For this week’s Figure Friday we’re going to chat about BOXES. What a topic, am I right? But first, I am contractually obligated to tell you that Figure Friday is brought to you by the fine folks at Outrun Collectibles! You can visit them for all your toy needs! And some of those toys even come in boxes! Plus they won’t just slap a shipping label on the ACTUAL toy and mail it to you like some retailers (cough*Amazon*cough)! No, they’ll put your box in another box with ample packing and send it off to you! Visit them HERE and use code BIFFBAMPOP and get 15% off your order!
I feel like most collectors around my age all share the same dream. For some reason you’re driving down a dusty two-lane highway somewhere in the American southwest. You don’t know why you’re there or where you’re going, but you DO know it’s hotter than hell and you’re getting low on gas.
On the horizon a dirty general store with an attached gas station appears. You stop in to top off the tank and maybe grab a cold drink. Inside the store you begin to walk down one of the aisles while heading back to the cooler, hopeful they have Vanilla Pepsi in stock. You notice out of the corner of your eye that they appear to have a not insignificant amount of action figures in stock and you do a double take. You would do a spit-take but you haven’t gotten your Pepsi yet.
Inexplicably, the dusty general store is stocked with a full assortment of classic Kenner Star Wars figures, instinctively you know that these are the REAL DEAL and not reissues. Even better they’re all priced as they were originally between 1977 and 1983, all are mint on card. There’s even a prototype rocket-firing Boba Fett! You begin to grab armfuls of the figures, doubles if they have them, and proceed to the register. All your prayers have been answered! You’ve struck plastic gold and you’re now wealthy beyond your wildest dreams (after another modest financial investment of having all the figures graded, but hey you’ve got to spend money to make money…), and then…
You wake up.
As I’ve often stated in this column, toy collecting is just an extension of childhood wish fulfillment. Slowly but surely buying back your childhood one hunk at a time or snagging the stuff your folks would never in a million years buy you when you were a kid. There’s a reason Hasbro was able to crowdfund a giant Unicron figure that cost about as much a month’s rent…it was the manifestation of a figure previously thought to be impossible. It was the stuff of schoolyard legend made real…and it could be yours for a price.
Of course I did the responsible thing and did NOT buy one and saved for a house. Now I have an empty house with no Unicron in it.
This week Hasbro unveiled a whole mess of Marvel Legends figures but what got everyone (well, Josh and I) talking was their pivot to plastic-free windowless boxes. Better for the environment? Undoubtably. Easier to recycle? Sure! But I’ve got so many questions!
First off, I am a stickler for comparing all available figures on the pegs when I’m shopping to make sure I’m getting THE most perfect one possible. It has to be free of paint defects or malformed parts. If I’m going to plunk down $20-plus American dollars for a Spider-Man I want to make sure it’s the best available. I’ve had a mixed bag with Marvel Legends over the last year or so, from incorrectly painted figures to a Spider-Man 2099 with back-abs. Those are just a couple of the reasons I’ve shifted my personal collecting focus to import toys.
Next up…grading. For those of you out there who are hardcore collectors that do the “one to open, one to keep in the box and/or grade” I don’t know how on earth these new figures will be able to be graded. They essentially be grading just the exterior box which brings me to my next point.
Scammers, box swappers, and other all around bastards. Every collector reading this knows what I’m talking about. Maybe you’ve been at a Walmart or a Target and you spot the brand new Black Series Carbonized Scout Trooper you’ve been hunting for but, wait, the figure in the box just so happens to be an old circa 1994 Power of the Force Stormtrooper that isn’t even the same scale! You’re simultaneously enraged but also curious how this brazen asshole managed to pull this off. Did they do some box surgery in the toy aisle, hoping to avoid detection? The thrill of being discovered now being the only way they can climax? Perhaps they bought the figure, took it home and swapped it out later returning the wrong figure to an oblivious worker at the return counter?
The Transformers line has shifted already to windowless boxes over the last year in a somewhat staggered approach across the line. I’ve already seen a few people online that have received some nasty surprises in the form of empty boxes or items such as soda bottles in place of Optimus Prime. Personally, I’d hate to open a new Spider-Man figure only to find a hotdog or something in its place. That’s probably the only time I’d be mad at a hotdog. Also, if it was still warm I would probably eat it and then claim the box was entirely empty. Don’t judge me.
Plasticless packaging is overall a good thing and a positive step forward in an industry to produces so much unnecessary landfill but I’m already bracing myself for the wave of nonsense that’s sure to follow.