In previous posts here in the blog, I’ve conveyed my excitement for the upcoming line of vintage-style ‘Alien’ action figures from toy company Super7. I believe at least a few of you share my anticipation (though we’ve heard from a couple skeptics as well). As an (occasional) action figure collector, I think these are super cool, and I make no apologies for my enthusiasm. Well, at the end of last week, Super7 announced some news that I have somewhat mixed feelings about.
As you’ll recall, these action figures are based on a canceled toy line that the Kenner company (now part of Hasbro) originally planned to release in 1979, hoping for the same sort of merchandising bonanza that ‘Star Wars’ had previously delivered. Those plans were scrapped at the last minute when someone finally pointed out that ‘Alien’ was an R-rated horror movie and not kid-friendly at all. For many years, collectors coveted photographs of prototypes they assumed they could never actually own… until Super7 landed a deal to license the original molds and produce the line exactly as it almost came into being.
After months of teasing, Super7 opened preorders for this limited edition set of five action figures on August 1st of this year, sold only as a complete package for $100. (Those of you who groan at that price have clearly not been paying attention to the action figure market lately. That’s actually fairly reasonable for collectibles like this.) After one week, preorders closed and that was all she wrote. Either you got your order in or you didn’t.
Now Super7 reveals that it has struck up a new partnership with toy company Funko to expand distribution of the ‘Alien’ figures. From the press release:
Funko™ and Super7™ are excited to announce a new strategic partnership to debut and extend the ReAction Figure™ 3 3/4″ line..
One of the most unique and highly anticipated toys of San Diego Comic-Con 2013 was the pre-order and launch of Super7′s™ ReAction Figures™ Alien™ line. From the “Lost Prototype” 2-pack and Early Bird Kit to the the full reveal of the final Alien™ ReAction figures™ , the collector community was in a frenzied state over this new “retro style” look of toys within the action figure community. At the same time, Funko’s™ continued growth and expanding product line made it’s San Diego Comic-Con booth one of the single most travelled spots of the entire convention. After years of sharing the same aisle together, Super7™ and Funko™ saw an incredible opportunity to leverage each other’s unique business insights into a more strategic partnership. Beginning with the launch of the Highly anticipated Alien™ ReAction Figures™ and then several licenses to be announced soon, both companies look to establish a firm collaborative footprint in the market with the ReAction Figures ™ line.
Our original SRP was $19.95, and the 5 figure set was $100. Funko will be able to produce in much larger quantities and wider distribution, and has a $14.95 SRP, which is $75 for the set. We are aware of the discrepancy in price with the new agreement, so there is a additional, secret figure that will be included in the Super7 pre-orders that will be available only for those who pre-ordered sets of Alien from us, and will not be available anywhere else. (And preorders are long since closed.) We think it will be a nice thank you to everyone who believed in this project and pre-ordered ahead of time, being part of the excitement of the release of this long-awaited line of figures.
Thank you to everyone who has helped making this toy line come true – we have a lot more surprises in store for you!
In other words, the limited edition collectibles are not so limited anymore. The action figures will be sold individually at a lower price point and through wider distribution channels.
This is obviously good news for those who were interested in purchasing the figures but didn’t get an order in on time or balked at the original price. On the other hand, those of us who did order and looked forward to owning a rare collectible that few other people could claim to have… Well, we’re kind of boned.
Yeah, maybe it’s petty to have sour grapes over something like this, but I’m reminded of the way that Shout! Factory sold the famous “Yearbook Edition” DVD set of the TV series ‘Freaks and Geeks’. The studio swore up and down that the yearbook was an extremely limited edition, one time only, you’ll-never-ever-ever-get-another-chance-in-your-lifetime-to-own-this-unless-you-order-right-now product. So I ordered. And then I proudly owned the limited edition yearbook. Which Shout! Factory went ahead and reissued the following year – driving the price way down on the collector’s market. (Copies of that set can still be found in abundance on eBay for well less than I originally paid.)
Oh well. I learned long ago that I should only collect things because I like them, not because I expect them to retain value. I still like these ‘Alien’ figures, and I’ll still be glad to have them.
The press release says that we preorder purchasers will receive an exclusive mystery figure that won’t be sold at retail (at least, not at first). I have no idea what that could be. As far as I’m aware, Kenner only created molds for five figures in this line. Will this be something new that Super7 has created itself? Will it even have anything to do with ‘Alien’? I guess I’ll find out later this year when the figures ship.
The upside of all this is that it sounds like Super7′s “ReAction” concept is a viable product. If it’s successful, perhaps the company will revive other canceled toy lines. I have some suggestions I could throw their way.