There's something always magical when you toy hunt. Sure it's very easy to buy items online, but where's the thrill of the hunt? The sensation to go about your way with the chance to find what you need at a store. The possiblity to grab it, you can possibly get it at a better price in person than online (Twenty dollar Star Wars Shadow Guard that I paid five bucks at a Jewel Supermarket I'm talking about you). Course, there are hurdles. Boy there are hurdles. But that magic and thrill of getting the item you desire and purchasing it. Oh that's a greater rush than the actual item. Honestly can you blame me for toy hunting? In a five mile range, I have nine stores stores to pick and choose around where I live (two Targets, four Jewel/Oscos, one Toys R Us, K-Mart, Wal-Mart, and a Meijer). Last year I eased up on this, due to the rising gas issues but once more I find myself with the urge to travel and just search around for anything real good.
Some of the time I've succeed, like very recently when I found Clone Emperor and Dark Empire Luke Skywalker two pack after searching three stores. More than often, I do not. Am I not alone in doing this? Course not. There are others like me. But I know that I am different in my methods. From my many journeys I've learned numerous things about toy hunting. Some good and a lot of bad.
The top most worry I have are the scalpers. You never see them mid-day to night time. No, these brand of toy hunters are extremly select. They carefully choose their stores and the times they show. Either they know people who work, or are very persistent. In either case, when they show it's always when a store opens in the morning or a tip after calling in. The hottest items are always their intended prey. And they never take one of the same item (unless it's damaged), no they take multiple copies and they take it all. They are a bane to hunters like me and kids alike. They care only for one goal, profit. To sell that rare item for double or triple that price on ebay.
You ever wonder why DC Universe Classics are so hard to find at times? They are part of the reason. The moment they get wind of a new supply they'll swoop in and take it all. Take this recent example. I noticed DCUC Wave 6 (Kalibak) out and about at the local Wal-Mart. I thought to myself I'll get some money and come back for it. NOT ONE HOUR after I come back for Capt. Marvel the entire set it's all gone. I could have used two of their tactics. One being to save the item or take said item and hide it where no one would ever look for it.
The scalpers are so bad around where I live, one of the Targets actually has a statement in front of the racks of toys stating, "We will not go to backroom to get new stock, nor save items for customers. We will put out what we do so that EVERYONE has a fair chance at getting an item." Insane no? I'm surprised that no one else has accepted this policy yet.
But scalpers are the tip of the iceberg, for they aren't the only brand of people out there doing insidious deeds. Least when it come's to scalpers you know what to expect nothing left in their wake. But splicers? They’re just as a bad and it's something that I've seen sinking into my area. What is splicing? It's a practice where someone buys an item. Take's it out of the package and then puts an item they don't want and sell it back to a store. Stores crack down on this but sometimes if the splicers are very convincing they'll find their way onto shelves and you'll just be stupified at what you'll find. There are two examples I've seen of splicing around me. One involved a Marvel Legends Wal-Mart exclusive Ares Wave. At first things look normal but then under closer look I then noticed that the BAF wasn't Ares, it was a leg from another ML figure in fact Ultimate War Machine from this very series!
Then there are the cutters. They never pay for their items. Nope, they use their box cutters or whatever sharp object to cut into BAF or two packs and steal parts. This deed I've been noticing has been increasing in an alarming rate. At a local Meijer I noticed several G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary figures missing weapons or two packs lacking that second figure. Or just today I was at Wal-Mart and saw a figure of the Kalibak Wave remained, Mr Miracle. At first I wondered why it still was on the shelf until I gave a closer inspection. A cutter had removed the BAF part. Very nice.
But the actual people aren't the only problems when hunting for a toy. Oh no. There's also what you'll always find. For every rare figure you'll find, there's always the rack warmers. The ones no kid will ever take that the only reason for their existence was because of "fan" demand. Like old Yarna D'Al Gargan. Honestly, who the heck decided to make this guy a figure? Why the heck must I see this figure at every store? Why did Hasbro decide to flood the market with these damn figures? No kid ever buys them. Nobody wants them. So who the heck wanted them made? Is their entire purpose just to fill the shelf? Why must they exist until stores reorder?
Speaking of stores that leads into my next pet peeve, the stores themselves. Here's an infamous tale I've watched with my own eyes. Whenever Target has a sale for figures they'll never reorder or if they do get another shipment never put out that shipment until the sale is done. Even if you ask them, the worker will always give you a dumb eyed look saying, "We're out of stock for two weeks." Then somehow someway, after that sale a miracle happens and their stocked up. I've noticed this with G.I. Joe, Transformers, Ben 70, and DCUC.
Then there are the workers in the toy department who know nothing about the aisle their working in. Back in November when looking for the ML Ares Wave I asked a worker from the toy asile at Wal-Mart if they be getting this wave in around Christmas. Instead of an answer I got a clueless look. "What's a Marvel Legends?" I then pointed to the shelf warmer of the Movie Dark Phoenix and Quicksliver that was still on shelf, to which I got a, "Oh... I dunno." I asked, "Can you check?" Again pause, "Um.. I haven't been back there all day and it's rather packed with boxes of them." Now I'm the one giving the long pause because that's what happens sometimes. Figures actually languish back there for months at a time. Heck, the Toys R Us by me is selling on clearance F4: Rise of the Silver Surfer figures which they put out just last month! Or even worse the store will never get that order because of the limit qualities (DCUC Wave 4 I'm looking in your direction). Back to that clueless worker, I left them since it was obvious I was making their brain cells actually work and they weren't really in the mood on helping a customer buy an actual item in their store. And then after Black Friday I returned to said Wal-Mart to see the Ares Wave was there, or what was left of it.
But with all these negatives. There are positives. You've seen what I've gotten at times. For every negative, there's always the chance you'll find that figure you hunger for. And there lies the reward. That you can still find that figure. All that's required is two things: luck and patience. Luck in you've gotten to it before scalpers have and patience in you have to wait just for the right moment to strike and buy. The reason I say luck also is because not a hundred percent of the time do the scalpers get there in the morning. There's always the chance they haven't gotten to a new load hitting. And if you do find yourself in that situation it's the greatest feeling in the world. Like I said, it's the true fun of toy hunting.