Live, Learn, Collect and... BUYER BEWARE!
February 29, 2012, by Will Hoover
If you're an avid lover and collector of toys, both new and
vintage, like myself, then you probably know just exactly what it's like, to spend hours perusing department and toy stores,
eBay, flea markets and garage sales, looking for the stuff of your childhood dreams.
The only thing is however... that
the marketplace can really be a jungle, fraught with both beauty and danger. Yes, there's that thrill, that palpating
level of high octane excitement that comes from trying to track down a favorite old toy, or even a brand new
one that may be in short supply. You know, like the kinds of epic battles people get into at the local
department store to get ahold of the hottest selling toys for their kids at Christmas time.
though, as brick and mortar stores have gradually begun to be replaced (or in many cases, simply supplemented) by smaller,
online retailers who often specialize in mail order merchandise, the nature of the collecting hobby has begun to change
quite a bit. For newer lines of action figures that have a more limited appeal, like vintage style MEGO and Marx action figures for example, the paradigm has in fact, shifted dramatically.
used to be that if you had a problem with a product sold by a decent retailer like Wal-Mart, all you had to do was take it back! Get a refund or simply replace it! After all, that's just
good business, isn't it? And, in most cases, with the big box stores, that is still very much the truth. Although
Wal-Mart in particular has had to tighten up its return policy in the recent past, due to abuses by some customers, but by
and large, it is still a very collector friendly retailer and always has been. Good deal.
|Sure, make your own box by cutting it down, but if you do... TAPE THE CORNERS!!!
buyer beware. Many of these smaller, shop and click retailers that have cropped up over the years (most of
whom also sell on eBay) are not always quite so trustworthy or reliable. In fact, many are simply folks who
try to ply their wares Online as a part time venture on the side.
Being that most of these individuals are
small business people with that tried and true moxie that tends to come with entrepreneurial zeal, it is sometimes actually
a really good thing to work with them, since you may get individualized attention in terms of customer service and etiquette.
However... there are also unfortunately a lot of Online retailers out there these days that seem to know little to
nothing about what the heck they're doing! And believe me, I've met such folks. You know the type.
"Hey! I love toys! I know.... I'll start my own business, selling stuff I like ONLINE!!!"
Right. Good idea. And in many cases, it does seem to work for some people. Some of these new fangled
low overhead retailers do quite well. They learn the ropes and their business just keeps growing.
some... are a nightmare to deal with. They ship slowly or don't ship the items you've paid for at all!
Some, like many, many novice sellers on eBay, wouldn't know how to pack a decent box for shipping if one fell right into
their lap! The thing is though... when it comes to vintage toys especially (that may be somewhat rare and in various
states of age or disrepair) it is honestly and truly the full responsibility of the seller to make good and sure that the
items they are parting with reach their destination in as close to the same condition as they were in when
they left their home, garage or warehouse.
And that's only fair, isn't it? Not for some people, it
seems. Believe or not, I've personally had similar problems with so called collector's clubs and Online stores
representing long gone classic toy companies. These folks, despite coming up with the necessary capital and product
to sell, are sometimes incredibly stubborn about using bubble wrap or other packing materials! Some even make you pay
an extra charge for bubble wrap!
those cases, I usually just humor them, since bubble wrap in particular, doesn't cost more than a few US dollars at most.
But folks, it does make all the difference in the shipping process! I'm talking about packing peanuts, people!
I'm talking about simple, affordable packing materials like old newspapers or cheap plastic shopping bags! Who doesn't
have that kind of stuff lying around, huh?
|Come on! Is bubble wrap really that expensive or hard to come by?
or not though, I once won three G.I. Joe Club Exclusive Adventure Team figures from a seller on eBay. He took my money, sent the package very promptly and gave me positive
feedback. Great! I earned it because I PAID PROMPTLY. Except that... he didn't bother to wrap each item
individually or fill the rest of the box up with anything more than a jagged piece of cardboard that, just like the figure
boxes themselves, rubbed together like SANDPAPER in transit!
Bummer. HUGE BUMMER.
I was happy to get the club exclusives, since I'd missed them when they first came out. It was my only chance to
get them, right? After all, in most cases, the Club only produced 1,974 pieces of each reproduction figure and... when
they were all sold, they were... all sold. Poor me. BUT... one day, I found them on good old eBay! I bid,
struggled to win, and win I did! Then, I paid. I paid good money for those figures, but... the seller didn't
even have the good sense (or care perhaps) to simply slip each one into a spare plastic supermarket bag. That's
all it would have taken really.
Instead, the colorful printing on the vintage reproduction boxes rubbed off on
one another, devaluing them significantly. Oh, the figures inside were fine, but one must remember, I DID NOT win an
auction for mint, loose Adventure Team G.I. Joe figures. I won an auction for MINT IN MINT BOX Adventure Team G.I. Joe
Bummer. MAJOR BUMMER.
|It may not be from Italy, but it sure is FRAG-I-LE!
brings this up now is that sadly, I just had this problem yet again. But this time, not with some poor, unsuspecting
guy who had probably just been cleaning out his garage and was obviously too witless to even KNOW how to pack collectibles
for interstate shipping. No, this time, it happenened with a fledgling online retailer who also sells on eBay.
They've got the product though, buddy! But... they seem to be TOTALLY CLUELESS when it comes to the simple matter
of packing collectibles toys in a cardboard box!
But who's naturally good at that, right? Who instinctively
knows these things, right? Heck, look around you and you will see ample evidence that quite a few people that make
up the human race in the world today don't even know how to raise their own children, much less when they should
and shouldn't make them! But these things happen, of course. Life doesn't come with an instruction
booklet, after all. Instead, throughout the danger fraught days of our lives, we've all got to live and learn as
That's the spirit. Live and learn. I mean, if there was an instruction booklet dropped down from the heavens
by God himself that said stuff like, "Don't smoke. It'll kill ya. Not today, but eventually.
One day at a hacking, smoker's coughing and gagging day at a time." Or, "You've had a few
too many drinks, so you really shouldn't drive now." But wait.... There IS information just like that
out there, isn't there? Yes, and there is always good old fashioned COMMON sense when it comes to packing a box
to be sent to a friend, family member or... even more importantly, a CUSTOMER.
Food for thought. That said,
do exercise caution when you buy from any Online entity that you can neither see nor look directly in the eye of to deal with
when a problem does arise. And believe me, in this life, on good old planet Earth anyway, crap does tend to happen.
And that's just part of life. Either way, happy collecting!
Selected Online Action Figure and Toy Retailers
Monkey see, monkey want! At
least that's how I feel sometimes. But collecting anything can become expensive. My advice is to just focus
on what you like the most and only buy what you can when you can. Below is a list of online retailers that are usually
quite reputable and generally offer exceptional products.