SDCC 2013 Metroplex on eBay chart plus TFSS 1.0 selling experience

Discussion in 'Transformers Toy Discussion' started by Ray Kremer, Jul 2, 2014.

  1. Ray Kremer

    Ray Kremer Well-Known Member

    Jun 3, 2004
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    I'm back, and still strangely obsessed with working out how to get the best deal on Transformers exclusives. You may recall my previous efforts:
    Botcon 2010
    Botcon 2011
    Botcon & SDCC 2012

    Last year I only collected data on SDCC exclusive auctions for like a month or so. I figured for this year I'd pull it all year. Hasbro seems intent on more and more expensive SDCC releases that sell out too quickly in the online store for us normal folks to have a shot at them.

    2013 gave us the G1 Titan figure set, TF Prime Shockwave's Lab, the extra special Metroplex with chrome, shiney stickers, extra gun, and mini figures, and finally the third GI Joe/TF themed set. Those first two were easy to grab off, the latter two not so much. (Personally, the GI Joe sets have been cool but not for me, and after careful examination of online photo sets I decided to opt for the normal Metroplex release, though I did pick up the set of mini figures from the SDCC version.)

    2014 promises a Kreon set, the batcrap insane but glorious heavy metal Knights of Unicron band set, and the one that I predict will be the blink-and-miss-it event on, the movie dinobots in G1 deco with bonus Autobot Ark diorama. So what's the best way to get the dinobot set? Let's look at the performance of Metroplex to find out.

    First, once again a note about eBay presales. Official policy of eBay is nothing can be sold more than 30 days from when the item is released. The main reason for this is so that if the seller rips you off, you still have time to file a dispute. A very large number of sellers put up Buy It Now listings for SDCC stuff over 30 days early. Many of these even repeat the eBay policy in their listing and claim to be in compliance with it, even though this is clearly impossible. Now, I'm sure these guys are all honest folks and will indeed provide refunds if they are unable to fill their orders. However, there's no real benefit to going with these early sales, I don't think flaunting the rules like that should be rewarded, and you are waiving the standard eBay buyer protections if you do.

    So, the graph:
    The white bars show starting min bid prices, the colored diamonds show the final sales price. Sometimes these are the same thing. "Best Offer" auctions denote the original asking price, not the negotiated final sale price, since eBay doesn't make that information public.


    The main thing about SDCC is due to the vast number of preorder sales (compared to Botcons of recent years) the preorders really set the price trend. I suppose the sellers don't really try to make any guesses about popularity of stuff, they probably just have some percentage markup that they go by. I didn't get any preorder records older than 20 days prior this time, but you get the idea.

    Much like Botcon, there's a flurry of activity over the first month, then things die down to a predominance of unsold listings. There isn't quite the same dramatic drop in price after the first few weeks, but the sales in the later months do have a definite trend of being $25-50 less than the presale and first month results. At the very least, the evidence remains strong that these things remain in good supply, so there's really no reason to rush into buying them right away. Many of the later auctions are for opened sets, but unopened ones are still readily available as well, almost a full year later. At best you save a little bit by waiting, at worse waiting doesn't cost you more.

    And now, something new!

    Last year the Transformers collectors Club introduced the Transformers Figure Subscription Service, aka TFSS. The first set of six figures is known as TFSS 1.0. Now, much like the Botcon Iacon package, these fall squarely into the realm of available to all (either by preordering the full set or by picking singles off the club store after they are released), we don't need to interact with eBay at all to get these. However, just for fun and giggles I decided to try things from the other side and buy three full sets of TFSS 1.0 and unload two of them onto eBay.

    TFSS 1.0 was $282 per set, but after shipping and the processing fee the three sets came to $908.16. Divided out that's about $50.45 per figure. That's not entirely fair since five were deluxe class and one was voyager class, but let's go with that just to keep things simple. Given the lessons of the Botcon and SDCC graphs, I favored selling fast over selling high. Anything that didn't sell got relisted at lower and lower prices until it did sell. If you remember what the six figures were, the results are probably exactly as you expect.

    The first number is the buyer's payment less my shipping cost, paypal fee, and eBay fee. The second number is the difference between that and the $50.45 cost determined earlier, my total net profit per figure if you will.

    Scourge 1 : 115.61 ; 65.16
    Scourge 2 : 139.48 ; 89.03
    Slipstream 1 : 56.60 ; 6.19
    Slipstream 2 : 43.13 ; -7.32
    Circuit 1 : 27.40 ; -23.05
    Circuit 2 : 37.38 ; -13.07
    Breakdown 1 : 41.68 ; -8.77
    Breakdown 2 : 42.17 ; -8.28
    Jackpot 1 : 21.31 ; -29.14
    Jackpot 2 : 24.62 ; -25.83
    Ultra Mammoth 1 : 91.03 ; 40.58
    Ultra Mammoth 2 : 99.18 ; 48.73

    total : 739.63 ; 134.23

    Scourge and Ultra Mammoth basically paid for everything. Slipstream almost broken even. The other three were ultimately loss leaders. All told in the end I paid out $168.53 for the one set of six figures that I kept, so I call that coming out ahead. But TFSS 2.0 didn't look to have anything approaching the potential of Scourge and Ultra Mammoth (Thrustinator is the most promising I think, but I suspect he'll be more along the lines of Slipstream in demand than Scourge), so I decided to buy my one set and not repeat the experiment. I hold the same opinion for TFSS 3.0. I'm sure there are people that will try selling the 2.0 and 3.0 figures on eBay. I feel sorry for them.

    Probably the most fun part of the experience though was the Breakdown I sent to Japan and the Jackpot that went to a guy in China via a California based forwarding service. We are used to chasing after stuff Takara releases and Hasbro doesn't, plus the occasional store or event exclusive from Japan. Asian TF fans have the same issue with the exclusives released over here.

    The story isn't quite over. If you recall, Botcon 2013 didn't sell out of all their souvenir sets. (In fact this is a growing problem for Botcon, much to our benefit. All three of the 2014 souvenir sets had leftovers that went up for sale on the club store after the convention was over.) I picked up the Rainmaker trio from eBay after a few months, all that left was the Primus package attendee exclusive Starscream, which I continued to hold off on. It turned out that the club actually had some leftovers of those too, but because it was the "free" figure they couldn't just sell it outright. At Christmastime they set up a sale in the store, grouping TFSS figures together with older club toys at slashed prices. However one of the groups was Ultra Mammoth and Breakdown, listed at their normal price ($139 for both), because the "discount" was a Botcon Starscream thrown in for "free"! This was compared to $90-100 that Starscream by himself was running on eBay. Yeah, I went for that. $139 over three figures is $46.33 per, and I returned to eBay to sell my new extras.

    Breakdown 3 : 41.30 ; -5.03
    Ultra Mammoth 3 : 57.72 ; 11.39

    total : 99.02 ; 6.36

    Much lower selling price for Ultra Mammoth that time (which is to be expected given that it has been around for months at this point), and again Breakdown came in as a loss leader, but overall that was a Botcon Starscream from the club store for $39.98, less than half what it would have cost on eBay.

    I'm hoping something similar is going to happen with the 2014 Flamewar. (IIRC they didn't have any leftover box sets this time, but the difference between the Primus sales and the Iacon sales may have resulted in some extra Flamewars. If not, I'll get one from eBay next spring or so.)
  2. Matty

    Matty @StayingInTheBox Veteran

    Jun 2, 2009
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    Wow. Love this stuff. Good work!
  3. CodeXCDM

    CodeXCDM Well-Known Member

    Jun 14, 2011
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    Long story short... I should've sold Slipstream and Breakdown as soon as I had the chance... Circuit was selling at an average loss already via BBTS, so he's pointless. (Admittedly, I actually enjoy the figure now... strange... I know.) I wanted Jackpot, so I'm fine with not selling him...

    As for TFSS in general... I'd have to agree. There's nothing that holds a candle to Mammoth and Scourge. Some items are nice I suppose... but a couple items, like Ironfist and Chromedome, have pretty nice 3rd Party alternatives that likely will affect their overall sales. (Club items are a niche of a niche, much like 3rd Party, after all.)