Limited Star Trek Highs and Lows
I RECENTLY WARNED that Playmates may one day try to find some way to re-release the 1701 series figures.
Well, call me a psychic - or a cynic - but my prediction came true. Playmates is releasing the three figures as a boxed set. And unless you consider packaging to be a collectible item, this seems like a blatant violation of the limited run promise.
Reactions have been quite mixed.
Many collectors are happy to finally have the figures priced within their budgets. But at least 1,701 collectors are understandably bitter, because they spent $1,500-plus for a set of three guaranteed rare figures that are now relatively common.
Limiting a figure to 1,701 units in a market with hundreds of thousands of collectors is a terrible idea. It deprives the vast majority of collectors of any chance of owning the piece. It also starves supply enough to force the few collectors who can get the piece to pay crazy prices.
Playmates’ decision to re-release only serves to alienate the original 1,701 collectors - and rightly so, since the carded figures have dropped significantly in value following news of the gift set’s release. And re-issuing these figures in an attempt to regain the love of those who were excluded the first time generates more distrust than good will among collectors. They now doubt that any limited figure is a sure bet, and they will be less likely to shell out big cash for fear that this will happen again.
Picards are now being dumped at $300 to $400, Yars at $200 to $250 and Barclays at $100 to $125 - and they aren’t even selling at these prices.
Making a figure available to more than 1,701 collectors is the right idea, but it should have been done in the first run. This three pack re-release can be seen not only as adding insult to injury but also as just plain bad business.
I ran into this rant about limited-edition Playmates Star Trek toys in a 1998 issue of White’s Guide to Collecting Figures I found while cleaning. Even as someone whose hobbies center around toy-based franchises, I find the ideas on display here almost alien. I mean… I’ve been to a lot of BotCons (the official Transformers convention), gotten the exclusive toys sold at them, but… I don’t think of those as investments, but as mementos of the experience. (For good or ill; I will probably forever link the 2013 Machine Wars set with the experience of being unable to hang with pals until late because there were no places to hang on the hotel grounds - not even a mid-sized lobby! - but that’s for another day.)
The idea of being angry about an exclusive figure becoming more wildly available is not something I’m sure I can comprehend… well, not if it’s re-released legitimately. When a bootlegger sold copies of the BotCon Shattered Glass Rodimus, that DID bother me, because on top of violating a bunch of intellectual property laws, it felt disrespectful to the people who’d made the things in the first place. (Mind - if you bought one of those, I know the real one is mad expensive, so I can understand if you needed it to fill an Evil Rodimus-shaped hole in your heart.)
Anyway. I never collected Star Trek toys, so it’s possible I’m missing some nuance - the zeitgeist of the era or whatever - looking back on this now, but… I dunno. Just felt like sharing and commenting.