Tips for Buying Action Figures: Finding Hidden Treasures

How often have you gone to your local Wal-mart, Toys R Us or Target store to buy the latest Marvel or DC action figures only to be disappointed when you get there as the shelves are bare or there are only a few left?

The trouble is that due to the hobby’s increased popular and the expotential growth of the secondary market there are now many “scalpers” about.

Scalpers often buy up ALL or most of the toys from a popular line, rare figure, or figures of a popular character in order to resell them for a quick buck and are NOT collectors.

But who are these scalpers?


Scalpers are often the employees of stores such as Wal-Mart, Toys-R-Us, The Entertainer etc and are not serious collectors; they are only interested in making a quick buck off of the traditional collector.

Also because it generally means buying large quantities of the figures at once, you can mostly rule out kids.

These greedy people don't care if kids or the collectors can't get the toys; in fact they WANT to ensure that you can’t and that you are disappointed so that you have to buy the figures from them, generally at double or even treble the price!

Well, here are a few tips to help you keep one step ahead of the scalper and help you to find the figures you are looking for and how to make sure you get “first pickings” of any new releases.

1. Get to know your local store, how it stocks items and how it rotates them.

When it gets its new deliveries and when these are shelved, as not all new deliveries get shelved immediately as sometimes stores will wait until the old stock is sold first!

2. Some stores stock mid-afternoon, some overnight others in the morning. So if you know your stores delivery days and when they re-stock their shelves you can pretty much guess when new releases will be “shelved”.

3. Sometimes new stock lies out the back in the store room until the current stock has been sold so if you don’t see it ask.

4. Get to know the staff, be friendly and talk to them. Always thank them for their time and help. This is one of the most important tips because it is rare that anyone takes the time to thank them so you little appreciation WILL be remembered and will probably get you “inside” information on the latest arrivals.

5. As a side note you’ll probably get a better response if they know you are a serious collector and NOT a reseller.

Who knows they may even offer to “keep” items aside for you if you’re a regular customer.

6. The Customer Service area is an often forgotten and neglected service provided by most large stores and is generally used for making complaints but remember it is Customer SERVICE not Customer COMPLAINTS.

They are there to HELP you. Often the staff at the customer service area will be able to look up what stock is due in and when it is due. Again remember to thank them for their time and help!

7. Don’t forget to check out your local Supermarket or Grocery stores, although they may not stock regular lines of action figures many have a “Bargain Bin” where they put cheap close out stock.

You’ll be surprised how many bargains and hidden gems can be found in these out of the way and unsearched in stores.

8. Find out where your local $1 stores, close out stores or second hand stores are. These shops often stock end of the line items, bankrupt stock or close out stock at a fraction of the usual cost (on my last trip back to the UK I picked up 3 collectible porcelain dolls for my wife for $5 each from the local Oxfam charity shop. These dolls generally sell for anything up to $50 retail).

9. Try out stores in the poorer parts of town where people generally don’t have the disposable income to buy higher end of the market “toys”.

10. Along the same lines check out stores on the outskirts of town or in less frequented areas as often each store is “allocated” an initial stock level for an item from their head office, leaving it to the store to re-order when this initial stock runs out. 

When I had my stores in the UK I made friends with several of the local “high street” toy shops staff and managers and made it known that I would buy any excess stock they had.

Often these stores are “allowed” to write stock off on their monthly stock take after a given period of time and will sell the excess for next to nothing. 

My local store used to sell me their excess after a 3 month period and I used to get some excellent bargains, e.g. 1st Edition sealed boxes of Base Pokemon TCG for $1 each!

11. And don’t forget if you’re on an overseas trip to check out local stores as often there are country specific releases and exclusives.

12. Toy and Collector fairs are another excellent source for finding older toys or close out stock and many bargains.

13. Here’s a little tip on finding “hidden” toys. As the hobby has grown and become more “mainstream” and with prices and values continuing to rise some store’s staff have become savvy to the action figure market and will do all they can to “keep” the rarer figures back for themselves.

Most stores however have a policy where staff cannot keep items back, but an easy work around to this is they get a friend to come in and purchase the item that has been “saved”.

 So where can you find these “hidden” gems?

·  Checkout behind current stock, often you’ll find new stock is put behind the old. Also gems are often hidden way back behind everything else, and not always on the correct shelve so look around.

 · Another “trick” is to hide items under the bottom shelve. On many of the standard shop units these panels lift up to reveal a space underneath that is ideal for storing stock. In fact I used to use this area to store spare stock to replenish my shelves on a busy day.

 · Try it yourself sometime, you’ll be surprised at what you will find. And if someone sees you and asks what you’re doing? Either tell them the truth or make an excuse, e.g. you dropped some money down the back.

 · If there are any high shelves, i.e. above head height, ask to use the store’s ladder to have a look. Knowing that most customers will not bother looking, think about looking, or ask to look here it is the ideal place to “hide” items.

 ·  Remember don’t just check the toy aisles as sometimes items are miss-shelved or stocked in the wrong aisle. Especially if someone is trying to hide them.

 · In specialist or hobby stores the rare figures are often “held” back so it’s always best to ask if you can’t see it.

 REMEMBER:

Always be friendly, polite and courteous and always say Thank you to the staff. It doesn’t cost anything and you’ll be surprised at the reaction and help you’ll receive just by being “Mr. Nice” guy.

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Entertainment Earth

What Are You Looking For?

For all you 1/6 Scale figures, Exclusives, Hot Toys and high-end figures go to (credit terms and payment plans available): http://side.sh/4bw

For all your mass production Hasbro, Mattel, NECA, Playmates, Medicom action figures go to: http://bit.ly/2fuGUUj

For all your Japanese, Manga and Anime action figures go to: http://bit.ly/2fuloik

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