What’s the worst pre-order disaster in 2 words? That’s simple – “SOLD OUT”!
Imagine this: You’ve been waiting for past half hour for the DX 1/48 VF-1S Roy Focker pre-order to go live. You already missed the previous DX 1/48 VF-1 releases, so you have to get the Focker Special no matter what. You even tell your folks to cease all internet activities for the next hour or so.
Then the pre-order link goes live, you put in 1 order for the item, then click “Add to cart”. You go to your cart, fill up your particulars and mode of payment, then excitedly hit the “Check out” button.
But to your horror and dismay, the page tells you that the item has already sold out, and suggests to try ordering again in case of restocks, but there is no guarantee for this. You turn to other online shops, only to get the same story: ITEM SOLD OUT.
My friends, welcome to Online Pre-order Mayhem!
This weekend, 3 very high demand toy items from Bandai went on pre-order. What are these items, and why is there such a big demand for them?
For Macross fans, no introduction needed really, and you can find all the info you need from our previous article Macross Toys & Kits News – June 2020 about it. Roy Focker is Skull Squadron personified. Any toy or model kit of the iconic VF-1S Roy Focker Special design is a sure collectible for all Macross fans.
Voltes V was a super robot show that is very dear to many fans, especially Filipinos. It told a very familiar story of tyranny and family against the backdrop of technology and robot battles. A Voltes V toy is almost always a staple for any robot toy collector, and there have been many of these throughout the decades. Fans and collectors alike are always looking forward to reissues and new releases of any Voltes V toy.
The DX Chogokin Voltes V is Bandai’s fifth iteration of this toy. It features all the bells and whistles a collector would want in a Voltes V toy. A wide assortment of accessories and gimmicks, sounds and lights effects, and of course, that awesome combining feature. The combined robot itself boast a very good range of posability and articulation, much more so it seems than any previous release.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is a relatively newer show that has nonetheless captured the attention and hearts of both super robot and mecha fans. Philosophical plot aside, the humanoid but less-than-mecha design of the Evangelion is the major selling point of the series. The idea of a weapon that is part god and designed by humans is not really something new in a mecha series, but the way it was related to religious symbology somehow gave more weight behind it.
The Dynaction EVA-01 is a poseable and detailed figure of the titular mecha of the Evangelion series. At 40cm, it is just slightly taller than its Metal Build counterpart which stands at 38.2cm. One of the main things that sets the Dynaction apart from its Metal Build version is that this is based on the designs from the original Evangelion TV series. While it looks bare-bones in terms of the accessories included, its website puts emphasis on its poseability and durability through the materials used.
Buying high demand items from Japan
What makes toys like these such high demand items is the nostalgia behind them. These are icons of anime series with huge cult followings; their designs pretty much embody each of the series they come from. And with the evolution of Bandai’s toy technology to current standards, you are not just buying a toy, you are purchasing an engineering marvel.
As these toys come from Japan, there is an added level of difficulty in purchasing them. Toy collectors outside Japan are left with no choice but to order online. They can do these directly or employ what is called a proxy buyer. Basically a person who will buy on your behalf for a commission – usually a fixed percentage of the price of the item you are buying.
Toys that are regular release are relatively easy to order. Many department stores in Japan actually carry these and have them available on their website. Web-exclusive items are a different story – these are sold only through the respective brand’s website and usually have a limited stock. Demand can run very high for these exclusives, and often pre-order slots are filled within minutes of going live.
Enter the Toy Scalpers
Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous individuals who will prey on toy collectors – “scalpers”. They started out as people who buy concert tickets by the bulk and re-sell them for jacked-up prices. Since tickets are sold out earlier than expected, the concert goers cave in and buy the tickets from the tickets from the scalpers.
Toy scalpers are a nasty breed. They know that many of these collectors are earning well. Some would be willing to pay a good amount of cash just to get their hands on that toy or collectible. They also employ several means of securing stocks of a toy straight from the suppliers.
For storefront releases, they usually have a crew of a few persons lining up to buy the item straight from the stores. Each person would be buying 4 to 5 of the item, as many as a person can carry, or much more if they have a vehicle to load the toys in to.
For online pre-orders and web exclusives, they employ bots programmed to place the orders as soon as the links go live. It goes to such ridiculous levels that for every 10 orders placed, only 2-3 of those orders would be from a real person. It can also bog down the websites, preventing access for other collectors.
Within the day or the next of the pre-orders closing out, the scalpers would be posting these items up for sale. Expect a price of at least one-and-a-half times the original, and can go up to three times or more.
One thing to note is that all scalpers are proxy buyers, but not all proxy buyers are scalpers. Proxy buyers have substantially lower markup, and are more reasonable to deal with.
Is the juice worth the squeeze?
With all the trouble involved with pre-ordering toys, one might ask, is it really all worth it? That depends on the person involved, and how important a particular toy is to the collector.
As mentioned previously, nostalgia is a very sweet poison. It appeals to the happy memories of the person seeing a particular series for the first time. It’s usually nice to have a toy in their collection to remind them of these.
Another important factor is buying power. Today’s generation were – and usually still are – the fans of a series in the past. Now that they earning, they now have the chance to get that toy into their collection. However, it’s important to strike a balance between wants and needs. A collector should recognize a toy with a good price from one with a ridiculous mark-up.
So, have you guys scored any good pre-orders lately? I hope this article helps you with your next pre-order session, for that toy or two that you really want in your collection.