higher "fair market" price.  Some examples...

I recently discussed the possibilty of buying a Kubrick chase figure from someone on JD.  This figure was just released in the last few months.  That figure wasn't purchased for more than $15-20 because it was bought as part of a case assortment.  Was the person offering this to me breaking forum rules given the guidelines above?  I thought it was a pretty fair offer at the time and even though I didn't buy it, I think the guy involved was being more than generous at the time.

Here's another scenario.  Let's say someone has a vintage carded Wedge, which has been near impossible to find.  He wants to sell it to me for $20, which is still well below the going rate on places like Ebay.  Is that against forum rules or even ethically wrong?  I would consider buying one for $20 a pretty good deal for me, even though that person may be profitting.

Are these both instances of scalping by your definition? 

Here's a classified on JD (with major apologies to Adrian - just looking at examples) asking $34 for 3 Grievous figures.  2 are TRU Holo figures and I'd guess at least one if not both were picked up as part of the free promotion.  Even if you allocate the $7 CW figure price to these, the $34 is above retail and these figures are not that old.  Scalping or an okay offer?  If you factor an average price of $7 plus tax, plus shipping plus gas to get the figures you could get to $34...does that change your opinion?
http://www.jedidefender.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=21678.0

It's been many years since Jorg Sacul was a C2 exclusive, so we're obviously past the 1 year requirement.  That said, he was $10 at retail and I see a classified right now asking $25 for him.  Is that too much?  At one point I recall him going for more like $50, so is this scalping or a bargain?

Is one year the magic number?  What if the figure is 13 months old or 11 months old?  What if someone bought a Wedge for $20, then found one at retail.  Can they sell me theirs for $20?  Does it have to be the original for them to be moreally correct?  what if they sent the wrong one?  Who decides what is fair or right in these cases?  Seems a little silly to me that someone feels they should set restrictions on what a seller and buyer might agree to on price.

I'm not trying to be antagonistic here, just trying to get a better understanding of a viewpoint that I don't share.  Personally, I'm not offended by someone asking a higher price for something a little more rare.  It may be worth the extra money for me to buy it - if not, I can easily just decline without getting heated about it.
"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason. " -Jack Handey

Offline Jesse James

  • Staff Member
  • Grand Master
  • *
  • Posts: 31284
  • Slippery When Poopy
    • View Profile
    • JediDefender.com
Re: When is it okay to charge more than retail for a figure?
« Reply #6 on: September 9, 2011, 01:45 PM »
As per Jeff's quote (and DR's), if you're in doubt on something you should contact a moderator, but we do allow some "room" for price inflation on stuff.  Jorg Sacul was a bitch to get back in the day and thanks to guys on the boards, a lot of people got their figure for cost (myself included, even getting two).

The thing is, is $25 too much?  Given the time passed, I don't think it is...  That is something the staff have discretion over.

Is selling Wedge for $20 scalping?  Absolutely.  It's still shipping and Hasbro said more will ship in 2012...  You may be happy with the price, but it's against the forum rules.  If you want to scalp a Wedge, the best suggestion from the staff is to keep it to yourself, don't advertise it on our site, and go do what you have to do.

As far as Kubricks go, I'd have to defer opinion on that to the guys who collect(ed) them...  Intentional "chase" figures like that in a case tend to make me feel a little differently (IE: You buy the case, and the cost spreads out differently over the chase figure cmopared to the regular figures), but that's just my opinion and I don't buy Kubes to really know how to feel.  I bought similar figures like Hot Toys' Snap Kit figures, and their chases are pretty rare, and I got the rarest.  I'd probably not feel compelled to sell that one for the same price as others in the case.  They're also out of production though too, haha.

This is something pretty non-negotiable around the site though, as it always has been.  Other sites have become more flexible on it and I find it really disappointing since it pulls something of the "community" aspect out of forums, but it is what it is.
2011 Rebel Fleet Trooper Gets My Seal Of Approval!  But Where's The Friggin' Holster On Him!?
Jedi Defender.com Contributing Editor, Twitter @JediDefender & @Jesse_James77

Offline GrandMoffNick

  • Jedi Knight
  • *
  • Posts: 3273
  • I am now using steroids to enhance my posts.
    • View Profile
Re: When is it okay to charge more than retail for a figure?
« Reply #7 on: September 9, 2011, 01:56 PM »
I'm very thankful that people can't walk into TRU, see three Seripas, grab them all and get on here since they know we are looking and ask $25 each for the two extras.

With that being said if some day I decide I don't need my Freeze Frame Weequay that I bought at Target way back when and want to ask for x times what I paid for it, I would question if someone who was looking for one on JD would be happy I couldn't post it for sale here since I was asking more than I paid.

Just my two cents.
"A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he'll give you his. How many people can you say that about, how many people can make you feel rare?"

Offline JediJman

  • Jedi Sentinel
  • *
  • Posts: 13801
  • Everyone is ignorant, but on different subjects.
    • View Profile
Re: When is it okay to charge more than retail for a figure?
« Reply #8 on: September 9, 2011, 01:56 PM »
Thanks Jesse.  So am I understanding correctly that if someone offers me a higher price via PM, I can accept or decline based on my own needs?  Only publicly posted offers need to follow the forum guidelines? 

I would agree that scalping on other sites can get distasteful.  However, I can also cite examples were I've paid above retail for figures on other sites and its been a better option for me than having to go to Ebay.  Like the guy offering me $150 for a Kubrick chase - that was by far my cheapest option.  I would argue that those offering up prices below the Ebay "market value" are actually building up and adding to the collector community, because they're giving you an added option to Ebay prices.

How do people feel about some of the site sponsors, who are charging well above retail prices for current items or even items that haven't arrived at retail yet.  Do they get an exemption because they are sponsors? 
"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason. " -Jack Handey

Offline JediJman

  • Jedi Sentinel
  • *
  • Posts: 13801
  • Everyone is ignorant, but on different subjects.
    • View Profile
Re: When is it okay to charge more than retail for a figure?
« Reply #9 on: September 9, 2011, 02:00 PM »
I'm very thankful that people can't walk into TRU, see three Seripas, grab them all and get on here since they know we are looking and ask $25 each for the two extras.

With that being said if some day I decide I don't need my Freeze Frame Weequay that I bought at Target way back when and want to ask for x times what I paid for it, I would question if someone who was looking for one on JD would be happy I couldn't post it for sale here since I was asking more than I paid.

Just my two cents.

Exactly.  And at what point would it have been okay to sell the Weequay for a higher amound?  366 days after you bought it?  Two years?  A decade?  Like I said, I get the stuff that's just coming out or can still possibly be found at retail.  I don't get the restriction on stuff that's come and gone already.  I don't see any sense or morality in being someone who frequently pays above retail prices for rare items, but can't ever ask for more than retail on anything you sell.
"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason. " -Jack Handey

Offline MikeT

  • Jedi Initiate
  • *
  • Posts: 165
  • Boba Fett?! Boba Fett?! WHERE?!
    • View Profile
Re: When is it okay to charge more than retail for a figure?
« Reply #10 on: September 9, 2011, 03:05 PM »
As far as Kubricks go, I'd have to defer opinion on that to the guys who collect(ed) them...  Intentional "chase" figures like that in a case tend to make me feel a little differently (IE: You buy the case, and the cost spreads out differently over the chase figure cmopared to the regular figures), but that's just my opinion and I don't buy Kubes to really know how to feel.  I bought similar figures like Hot Toys' Snap Kit figures, and their chases are pretty rare, and I got the rarest.  I'd probably not feel compelled to sell that one for the same price as others in the case.  They're also out of production though too, haha.

Unless you live in Japan, Kubricks have no "retail price". Their value is totally subjective, especially for the chase figures. So to me the only rule of thumb would be to sell them on JD at or below their going rate on ebay, which from what I've seen is almost always the case. The times I've seen people asking too much for kubs on JD, I've simply rolled my eyes and moved on or politely asked if they could work something out with me. Seems like everyone is adult enough that no regulation is necessary. Hell, I'd rather somebody listed kubs marked slightly too high than not list them at all, just cuz it's fun to see what's for sale. But that's just me.  :)

I would think that would /should be the case for other toy lines too, but I kind of agree with the 1 year rule if it deters  actual scalpers who actively scour toy stores just to flip toys and make a profit here. They can always take their goods to ebay. But I think it's a bit hostile to call a collector who happens to have a spare HTF figure a scalper if he's asking fair market value or less. 

Offline Jeff

  • Administrator
  • Jedi Council Member
  • *
  • Posts: 20070
  • i stay down with my demons
    • View Profile
    • www.JediDefender.com
Re: When is it okay to charge more than retail for a figure?
« Reply #11 on: September 9, 2011, 03:23 PM »
I'll try to hit as many of the items as I can from the last few posts -
___

Kubricks - these are not considered "regular retail" as they are imported from Japan and use a completely different release structure.  All bets are off when you are talking about buying a product intended for a non-USA market (like Kubricks or those Mexico/European/German Convention exclusives, etc).
___

C2 Jorg Sacul - Convention exclusive items fall into a "gray area".  Not really a "regular retail" item due to the limited nature.  On one hand, we encourage people to help others at cost where they can when it comes to show exclusives, but at the same time we understand that some folks are trying to recoup some of the cost of their trip.

Generally, for convention exclusives, if it was something that was available on-line after the show (like the SDCC DeathStar/Indy sets) we are less likely to let you sell at a mark-up than if it was something that sells out instantly at the show (like the LEGO exclusives tend to do) and was never available to anyone but con attendees.

With Sacul, being 9 years old, it's really outside the window of the JD rules and $25 (which, if you're thinking of the same one I am, is $10 less than the person originally paid for it back in 2002 :P) is OK.
___

FF Weequay - would be well outside of the currently shipping/1 year rule.  You could post one for sale here for whatever you want at this point (it's practically a vintage figure with it being 13 year old now).
___

General Buying and Selling at JD -

The regulations are meant for the POSTED classifieds ads.  No one is setting restrictions on what a seller and a buyer might do on their own by PM or e-mail... but yes, we are setting restrictions on what a seller can advertise using OUR resource. 

And if a seller wants to post an ad to sell at a higher price but rationalize it by saying "it's ok because it's still less than ebay", there are plenty of other sites out there they can use to post those offers.  I'm not saying that it's wrong for someone to do that (yay for capitalism! :P), I'm just saying that we want JD to be a place where folks help each other out, not profit off each other. 

But, again, we can't police everything that happens via PM though.  If someone says "I need Wedge" and a seller PMs them an offer for Wedge for $20 and the buyer thinks that is acceptible, that's fine.  Make your deal and "everyone wins".  We just don't want JD to become a place where the classified ads are basically people trying to get ebay prices without paying eBay fees.  What we are trying to do is reach a happy medium between discouraging scalping of new, currently shipping stuff and letting people sell stuff that does eventually have a "market value" (aka selling at a reasonable price). 

If you don't like those rules, you are free to post your classifieds ads at one of the many, many other Star Wars stes out there.
___

Sponsors - Obviously, sponsors are a different animal.  Places like Brian's Toys or Big Bad Toy Store are terrible scalpers on some items, but without their sponsorship dollars, places like JD wouldn't exist.  A necessary evil to keep a place like this running unfortunately.  :-[
___

And at what point would it have been okay to sell the Weequay for a higher amound?  366 days after you bought it?  Two years?  A decade? 

I think you are getting too hung up on the "1 year" part.  According to the rule as laid out, it would have been OK to sell the FF Weequay at a reasonable price once it was not "currently shipping".  The tricky part comes in when you are trying to determine whether something has hit that point or not.  Once a line is cleared out at retail, it's definitely not "currently shipping".

Take Wedge for example...  while he's a bitch to find, he is still technically still shipping and Hasbro has said he'll ship again in 2012.  So, no higher prices allowed.  But, something like the 2010 Foil RotS cards?  Those haven't been shipping for a while, there are no plans to reship them, and they have been out for over a year.  If someone tried to charge $15 for them (I doubt they'd get it but), it wouldn't be breaking the rules since they are not shipping and there are no plans for them to ship again.

The "one year" part comes up to sort of cover the eventual reshipping of older figures that Hasbro likes to pull.  One year guideline gives Hasbro a chance to catch up, like with Wedge.  One year give things a chance to settle out and separate hype from an actual market value.  But again, it's just a guideline and like Jesse said in his post, if you're in doubt on something you should contact a moderator/staffer (or be prepared to hear from one if we don't agree with your pricing).
Editor-in-Chief  - www.JediDefender.com
Follow me on Twitter - @jedidefender / @jlsmentek

Offline efranks

  • Jedi Knight
  • *
  • Posts: 2868
  • Eric Franks
    • View Profile
Re: When is it okay to charge more than retail for a figure?
« Reply #12 on: September 9, 2011, 04:44 PM »
I'll pick up items, at cost, for other PSWCS members but I don't really sell on the forums any more because I got tired of being nickel and dimed on everything.  Example; listing loose, complete modern SW figs for $1 each and having a guy pick out 10 and email me the offer that "since I'm buying so many how about $5 shipped?"  I said no and haven't been back with a sale list on a forum since.

Outside of the PSWCS, however, I'll buy stuff to flip on eBay for a profit and I don't have a problem admitting that.  It helps offset the cost of building my own collection.  I don't flip retail Star Wars items very often, but that's mostly because by the time I've found it, there's more of a saturation in the market.  But Transformers, MU, ML and sometimes Lego, I'll pick up things and offload them on eBay.  I'll also speculate on higher end items sometimes, like GG or Sideshow.  I basically paid my entire hotel bill for Celebration V by flipping a Sideshow Lara Croft.  Mark Hamill autograph?  Funded by a Lego Harry Potter sale, and I had money left over for other stuff.

I've helped out plenty of people over the years, and been helped out, enough so that I don't feel bad about taking a profit once in a while.

   E...
"I sell the drugs that keep you people from seeing dragons at night." - Gus "Psych"

Offline JediJman

  • Jedi Sentinel
  • *
  • Posts: 13801
  • Everyone is ignorant, but on different subjects.
    • View Profile
Re: When is it okay to charge more than retail for a figure?
« Reply #13 on: September 9, 2011, 05:45 PM »
Appreciate the comments guys.  Its good to hear all the different viewpoints on this.

Jeff - thanks for the clarification on JD rules.  I think this all make sense, so I appreciate you breaking it down for everyone.  It's really common sense for the most part.  I hope no one felt like I was singling them out on various examples - just wanted to throw them out there as possible gray areas that could use some added clarification.

I know this turned into something of a "What are the JD regulations" discussion, but I really wanted to focus more on what people thought about what is or isn't fair when dealing with other collectors, whether you sell it here or on another site or Ebay or whatever.  Thanks for the discussion - this has defintiely put me more at ease over something I was initially pretty bothered about. 
"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason. " -Jack Handey