Stop the Scalping!
Or why you can't find those toys you want
With the latest Toy Island Sonic lines currently on the shelves in 2006, the issue of scalping has come up again. Many toy lines before Sonic have had the problem, and their fans have also written articles. But now that someone's messing with Sonic...

First of all, what is scalping?
It is the process of going to stores and buying up ALL or most of the toys you find there and bringing them home with the intent of resale for profit.

Who is doing it?
Well, since it concerns buying high numbers of toys all at once, you can rule out kids in most cases. Why? Allowance is not enough to cover buying a line of 5 figures at $5.99 each, when you're getting THREE of each guy all at once. In the case of this example, you'd have to be ready to spend $89.95 (without tax) all at once.

Why are grownups a problem?
Because they usually have enough money to go in and pull off a scalp, and they also don't care about YOU. It is rare that you see a grownup Sonic fan, so you can bet that it's not the fans who are scalping. These greedy people don't care if kids can't get toys, they WANT you to be dissapointed when you go to the store, and they'd rather take every cent you own rather than see you have fun.

What does Scalping do?
Well, if you have the misfortune of a scalper in your area, they'll rush in and clean out stores of their Sonic items by buying the entire stock, and even occaisonally the display models. Now since they've bought all of them, you can't buy it out of the store until they restock. So if you still want the figures, you have to go to an online retailer, or try Ebay: auction house of the world.
But where do you think all those grabbed toys went? In most cases, streight to ebay!...Of course at DOUBLE or even triple the retail price! (got to pay for that gas now...) And that's before the bidding really starts.

The real problem with scalping is, it is self-escalating!
The more these jerks clean out toy stores, the more people can't find figures. These people are driven to ebay where the scalpers are waiting with jacked up prices. And the more people they frusterate at retail...the higher the prices are likely to go. Which only encourages them to scalp more!

Of course, online retail is guilty too...
If you look around at online toy-stores, you'll see their own brand of fan-fleecing. All you have to do is look for Shadow the Hedgehog! It's disgusting how he is always TRIPLE the price of nearly anyone else available. Why? Because they can get away with it. Stores are allowed to price things however they want, and they know that Shadow is "black gold" to the fans so they have no problem charging outrageous sums.

The only saving grace of online retail is, they didn't swipe it directly from under your fingers. Most places order them by the case, at wholesale from the company and then just do whatever they feel like with the prices.

How can YOU stop it or avoid it?

First of all: Get out of your house.

If you KNOW where some item you want is being sold, try your best to go there and buy it. For example the "Mega Bot" or "Figures and Emeralds" line. If you want a Rouge the Bat, get someone to take you to Toys R Us and see if it's there. For those keychains? Get to a Hot Topic. Sonic Shoes? Wal-Mart. Don't order it online if you know you can simply walk into a place and grab one. It's cheaper too, no shipping and you have it within the minute instead of waiting on the post.

Second: Use your voice.
What if they're out of Cream and Cheese? ASK FOR THEM. Go find some minion roaming the store and say "I want Sonic Action figures do you have any more?" if they say no, then nag about when they'll be getting more in, or ask if you can order some or reserve them.
Yes, yes, we all KNOW retail is lazy as heck and they don't care that much. BUT that is why *EVERY ONE* has to nag. They don't care if 1 person is pestering about Sonic, but it's proven that they do take notice if you get hoardes of kids/fans/whoever in there all the time looking for them. It will make them order more if they know they're going to get money/sell out.

Third: Ignore high priced Ebay Auctions
If you just GOTTA have the figure, go to online retail and look. You may end up paying about the same as that high-priced auction, but as long as your money stays out of the scalpers' hands, they lose! They'll stop doing it if you stop paying them. Online retailers are the lesser of the 2 evils, in this case.

The Next Level
What REALLY stops these goons? When supply MEETS demand. If something is scarce, people will pay more money for it. They're afraid of never getting it. But what if the supply of action figures (or whatever Sonic the Hedgehog item) met the demand of the fans? What if there was ALWAYS a Shadow and a Rouge in stock at your local toy store? Then they'd be easy to get for any collector, and no one would have to bother trawling the internet scrambling for figures.

The parent company doesn't really benifit from figure scarcity. Why? They have a set price (wholesale) for the item that retailers can buy it at. For example, maybe Toy Island has figures wholesale for $4.00 each or something. No matter how many they sell, they're always getting $4/per guy. But that's ok, because they had them made for $2.00 per guy. And the store is getting $5.99 per figure, which is still not outrageous. But if some ripoff joint is charging $19.99 for every Shadow, Toy Island is still gonna get $4.00. Same thing with 'used' or second-hand stuff. The original maker only profits ONE time: the original sale.

If you want to go to the next level for yourself and other fans, you could write to Toy Island (mysteriously, they do not have a website) and ask for better distribution/more Shadow/Rouge etc. or just bring up any issues they have. Just type up something and throw it in the mail. It takes 5 minutes, can't hurt you, and may improve things. You can write to them at:

Toy Island
1359 Braodway
17th Floor
New York, NY 10018

Mini-Note on International Sonic Friends
See someone buying more than 1 of the same guy? It may not be a scalper. Sometimes it is an international Sonic friend. Not all countries of the Earth have an even distribution of items. If a line, or a shirt or an accessory is not released in a country, the people there have to go online to order it. Sometimes a cheaper way is, if you have a freind that lives where the item is sold, to have that person buy an extra one and then mail it over-seas. Since it's just 1 person, and not a store, it keeps the price down. The big difference though, is usually they're only getting a double of a figure, and not buying up the whole store. They are also not in it for the quick buck, or to ruin kids' Christmas or birthday. Since the shipper/buyer are usually friends, there's no outrageous pricing going on.