BotCon 2011 toys from eBay: data and analysis

Discussion in 'Transformers Toy Discussion' started by Ray Kremer, Apr 22, 2012.

  1. Ray Kremer

    Ray Kremer Well-Known Member

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    Some of you may remember my similar thread for BotCon 2010 in which I tracked eBay sales of the "souvenir" sets and the attendee Primus set exclusive over a period of several months. What we learned is that you can wait a few weeks after BotCon to buy stuff and save a lot of money versus buying during the first week. For 2011 though, I asked myself, can I do more? One of the larger unanswered questions was how the unsold auctions behaved against the auctions that did sell. This time around I decided to find out, and set my eBay search terms to track the results of every BotCon 2011 auction. I figured 2011 might be an especially good year, since TF Animated is a well-liked incarnation of TF, implying the BotCon addition to the line would be in high demand by fans. Once I got going collecting data, I kind of forgot to stop. With BotCon 2012 upon us, I realized I had to get this out right now, though. I'll give you a preview, the overall lesson remains the same, stay the hell away from eBay during the first two weeks after the convention. Wait it out and you'll save a lot of money. The astonishing thing though is just how many of these toys are still up in the listings even now. You could go on eBay today and still get every 2011 toy for much less than the people who did so the week after BotCon. I don't know if this is a sign of overproduction or what. Everything may sell out as far as TFCC is concerned, but eBay is still trying to unload it all. The resellers are buying more than the fans are asking for. I always kind of assumed everything gets snatched up off eBay after only a few weeks or months, but that's because I never actually looked.

    First, some overall notes on methodology and some general observations. Shipping charges are included. Most often it's a flat rate set by the seller, sometimes it's a dynamically generated number based on the weight and shipping method set by the seller, I just used whatever number popped up for me, which should be fairly representative for people living in the continental USA. (Note that anybody who manages to win more than one auction off a single seller may get a slight discount on the shipping, not reflected in the data I gathered.) The general idea here is to find out both what people were willing to spend, and what prices people were asking for that were too high. (Although you'll see quite a few sold items going for higher prices than unsold items within the same week. EBay buyers can be pretty silly.) I omitted auctions of unsold items marked as ended early by seller since people didn't get a chance to bid. I also left out "reserve not met" auctions since I couldn't tell what the reserve was.

    Best Offer sales I lumped in with Buy It Now auctions, primarily because most of them manifest in auctions where multiples of the same item are listed as Buy It Now or Best Offer, and the public eBay records don't show the dollar values on the accepted Best Offers except when the final item of the batch went by Best Offer, in which case that amount showed on the auction in the completed item search listing. Overall since it's a bit of guesswork anyway, I didn't feel like going to the effort of keep them separate this time around. Best Offer isn't used all that much anyway, so it's of little consequence. (There are also, by the way, other oddball little things that I tried to account for in the most likely sensible way, and no doubt some errors of my own slipped in. The overall picture is still pretty good though.)

    I included non-USA auctions, with the money converted to US Dollars by the eBay system for whatever the exchange rate happened to be the day I looked at it. I suspect the non-USA auctions early on suffered for showing up at the bottom of the standard item search. This is mostly Canada, but I also saw a good amount of Great Britain and a few Asian sellers.

    This didn't come up too much, but auctions that just said it was for the BotCon set and didn't have a photo to make things clear, I designated as the box set rather than the bagged set. The box sets on eBay generally include the comic and the certificate, and very often the first day pin as well, though my primary focus is the toys so I didn't make any of that a requirement. I also ignored "also included/bonus" items and treated such auctions as if they were just for the main thing being listed. These included stickers, mass release scout toys, the freebie matrix Kreon Prime, the other Club exclusive toys from 2011 like Cheetor, Peter Cullen's autograph on the box set a couple times, etc. The oddest one was a Fisitron with the empty box from the box set. It went unsold at $320, then sold for $299! I think I did actually leave that one off entirely since it was such an outlier to the data. There were some other auctions for the empty boxes that I ignored. More auctions listed as "botcon 2011" that were common that weren't actual BotCon toys were Hall of Fame dinner kits, the autograph/trading cards, the box set pins or comics by themselves, Rescue Bots promo comic/cards, assorted posters and shirts, and the Club member toy exclusives Cheetor, Ramjet, and Side Burn. I also left off any combination of the BotCon toys that defied the standard categories, like two Autotroopers, or a Toxitron and an Autotrooper together.

    The TFCC store at one point did put their reserve leftovers up at the original price, but it lasted so briefly I don't consider it significant. Compare to the 2010 leftovers of the one souvenir set which managed to last a few days in the club store. Word usually gets out during the show if the sets are sold out or not, so if a set specifically doesn't sell out, it's a good opportunity to get it from the club store without the secondary market mark-up.

    On Oct 1 I switched my search parameters from just "botcon 2011" to also include the names of every 2011 toy, since a small fraction of botcon toy auctions I've seen leave the year off. Oddly enough it paid off immediately, an Oct 4 listing as just "botcon galvatron". No idea how many like this escaped my notice prior to October. Wouldn't have been many, though.

    One amazing thing not shown in the charts is how many of these were sold by only a few sellers. Just one example, a name that stuck out early on, at 6/15 evening (the two week mark after the start of Botcon), of 1512 completed listings in search results (sold and unsold), a seller named almar_ent had 230 of them. There is obviously huge business for the BotCon toys in the BotCon dealer room itself, and you have these dealers rather than individual BotCon attending fans doing a large portion of the eBay auctions.

    A note to sellers: never set a minimum bid stupidly low without a reserve price two months after BotCon. That kind of stunt works fine when the demand is still crazy high, but not after it's died down.

    Okay, let's look at the graphs, then! Just for kicks, here's a display of everything, all the auctions. Amazing how much goes on.

    [​IMG]

    The box sets actually had some pre-orders show up. I've always thought eBay pre-orders were a funny thing to do. (Also note that 2011 had a distinct lack of factory-stolen toys showing up from Asian sellers prior to the convention, as compared to prior years when that happened quite a bit.) You can see where I marked the original Primus/Iacon price. Turns out it was possible to match or beat that price on eBay, but most auctions marked it up enough that it's stupid to not go the Iacon route. This one is remarkably messy, the prices never converged like most of the rest did.

    [​IMG]

    The bag set, or "loose" set, includes all the toys of the box set, sans box. Fewer in number. You can only buy one from Fun Publications if you got a box set. Some of the auctions came in for less than the box set itself, but I still don't think it's a better choice than buying Iacon.

    [​IMG]

    IF you show up at BotCon with a Primus package, the box set includes Fisitron, the "attendee exclusive". Some people sell them together this way, but as it turns out, not very many.

    [​IMG]

    Fisitron by himself, lots of that going on. I bought mine at the 11 day mark for $83. Quite good for the time. Compared to the long term, not bad but not great. I can recall in some of the early years of the Fun Pub Botcons, the attendee exclusive being fairly rare and expensive overall. They produce a lot more sets in recent years though. Of course character popularity always has something to do with it as well. Fisitron is well loved by those that know him apparently, but he's also a comic book-only character so that's a much smaller group of fans compared to characters that have been in shows.

    [​IMG]

    Now data for each of the box set toys sold individually. I can't prove anything, but I think there is normally a lot more of this going on. For 2011 though, I think it was instinctively understood that hardly anybody wants just some of the Stunticon team. It's a box set that resists being broken up on a character basis more so than every other box set. Here are the graphs anyway.

    [​IMG]

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    Continued in the next post...
     

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  2. Ray Kremer

    Ray Kremer Well-Known Member

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    Now for the "souvenir" sets. Still sold predominantly together, but split up a lot more than the box set toys. There's not a whole lot to say that hasn't already been said, the graphs speak for themselves. Again, marked with the at-BotCon price for comparison. For the record, I picked up Sideswipe/Toxitron on day 6 for $131 and Shattered Glass Galvatron/Thundercracker on day 9 for $133. Both pretty much right in the range of where the price stabilized for the few months after BotCon. Lower prices did exist, though.

    [​IMG]

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    The third souvenir set is the troop builder trio, in accordance with the new BotCon tradition. I think after the initial rush the Autotroopers were ultimately less in demand than the last two troop builder figures. Perhaps because they are not G1-based like the sweeps and Sharkticons were. They are in fact derived from Kissplayers, though hopefully the TF Animated fans don't hold that against them. Also perhaps because the Autotroopers have no memorable scenes nor are they lackey clones to a popular character. Another possible factor is that this time around there were not three distinct bio cards like the sweeps and Sharkticons had. My pack of 3, day 7 for $131. That's actually on the high end for everything beyond a month out. So, I could have done better.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Some auctions do go up for the whole package, all 13 toys from the show. Many also with the matrix Kreon. There's not a lot here though. I'm not sure if that should be surprising or not. I've also marked the combined at-Botcon price for these.

    [​IMG]

    How about auctions for all three "souvenir" sets together? That's three Autotroopers, Sideswipe, Toxitron, Galvatron, and Thundercracker. Much like the auctions for all 13, it sounds like a convenient way to do it for buyers and sellers both, but not many do.

    [​IMG]

    For some reason I also tracked auctions that had the three "souvenir" sets plus the bagged set. That gives you everything but Fisitron and the box. Like the previous two, I figured more people would be doing it, but only three auctions of this combination turned up, and none of them sold. I didn't bother making a graph.

    Continued in the next post...
     

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  3. Ray Kremer

    Ray Kremer Well-Known Member

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    The Kre-o Kreon matrix Optimus was an interesting thing. Hasbro gave it out for free at Botcon, but at first we didn't know if that would be the only source. Turns out they also gave them out at SDCC, and then they started sending them out with HTS orders and if you bought a few Transformers and sent in the receipts. So I feel dumb that I paid $22 for one on eBay on day 8. In this case, I only ever saw the ones with "botcon" in the title, there may or may not have been other listings without "botcon". The odd looking month-long gap of no auctions, plus a couple weeks on either side with very few auctions, no doubt corresponds to them being easily available from Hasbro for free. Sales picked up again afterwards at a lower price.

    [​IMG]

    One of the things I've heard about the customization class is that it's made clear those toys are not to show up on eBay. Well this year at least, they in fact did show up there. I didn't keep further track of this, but the first couple sales you see were from people attending the class, they had the tech spec card and the used sticker sheet and such. Most of the ones later on all came from a seller in China who obviously got a hold of several of the kit packages that never made it across the ocean. He admitted he made the antennae and stickers himself "because his were better than the originals", which is clearly code for "the antennae and stickers weren't produced in the same factory and weren't in the kit bags so I punted". Though judging by the photo he had, if it wasn't a stolen photo that is, he did a nice job of it. These things are pretty much the rarest toys out there besides lucky draws and prototype/test shots. So yeah, look at those prices.

    [​IMG]

    Okay, so that's the end of the main data. Lessons learned, perhaps assumptions shattered. Never mind waiting a week or two to buy the toys, waiting a month or two is prudent. I almost wish I could tell everybody about this and break the back of the ridiculous markup that occurs during that first week. On the other hand if I ever decide to actually go to BotCon, I'll be more than happy to put my extra toys up for sale on Friday and reap the benefits of ignorant, impatient buyers. Sell early, buy late.

    What else can we do with all this data though? We've seen sales records for the sets both together and separately, but how do they compare? Whether you are buying or selling, is it best to break up the toys or keep them together? I was genuinely curious how these would turn out. With data of this type, there's no good way I know of to get Excel to come up with a trend line, so I just eyeballed it against the auctions that sold (ignoring the unsolds for this) and put together some numbers. That makes this very rough and unscientific, but I just wanted something that compares the general average price trends over time, something that would let me add together the trends from different graphs. So here goes:

    It seems that overall, there's more average profit in breaking up the Autotrooper set and selling them individually. But not by a whole lot.

    [​IMG]

    For Sideswipe and Toxitron, the two lines dance around each other. Separate or an intact set, seems to not matter much.

    [​IMG]

    Galvatron and Thundercracker seem to eek out a little more separately. Again, not by a whole lot though.

    [​IMG]

    Given how noisy the data is anyway, I would say in general there might be a little more money in breaking the sets up, but it's not a hard and fast rule nor a sure thing. Given that unsolds more or less outnumber the solds on all the graphs after just a few weeks, it's not like there's pent up demand not being met with either option. For buying, if you want all the toys you pretty much can just stick to the intact sets.

    Just for kicks, how about the other combinations? Remember the graph for all three "souvenir" sets sold together? Since there's so little data there I didn't give that its own trend line, but I did overlay the sum of the lines for the three separately. Clearly in the long term buying separately is better, but it's interesting how well the line fits to the lower-priced combo sales in that first week.

    [​IMG]

    Same method here with the "all 13 toys" combo option, assuming you got the box set via Iacon and not eBay for the "bought separately" line. The line and dots within the first week fit to each other even better. Some dots fall below the line but several more are above it. The cheaper option is still the line at least a month out from Botcon, though some of those later auctions, mostly unsold, do come pretty close.

    [​IMG]

    I originally planned to do another one for the Primus-style box set plus Fisitron combination, but honestly, go look at the Fisitron graph and mentally add $321 for the Iacon package, then compare that to the Box+Fisitron graph. There's really no contest. Prices on the combo are way higher. You don't even have to see it together on one graph to get that. Although that's really no different than the graph for the box set itself versus the Iacon price, either. Selling the box set to people who missed out on the Iacon package can be big money.

    As for breaking up the box or bagged set versus keeping them together, at least in other years where the set isn't such a coherent team, I suspect it's largely the same. Some potential to get a high price overall but not by a whole lot. All of these depend on who the characters are, as well. We've all seen how certain popular characters can shoot to really high prices while characters created by Fun Pub don't get a whole lot of attention.

    That's all I have. I won't be doing this again for 2012, I think any point I might want to explore has been demonstrated already. It's not likely these patterns will change. Does anybody have questions, or anything else they'd like to see out of the data that I have? Spread the word. Don't let your friends buy BotCon toys from eBay too soon after the convention.
     

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  4. Erector

    Erector I ruined the Hall of Fame

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    That is a really, really interesting read man. Not much to say other than you really did your homework.
     
  5. 3.8TransAM

    3.8TransAM 1989 Turbo Trans AM

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    Interesting.

    Nice data and nice graphing of it.

    Now if it could only calculate stupidity combined with two much cash to waste we would have a final say on the matter.

    It's a got to have it now world.

    I am one of the rare ones that waits for things to settle down before I go after figures or sets.

    People cannot grasp limited supply equals higher prices but as more become available the prices tend to come down as well.
     
  6. BenjaminXavier

    BenjaminXavier Well-Known Member

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    All that data is amazing, I take it you're a statistics major?
     
  7. Ash-T

    Ash-T Well-Known Member

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    Wow very representative and enlightening! BTW, I was amongst those, who bought TFA Minerva from that China guy (320$ shipped). He did a good job on her - but I had to wait for December to get a decent price...
     
  8. Ray Kremer

    Ray Kremer Well-Known Member

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    Not so true in the case of Botcon, however! You do have the split between the people who put their auctions up on eBay while still at the convention, and those that wait until they get home, and there is also the supply of box sets to the Iacon people that don't show up until a month later, but for the most part the supply is a one-shot deal. No more Botcon toys are released after the weekend is over save whatever small number of leftovers appear on the Club store.

    What I think the data indicates is a lot of people are taken in by the illusion/reputation of scarcity while in reality the supply is more plentiful than you'd think. Apparently there is a large contingent of people who go to BotCon that don't want the toys, even in a year with a tie-in to a popular line.

    Toy collecting is goofy these days though. Seems like everything I get online, be it a Takara transformer, a third party "transformer", or some anime figure, either sells out during the preorder stage or ends up with a nice discounted clearance price a few months after release. I get a choice between kicking myself for having paid more than I needed on a preorder instead of waiting (because supply is greater than demand), or kicking myself for paying more hunting it down on some obscure store or an auction site because I did wait (because the demand is equal to or greater than supply). The real trick is knowing ahead of time which situation you will be dealing with. For BotCon toys at least, supply is greater than demand. The data two years running proves that.

    In fact no, I wasn't! You'll note no actual statistics-type math has been performed. It hardly needs to, the raw data speaks volumes once it's collected and plotted. It's just the type of thing that you don't realize what's really happening until somebody actually takes the time to pay attention.
     
  9. Dr. Prime

    Dr. Prime Dr. Prime

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    This is all great stuff and you did a great job! The irony of this is that the people who NEED to read this won't, and they will still impulse buy anyway, lol. But it is intersting nonetheless.
     
  10. optimusfan

    optimusfan Kill your heroes Administrator

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    Wonderful work here. :thumb  My only suggestion would be to create an executive summary for the beginning of your write-up for those with short attention spans.

    I'd also be curious to see a linear regression run on the data to see what the line of best fit looks like.
     
  11. Ray Kremer

    Ray Kremer Well-Known Member

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    If you want the most important bits only, you can stop reading after the first paragraph.

    It's very much not linear data, though. If you check back to my 2010 thread, that time I tried out two of Excel's other built in regressions (log series and power series) and they sort of fit but not really.

    The prices drop rapidly over the week or two after Botcon finishes, and then they mostly flatten out entirely, except for the box set, and there's lots of noise and outliers.

    Since this is behavior monitoring of a lot of buyers (and probably sellers as well) who generally are not fully informed on the overall state of the market, thereby contributing to randomness, I'm not sure any kind of mathematical fit can actually be performed or if it would be useful. I guess what we really need is a statistician and an economist.
     
  12. G1_Cindersaur

    G1_Cindersaur Banned

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    beg to differ with you but the best offer option is used by tons of buyers and sellers.
     
  13. Auto Morph

    Auto Morph Gimmick Bot

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    It's late and I'm too tired to read it all and analyse dots. Can anyone just give me the punchline?
     
  14. Ray Kremer

    Ray Kremer Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I'd say only about 20% of the sales I marked down as Buy it Now were sold as Best Offer. If you go back to my 2010 thread I did have them separated out and you can see there's not really a lot of Best Offer sales taking place compared to the other categories.

    Most of the Best Offer stuff goes down in auctions where the seller has put up several of the same item in one listing with your options being Buy it Now or Best Offer. Even in those, maybe half on average go Best Offer.

    If you aren't going to BotCon but want the toys, buy the Iacon package and then wait at least a month after the convention before buying the rest on eBay.
     
  15. videriant

    videriant Well-Known Member

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    I'm too stupid to understand simple graphs or sentences. Can you give a single graph of no more then four bars? Thanks. =P
     
  16. Matty

    Matty @StayingInTheBox Moderator News Staff

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    I always enjoy reading your analysis threads for BotCon. It's a lot data being thrown at us, but the concept is very simple: wait to buy your shit.

    Good work man.
     
  17. Agent Adam

    Agent Adam Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting. Thanks for this.
     
  18. Roufuss

    Roufuss Shots

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    Bumping this so all the people new to buying Botcon toys will look at it.

    I see a lot of people, who aren't at Botcon, trying to get these toys ASAP like they are going to be limited and rare.

    I made the mistake of buying Animated figures (which were more in-demand for sure) the weekend of Botcon thinking that they'd be so hard to find. They weren't and they dropped in price after the con on eBay, so you don't need to rush to get these figures.

    Most people won't list their figures until after Botcon is over and then, when the market floods, the price is going to sink.
     
  19. SydneyY

    SydneyY @syd_tfw Veteran TFW2005 Supporter

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    I remember your similar thread you linked to. Thank you for doing this again, very interesting. I imagine this year's dots will be placed in a similar fashion....
     
  20. Lbsammills51

    Lbsammills51 Well-Known Member

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    Nice work!

    I admit I would've been curious to see data on this year's set just to see if it fairs poorly in the second-hand market after all or if it actually does well in spite of fan dissatisfaction with the theme and selections.

    I may regret not getting an Iacon package, but I spent money on other worthwhile things these past couple months and I'm confident I can get everything I want from this year without being raked over the coals since I probably won't start purchasing anything from '12 until July or August at the earliest, probably later than that.
     

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