Quantifying the TF Collecting Community

Discussion in 'Transformers 3rd Party Discussion' started by mouschi, Feb 18, 2020.

  1. mouschi

    mouschi Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
    Posts:
    1,166
    Trophy Points:
    232
    Likes:
    +1,737
    Forgive me for not having a crystal clear cut direction in this thread - just sharing some thoughts ... with a question at the end! :) 

    Coming from a background in baseball cards, I'm conditioned to the size of its collecting community (in a sense) by seeing prices of cards that are serial numbered to /25, /10, /5 and even 1/1s. Baseball card collecting is rather large - not how it was in the late 80s/early 90s, but a LOT of money is going into card collecting these days. To give an example, a basketball card of Michael Jordan / Lebron James just sold for about $900,000 recently.

    Many sports cards out there numbered to 100 or so simply don't sell well. (Not true in all cases, but in many!) It could be that there are just so many cards #/100 these days, but it got me to thinking. How big is that hobby's fan base vs. transformers?

    The largest online community of sports cards is www.blowoutforums.com - clearly that site and this site are buzzing with traffic and engagement - you can go on either site, start making posts, and people will respond.

    But back to the numbering ... the whole idea that got my brain churning are the limited runs of some 3p devastators (TW Constructors) - there are some weathered and cell shaded pieces that are numbered to 200 & 500. Thinking about it in terms of sports cards, you would believe that they would never be sold out ... especially those that have 500 out there. If it were a baseball card that I wanted that was just released this year numbered to 500, I wouldn't have any urgency whatsoever to get it, because I know it would be available for years to come.

    What are your thoughts on this? How well/quickly to nice pieces limited to 200-500 sell out?
     
  2. Curium

    Curium Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2014
    Posts:
    11,521
    News Credits:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    277
    Likes:
    +12,441
    I don't believe there is enough info to give an average. It is highly dependent on the figure's desirability and price. A couple of examples from FT (being from the same company makes it easier to compare them), some of their Dinobot repaints have taken years to sell out (limited to 500 or 1000 depending on whether it was G, D, or X repaint). On the other hand their more recent repaints (not actually limited, but small production run for now and assumed to be limited incorrectly partly due to incorrect labeling by a couple of sites) of Quietus-T and Sovereign-M sold out in less than 2 hours at most sites that carried them. The company history may also affect that, these days FT's older figures that don't reissue can become absurdly priced (Tesla should have never reached such heights) so people have more of a feeling of having to order now to not pay a late "tax".

    The only figures I have that are actually numbered as you mentioned are some of MMC's convention exclusives. Most of those sell out fairly quickly as well when made available online, but I have no idea what type of numbers they moved at the convention or how many have been made available online. Other than some outliers most of them sell out within a day or two at the slowest, but generally faster.
     
  3. negative

    negative Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2013
    Posts:
    340
    Trophy Points:
    162
    Likes:
    +188
    How much do those limited sports cards sell for?

    That's kind of a tough comparison to make given the enormous difference in cost between a paper baseball card made by (what I assume is) a decent-sized company and a 6-part combining/transforming robot toy with hundreds and hundreds of plastic parts that is made by a small DIY company.

    You also have to take into account the disparity in potential audience. The market for trading cards of American sports players is almost completely limited to Americans. (are trading cards of famous players a thing in countries where soccer is popular?) Transformers are known world-wide. 3rd party TFs sell well in Asian countries.

    There's also the licensing factor. Without getting into "that" discussion, 3rd party TF toys are a grey area that skirts around properly licensing the characters. Sports cards, even limited editions, are a by-the-book product that includes many layers of licensing, royalties, players' unions etc. (I'm laughing in my head at the idea of 3rd party baseball cards of Mic Bass and Moody Wagers)


    Thank you
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. GeoffDes

    GeoffDes Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2019
    Posts:
    128
    Trophy Points:
    97
    Likes:
    +137
    Sounds like the lineup of an unlicensed NES baseball game.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  5. Snaku

    Snaku Primes Don't Party

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2006
    Posts:
    15,855
    News Credits:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    387
    Likes:
    +46,026
    Ebay:
    Yup, this right here. Adding in the Japanese and, in particular, the Chinese markets make it a completely different game. The population of China is so vast that a run that would seem huge by US standards is small by theirs.

    And also the official/unofficial thing makes it completely different, just as Negative says. Most of the casual Transformers fans will buy what they see on the shelf with most of them having no idea that third party are even a thing.
     
  6. mouschi

    mouschi Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
    Posts:
    1,166
    Trophy Points:
    232
    Likes:
    +1,737
    Haha, you got me! I spend much of my time educating people on the value of ... well ... many things, and even help them how to determine it. "How much do those limited sports cards sell for?" Perfection - I use the line "how much is a car worth?" I guess I feel like I'm in the middle of an ocean of ignorance when it comes to transformers, and let that overtake me a bit. I can totally see how one piece limited to 200 could sell quickly, whereas another less desirable piece of the same # could sit for months.

    The difference with cards is, if you have a card that's #ed to 200, I don't think ANY are in danger of drying up anytime soon ... then again, they may feel a tad cheapened, because that same card may have parallels (different colors) numbered to 150, 100, 75, 50, 25, 10, 5 & 1.

    To give you all an example, I just bought a baseball card of Jose Canseco (my favorite player) that was from 1997 for $175. It was numbered to 100 - this is wildly more than newer /100 cards. Heck, there are cards of his #ed to 100 (or less!) for $10 or less online. The difference is the one I bought is nearly a quarter of a century old at this point, and I've NEVER seen it for sale ... ever.

    I also think sports cards are much more fluid in terms of buying/selling. They are easy to ship, list, etc. and aren't "fun" to "play" with, if that makes sense. When you enter the sports card hobby, you will almost always sell some at some point, because it is just so easy to do. With Transformers, maybe it is more difficult (both from a packaging / listing perspective as well as sentimental if you have it on display?) and mayhaps the market in America isn't as big....or maybe it is bigger, I dunno :) 

    You are right though - while baseball does have a following in China, I don't get the feeling that it is nearly as much with say, basketball. They go nuts over basketball there. If I ever buy/sell baseball cards, 99x out of 100, it is in the states. With my extremely tiny TF collection, I have already covered 4 countries!

    Anyway, good information / conversation. I still am trying to wrap my mind around how these huge beautiful 3P pieces that I never knew about could have a run of 200-500 and be sold out within months.
     
  7. JJJ

    JJJ Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2018
    Posts:
    3,848
    News Credits:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    222
    Location:
    Australia's dead heart
    Likes:
    +6,473
    The primary difference is that you are buying a baseball card to sell later. And in your valuing system, something where there are 500 copies made has little value.

    With Transformers, we are buying them to possess them (mostly - there are of course people speculating here), and their value is determined largely by how much we want to own a toy of X character.

    -edit- forgot to add, this changes the dynamic of the market. Your baseball cards will, more or less, remain in circulation (and the prices will be reasonably predictable), but our toys won't so much (and the prices, when they do re-enter the market, can vary amazingly), so this leads to us buying more promptly than you might do.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2020
  8. mouschi

    mouschi Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
    Posts:
    1,166
    Trophy Points:
    232
    Likes:
    +1,737
    Buying to resell isn't necessarily true, though it can be sometimes... but I do see your point!
     
  9. RyanCharlie

    RyanCharlie Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2015
    Posts:
    7,268
    Trophy Points:
    247
    Likes:
    +11,097
    Sports cards are mostly worthless.


    So they're very similar to TF toys. :) 
     
  10. negative

    negative Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2013
    Posts:
    340
    Trophy Points:
    162
    Likes:
    +188
    I wasn't trying to "get" you. I was asking a genuine question. When a company puts out a limited edition sports card, what kind of retail prices do they charge?

    Thank you
     
  11. MnemonicSyntax

    MnemonicSyntax Macrodata Refinement - SVR'D Access

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2007
    Posts:
    9,239
    News Credits:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    337
    Likes:
    +8,777
    Remember when collecting was fun?

    Pepperidge Farms remembers.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  12. mouschi

    mouschi Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
    Posts:
    1,166
    Trophy Points:
    232
    Likes:
    +1,737
    All good, brother! Basically, that's the same as asking how much a car is (deja vu, ha!) Cards are typically sold in packs/boxes/cases, so singles will (generally speaking) only be sold once they are found in said packs/boxes/cases. The prices can range dramatically. When I was a kid, packs were like 50 cents ... nowadays, there is a box out there that can be had for $28,000 iirc.
     
  13. Susha

    Susha Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2013
    Posts:
    1,944
    Trophy Points:
    197
    Location:
    UK
    Likes:
    +1,258
    Ebay:
    YouTube (Legacy):
    wouldn't black lotus and the 1st edition Mox's from magic the gathering stand as a general point of reference, where collector cards with specific interest that transcend function will depend on the niche market, and can vary from trains, to soldier uniforms to baseball and football players, while trading card games will have a more generic appeal and can provide an more dilute idea of the situ..

    as to the transformers community you are not factoring in a few fundamental factors that precede any of the above points.
    hasbro - mp - official tf fandom
    3p fandom

    first off, the above distinction can be misleading, chug collectors are unarguably part of our game, but Hasbro generically produces for new generation of children and the MP line is an exception (that has been loosing ground to 3p)

    a direct consequence of the above - that adult collector needs in tf community are catered for 'illegaly' .. or without license,
    results in less transparent information and marketing.
    egg- sample..
    -HASBRO MP Exhaust got huge problems from Philip Morris and so did reporolabels for trying to provide the malboro correct decals for the censored version.
    - Toy World Whiskey on the other hand got away even with the orignal pilots name on the side window let alone the malboro decal in all the right places and some great 80s sponsors..

    from here it just gets more complicated.
    collectors from different sizes (many)
    collectors with preferences to certain 3p companies etc etc etc
     
  14. negative

    negative Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2013
    Posts:
    340
    Trophy Points:
    162
    Likes:
    +188
    I see. So, if one card is limited to 100, it means those 100 are randomly stuck in packs and distributed with the regular editions. "Chase" cards, just like with trading card games or blind boxed figures?

    I should have thought of that, but when you mentioned limited edition cards I was thinking that they were sold individually and people had to vie with other collectors to get one.

    Thank you
     
  15. mouschi

    mouschi Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
    Posts:
    1,166
    Trophy Points:
    232
    Likes:
    +1,737
    I didn't understand the first portion of what you were saying, but to go off on a bit of a tangent (which may not be so tangent-esque after all!) the value of certain cards can really vary ... I'll give you an example:

    You could have, say, a $1,500 Jose Canseco baseball card that has a bat barrel nameplate embedded into it. It will typically be a 1/1. The tricky part? Only 5 or so people in the world would be willing to pay that. Let's now take a look at a PSA 3 1954 Topps Hank Aaron rookie. (PSA grades sports cards based upon condition & authenticity. A 3 is considered lower than average condition.) There are over 500 of them in the registry, yet, they will still fetch around $1500 ... why? Because there are TONS more buyers. There is no real point to be made here; mainly just musing.

    A parallel of official / 3P : Baseball card makers currently are Topps, Panini and Leaf. Topps is the only one who can legally use baseball team logos, and thus is seen as the best by a country mile. Panini & Leaf need to airbrush out the logos in their pictures. This is a HUGE turn off to many collectors out there. Not me necessarily - some of my most beloved cards are from Panini and Leaf - mainly because the cards they create of my guy Canseco have been memorabilia quality. (Card companies put bat pieces, game used jersey pieces, etc. in the cards these days.) Here is an example of a few of my latest pickups from Panini, all of which would be considered high end:

    [​IMG]

    BTW, there are also custom card creators! I'm one of the more well known guys out there that do them, though I normally these days just do them for my collection, or do cards of family members for people. Here is one I've done - this is a Jumbo 12x Cut Signature Booklet of players from the 1989 World Series Championship Team, the Oakland Athletics:

    [​IMG]

    Yes sir! When I first got back into the hobby, I got a box of baseball cards, and pulled a beautiful Alex Rodriguez (the best player in baseball at the time). It was #/ed to 100 and I was through the roof excited! Until I saw the pricing. Turned out to be a $5 or so card ... why? Because there were also unnumbered versions of it, along with versioned #ed to /75, /50, /25, /10 & a 1/1. The 1/1 would have brought hundreds of dollars at the time, but yeah - all of them would be randomly inserted in packs of cards. It is fun, but always a losing battle for the collector. You could spend $20-300 on a box on average, and get maybe 40% of your investment back if you planned on selling. The thrill of it is finding the $1,000 card though, you know?

    Nowadays, they have uber $$$ boxes & cases, to which "breakers" purchase and sell "spots" by team or player, and open them online, live. It is a fun way to be a part of opening a box/case for a fraction of the price, and works well if you are only interested a certain team or player!
     
  16. Susha

    Susha Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2013
    Posts:
    1,944
    Trophy Points:
    197
    Location:
    UK
    Likes:
    +1,258
    Ebay:
    YouTube (Legacy):
    black lotus ebay = 1999$
    magic the gathering

    trading cards games have a larger population, international clienteles, and the cards usually are valuble (or not valuble) according to their use in the game or affection by the coomunity.
    POkemon, digimon, and all those products can give you a better idea of how much people will or will not spend on a card.

    The best approximation imo, is derived from 2nd hand buys from these forums. As even if u did buy a superexlusive rare, g2 coloured, convention exclusive bot. its rare to be able to sell at more than you bought, not to mention profit from it.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. mouschi

    mouschi Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
    Posts:
    1,166
    Trophy Points:
    232
    Likes:
    +1,737
    Said superexlusive rare, g2 coloured, convention exclusive bot is actually standing on top of my printer, taunting another G1 coloured, convention exclusive bot to the left of me. He is Mahvelous! :) 
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Susha

    Susha Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2013
    Posts:
    1,944
    Trophy Points:
    197
    Location:
    UK
    Likes:
    +1,258
    Ebay:
    YouTube (Legacy):
    [​IMG]
    as pretty as he is he doesnt fit with my stuff anymore, and tbh it hasn't acquired much value. Not that I follolw the Fansproject market anymore.. which kinda was my point :)  :) 
    currently on ebay at some 85$ (Fansproject Kausality Causality Kar Krash (G2 Breakdown) NEW & MOC Transformers | eBay)

    which is just about the same price i had got it for.
     
  19. mouschi

    mouschi Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
    Posts:
    1,166
    Trophy Points:
    232
    Likes:
    +1,737
    I am a firm believer that most things won't necessarily appreciate in a reasonable amount of time, which is why I tell people if they are buying as an investment / to make money down the road, then the money to be made starts with how much you buy it for to begin with, which is why it is easier to make money on things you aren't in love with. If you buy things you are in love with, you are typically willing to pay more for them - and in many cases, you won't have a choice to unless it hits the secondary market down the road.

    It is funny how emotions can affect everything in the buying/selling process. If you LOVE a piece, you may not be apt to try to negotiate much for FOMO. If you don't, you can be a little freer and might get a deal. Not that you don't know this stuff, but many of our fine readers here may pick up a thing or two that will be beneficial to them down the road!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  20. Susha

    Susha Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2013
    Posts:
    1,944
    Trophy Points:
    197
    Location:
    UK
    Likes:
    +1,258
    Ebay:
    YouTube (Legacy):
    exactly.
    While in certain card trading games rarity can increase the value of a certain item, this is also however related to its usefulness in the game (hence my example of magic the gathering/pokemon and not trading card games)
    In our market, (3p transformers) this rarely happens.
    In the past, certain con exclusives have attempted to increase value of items this is only very temporary but the falling out of love with said cons and their.. sale methods, (with Zaptrap bio only going for around 40$, for a figure worth 9$)
    and its anyways a thing of the past, 3p has taken over massively as laser printers have evolved and as the chinese market has come up with some great designers.

    Having said this, considering said companies do not have licenses and the variety of niche markets within, products rarely acquire value if not for two exceptions,
    - when a better alternative arrives on the market (u'll have trouble selling .. those dx9 seekers now that NA and MST have come with more modern versions) edit: losing value
    - if you as a collector were late on the market, or forgot to buy a figure that u then 'NEED' - these products are made in low quantities - you'll end up paying more to some1 who still has 1 in stock -> a lot of people who missed out of Iron Factory Tactical squad have been asking for reruns often of late

    Also, ebay, said forums, and improved shipping (costs and speed) from China make it easy for collectors not to fall in collector traps, and most people here who are in 3p buy directly from chinese sellers or ebay (from china)

    There is no money to be made in 3p tf market .. at best u can make lil of the money back... unless ofc you have a closet full of generations metroplex. :) 
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2020