Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Where All the Toys At?

I can't wait to get my hands on the 2012 Vintage Collection Luke Skywalker in Hoth Gear.  Rebelscum had some nice pics of Luke and his two legged sleeping bag.  Impressed,  forever ago I got the Target Exclusive Taun Taun and I've been waiting to plop Luke into its saddle ever since.  I'm still waiting...and waiting...and waiting.  So, where the heck is Wave 3?  Wave 4 figures arrived at our warehouse doorstep not too long ago and about two weeks ago we got wave 5. What gives?!  Why hasn't wave 3 arrived in my local stores yet?  Before you tell me I'm not visiting my stores often enough, I'm telling you I go nearly EVERY DAY, and I go to more than just one store.  Here, I'll take you for a little drive.

Monday through Friday I take my lunch break and do my "rounds".  Usually I leave somewhere between 12 and 1 o'clock.  My first stop is Target.  With 3 stores to visit, I always enter with a little spring in my step.  Cutting a diagonal through the men's casual, under, and athletic wear, I speed walk over to the toy department.  Like a Terminator I set my eyes to "action figure" and scan the shelves for my top 3 figure lines.  I look over the Marvel Universe toys:  Nothing on shelves recently to get my collector's blood flowing.  That is, nothing until Wave 18's new Hulk, Spider-man, and Beast are released.  Next, I process the pegs holding the Joes:  Hey, look!  It's Arctic Destro!  I'm still hoping against hope that I'll come across a Renegades Stormshadow.  I know, I'm not holding my breath.  Finally, I check out the Star Wars Figures:  I'm going over Clone Wars figures as well as the Vintage Black and Silver Collection.  Since the New Clone figures are practically neutered of their articulation, I'm pretty much only looking forward to the re-pack of Aayla Secura.  I DO still want a Phase II Captain Rex, though.  I want to pop off his head/helmet, take a drill, and hollow out his mask.  I'm getting into customizing figures and "improving" on them.  The new Clone Wars Rex doesn't come with a removable helmet, so I'm going to make him one. This customizing started as simply switching Clone Trooper heads with ARF trooper heads to expand on leg posablity, but it's escalated into Doctor Frankenstein territory.  (Check out Matchstick1984 on YouTube and see if you can resist throwing your figures in the microwave and pulling them apart.  He makes it look so easy!  But, that's a blog for another day.)  Target's new figure average has dropped significantly.  Just last year my local Target was the lunchtime goldmine.  Hopefully, these new figures will start to trickle in and the drought will end.

Next, it's off to Toys R Us.  Similar to Target Toys aRen't Us has been a recent disappointment.  I'd swear there is dust on the shelves and tumble weeds in their aisles.  Nothing has changed in my local store for about 2 months.  I should be angry but I'm almost glad.  When there are new figures on the shelf a have to CHOOSE which figures I'm going to buy.  Up, up and away seems to be Geoffrey Giraffe's pricing mantra so I have to ask myself, what are my "must haves" and what toys can I wait out.  Which figures will be gobbled up to only be seen again as an Internet picture, and which figures will be the new peg warmers of the future.  I want to know so I can buy the later for a lower price at Target or Walmart. 

Speaking of Walmart, that spark at the end of their name should be a 4 leafed clover since I've had the most luck within their walls.  Granted, most of the time the figures are smashed. But, if I'm planning on purchasing another, I'll bite the bullet and lay my money down.  I don't know about your Walmart, but I've noticed if I park near the Garden Center entrance, I can be in and out of the toy section in just under 2 minutes.  If I just so happen to find something ripe for the picking, I harvest my crop and make a bee line for the fastest register.  Lunch is an hour, so there's no time to waste.  Sometimes I can hurry right through the Garden Center check out lanes. Other times, those lanes are clogged with 30 customers convinced that these two cashiers move faster than the 12 plus registers near the main entrance, I take my chances at the other side of the store.  Plus, I'm right next to the RedBox rentals. 

On the weekends, I sometimes visit another Walmart, Target, and Toys R Us, but these trips are killing my wallet.  It isn't cheap to drive to these places day in and day out.  Furthermore, it seems that new figures are here and gone in an increasingly shortening cycle.  I use to enjoy the "hunt", now I just hope to stumble across something I want.  Maybe I've jumped a hurdle of maturity.  Maybe I'm actually growing up.  Or, maybe it's just math.  I drive about, let's say, 5 miles round trip.  Gas is $3.60-ish and my vehicle gets 17 city miles to the gallon.  So my weekday rounds add up to an extra $5.29 per week.  Haven't seen anything new in about 2 months so that makes it $42.32.  Seriously, I wonder if the amount of action figures released on shelves has decreased in the last 5 years.  I know Hasbro was loosing money and had to let go of some workers.  Doesn't it make sense that they would also cut back on their figures?  Heck, maybe Star Wars is loosing its shelf space clout.  Those weak sauce Clone Wars episodes aren't helping matters any.

I work for Past Generation Toys.  Now, I'm going to start buying from Past Generation Toys.  With all the gas, time, and disappointment, it seems like the logical choice.  I'm not going to miss out on the Galen Marek (Starkiller) figure, or pay 40 plus dollars for him once the hype arrives with his release along with all the sunk costs of looking for him. (Darth Malgus anyone?)  I'm going to take the stress out of my purchase and go the PGT route and pick up my "must haves".   I'll still drive my rounds, but maybe not as often.  If I see a second figure to the one I already have, I'll consider that a bonus and bring down my spending average.  The worst of the two will be either become my display piece or my guinea pig for a custom makeover.  (Insert evil laugh here.)

See you in the toy aisles,

Steve R. Ticulation (yea, I'm the guy who usually answers the phone when you call PGT!)

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