NOTE: This post was written last Thursday after a particularly disappointing internet experience. The author was despondent at the time.
Let’s talk about exclusives.
Exclusive toys are neat-o. They’re something special and different and a significant badge of honor that you were willing to do some specific thing that others were not.
Whether that thing was pay a premium, wait in a ludicrously long line, stay on top of a timed online release, or simply be patient enough for interest to die down in order to get a reasonable price, exclusives require something more than simply grabbing a toy off the peg or pressing the “Buy” button on your favorite website.
I’m writing about this today because of NECA’s 2019 San Diego Comic Con Exclusives. I can’t get one and IT’S PISSING ME THE F**KING A** SH*TF**K MOTHERBI**CH OFF.
But I really shouldn’t complain because I really do believe in there being exclusive items.
BUT HOLY F**K AM I PI**ED OFF RIGHT NOW.
For the last several years I suppose I’ve had good luck with NECA’s SDCC exclusives. I’ve gotten to the site on time, added the items to my cart, and checked out; almost like a regular online transaction. I haven’t missed out on anything I wanted. I chalked it up to being aware and being prepared.
This year, despite my high levels of awareness and preparedness – and the good fortune of being on day shifts – I have been locked out for two days in a row.
If you don’t know, one of this year’s NECA SDCC exclusives is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles box set consisting of 7” 1990 movie versions of Shredder and Splinter along with two Foot Soldiers and various pieces of weaponry. It’s almost a dream set (I would’ve preferred it if this set included Tatsu and Casey Jones and a second set had four – YES BAH GOD FOUR – Foot Soldiers or maybe even three Foot Soldiers and April but I don’t know what the licensing situation is) and an essential companion piece to last year’s set of all four movie Turtles. Which I managed to get with zero difficulty.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a favorite film of mine for many reasons that I’ll get to next year on a Very Special Episode of the Needless Things Podcast. I’ve dreamed of action figures from that movie since 1990. And yes – I know that Playmates released some, but they did not meet my expectations. These NECA figures blow my expectations away.
And now the second of three days of online presales has passed and I have not been able to order this essential, must-have set.
On day one I sat at my work computer, expecting to have as easy a time as I experienced the last few years. 1 PM EST came around, I added two sets to my cart (I need one for Phantom, Jr., too) and proceeded to checkout. Only the “Checkout” button did nothing.
I refreshed the page, I closed my browser and reopened it, refreshed again, and eventually, with no progress, I got the “Cart Empty” message that indicated my items had sold out before I could buy them. I was massively disappointed, but I had a plan for Day Two.
My assumption was that my work computer was having some sort of issue. For today’s sale I planned to leave the room so that I could order using my phone, which typically has faster and more reliable results for these sorts of things anyway. I’d allot myself fifteen minutes of time surrounding the 1 PM EST sale time and get this thing done.
Luckily for me I had a break in workload just after 11:50. I bolted out of the room and immediately signed in to NECA’s webstore. 1 PM EST came around, I added two sets to my cart (I need one for Phantom, Jr., too) and proceeded to checkout. Only the “Checkout” button did nothing.
I refreshed the page, I closed my browser and reopened it, refreshed again, and eventually, with no progress, I got the “Cart Empty” message that indicated my items had sold out before I could buy them.
This time I was pretty crushed, which is why I’m writing now.
I really thought this would work today and I don’t have any hope that tomorrow will go any better, even though I’ll be in the comfort of my own home. Clearly this item is in high demand and there might even be some kind of issue with NECA’s site that hasn’t existed before. After looking around online I see that several people that I know got sets, but I also see plenty of people that had the exact same problem I had, and I don’t recall ever seeing that before.
At this point I’m pretty much resigned to having to hope that NECA will release these on single cards like they did with the Turtles last year. There’s no reason to think they won’t, but there’s also no indication that they will.
So after all that I must hate exclusives, right?
Yes and no.
As I said above, I think exclusives are great. I think they’re great when they’re a variant or an odd, obscure character or item. They’re awesome when they’re a specific branded thing like Mattel’s SDCC Slim Jim Macho Man Randy Savage:
That’s a perfect selection for an exclusive. Everybody is going to want one, but Mattel has released dozens of Macho Man figures, so this can’t be considered essential in the way that Shredder, Splinter, and the Foot Soldiers can. People might be upset if they don’t score one – although given that Entertainment Earth and likely other retailers are taking preorders I don’t see why anyone would miss out – but they won’t have a hole in their collection. They won’t be missing a primary character because there are plenty of other Randys in the sea. So to speak.
Repaints are great exclusives. Costume variations are great exclusives.
Imagine if Hasbro had just released the Black Series Darth Vader as an exclusive. Customers would have lost their freaking minds, but Hasbro would never do something that crazy because they are a big company that doesn’t need that kind of ill will. NECA, on the other hand, has done exactly that with Shredder.
But again – I gotta believe that NECA is going to release these figures like they did the Turtles. Because surely NECA isn’t crazy.
I understand that NECA is dealing with some very restrictive licensing agreements with Nickelodeon and/or Playmates. Hopefully those don’t result in this being the only release. More hopefully I can actually buy this thing tomorrow (last Friday).
UPDATE: Friday was just as bad and I was not able to buy these figures.
So to wrap this thing up, I love exclusives. I think they’re fun, the thrill of the hunt is exciting in a way that we toy fans don’t often experience anymore, and it’s nice to have something on the shelves that not just everyone has. But I do think there’s a very narrow definition of what an exclusive should be.
Stay tuned next month for a rundown of the very best exclusive toys that the big boys are releasing for this year’s San Diego Comic Con. And be sure to keep an eye out for the SDCC episodes of the Needless Things Podcast, where we’ll discuss all of the coolest reveals from the show!