Everything You Wanted to Know About Limited Edition Figures… but were afraid to ask
Webster’s Dictionary defines limited edition as “an issue of something collectible (as books, prints, or medals) that is advertised to be limited to a relatively small number of copies”.
Unfortunately, the definition of small amount of copies leaves a lot open to interpretation. I’m a black and white kind of guy, and I really appreciate rules. OK, so, when I approach a stop sign, I have to come to a complete stop, or I will get a ticket. I have to pay my car payment, or my car will be repossessed. You can see why I have an issue with a phrase as nebulous as “small number”.
Why does this matter? I appreciate companies being forth right. Limited edition denotes a sense of urgency. So, this is a limited edition Batman figure? Does this mean that there are only five being made? Or five-thousand? Because I will gladly pay a premium price for a limited edition when five are only being made. But I am going to have to eat a lot of TUMS should I pay a premium price for a figure, and several thousand are being made.
Allow me to take this one step further. In reality, all figures are limited edition. I do not know of one action figure that has been made every year since the 1960s. Sure, Batman figures have been around this long, as have many other figures, but the styles change. And thank goodness for that! Could you imagine just one line of one style of Superman figures to be able to play with (or in my case, keep in the box)? Figures would never go up in value, and would just be handed down from generation to generation. And I shudder at the thought of what would happen to Sideshow Collectibles!
So, here are some extremes of the use of limited edition action figures. The limited edition 8-inch Wolverine retro figure by Diamond Select had a production of 3,000. In my opinion, that is a lot. As opposed to the 12-Inch Cthulhu glow in the dark figure, in which only 300 were made. Somewhat applicable is the Greatest American Hero Ralph doll. Never marketed as a limited edition (and never really up for sale), there are 5-10 in some lucky collectors hands.
My personal favorite, which I missed out on, and almost bought on eBay when it was available for the low price of $1,500 was the Hot Toys Iron Man Mark VI, pre Avengers release. Only 13 were made, and you could only get it if you were physically in Hong Kong. You can occasionally find these on eBay, and one is listed now for the very low price of $9,999.00. Shipping is free, however! This, too, wasn’t advertised as a limited edition, but an “exclusive” edition…which in this case, exclusive really meant exclusive.
But, I digress. The sad truth is most “Limited Edition” figures are released with no production numbers mentioned. One has to rely on the manufacturer that they really are limited edition, and that they are being honest that there are only a “small” number of these figures being produced. However, that is like asking the wolf to guard the hen-house. It’s like trusting a drug company’s sales rep that the latest and greatest medicine really is the best available. One more poor analogy: It’s like trusting a politician that they will keep their promises.
So, although the term “Limited Edition” is a highly effective marketing tool, when a production number isn’t included with these terms, this is to be taken with a grain of salt.
Do you have any limited edition figures? If so, tell me what you have, and your thoughts on the use of “Limited Edition” nomenclature.