Exclusives. Yeesh. In the past, I had always said to hell with exclusives, they were just too hard to deal with. I remember as a child, my brother and I collected Dick Tracy figures from the movie, and we never ever found "The Blank" even though we desperately wanted it. Our parents had no luck either. I later discovered it was a Sears exclusive, and was subsequently worth quite a pretty penny.
Ever since then I've been pretty sour on exclusives. However, certain things are starting to change, and I have a feeling it's going to make me start pulling my hair out. The first thing that happened was that exclusives became more desirable. I still can't think of an exclusive that would be desirable enough to drive across the country just to attend some convention, but certain figures would pop up on websites that I would really really want. The first occurred right about the time I was knighted as an OAFE. McFarlane lied about releasing a Corporal Hicks figure with a helmet at retail, so the only way to get it was through the Fan Club. That sucked, but I did it. It only cost about $17 including shipping, and it wasn't as nerve-wracking as I've heard other online McFarlane exclusives can be. Still, the servers were slow and it took like a half hour for the order to go through. I've heard when they get Stealth Predators it can take two hours or more.
Then came Mezco's trenchcoat comic Hellboy. How the hell is the most iconic version of Hellboy going to be an internet exclusive? Alas, that's what happened. I had no problem getting this guy even though people kept saying there would only be like a thousand or something, but with shipping he almost cost me $30. Oh well, now he's one of my favorite figures.
But now to the meat of all this: store exclusives. My collecting habits as of late have been gravitating more toward Star Wars territory, and one of the things Hasbro apparently does to keep the line alive when there's no movie is offer a slew of exclusives. The problem with these is that, when they're actually desirable, they have a habit of never even making it to shelves. Sure, you could probably still find the Lava Darth and Lava Obi-Wan on some Target shelves, but I never saw a single Utapau Shadow Trooper. I've been getting craftier, and with the most recent Target exclusives I managed to use the DPCI # (which is how Target inventories its stock) to get my Skirmish in the Senate and Demise of Grievous exclusives. To this date the only ones I've seen are the ones I got from the box. Employees are sometimes helpful, but sometimes they know the power they possess and they love to lord it over you. Other times, the Target (or whatever store) will have a collector's policy about getting things from the back room, as in they will not do it under any circumstances.
As collectors we often hate such policies, but they are unfortunately there for a reason. "Collectors" will sometimes use the DPCI #s to buy entire boxes of exclusives before they hit shelves, then they'll take them straight to eBay. That's why I've been using the DPCI this time around to make sure I at least get my one of each exclusive before some "collector" beats me to it. Sadly, these "collectors" (ok I'm just gonna call 'em scalpers now) have apparently raised the ire of enough customers that many Targets have instituted the aforementioned policy.
What's next? The Toys Я Us exclusives. This is a bit trickier for me, for many reasons, and it has me scared. You see, I want a Clone Wars gunship. For those who don't know what that is, it's the Clone gunship that appeared in the second season of the Clone Wars cartoons, and it has a fancy paintjob reminiscent of those WWII fighters with the "shark" noses. Basically, I just need a place to put my clones. Here's why I'm scared:
1) as far as I know there's no way to get figures from the back at TRU the way you can at Target.
2) there are far less TRUs in my area than Targets (two of the former, five of the latter), so my chances of finding what I want are significantly reduced.
3) I know for a fact that there's a guy who works at one of the TRUs who knows a little too much about the "hot" items if you know what I mean. I see him talking to fat old guys with baseball caps about what's new and hot and what's going to "sell." I'm not sure any exclusives will hit shelves at that particular store.
So who knows? Is it really worth it, this business of tracking down exclusives? Why would a company do what Mezco did and make the most iconic version of a character an exclusive? I just wish it were easy to get the toys I want. Or hell, at least I want a fighting chance.
One exclusive I'm not too worried about is the Endor AT-AT (also at TRU). It's scheduled to hit in September, and at a price of $90, I doubt they'll be flying off shelves.