Star Wars Actionfigure collecting from a collectors point of view
Before I start let me give you, the reader a little info why Volker C was chosen as a username decades ago. First and foremost it is the short version of a full name, secondly it was chosen to represent a real person not a fictious name like vader66, or else. (No pun intended in case someone uses the fictious name mentioned.) Furthermore the short version was chosen because a full name would suggest importance, not trying to be important, Volker C stands for all collectors and fans out there and can be replaced by Dave D., Jenny H.,….everybody can be like me and they are, people with the same interest and love for Star Wars, regardless if they spent $1 or $100 or more.(There is always a bigger fish) In the grand scale of things everybody can be replaced at any time, so I’m just a man trying to make it in the universe.
That being said, let’s get into collecting.
For me and many others it started back in the days in the 70’s, 80’s after seeing the movies on the big screen. As a little boy these movies had a lasting impact, as they showed the usual theme good against bad, but in a galaxy far far away. A galaxy that was so interesting, so new, looking so real it grabbed everybodies attention and to this day some 44 years later still does with young and old, male, female, people of all colors. Which is what it is all about, everybody can come together and enjoy Star Wars as one big community without politics.
So back in the days the first figures made it home amongst them the Vinyl Cape Jawa, Obi-Wan, and the rest. Back in the days distribution in our country was a problem, something that is still plagueing us, but as kids we tried to get what we could. The initial figures were cherished, played with but kept in great shape. Over the years more figures and ships were added until the Trilogy stopped and product kept disappearing from shelves. Back then I dreamed how cool it would be to get a to scale Millennium Falcon for my 3.75 inch figures. Back then I never thought that this dream would become reality when I picked up an Millennium Falcon Extraordinaire from Toys R Us decades later, and aside from that dream the little boy also dreamed of articulated figures on Vintage Style cards and even that dream became reality when Hasbro brought us The Vintage Original Trilogy Series and later in 2010 the Vintage Collection. Finally life was good again.
One thing, and that is what the article is about, is that Toy manufacturers lose some of the focus instead of leaning back and observing what drives collectors, kids, buyers, fans, into buying product. We get the impression that some are driven by trying to constantly re-invent the wheel, always trying new ways, new designs, when all in all it is so simple. Give the people what they want and never change a winning team.
The 3.75 inch line of figures was invented so kids could re-enact what they saw in the movies, build a galaxy and stories of their own. If they didn’t like what happened to their beloved characters they could just make up their own stories and they did. Kids met after school to play together with their Star Wars Toys and everybody wanted to add another alien to the core characters, to have their worlds, their galaxy grow. Kenner brought us these obscure aliens in their line until everything went into hiatus for a while.
In 1995 Star Wars Actionfigures were back brought to us by Hasbro and to this day continue to brighten the days of fans, kids and collectors. The buffed figures of the POTF2 line were more aimed at kids but collectors grabbed them as well, hey Star Wars was back. And here is another important point. Toy manufacturers always seem to be aiming products at kids, which of course is important, hey we are talking toys and toys are for kids, right? …Not so fast. Yes, Toys as the name implies are made for kids. But who is paying for these? The parents! So if you have the parents on your side, you are halfway there. Everybody knows mom or grandma telling a kid actionfigures are no good, too violent and so on. But who do kids look up to? Their parents! That’s right! So if daddy never grows up, ahm, I mean continues to collect, the kids see what the parents do and most want to do, copy what the parents do. If parents lose interest so will the kids. If parents are unhappy with the product, 5 points of articulation, and whatever else and stop collecting, then Toy manufacturers lose not only a parent/collector they lose kids as well. And if you spin this further the kid who is now growing up and becomes himself a parent continues to promote, so to speak Star Wars to his or hers kids. If you break that circle you hurt your business, your profit.
That is why it is still important to cater toys e.g. the 3.75 inch line to collectors, parents. Not because solely to keep collectors happy but to keep connecting to kids through the parents. Over the years some lost that aim and we got repeatedely main characters in ever changing different packaging, different lines, always trying to bring new looks and ideas, while the main idea suffered. The main idea, build worlds, build galaxies! You can’t do that with Han, Leia, Luke, Vader alone. Collectors that are there from the beginning are literally running out of time seeing their worlds complete with side characters, which is why some collectors dropped out and lost interest, and some unfortunately are no longer amongst us. But Toy manufacturers are now in a position still to fill the voids in many peoples collections by bringing us more side characters, less repacks, when they stick with a line and build upon it and expand it. The Black Series line of 6 inch figures from Hasbro is a beautifully crafted line but solely geared towards an adult collector while 3.75 inch lines are picked up by the entire family if continued to be done right.
There is also a new problem for toy manufacturers on the horizon. With ever growing content now, many more different shows, movies, live action series, toy manufacturers if they would produce and try to make it right for everybody are faced with higher expenses and unknown returns for those new characters and lines. And they can’t please everyone. History has shown that what has made Star Wars what it is today will always be the main driver for the franchise. My last 2 cents, stick to the roots, don’t try to re-invent the wheel, build on what is popular and there will be many more decades of product and return for fans and manufacturers.
A Return of and from the Jedi.
Volker C., http:StarWars-Figuren.com
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