This is a response to a blog posted at ArticulatedDiscussion.com
“My fellow Collecticons, as your new leader I… WHO DISRUPTS MY CORONATION?”
Scalpers of course!!! Who else, but the vile scum of the collecting community!!!! I, king Diablien, decree that these heathens be banned from my kingdom!
If only it were that simple. Scalpers. The very term can make a collector’s blood boil, and for various reasons. What does the term actually mean? The very question could be answered a multitude of different ways by different people. I’ll give you my personal definition: A scalper is someone who purchases figures en masse with the sole intention of re-selling the figures at a bloated price to a collector of such items.
Simple, right? Not so fast…
After reading an article on Articulated Discussion, I once again realized how difficult it can be to point the blame when a certain toy appears to be just out of your reach no matter how many times you look. A few notable cases of accused scalping come to mind: Alternator Swerve, hording of the G1 redeco Jazz and Starscream Target exclusives, and Wal-mart Exclusive Masterpiece Starscream. Each of these figures was at times very difficult to find. After the dust settled and the fandom moved on, it became apparent that most of the problems with these figures were caused by poor distrobution and low production of the toys. The G1 Jazz and Starscream ended up being very easy to get, but suffered like most of the first Transformers Movie line from delayed distrobution in certain parts of the country. It didn’t help that the fanbase was rabid for these redecos before they hit the shelves and nothing and cause an influx in supply and demand like asking Transformers collectors to be patient.
In Articulated Discussions article, two self-described “scalpers” are interviewed independently of each other. As I read their responses, it donned on me that these people shared some of my own disgretions towards toy collecting, and they did not partake in human sacrifice, as the author so colorfully jabbed at them. One quote in particular stuck me:
The jealous people who complain about scalping are the same hypocrites who will buy items at retail to stash away for twenty years to sell to try to put their kids through college… which would be “Future-Scalping”.
What’s that? Come again? My methods are being described as “Future-scalping”, by a scalper himself!! The idea of it blew me away. He is describing the very heart of Collecticon: Helping to define the foresight of what figures will be worth finding now, and being happy you have later down the road. Is this what I am doing by locking away the entire Transformers Movie toyline MISB in a basement for years, Future-scalping? It seems logical… but I’ve never thought twice about it.
Are these “scalpers” correct? Is what they do no different than just being a collector in general? These questions will never find a true answer and to be completely serious, I would have to agree that the term “scalper” is quick to be thrown around when someone can’t get what they want, when they want it. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to store hoping to find a particular toy, only to be greeted by shelf-warmers and empty space, but I have never once grumbled to myself “Damn scalpers…” as I hang my head in shame as I creepily exit the Toys R Us parking lot.
I guess I would request that you ask yourself what it really means to you to be a scalper, and I’d love to see what you have to say in the comments. The debate will continue and as long as there is a demand for short-packed toys, there will be these archetypes there to swipe the goods: the vigilant collector, the lucky bastard, the little kid, and the dastardly shadowy scalper figure whom you may find staring you straight in the eye next time you look in the mirror!