Monday, August 29, 2016

Funko Pop Mystery Series 3 - Hot Topic Rubbing Salt In The Wound



For those of you that may recall, we wrote a piece pertaining to the Funko Pop Mystery Series 3 that Hot Topic was selling. To summarize that article, we bought twenty Pops, and didn't come up with one complete set of four. Needless to say, we were not thrilled, and called Hot Topic out on the matter.

Fast forward to the weekend of August 27th. While doing our weekly outing for new Pops, and toys in general, we stumble into the local Hot Topic. What greets us is nothing short of a slap in the face.

Hot Topic has apparently made the decision in several of their locations to open all of the Mystery Pops, and sell them directly. The reason per the store clerk - "People weren't buying them as blind boxes." Well, except for those suckers that came a few weeks back and bought twenty of them anyway...

Talk about salt in the wound.

Not only did we spend way more than we had to at the physical store, but we also ended up spending an additional forty bucks on ebay to get the chase Pop - Which they had about four of.

Some choice words come to mind - Some of which we won't write here. Others include; annoyed, angry and swindled.

The question we now have is this - For those of us who bought them blindly and kept our receipt, can we get a refund for returning them? We're certainly going to try and find out. If we get push back on the matter, we're prepared to present the argument that Hot Topic made their promotion null and void when they took the liberty of opening all the blind boxes. As such, they should honor that we're wanting to return a product with a receipt that matches identical to what they have on the shelf.

Stay tuned for that update.

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Walk the Line / Cash (State of the Art Toys)



Walk the Line / Cash
2005
State of the Art Toys

Admittedly we know very little about Johnny Cash beyond the handful of song we heard playing on our parent's 78's, and of course the 2005 movie Walk the Line staring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon...Oh, and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story staring John C. Reilly and Jenna Fischer. The man in black has songs we know, but we're not necessarily his biggest fans by any stretch.

Because our post on his history would be based on the above, we'll go ahead and spare the Cash fans out their of our impromptu history lesson, and jump right into the figure.

State of the Art Toys produced a Walk the Line / Johnny Cash figure in 2005 for Fox to distribute as a promotional item for the upcoming film. For what it's worth, this figure isn't bad. It certainly captures the look of Cash from the head sculpt to the black head to toe clothing.

If you look closely, you'll notice that the backdrop for the package is actually the poster for the 2005 film. Not a bad touch at all.

Mind you, this wouldn't be the only version of the figure. State of the Art Toys also followed up with a retail version - Or rather, specialty shops version.


The retail version, known as Cash, featured a wanted poster backdrop, but the same figure inside.

In general neither version is any more desirable than the other. Both the Fox promo and Cash versions can be found for as little as $9.00 here and there. High end sellers have been known to get as much as $30.00 for them, but more so the sales benchmark at about $16.00.

Personally, we'd rather have a Dewey Cox figure, but that's just us.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

The Archies (Mattel)



The Archies
Mattel
1977

We touched on Archie, and The Archies in our post based on Marx Toys The Archies back in December 2015. As such, we're not going to dive deep into the overall premise of the band, nor the characters in general as we've already covered that.

Instead, we'll jump right into Mattel's 1977 line of the same name. Admittedly these don't look as good as the 1975 Marx line - Both in quality and overall design. If we had to nitpick, the yellow card back is rather horrendous to look at too. Overall, it's just not the best we've seen nor come to expect from such an established company such as Mattel.

Its interesting that the artwork depicts the characters as their standard design teenager / high school appearance. The figures look more so like what the characters would have looked like when they were in elementary or middle school - I.E. very young.


The series featured four figures, and oddly enough Betty was not one of them. Rather, it was Archie, Jughead, Veronica and Sabrina. This in and of itself is a unique twist to draw in Archie fans as Sabrina wasn't typically a forefront character in the Archie comics - Unless she was headlining her own stories. So to include her in the line was actually a nice treat for fans.

The figures were mostly made out of fabric, to and include their arms and feet. The only plastic that was utilized was for their heads. For the male characters, their hair was sculpted into the plastic. For the girls, they included the traditional doll hair of the era.

These days you can find the dolls here and there, (mind you, they're not in abundance) and fortunately for not all that much money. We've seen lots of the entire set sell for as little as $36.00. However, full sets being sold are a little less common than individual dolls. When buying individually, most sellers list them for around $20.00 to $25.00 a piece - Almost makes you want to just wait for a full set to become available, even if you don't need or want all the characters. You'd almost be better off buying a full set, then offloading the extras yourself.


Now, you can't have an Archie line without his famous Jalopy. Mattel delivered probably the best piece in the line with this one and only vehicle produced for the series. It could easily hold all four dolls between the front and back seats.


Unfortunately, the Jalopy is going to be the hardest piece to track down in the series.Though it's harder to come by, it's not going to hit your wallet too hard if you do find one. Mint in the box ones have sold for as little as $41.00.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

The Venture Bros. (Bif Bang Pow)



The Venture Bros.
Bif Bang Pow
2010

Go team Venture!

As of 2016, The Venture Bros. is the longest running animated show aired on Adult Swim, and there's good reasons for that. For starters, it can be pretty funny at times. It has villains such as The Monarch that you can't help but feel sorry for, and wish he would just catch a break and win. Then of course there's the over the top violence of Brock Samson as he goes on a rampant rage of destruction in any way possible. Now that we start listing this out, really every character has a unique life of their own which comes with funny quirks. We could honestly list something about everyone.

As we've seen with prior Adult Swim related action figures, it can sometimes be a challenge to find a strong foothold in the market even when you have such a popular source material as your canvas. Bif Bang Pow started off with a hug bang (no pun intended), hitting the market with seven unique figures, and a handful of variants.

Bif Bang Pow produced both a 3 3/4 inch line as well as an 8 inch line. Today we're going to take a look at the 3 3/4 inch line.

Brock Samson* Brock Samson (Bloody / Naked Entertainment Earth Exclusive)*Brock Samson (Bloody SDCC / Entertainment Earth Exclusive)

The series launched with pretty much everyone in the main cast being present - Brock Samson, Hank and Dean Venture, Doctor Venture, Phantom Limb and of course Mr. and Mrs. The Monarch. The series also included numerous exclusives variant - Most of which were based on Brock Samson.

Dean Venture*Hank Venture*Dr. Venture

The Monarch*Dr. Mrs. Monarch*Phantom Limb

In this day and age, toy developers love giving fans something to chase after. Bif Bang Pows answer to this was the yellow unpainted test version of The Monarch. The figure was limited to just 500 pieces, and released in retail cases as a chase variant.

The Monarche Unpainted Test

The final items released to date in the 3 3/4 inch line were the G.I. Joe / retro style cards of Brock Samson variants. The black shirt version was released as a convention exclusive for Entertainment Earth, while the white shirt version was released in retail.

Brock Samson (Bloody Black Shirt Entertainment Earth)*Brock Samson (White Shirt)

The beauty of these figures is that they're all relatively cheap to obtain. If you're buying individually, you can expect to pay $15.00 to $20.00 each. However, when buying multiple figures at a time, the price can equal out to as little as $5.00 per figure when dividing the total price by how many figures you're getting. If these are figures you've been interested in getting, now is definitely a good time to jump on them.

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

R2-D2 Toy Toter (ATF)



R2-D2 Toy Toter
ATF
1983

We knew that this day would come eventually, and we can honestly say that despite the inevitability of it, it doesn't make it any easier. As most of you have probably heard by now, Kenny Baker, the man behind one of the most famous robots in movie history has passed away at the age of 81. Sources report that for several years he had been struggling with poor health.

As a tribute to the man behind R2-D2, we offer for you a look at a toy related item that put the droid front and center - The R2-D2 Toy Toter from ATF (American Toy and Furniture). Standing at 28 inches high, this was the perfect toy box for all your favorite Kenner Star Wars toys. It featured wheels on the bottom for easily rolling it around your room, and a hoop handle to pull it by.

Not only did it make the perfect toy tote, but with a little imagination and your Star Wars blaster, it made a great R2-D2 to incorporate into your playtime as you acted out your own Star Wars adventures. We know we did just that as kids, and we're sure many others did as well.

Quite honestly though, we don't want to talk about Star Wars toys right now. Instead, we want to remember the man that brought R2-D2 to life.

Kenny was born in August 24, 1934 in Brimingham, England to parents of average height. In his young years, he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps, and become an engraver. However, a lack of sufficient educational credits brought that dream to an end - Thankfully for many of us out there.

In 1951, Baker was approached by a woman on the street that was looking for little people to join a theatrical troupe of dwarfs and midgets. This step into show business took him next to the circus, and later to ice skating. After a brief stint in movies starting in 1960, Baker formed a comedy act called the Minitones with Jack Pruvis where the duo caught the eye of one Mr. George Lucas.

Both actors were brought in to join the cast of Star Wars, Kenny of course landing the roll of R2-D2, while Purvis joined as the Chief Jawa. From there, as they say, the rest is history. The duo acted together in numerous Lucasfilm and Jim Henson productions from that point on.

Kenny continued to act in bit parts here and there after his high point of the Star Wars Trilogy, and in the 90's returned for a brief stint in stand-up comedy. Of course, he's also one of very few actors that can claim to have been in all six of the George Lucas era Star Wars films.

Additionally, he was a regular member of the Star Wars family to return to conventions over the years to meet with fans and "give" autographs. Whenever meeting with fans, or giving interviews, he always seemed appreciative for the opportunities that being in Star Wars allowed him, and in general genuinely happy to meet with fans of the Saga. He always had a smile on his face, a glint of joy in his eyes, and kind words for everyone he spoke to.

Despite his vast list of credits in films from 1960 to 2015, Baker will forever be known to millions as the one, the only, R2-D2. It's sad that we have lost such a brilliant actor, and such a caring human being. We will miss you Kenny Baker, but you will forever live on in the hearts of millions of Star Wars fans around the world. You may have been small in stature, but your legacy is larger than life.

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Funko Pop Mystery Series 3 - A Huge Rip Off!




 Funko Pop's Hot Topic Exclusive Mystery series 3 is a great example of why we here at The Toy Box LOATH mystery boxes of anything. What you see before you in this photo is twenty (20) opened Pop Mystery figures. At a cost of $12.50 each, for a subtotal of $250.00 plus tax (6%) of $15.00 this stack cost a whopping $265.00, and we're none to happy about the results.

For a set that contains only four figures, and granted we understand that one is a chase, for that price and quantity we couldn't even obtain ONE full set. That is absolutely ridiculous when for a third of that price, we could have just gone to ebay and bought a set, and called it a day.

Something is definitely not right here. There are six Pops to a case, and one chase packed per case. Our odds should have been one in six to get at least one.

So basically, we're calling Shenanigans on Hot Topic. Or at least the location near us. We're of the opinion that someone at that store bought a case (or in general obtained one), opened them, found where the chase figure was packed, and pulled them all. This certainly wouldn't be the first time this has happened, and sadly won't be the last.

What it will be the last of is us supporting any form of mystery line. At the end of the day, regardless of what happened, this was simply way too much cash to drop (or more bluntly, waste) on such a disappointing end result.

Funko and Hot Topic are laughing all the way to the bank as we line up in droves to buy boxes that we as consumers have no clue as to what is even inside. At what point do we say, "Wait a minute...This is stupid." For us, that point is here and now.

Don't get us wrong. We love the thrill of the hunt that comes from tracking down figures. However, this is not a hunt. This is gambling, and much like when at a casino, you're probably not going to win.

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Monday, August 8, 2016

The Flintstones (Empire)



The Flintstones
Empire
1974

Choo choo!

We don't cover many trains here at The Toy Box. In fact, this could very well be our first one. It's certainly a great one to start with. Empire's Flintstones Train Set & Village. The set features a giant three foot track that snapped together with EZ grooves, and over fifteen pieces which included; Bedrock Station, building and dinosaur pieces and each of the main characters in their own unique train car. Best of all, the heads revolved as the train moved around the track.

This is truly a classic item for any Flintstones fan!


In 1978, Empire re-released the the set in a green box, calling it simply The Flintstones Train Set. It included all the same pieces and features as the 1974 release, but oddly enough this latter version is much more difficult to track down.

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Monday, August 1, 2016

Pop! Ad Icons (Funko)



Pop! Ad Icons
Funko
2011 - 2012

Funko slowly crept onto the scene in the summer of 2010 when the relatively unheard of company made its Funko Force 2.0 debut at San Diego Comic Con. Focusing on DC related super heroes, the company soon found themselves at the wheel of what would become one of the fastest growing pop culture phenomenons of the new millennium - The Funko Pop vinyl figure.

Since those early days, Funko has gone on to obtain numerous licenses for various characters from not only comic books, but also television, movies, video games, and well, pretty much anything else you can think of. Will Funko leave any stone unturned seems the most popular question among collectors - Well, that and will the company go the way of the once popular Ty Beanie Baby, and crash into the ground in a heaping flame.

In 2011, Funko introduced another popular entry into their wide spanning sets - Ad Icons. Though the possibilities were relatively endless in terms of the available mascots / characters, Funko started and stopped with General Mills Halloween favorites, Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Franken Berry. Sorry folks, no Fruit Brute or Yummy Mummy.

Much like the Funko Force 2.0 series, Ad Icons got their start in the summer of 2011 at SDCC with the metallic and for Boo Berry, the glow in the dark pieces. The trio would later be released via retail avenues, but only in a standard version - I.E. no glow or metallic features.

As mentioned above, these were the only characters released (to date) in the ad icons series, which is strange considering the massive amount of available mascots just from cereal products alone. There was certainly room for growth, and a shame that so far there hasn't been further releases.

And just as we finish writing this, Funko announces Big Boy from Bob's Big Boy. Of course it's a SDCC exclusive.



Unlike a lot of the other SDCC exclusives this year, Big Boy has not been released yet (and perhaps won't be) as a "2016 Summer Convention Exclusive" via various retail outlets - Such as many others have. This in turn is contributing to its already high secondary market value which has been hitting upwards of $200.00 already.

UPDATE 2

It's as if Funko was waiting for us to publish this post, and then decided, "Okay, let's release more Ad Icons." We just got word from them that Bullseye, the Target mascot will also be joining the fray. It of course will be a Target exclusive.

What's interesting about Funko Pops in general is the incredible rate in which their secondary market values are expanding. Prices shoot up rapidly for newly released items as scalpers prey on the "Gotta Have It" collectors who aren't patient enough to wait. Sadly, a lot of these collectors are right to follow this route as we've come to find that if you don't buy them when you see them, the chances of you seeing them again are slim to none - Especially at retail prices. As we said above, Funko Pops have soared in popularity - So much to the point that it appears supply can't keep up with demand.

To make matters worse, Funko has taken to vaulting certain pieces as time passes. This is most likely the result of a license agreement coming to an end, and both parties (or possibly just one) opting not to renew. The end results are retired pieces that can reach as high as several thousands of dollars to obtain on secondary markets - Which many Funko Pop collectors seem ready and willing to pay. This in turn only feeds into the scalper mentality as many dealers are willing to buy now, and sell (much) later if it ensures up to a one hundred fold profit margin.

For as many fans that there are of Funko's vinyl figures, it seems a good portion of them are not happy with the scarce nature of certain figures, and in general the over saturation of the market as the company continues to produce character after character. As a collector it's incredibly difficult to keep up with the sheer volume of releases, and more so frustrating that if you don't you're met with after market prices - Contributing to your collection falling even further behind, and possibly leading to retired pieces you'll never be able to obtain on your budget.

This is compounded by Funko's unrelenting desire to make agreements with numerous outlets for exclusive pieces produced in incredibly low quantities. In many cases, pieces not only start out costly to buy directly from each outlet, but explode in value on secondary markets. Then take into consideration if you can even pre-order (or in general get one) before they sell out. In the event of it being a convention exclusive, you also have to attend said convention.

For as fun as it is to collect Funko Pops, it's equally frustrating in the above regard.

Unfortunately our Ad Icon characters fall into all of these categories. The pieces that started as exclusives were produced in extremely low quantities, and the retail versions are long since retired. The retail ones will cost you upwards of a hundred dollars each. As for the SDCC metallic ones - You can expect to pay upwards of three hundred a piece for them. Then there's the SDCC glow in the dark Boo Berry which will set you back nine hundred dollars to a grand - Great news if you have one. Bad news if you want one. Now keep in mind that those prices are a benchmark as of this writing, and could potentially rise even further.

With prices ranging so high for each retired Funko Pop's (in general), it's "funny" to hear collectors talk about how they wished that they had purchased the figures they wanted when they saw them on the shelf for ten bucks. Personally, we wish we had just invested in the company on the stock market. We could buy all the Pops we wanted if we had - Not to mention be retired, live in a mansion, etc. Oh well. If collectors had time machines, toys wouldn't be worth what they are these days.

Truth be told, many Funko fans wish that the company would go the route of Ty Beanie Babies because it would kill the desire of scalpers, and make it possible to obtain the pieces that many want, but can't currently afford. However, what fans don't seem to take into account when making this kind of statement is that it would essentially mean the end of future Pops. It's never fun to hear about your favorite lines ending, but at the same time it's never fun to not be able to complete the collection you want because you've been priced out of the hobby. To put it bluntly - It's a crappy catch 22.

We'd like to cover more Funko Pop lines here at The Toy Box, but unfortunately don't known the realistic possibility of that. Well, actually we do. It's not realistic or possible. With so many on the market already, and an endless amount on the horizon, this is definitely not a line that we could reasonably obtain all of them - Nor would we want to - Especially at the prices for some of them. We'll revisit when we can, but it most likely won't be any time soon.

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Market prices fluctuate daily, and the prices as listed herein are not intended to be a set point, but rather a benchmark of where prices were noted at during the time period in which the article in question was written/posted. The value of any item shown here is always subject to change based on supply and demand, as well as seller/buyer preference. We are not affiliated with any buyers/sellers, and have no influence on prices set by secondary market dealers or individual sellers.