Before I unleash my biased opinions of this controversial subject upon
The Cause & Effect of Scalping:
Typically, scalpers target "shortpacked" or "high demand" action figures which have a low production run. Clearing the retail shelves of these new "harder to come by" figures causes an artificial shortage of particular items which are already limited in the first place. Thus creating higher prices placed upon these items as the demand for them grows.
But, believe it or not, this practice heavily influences the pricing procedure on the aftermarket. All this is perfectly legal since there is no law limiting what a small group or individual can charge for merchandise in their possession.
It is a well known fact that price guides base their system on the "dealer-market" and report their findings. This is done by conducting a survey among notible toy dealers across the country on what they would charge for a particular item based on the popularity, rarity and/or limit of production. Then they toss out the extremely low and high numbers and average out the existing figures to arrive at a base price.
Well that all sounds fine and dandy... yeah, if we lived in a utopian society where honesty and goodwill towards all humanity nesseled itself within the breast of man. But, in reality, a good portion of the "dealers" that this survey emphatically relies upon are people who know very little about the true worth of an action figure after it's retail availability (such as comic book store owners and toy-dealing speculators).
And when the only available source to get a particular action figure is through the underhanded dealings of a scalper, well then even these owners and speculators have to pay inflated prices. In turn, since they paid more for this figure, it MUST be extremely rare and valuable... yeah, right!
Why this is preposterous you say? Think about it. What other "toy officials" are there? It's certainly not you and me (the collecting hobbists).
So the next time you're flipping through your favorite price guide and realize that the BTAS: Penguin, which is proudly displayed on the wall in your room (next to the rest of the bunch), is now worth $120.00... think again.
The "Little Man" Eliminating the "Middle Man":
The manager sets the figures aside for his partners in crime (scalpers) until they can arrange a time to meet and make the exchange. Why would a manager stoop to such a hienous act? The answer is simple... money! Usually the scalper will pay a little over retail for the figures since he knows he will more than make up the difference after he convinces some poor misinformed souls to purchase them at his higher price. Thus the manager can avoid trouble and record the retail sale of the figures to the store and pocket the rest, sort of like a finders fee, if you will.
If the employee is the scalper, a different strategy is used. Most retail companies restrict the sale of merchandise to their employees while on duty and often don't allow discounts. So, to circumvent such policies the employee will hide the figures wherever he can to avoid detection or simply "forget" to stock the case in which the target figures lay and later return to claim the treasure. In some instances the figures remain hidden until they are forgotten (if hidden well) and recorded by the store as a loss due to theft or what have you.
It should be noted that both of these practices by store employees are HIGHLY ILLEGAL!!! Store employees (including managers) are prohibited from making profit off of prices set by the company... it's called extortion! And in the scenario of the action figure underground railroad, employees are prohibited from keeping merchandise from the consumer... it's called a consperacy, and denying the company payment for the said item(s)... it's called theft!!!
The Scalp Me Not Resistance League:
To get you started, I've prepared a few tactics to employ against the
In theory, if enough people do this, the manager(s) will take notice of the lack in regular customers and try to stop the scalpers in one way or another.
In the real world, something quite different happens... either the managers don't really care as long as someone is buying the merchandise or they stop selling action figures all- together, since only a few are being bought at any given time.
So, as you can see, taking a nonactive approach to the problem pretty much accomplishes "squat"!
As of late, there have been many such groups poping up all over the country with the intention of improving the atmosphere of toy collecting in their area.
Here are a few groups which may be in your area:
THE AXE MAN:
Also, knowing the name of
Although this method is
THE LAST WORD:
Thanks for sticking with my little rant, and happy collecting!