Convention Exclusives, and What Exclusive really Means!

With Comic Con San Diego wrapping their convention up on Sunday, July 12, 2015, I thought it an opportune time to discuss convention exclusives. The first Comic Con was held back in March 21, 1970, at the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego. Ah, the good old days. When the air was clean, sex was dirty, and exclusive meant exclusive.

It wasn’t until the new Millennium that action figures and “toys” (I hate that word!) began to be sold at Comic-Cons. And with these action figures came the word exclusive. They were marketed as the “2000, 2001, etc. Exclusive Action Figure”, whether it was an exclusive Superman, Batman, etc. I have always assumed that if I wasn’t at attendance at said comic con that I would never be the proud owner of that exclusive figure. And it wasn’t until I was clued in by a close friend that this just wasn’t the case. One can get these “exclusive” figures anywhere. One need not perform an exhaustive search to find plenty of places to order these “exclusive” figures.

A simple search at my favorite web site, Big Bad Toy Store, reveals most of the figures are available for sale. Despite most of these being sold out, if my timing was just right, I could have ordered these whilst sitting in my underwear, never being a cosplayer, never leaving my mother’s basement! Yay! I could remain asocial!

I’ve always considered the word exclusive as special. Why, we’ve all seen members only clubs, exclusive clubs, exclusive memberships, exclusive what have you. The word exclusive denotes, well, exclusivity. It suggests that whoever has the exclusive whatever is special in some way, because not everyone can afford (whether in money or in timing) exclusivity. Being able to order “exclusive” figures anywhere suggests anything but special.

So, if the word exclusive is being used with a new definition, I am forced to think of what other words can now be used with a new definition. How about monogamy? Sitting on the couch with the love of my life, she turns to me and says “I love you so much, you are the only one for me”. I look at her and say “baby, you have the key to my heart”. I look to my opposite side and say “Sweetie, you have the duplicate key”. How about pregnant? I walk into my patient’s room and say “Ms. Jones (This isn’t her real name, so I may keep her anonymous) I have wonderful news: You are almost pregnant!”. Perhaps literally? I was coughing so hard, I literally coughed up a lung! And my brother thought it was so funny, his eyes literally popped out of his head. I mean literally….popped….out…of….his….head!”

Perhaps I have this all wrong. Perhaps exclusive is being used as a synonym for expensive. Because I really can’t see how this word can be used in good faith when these figures aren’t exclusive at all. “Come to Comic Con star date 26257, held in San Diego, ‘Merica, where we have the most exclusive high prices, guaranteed!”

Tell me your thoughts below. I look forward to hearing them. And allow me to close with a modified saying by the great Syndrome, from The Incredibles. “When everything is exclusive (insert evil laugh) …..nothing is”

Stay tuned next week when we discuss the brutal truth of limited edition products.

Editor’s Note: For a more in-depth look at Convention Exclusives, you may also want to check out our very lengthy article here. 


By Bryan Stewart

Bryan first discovered an appreciation for action figures at an early age, setting up elaborate GI Joe ant hill attacks, complete with firework pyrotechnics. Due to the high injury rate for the Joes, replacements were a constant necessity.


  1. Sadly, it is becoming a harsh reality that these companies are indeed finding a way to make some items more exclusive and out of reach then others. When you seem to have multiple duplicates of the same item, only to find that yours is the lower value because it does not have the official seal of comic con, you know you have been duped.

    Indeed, from everywhere to hot topic, to Bigbadtoy store, Entertainment earth, and everywhere else, just a little patience can get you what you are looking for, but since so many have jumped on the exclusive bandwagon, many of these sell out very quickly.

    What I do see is long after comic con is done, a number of so called exclusives also go to die on these websites, always in stock, and eventually in the clearance bin once they realize no one cares. And there are a graveyard of them that go for decent prices at the start and slowly sink into oblivion and eventually just buy the damn thing for 10.00 bucks hell.

    Also, Funko is adding fuel to the catch me if you can fire by no longer allowing you to pre order special funko, and there were hundreds of them this year. As the almighty dollar becomes more important, expect to see more companies force people to go to comic con and try to block pre sales all together.

    1. Hey JR! Thanks for the reply. I agree with everything you said. And yes, the multiple dupes are ridiculous, and my luck is always I have the least valuable one!

    2. What I’m seeing a lot of companies doing is not telling anyone about it, but around the time SDCC is happening, their exclusives are available at retail stores like Barns and Noble, Hastings, TRU, etc.

      A few companies that comes to mind would be NECA and Funko, but I’m sure there is more.

      Some of the companies that offer pre-orders for their exclusives don’t even have any stock to sell at the show. Mezco’s One:12 Batman exclusive this year was the perfect example. It was basically sold out from the time the SDCC doors opened, leaving attendees no way to get the item.

      1. That is a great point, which means the pendulum can swing either way. Some companies give attendees the benefit of first come first serve, but lock out non attendees who are forced to then buy them at three times the price on the back market. Some do the opposite and indeed, by giving non attendees early access, end up shorting those who spent money going to comic con. I know entertainment Earth changed their policy this year and said even if you see a sdcc 2015 item on thier site and order it depends on whether they actually have any left and the send them out when they return. Bigbad toy store will subject you to allocation as well. In defense of Mezco, they never made the batman one: 12 a sdcc 2015 exclusive specifically and sent out plenty of info where and how to order it. It was hard to miss. They did however along with other ONE: 12 variants, make a specific one for Puerto Rico Comic Con that had his yellow and black bAt emblem and you had to attend to buy it. It was not for pre order on their site.

        1. I’m personally all for making them available to attendees first, as they are exclusive to that event.
          I attended SDCC this year and ended up just buying my Hasbro exclusives on eBay because there was no way I was going to attempt the Hasbro line again.

          1. I have to agree with you. Otherwise, what is the motivation to actually go to these conventions simply for buying convention exclusives? I know most people don’t go just for that, but there should be some kind of a benefit. Heck, we’re not asking for freebies, we’re just asking for convention exclusives that can’t be found at my neighbor’s garage sale!

          2. I am suspecting that is probably the way it will begin to go in the next few years. Funko sent out a pretty ominous signal buy cutting off any pre orders this year and making their special edition funko’s with the comic con badge only available at the event. They did however, create a back door by allowing stores such as Hot Topic to sell some of the same ones with a basic Funko Summer exclusive badge, not the SDCC comic con badge. You can guess which one is more sought after, obviously.

            And the Black Friday scenerio is spot on, that is really how it feels, but go back to the aisle a week or two later and that same item can be had for half price. Hasbro sent me a link yesterday giving me access to the left over stock for their exclusives where you could snatch up a few of them at regular price.

            In the end, I think there needs to be balance. Not everyone can afford to attend Comic Con in SD, and it is an expensive venture, so completely locking Non attendees out, and there are a lot of them out there, is not the way to go either. I can see the argument though that if you spent 3 months of mortgage payments to go down there, there should be some benefit. I think that was the case with the Batman VS. Superman special edition funko which still goes for about 200.00 on Ebay and you could not get without being there.

        2. I have to liken this to “Black Friday Deals”. You know, everyone is pushing young children and old women down, trampling them for these new and wonderful deals. Give an elbow here, a punch there. Only to find out that those totally awesome deals are really not that awesome at all. They are the usual price, and touted otherwise.

Leave a comment Cancel reply

Exit mobile version