The situation of German collectors, especially regarding 3¾" Vintage figures

May 21, 2004
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Hello, everyone.

I'm not speaking on behalf of the German collecting community called "Lichtgeschwindigkeit" (which means "Lightspeed"), but I'm in touch with them.

The situation in acquiring Vintage Collection figures has always been not nice, since the beginning, in Germany.

Of course some were so much better to get than others, and some were outright not wanted by Joe Public (I have bought one very grim faced Ben Quadrinarios
still in 2018 out in the province), meanwhile other indeed were much wanted.

The situation has always been not nice, but it is dire now.

Vintage figures have evolved into being something that has become

- rare
- expensive
- has a short selling window of max. 4 weeks
- becomes absolutely sold out ofter that, or sold/re-sold by simply mad prices.

Anyone who misses this small window is out of luck - except when he or she has LOTS of money at their disposal.
And, of course, those going for the whales know that.

The situation is much worse than in the UK. The headquarters of Hasbro Europe are located in the UK, I read, so, this might be the reason why availability is so much better there.

But the main problem is - and that's my personal opinion, although there is a number of fellow collectors seeing it in a similar way - the product policy of Hasbro U.S. .
This policy created a point of view that Europeans are treated as some kind of ... whales, because the prices are so much inflated, especially in Germany - and "not worth the deal", because the number of items NOT shipped into continental Europe, or, in this case, into Germany, is rather INCREASING, although it has never been easy to get some items in Germany at all.
One very infamous example is the second Ugnaught : It has NEVER reached Germany (I doubt it has reached Europe at all, but that's a thing I can't verify. All I CAN verify is that this Ugnaught has NEVER reached Germany. And, there are aother examples like that.

Especially Walmart exclusives. They appear to have world-wide exclusive rights without shipping into the world outside of the U.S. .

On a positive note, some items can be found in Germany, which are rare elsewhere. Like "Rey (Journey)". Suddenly appeared as a regular ( ! ) item in Toys R Us Germany not far away from the Toys R Us insolvency.

Other points of this policy is to vastly overestimate the amount of buyers for Star Wars movies. Even today, figures from The Force Awakens can be found at retail - and that very often for not or only marginally reduced prices. The situation is even worse for The Last Jedi.

Retail has suffered especially. Buying Vintage figures online has almost become a necessity - because retails just don't get anything - or must sell them for high prices collectors do't want to pay.

The current example is the Vintage-themed "Poe Dameron's X-Wing Fighter". It has a price almost no collector I know wants to pay.

Other exclusives sell well despite their inflated prices - because they are so much limited. Limiting figures shipped appears to be a viable selling policy now. Because things are so much limited, they sell fast, and they sell to inflated prices. The mass of disappointed collectors doesn't seem to concern those who have made this as a selling policy. Exclusivism appears to be even stronger than ever these days. That it makes so many collectors just stop or reduce collecting as a result doesn't seem to be of a concern.

Black Series 6" appears to be completely collector-oriented. It appears to sell, although I can't say, because i don't collect that like. It simply takes oo much shelf space away from me.

However, at retail, BOTH sizes of Black series have very, very often these days the SAME price. 3¾" figures have THE SAME price as 6" figures. Retails simply does it this way. And Hasbro apparingly failed to tell retail the difference between both Black Series sizes. To retail, Black Series = Black Series, no matter what's within the package.
I could even imagine Hasbro being happy about that because it would mean = more revenue for the small figures.

Another example of Hasbro's failed policies is that Hasbro just stopped producing small figures apart from restistance and Vintage. Why ? Becauese no-one buys them, I imagine Hasbro's reasoning.
This sounds like something we have already in the past .., Remember "It doesn't sell" regarding the Comic Packs, which were assembled with figures no-one wanted, and therefore didn't sell ? I have never been able to imagine a logical reasoning of Hasbro regainging the non-selling of those comic Packs. And I don't think that they had ever admitted that some packs were assembled just awfully.
A few weeks ago I found Jarael from the comic pack. Sold for 99 Euros. For something that "did not sell" that's a hefty price. The other later comic packs are not known in the wilderness at all. For something that did not sell they get extremely high prices on Ebay these days - if they appear anywhere at all, that is.

Years ago I was already writing that Hasbro bases its Star Wars figure / collecting policy ENTIRELY on market/customer behaviour in the U.S. - it's like as if Europeans had - despite their own cultures - exactly the same customer behaviour like U.S. citizens.

EVERYTHING regarding star Wars just feels as if marketing research was merely conducted in the U.S. and transferred 1:1 to Europe (and the rest of the world except Japan, which is the ONLY country with an accepted culture different to that of the U.S. ). To collectors here in Europe this means . we are treated like U.S. citizens, especially regarding to "it does not sell". EXCEPT the prices. Hasbro U.S. sees us as whales. The prices are so much higher than in the U.S. - and that means PLUS taxes !

I do remember a visitor of the Star Wars Celebration europe II in the town of Essen, Germany writing (or saying) that he had been to several Celebrations - but *none* had been as expensive as that one.
Maybe that's why Hasbro U.S. thinks we are whales.

To cut things short, the situation has become from not bnice to dire these days. Vintage figures are not easily to acquire at all,
and for most German collectors hunting them involves buying online in other European countries in order to get anything at all.

The numbers of shipped items are so small that hunting Vintage and other figures has become extremely difficult - because they are sold out frighteningly fast.
Anyone who misses that small indow if getting things is out of luck. Except he or she has LOTS of money - because second-line scalpers are still out there. And because the amount of available items is so small, they suceed more than in the past.

There is a huge amount of frustration in the forum of Lichtgeschwindigkeit going on at this time.
And this is not only because only so few retail shops participated in the (In)Famous Triple Force Friday - no, the frustration has had a long way of building up.

@Fellow collectors : Please comment on my rant, because I want to learn how the situation is elsewhere.

Nov 17, 2011
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Metz, France
This situation is well known for all markets besides the US (and extension to Canada - Mexico), and is not limited to Germany. In the past (until 2002 approximately), Germany was quite favored when compared to other Europeans countries, and received much more products than France, Italy or Spain. Now the assortments are built by larger geographical regions, which is why only the first wave of the various collection get sold by the standard distribution circles, while other waves may find their way through other shops. A great recent example is the wave 2 of TLJ that can now be found in some discount shops in France, while it was never available in normal retail. So you can get the figures for 3€ even though no one tried to sell those for 10€. To me this is the worst problem, because Hasbro can not build a consumer base as the products do not find their way to retail, or it is too random !

The best advice I can give is to start using shipping forwarder services, which allow you to buy stuff in the US, consolidate multiple packages into a larger one, and then ship them to you internationally. Sure, there's a cost associated to it, but I've now been using that for the past 2 years, and in the end you don't spend that much more money because you can buy at US retail price (or even below thanks to ebay or other platforms), and everything is much more easier.
May 21, 2004
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A great recent example is the wave 2 of TLJ that can now be found in some discount shops in France, while it was never available in normal retail. So you can get the figures for 3€ even though no one tried to sell those for 10€. To me this is the worst problem, because Hasbro can not build a consumer base as the products do not find their way to retail, or it is too random !

In my opinion part of the problem are the far too high retail prices of Hasbro in the first place. Those responsible for european prices must believe that wer're great whales with LOTs of money. Or that EU citizens are in general more wealthy than U.S. citizens.
Anyway, it feels like exploiting us.
Apr 11, 2002
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In Germany you basically need to find a smaller dealer to get the stuff you want. Luckily, I have one in Munich and he's really good. Of course, if there's something you want that doesn't come here through normal channnels, it can cost more, but if it's something you really want, then at least you can get it.
Dec 23, 2002
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Vienna, Austria
The only retail chain I ever find SW stuff for a great price is T.K. Maxx. It's like a Christmas surprise walking into those stores- you never know what toys they'll have in stock. Most of what's sold there never made it store shelves anywhere else.