2011 will undoubtedly go down in most collector's minds as the year the economic realities hit the hardest. We've seen prices on figures sky rocket across all scales. the 6" scale alone has seen Mattel's Green Lantern Movie Masters hit shelves at a whopping $18.00 a figure. Considering that you throw in a "Collect and Connect" figure built in 14 pieces along with that and you have one of the most expensive mass market toy lines ever produced. While the 3.75" range is holding close at around $10.00, we are still seeing a steady rise as companies like Hasbro keep finding new ways to raise the bar on the industry's most dependable scale.
While it seems the 6" scale is hitting the average collector the hardest, the 1/6 scale collector is being priced right out of house and home. 1/g scale has always been an indulgence market, but now it seems like every new release from Hot Toys is coming in at an average of $180.00, with every DX release hitting at around $225.00. Of course, you get what you pay for, but the demands of such a high end hobby are beginning to take their toll. Most collector's now find themselves having to choose only the most near and dear figures to add to their shelves. Sideshow is keeping things relatively close with their G.I. Joe line, but as they begin to explore the more complex pieces of the Star Wars universe, their production costs go up, and so do the bottom line prices for consumers.
While we live in an enthusiast's nirvana, the sobering reality is that the market is saturated with product, and few can keep up. It is quickly becoming a rotational hobby as collector's acquire and dispense with their treasures nearly as soon as they receive them. Very little time is left to enjoy them before something new arrives to hoover the money from their wallets.
The year has also seen the death of two really promising lines that on a personal note, I will sorely miss. Due to unknown factors, Bioware has canceled the second series of figures from DC Direct's Mass Effect 2 line. It is an absolute shame as the first wave is actually very very good. Some great characters have been left on the table, and we are certainly worse off for not having them. The second blow was especially painful to me as we lost Enterbay's Prison Break figures. While they managed to get T-Bag out the door, Michael and Lincoln fell victims to unscrupulous factory practices, or at least that is what we were told. While Hot Toys versions will have to do, Enterbay was moving into sublime territory with the work that had gone into realizing Michael Scofield's tatoos from season one of the cult TV classic.
The year isn't half over and Hot Toys still has Indiana Jones, Thor, Spider-Man, more Iron Man, more Bruce Lee rolling out. In addition we are awaiting word on the 1989 Michael Keaton Batman, the Christopher Reeve Superman, and the revelation of a tease from months back regarding a galaxy far, far away.
Mattel is putting a lot of stock in Green Lantern hitting hard, and in the resurgence of Voltron. DC Universe is still being talked up after 19 waves of figures. WHo can say how far they willl go. Masters of the Universe Classics has proven to be a juggernaut for sure.
Hasbro continues their own uber toy lines in Marvel Universe, Star Wars Vintage Collection, and G.I. Joe. Having the Marvel film license gives them tremendous momentum through the next year.
Bandai pulled the big coup in nabbing the revitalized Thundercats brand. Mattel would have sold their sister for that license. Bandai looks to be pulling out the stops for this one, and the Classic 8" figure line looks fantastic despite the lack of depth in initial release.
Yes, 2011 is one of the best years for collecting ever, this after a 2010 where we wondered if it could get any better. The old adage of "Careful what you wish for" springs to mind.