Sunday, February 7, 2010

Now You Know!

I’ve enjoyed the 3 3/4 inch GI Joe figures since they were first introduced. Back then I was just a kid, roughhousing and playing with other kids who had figures. Eventually I’d go on to either break (collectors know what I’m talking about) the crotch, thumb, or O-ring, give the figures away, sell them, or just get rid of them altogether.

When I got a little older I was still a bit into toys. I grabbed a cool figure here and there but never collected full lines. There was a place I’d go on Rosecrans here in San Diego called ‘I Collect.’ The store was unique in San Diego as its business was the buying and selling of old toys and memorabilia whether comic book, movie, GI Joe, etc. Kent, the owner, and I would do trades where I’d come in with things I didn’t want anymore and we’d work out a price and I’d use the store credit to grab some things I was looking for and some things that just made me nostalgic. Among the treasures I picked up were old Star Wars and GI Joe figures that I used to have.

That’s when I had the revelation that most people have – I never should have gotten rid of all of my toys. Sure I’ve been fickle and the figure I desperately wanted has turned into the figure that netted me a few bucks on eBay so that I could buy another figure, but I’ve enjoyed having a Snake Eyes or R2-D2 within sight.

Since the 25th Anniversary GI Joe figures have come (back in 2007) I have collected every single figure (sadly the vehicles take too much room so I usually get them, strip them for the figure and sell the vehicle back on eBay). It’s been so much fun to collect them until the movie came out. Now that the movie’s come out, every figure has been a ‘movie’ version of figures I already have and have been eager for new 25th Anniversary-style figures. Don’t get me wrong – I got most of the movie versions too.

The other day I was at Toys ‘R Us looking for Marvel Universe figures (I’m only missing Vision from the latest series) when I saw two more exclusive figures – an Arctic Threat Shipwreck and Doc.

That got me thinking: I wonder what other exclusives are out there that I don’t know about.

So I did the search on eBay and discovered the GI Joe Ultimate Battle Pack. The battle pack contains Cobra Commander (v37), Cobra Vehicle Gunner, Destro (v21), H.I.S.S. Driver (v3), Short-Fuze (v6), Steeler (v5) and Sgt. Stalker (v11). Additionally, this set included a Flight Pod, a H.I.S.S. Tank, and a MOBAT.

This awesome set not only came with 3 of the original 13 GI Joe figures (Steeler, Short-Fuze, and Stalker) but it also had two of the original vehicles (HISS tank and the MOBAT). The reason it had gone below my radar was that it was a Target exclusive and I didn’t frequent that store enough to catch the set while it was in stock so I would have at least known it existed (as I had with Arctic Threat Shipwreck and Doc).

There was a loose, complete Ultimate Battle Pack on eBay that I snatched up for about a third less than it was in stores and it got here in a hurry. The seller who sold it had opened the package and taken the figures out but many of them still had the clear bands that held weapons to their hands and Cobra Commander to his flight pod. It is brand spanking new.

Sometimes, even after your favorite figures have come and gone, you can find great exclusives that you didn’t know existed with an eBay search and here are some tips:

1) Exclusives are referred to as ‘excl’ ‘ex,’ etc. so searching for ‘exclusives’ will give you a broad idea of what’s out there. After you’ve found something you like – do a search for just that item. For example – I did a search for ‘GI Joe exclusive’ and came up with the Ultimate Battle Pack which was a Target exclusive. Then I did a search for ‘GI Joe Target’ and a seller had the Ultimate Battle Pack listed as the UBP (which no one else did) and it was cheaper than all of the other Ultimate Battle Packs.

2) There are great lists of figures out on the internet and some action figure lines have websites dedicated to them (like which has an amazingly complete archive of every figure, vehicle, and playset that’s ever been released).

3) Not all websites, but some like Target will tell you if an item is exclusive to them if you search for a general item (like GI Joe).

4) If you’re bummed about missing a comic convention or toy show, Hasbro usually makes items that didn’t sell out available on their website for the same price they offered it at the convention. For things like GI Joe Convention exclusives, they are available at the GI Joe Club website (heavily discounted for members of the club). Check the company who released the item to see if the convention special is available there.

5) If you break down and find you have to go to the secondary market for the item, get an idea of how much it is going for. You can use your own strategy but mine is waiting for time to pass. The people who jump on the figures right away and are scared off by the price usually forget to check back. Out of sight, out of mind. Most people move on to new things. Eventually the people trying to unload the 16 convention Transformers 25th Anniversary Soundwaves are going to have to take what they bought it for in order to unload it. Of course that doesn’t always work and some things appreciate the more time passes (but these days, that’s rare).

6) If you’re going to take the items out of the packages and display them, ask a seller if they’ll give you a discount on shipping if they’ll open the figures for you (if there are a few carded figures, ask them to just take the bubble off the board and send the board so you can cut out the filecards). That saves a lot of space and the seller won’t have to make sure it’s sent in a way that keeps the item’s packaging safe – just the item – which is much easier for them.

Now you know! And knowing’s half the battle.

Short-Fuze, Stalker, and Steeler - oh my!

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