The disappointment of discount stores

We all know how exciting it is when figures you thought were cancelled or sold out show up at closeout retailers, right? Whether it's Ollie's, Big Lots, Five Below, Ross, Marshall's or TJ Maxx, that feeling of getting a great deal is elating: not only did you not have to pay an eBay scalper for the toy you wanted, you often didn't even have to pay full retail price. It's great, which is why that kind of store has been an increasing part of my yearly "What I Bought" lists.

But this year things seem different.

I don't know about you, but to me it seems like the selection hasn't been as good this year. Yes, I found the final Hammer Drone, but that's really about it. I can't remember anything else off the top of my head that I found there. Last year there were 6" Iron Man figures, GI Joe vehicles, Transformers... lots of things that had been absent at retail, but this year the pickings feel much more slim.

Maybe it's a result of the economy: if "first tier" stores aren't ordering as heavily, then there isn't as much overstock that needs to be sold off later. And if stores aren't ordering as heavily, companies don't produce as much, nor do they try to force out that last phantom series before the line ends. Everybody is being conservative, and so it's the frugal shopper who gets hurt.

How about you? Have you had a good year at closeout stores, or have you been as disappointed as me?

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12 Responses to The disappointment of discount stores

  1. Mark says:

    I have been disappointed as well. I heard a lot of sightings of $7 Vehicons (!) so I checked TJ Maxx and found none, both before and after Christmas.

  2. Jay says:

    Same here. Last year, I found both GI Joe Resolute sets at Ross for $18 apiece & the year before it was any number of mid-sized vehicles; this year, the aisles that weren't picked clean were still devoid of the lines you listed above (I wish I could've at least found that Hammer Drone).

    Bad for me, but it kept me out of trouble with my wife 🙂

  3. Rexplode says:

    I've been finding a lot of Transformers Prime figures at around 50% of retail, everything from Scouts to Deluxe to Voyagers even up to the wave with Ultra Magnus.

    Ross has had the most TF's with TJ Maxx and Marshalls being more sporadic.
    I've also seen Skystrikers and HISS Tanks at Marshalls.

    You may just be missing them as I've found parents will buy about anything when it's last minute and they feel desperate.

    • yo go re says:

      It wasn't just Christmastime, though: the slump seems to have been going on all year.

      Somebody on the message board just mentioned the Transformers Prime figures that you and Mark are talking about - those would be awesome, if I hadn't already bought them all at retail.

      I know a lot of people found the GL Movie Masters at Marshall's, but the only one I ever saw was the same one that was pegwarming at real stores. And we probably would have seen a lot more GI Joe product at the stores if Retaliation hadn't been pushed back: all the stores put stuff out again instead of selling it to the closeouts...

  4. Soundwinder says:

    I've been pretty pleased, getting Prime figures that I wouldn't have bought at retail, FINALLY bought the Optimus Prime vs. Megatron Classics set, as well as a nice Marvel Sentinel.

    Also a 1989 He-Man Shuttle Pod which was... weird.

    There were fewer "exclusives" but I really got a sense that the patient buyer was rewarded. I suppose I was lucky; I had skipped so many figures from the TF line out of a lack of interest that seeing them for < 50% of their price was the only way I'd be interested. Plus, I found more Vehicons at Marshalls than everywhere else combined.

    I also have a sneaking suspicion that the Generations Ultimate Gift Set (with G2 Jazz, Prime, and two Legion figures) will make their way to these places.

    But I guess I just don't expect lots of exclusives at these places, I just hit them up to see if there are any good deals. I mean I feel that a lot of their success in years past was more indicative of Hasbro terribly dropping the ball on distro than these stores doing well.

    Just wish I could get a Demolition Rumble...

  5. gl3600 says:

    I've had a pretty decent time at the discount stores; not necessarily the phantom series, although I did find a GL Movie Sinestro at one, but more things that I didn't want to pay full retail for. Marvel Universe Sentinel for $25, and Thundertron at TJ Maxx for $13.

    The biggest surprise I think has been at Ollie's, where they apparently bought out Mattycollector's exclusives. They had the Hawkman and Robin Superfriends, Young Justice Superboy in cloning chamber, GL Movie Kilowog, and 12" Superman dolls. So crazy.

  6. Bigbot says:

    The best thing I've found at a local Ross was the NECA Crysis and Bionic Commando figures.

  7. yo go re says:

    So clearly I was wrong. I guess I just forgot all the stuff, because not a lot of it was that sort of "wow" item that sticks in your mind...

  8. Mark says:

    I take what I said back. I was able to find 2 Vehicons, Kup, Rumble, Knock Out, etc and Ultra Magnus and Thundertron at TJ Maxx today! I guess it just took a while for the Prime stuff to get to my area.

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