The Grumpy Old Toy Collector Strikes Back! -

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The Grumpy Old Toy Collector Strikes Back!

Dan Cziraky revives his column, telling you all that's new and wonderful in the world of action figures, models and playsets.

By Dan Cziraky     June 17, 2001

You know, these kids these days with their Dragon Balls and Puckermons and all that stuff have got it too easy! Now, when I was a kid, if we wanted to go buy the newest STAR WARS figures, you know what we had to do? We had to go out and get a twig and spray paint it gold and call it 'C-3PO,' because there weren't any STAR WARS action figures when the movie first came out! That's right! Nothing, nada ... zippola! You wanted an 'R2-D2,' then you went out and got an empty toilet paper roll and covered it in Liquid Paper. That's what we did, and we were happy. We loved our sticky, golden twigs and crusty, flaking toilet paper rolls!

Then, for Christmas 1977, you know what the toy stores had? Do you? They had an I.O.U. for STAR WARS action figures that sold for eight bucks. It was a big cardboard envelope and it contained a mail-in certificate for four figures ('Luke Skywalker,' 'Princess Leia,' 'Chewbacca,' and 'R2-D2') and a figure stand for the first twelve in the line, which weren't even going to get mailed until February or March of '78. And you know what? We loved that I.O.U.! You got that big hunk of cardboard on Christmas day that year, and you had tears of joy in your eyes! No, none of this opening Toys 'R' Us at midnight nearly a month before the film opens in theaters nonsense for us! We had twigs and cardboard and a spool of thread painted black for a 'Darth Vader' figure, and we were happy, dancing fools! Of course, we drink a lot now, and have trouble holding down the low-paying jobs that allow us to order cases of 'Power of the Jedi' figures off the Internet; but, we knew what was what, by cracky!


In a bold move that has taken collectors by surprise, Sideshow Toys (who has made everybody very happy with their Universal Monsters action figures) has decided to forsake the mass market and produce many of their toys exclusively as collectibles. 'Most significant is the fact that our 8-inch and 12-inch figures will no longer be available through the mass market, and they will all be produced in limited runs,' stated a press release on their official site.

'How limited?' you ask. The majority of the runs will be between 5,000 - 7,500 piecessome even as low as 3,500, others as few as 2,500, and believe it or not, a few items will be limited to 1,500 pieces. What does this mean to the folks that have been getting their SON OF FRANKENSTEIN/Boris Karloff or THE INVISIBLE MAN/Claude Rains figures from Toys 'R' Us or Kay*Bee? 'When the run has sold through, they will be gone. The figures will not be reproduced. There will be no bogus second edition runs, no magic inventory that is found in a Hong Kong warehouse a year later, just GONE!' True, some figures from the first-run Universal Monsters lines might be re-issued in the popular 'Silver Screen Editions' (Black and White versions), but '... they will have a different box, different paint, different clothing; in essence it is a different product. And the Black & White Editions will be extremely limited.'

So, why has Sideshow made this decision, effectively cutting off a potentially huge customer base in the big retail toy markets? 'The consensus in the marketplace is that the Sideshow product is of collectible quality. By selling our figures to the mass market and by producing an endless quantity of them, we have neglected their collectibility. While mass retailers such as Toys 'R' Us have assisted Sideshow in getting our products exposed to a broad audience, selling to these retailers has been a double-edged sword. Sideshow has received a volume of complaints from specialty, trend, comic and collectible shops around the country. These retailers have been put off by the discounting of the mass retailers. Our current position is to support those retailers that cater to the collector clientele, our core audience.' So, in other words, the Mom 'n' Pop shops whined about the fact that we could get these toys cheaper in the bigger stores, and these guys actually listened! So, thanks to the little stores, we now get to pay $15-$20 for a Series 5 DRACULA/Bela Lugosi figure, instead of $9.99 at Toys 'R' Us.

Sideshow claims that '... this change will allow us the freedom to do characters and tackle topics that the mass market retailers would never allow on their shelves. Many of the characters that you have been asking us for, especially within the Universal Monster pantheon, will now be produced. For example, first up will be Dwight Frye as Fritz from FRANKENSTEIN (1931), Lon Chaney Jr. as the pre-Wolf Man Larry Talbot from THE WOLF MAN, and Bela Lugosi as Murder Legendre from WHITE ZOMBIE.' Well, that's just great for the seventeen people that just couldn't live their lives to fulfillment without a frickin' Fritz figure, ain't it?

Other upcoming Sideshow 12-inch figure lines, such as 'Brotherhood of Arms' (Civil War), 'Bayonets and Barbwire' (WWI), and 'Six Gun Legends' (Old West) series, will be limited to 5,000 pieces for each figure. 'So, you will have to move quickly if you have your sights set on building a full strength company of Civil War and WWI Soldiers. And we have some very cool 'Six Gun Legends' coming your way,' the release states. 'We are excited about these changes and the new opportunities they present to the collector. Now we can bring you new and more unusual products quickly and with a broader range of topics and characters that were previously not viable.'

Sideshow recommends that you tell your local retailer, specialty/hobby shop, and collectible source (a.k.a. the guy at the flea market that charges you 200% of retail for the figures, then chuckles at you behind your back) that you want these products. Stores and e-shops across the country are pre-ordering these new 12-inch figures and the 8-inch Universal Monsters Series 5 right now, and these figures will sell through quickly. They also advise that '...if you normally order through our web site, but haven't placed your order yet, please do so. There will only be a limited number of each product available through our web site, as the majority will be sold to the collectible and specialty trade. Pass the word and don't be left out.'


Listed below are the items Sideshow currently has available for pre-order, along with their edition size.

12-inch London After Midnight: 5,000
12-inch Dracula: 10,000
Universal Monsters Series 5: 8-inch Action Figures: 5,000 sets
8-inch Lugosi Dracula Action Figure: additional 5,000
12-inch Buffy and the Gentlemen: 5,000 sets
12-inch Buffy: additional 10,000 figures
12-inch Young Frankenstein: 7,500 sets
12-inch Civil War Series 1: 5,000 sets
12-inch WWI Series 1: 5,000 sets
12-inch Six Gun Legends: 5,000 sets
12-inch Larry Talbot (Chaney): 3,500
12-inch Lugosi (Murder Legendre): 3,500
12-inch Frankenstein (Chaney): 3,500
12-inch Frankenstein (Lugosi): 3,500

For more information on Sideshow Toys, visit their official site at

Toyaholics Anonymous is our biweekly column devoted to toy collecting.


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