Last Updated on June 11, 2023 by Dexter Roona
When I look around I can’t help but notice how expensive action figures are to buy these days. When I first started collecting Marvel Legends Action Figures they were costing around $9.99 (£6.99) or so. Now the Marvel Legends are hitting the $24.99 mark but why? Why are action figures so expensive?
Why Action Figures Are So Expensive
The short answer is increased production costs, more expensive licensing fees, increased prices of raw materials, and inflation.
Action figures have always been a popular form of entertainment for both kids and adults. However, in recent years, the prices of action figures have seen a significant increase. While inflation plays a role in the rising costs, there are many other factors that contribute to the expensive nature of these collectibles.
One of the primary factors that drive up the cost of action figures is the material used in their production. Action figures are typically made from plastic, metal, and paint, which are derived from natural resources. These resources are subject to fluctuations in inflation and trade costs, making them volatile. Figures made from high-quality materials like PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) are even more expensive due to their superior quality. The cost of materials is taken into account when determining the value and pricing of action figures.
Another significant factor in the pricing of action figures is the ownership of the characters they represent. Most action figures are based on popular media such as anime, comic books, or cartoons, and the rights to these characters are owned by someone other than the manufacturers. Companies that produce action figures must pay for the rights to use these characters and may even provide a percentage of the sales to the trademark owners. The ownership of rights, the manufacturer involved, and the scale of the operation all influence the pricing of action figures.
The rarity of action figures also contributes to their high prices. In general, the rarer an item, the more valuable it becomes. Older action figures that are no longer in production are particularly sought after by collectors, driving up their prices. If an action figure is rare and holds perceived value among collectors, its price will skyrocket. This is often seen in the case of vintage action figures, especially those that are still in their original packaging and more recently Funko Pops. Some Funko Pops are now changing hands for thousands. The scarcity of such figures, coupled with their preservation, can make them incredibly valuable.
Supply and Demand
The law of supply and demand also plays a significant role in the pricing of action figures. Limited editions or figures produced for a short period often become highly sought after by collectors. If the supply is limited, but the demand is high, the price can skyrocket. On the other hand, limited edition figures that fail to generate interest among collectors may end up being sold at lower prices. The demand for a particular figure, along with the willingness of collectors to pay higher prices, heavily influences the pricing strategy of manufacturers.
Additionally, the target demographic for action figures has shifted over the years. While kids have always been the primary audience for action figures, the rise of screens and gadgets has led to a decline in their interest. Nowadays, action figures are increasingly marketed toward adult collectors who are willing to spend more money on their hobby. This shift in the target demographic has allowed manufacturers to increase the prices of action figures to cater to a more financially stable and passionate consumer base.
10 reasons why action figures have become more expensive:
- Increased Production Costs: The cost of materials, such as plastic, metal, and paint, has risen over time, leading to higher production expenses for action figure manufacturers.
- Licensing Fees: Many action figures are based on popular characters from movies, TV shows, or comics, requiring manufacturers to obtain licensing rights. These fees add to the overall cost of producing action figures.
- Limited Editions and Exclusivity: Manufacturers often release limited edition or exclusive action figures to create a sense of rarity and exclusivity. These figures are usually priced higher due to their limited availability and increased demand.
- Higher Quality Standards: Collectors and enthusiasts expect action figures to have high-quality sculpting, articulation, and paintwork. Meeting these standards requires more advanced production techniques and superior materials, which contribute to higher costs.
- Improved Detailing and Accessories: Action figures today often come with intricate detailing and a wide array of accessories, making them more appealing to collectors. The inclusion of these additional features increases the production costs.
- Increased Demand from Collectors: The popularity of action figures among adult collectors has surged in recent years. As demand has grown, manufacturers have capitalized on this market trend by offering higher-priced, specialized figures to cater to collectors’ preferences.
- Popularity of Entertainment Franchises: Action figures based on popular franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, and DC Comics enjoy a large and dedicated fan base. Manufacturers leverage the popularity of these franchises to justify higher prices for their related action figures.
- Scarcity and Rarity: Limited production runs and discontinued figures contribute to their scarcity in the market. Collectors are often willing to pay a premium for rare or hard-to-find action figures, driving up their prices.
- Inflation: Over time, the general cost of living and production expenses increase due to inflation. Action figures are not exempt from this trend and are subject to rising costs, which are passed on to the consumer.
- Global Economic Factors: International trade, exchange rates, and economic conditions can impact the pricing of action figures. Fluctuations in currency values or trade tariffs can affect the cost of importing materials or finished products, influencing the final retail price.
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