One fan’s thoughts on the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Figure Subscription Service

You may or may not have read the announcement of the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Figure Subscription Service going live soon.  If you haven’t, I’ll give you a minute to do so.

Okay, all better?

Good– let’s talk about this.

It’s been an interesting year for toy fans and subscriptions.  Mattel recently concluded their “subscription drive” over at MattyCollector.com for three of their product lines.  The DC Universe Classics line went through– but only barely due to the efforts of SaveDCUC.com, the Masters of the Universe Classics snaked by with a last minute surge and the Watchmen sub… well that never seemed to be in question.

With two of these lines, price was a REAL point of contention.  A 6″ Masters of the Universe Classics figure had previously sold for $20.00 and was increased to $25.00 per unit for subscribers and $28.00 for non-subscribers on day-of-sale IF any were available.  This created quite an uproar in the MoTU fandom as the had previously been plagued by poor customer service from Digital River and QC issues in the form of reversed joints, breakage, and sloppy paint apps.  However, the argument from brand manager Scott Neitlich was that these were “high quality collector figures” with unique tooling that was found nowhere else.  This was the only way to get 100% original tooled figures like the forthcoming Ram-Man etc.

So, if a 6″ figure with all NEW tooling costs $25.00 and fans clamored at the blow to their wallets, where does that place the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Figure Subscription Service?

First off, fans are going to pay $294.00 for 12 figures.  (Okay, some folks will immediately take issue with that claiming that there’s a 13th figure.  I’ll refute that by saying that it has been advertised as a “bonus” item and to factor it into the cost is to utterly destroy the Club’s claim of it as a “free bonus”.)  This costs out to $24.50 a piece for figures that are built using EXISTING tooling.  Sure, some of it is “unused” but not one piece of this line to my eyes has been constructed specifically FOR the subscription.   So, the Club is dodging a bullet there in terms of tooling costs and yet is still charging the same price as Mattel for a figure that uses substantially less material.

Secondly, fans will have n0 way of knowing which figure arrives when.  What?  You mean after paying nearly $300.00 BEFORE shipping, you’ve got no idea who is coming your way?  Oh sure, it’s just like Christmas morning when you opened a wrapped present and were treated to a delightful surprise inside.  Except that in that case, the surprise was part of the fun.  You didn’t have to outlay any cash for it.

Third– as with Matty’s subs, the Club is holding the threat of “no extras available day off sale likely” over fans heads to get them to subscribe.  Okay, from a business standpoint this makes perfect sense. After all– they want those order quantities as HIGH as they can be to lower their cost-per-figure.  It’s good business sense.  However, I for one HATE the perceived threat behind it.  I don’t like having a proverbial gun held to my head so that I don’t miss out on that brand new update of Surefire that I’m positive fans weren’t clamoring for.  (Notice the sarcasm there?)  At a time when more and more Americans are trimming the fat out of their budgets, the club is essentially gouging for those figures that are going to be purchased by those who aren’t “All in”.  Funny thing– I’m willing to bet that there will be post-subscriber figures available as the GIJCC has probably already figured out what their production run is going to be.  The difference between subscriber figures and produced figures will be sold at $32.00 a pop which is significantly higher than the only other comparable figure subscription model on the market.

Fourth, you HAVE to be a member of the Club to sign-up for the FSS.  This means that anyone interested who ISN’T a member is adding a minimum of $44 to their costs for this.  Why not just have two sets of pricing rather than force people to join an organization that may not want to?  That essentially brings the cost per figure up to $28.16 PLUS shipping.  Essentially these are “virtual convention figures” spread out over 12 months without the trip to a city and the ability to hang out with your “Joe bros” in person.  Hmm…

We’re at an interesting point in our fandom right now where it’s almost “taboo” to voice a dissenting opinion regarding the GIJCC.  Yes, fans are fans and they like to complain about everything from paint apps to character selection to the accuracy of Jinx’s hair style to her appearance in a specific issue of G.I. Joe Special Missions.  However, it is also their right to do so.  More to the point, members of the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club who pay dues TO the Club are entitled to voice their opinion– positive or negative.  It’s part of what “paid membership” gets you.  Now, the Club has tried in the past to connect with their fan base but those efforts seem to be mixed at best.  There is a very real perception that the Club exists to produce 12″ exclusive items and that the 1:18 items are merely there to fuel that production.  Whether this is accurate or not, I’ll leave up to the individual to decide.  There’s a real feeling that the Club, in their handling of the recent credit card scandal, almost seems to tolerate their membership as opposed to serve them.  (There’s even an active Twitter feed that mocks this notion. Whoever you are– thanks for the laughs.)

Personally, I think the sub is priced out of the range of most of the Club’s membership right now.  Oh sure, they’ll get the sales and the sub will go through but rather than bringing the membership together I think it will only further divide the fandom over everything from character selection to the very nature of criticizing an organization that has had a difficult year at best.  Honestly– I don’t know if I’ll subscribe or not.  Right now, my gut says “no”– due to character selection and price. This is not a line-up that is full of “must haves”– with characters like “TNT” surely destined for Ebay in droves and Surefire being a gratuitous nod to a MasterCollector staffer.  Plus, there’s the cost issue– it’s just too high.  I’m not a wealthy individual and I am most likely considered “lower middle class” economically.  Like most Americans, I’m feeling the effects of a shrinking economy both at the gas pump and in my ever-increasing taxes and day-to-day costs.  $25.00 per Joe for a line-up that I’m not excited about just doesn’t make sense to me at all.  In the long run, it might be cheaper to just bite the bullet on the few figures and snag them on Ebay as I’m sure the scalpers will be pouncing on this subscription offer in droves, seeing the potential in selling them at 2x the cost.  (Golden Ticket holders anyone.)  Anyone who thinks this isn’t going to happen pretty much has their head in the sand.  However, that’s just my opinion and an opinion is something that we’re all entitled to.

I wish the Club good luck with this.  I just don’t know if I’ll be participating.

10 thoughts on “One fan’s thoughts on the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Figure Subscription Service

  1. Now let’s be fair Fred the GIJCC isn’t promoting e-bay scalpers anymore than Hasbro is with the SDCC exclusives……oh wait I see your point. Unfortunately the “Club” has very hardcore supporters that would neverlet them down.

  2. man, am i on the fence. i really want these figures, but i dont know if i can swing that right now. the installments are a nice option, and what i will have to use, but the cut off date is too soon. i am a sucker for obscure or not duke/snake eyes figures, but i just dont know. if i can swing it in the budget, i will bite, but its looking more like i will have to pass, and if i wont pay $25 a fig, im definitely not ebaying them for $50+.

  3. Ouch really priced out of my range.

    There are some figures that I like, but there are also several figures that seem like a complete pass. Since I don’t like all the figures it makes the collection seem even more expensive because it’s not a winner each time. Just doesn’t feel like a good deal if you don’t like all the figures.

    I agree that it does seem like they are attempting to drive a wedge between the collectors who have money to burn and the collector who has to watch the budget. With a big lack of nothing on the store shelves and so many characters going “exclusive only” the casual collector is left in a pretty bad spot.

  4. One point that I believe is unfair in this article: I think what Mattel is saying is that they are spreading out the additional cost of the newly tooled Ram Man over all the figures in the line. Not that one newly tooled figure should cost $25, but that because they are doing a newly tooled figure (or a few even?) they need to raise the prices of the figures to cover the tooling budget of the assortment. However, your point still stands… there is no new tooling here and they are still more expensive.

    I do suspect that MOTU is aiming at a higher production level than the FSS, which probably accounts for some of the cost difference.

    I have to agree… the pricing is not great, and the selection is not too great either. There are only three standouts for me: Big Boa, Cover Girl, and Iron Klaw. However, that right there I think is one of the things the club is aiming for… they are not trying to make a batch of figures that everyone will love. They are trying to provide a way to get some of the figures that have a much narrower fan base. I have heard a lot of people that couldn’t care less for Iron Klaw. And then they are clamoring for the Nano BAT, which I’m not that crazy about. So this is an interesting proposition… I guess it is up to each collector if it is worth supporting the whole line to get the 5 or 6 figures they actually like.

    Personally, I wish they had come up with a list of 16 figures and allowed people to vote and comment on them before deciding what to do. But again, I don’t think that lines up with their end goal.. which is to get some of the lower-demand figures produced. But some of them should have been weeded out IMO…

  5. One more correction… I believe Big Boa’s head is a new sculpt. I feel like there may be one or two other small items that are new. I know there are quite a few things that have not been released, but were not sculpted by the club (unreleased Hasbro sculpted stuff).

  6. I really wish the Club would let the membership have more (some) input on figures we wanna see. A poll and a vote would be a great idea! A preoder for everything the GIJCC make would be a great idea to include the Con sets and Souviners that way the production would be right and might even be high enough to get the costs down.

  7. I really do want at least 4 of these figs but they were here and gone on bbts before I even got out of my jammy jams in the morning. I’ve learned especially for online exclusives if your not camped out or living in cyberspace you tend to miss everything and all roads eventually point to evilbay. I’ve drawn the line so many times and at this point my chalk is past nub status. Hasblow has to realize Joes aren’t for little jimmy and suzie anymore. Their for slightly older kids who never grew up. I just wish they would quit playing wargames w/my toybox and do general releases in larger numbers for the Sgt Slaughter’s, Jinxes, and various other holes in the rebuilding of my childhood memories collection. I’m no completist by any means and in a time of recession its very tough to commit to $300 for 4 figs I want & the rest can die a fast M80 death. So I save my moneys for toyz I can find at the boxstores or local comic shops. I want to fart in the general direction of all exclusives everywhere cause we all want to be in to cool crowd too, but not if it’s gonna take slices of pizza out of my hungry mouth.

  8. My complaint has been simple from day one:

    I’m not going to pay a premium for packaging that I don’t give a damn about. Why these couldn’t have had a bagged option is beyond me.

    I can certainly afford this, but I’m not buying into this on the principle of not supporting the club’s collector’s market myopia (well, and the fact that I don’t trust them with my credit card information). Pretty much every Joe collector I know is an opener, and I don’t see why we have to subsidise what I’m pretty sure is a minority in the MoCers.

    • This is my point as well. Sure, card art is nice but I open pretty much EVERYTHING. I think the logic there is that the die-hard MOC’ers might end up ordering TWO subs– one to open and one to leave sealed. Yeah, it’s just another way to pad sales.

      The always has been in love with their specialized packaging. The only reason we get bagged con sets for 1:18 is because of the Crimson/Fuchsia debacle from years back. What was once a mistake has now become tradition and an additional revenue stream…

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