Auction Watch #134


Auction Watch often focuses on the items and prices. Occasionally the question arises, “What is that seller thinking?”

The first auction, M.U.S.C.L.E. muscle men mattel figure toy FLESH LOT of 28, is a great current example. There is an $90 BIN, with an offer option that the seller probably believes should be no more than $5 less than the asking price.

This auction will not sell.

These types of auctions with outrageous starting bids are mystifying. They seem to fly in the face of any logic or even basic understanding of how eBay works. But that’s not to suggest a high starting bid is automatically a terrible thing. Sometimes a higher starting bid can be a pretty accurate assessment of where the bidding might end.

The second auction, Mattel Dealer Catalog 1986, Wheeled Warriors, MUSCLES, Princess Power, MOTU!, is an example of that idea. The starting price of $59.99 is not terribly inviting. However, Mattel catalogs often sell for right around $50. What makes an item like this very different for M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors is that the potential number of bidders is much greater.

These catalogs bring in collectors from every toy line that is featured in the catalog (e.g., He-Man, Barbie, Hot Wheels, and more). A price tag of $60 isn’t a great deal on the catalog, but it’s not a terrible price either – especially for the better of the two catalogs featuring M.U.S.C.L.E. figures.

The second auction will sell

The third auction, ULTRA RARE 1985 MATTEL MUSCLE M.U.S.C.L.E. CREATURES MAIL AWAY POSTER 35 x 23, is another example of an opening bid being ok but not great either. The auction has an opening bid of $59 with a BIN of $99. M.U.S.C.L.E. posters’ prices are set almost entirely on condition. This particular poster appears to be in fair condition. Given its condition the $99 BIN seems a bit ridiculous.

However, $59 might have been near the final price if it had started at a lower price. Many collectors, without posters, will go after poorer condition posters when the opening bid is low. The poster becomes their entry into owning the poster. At some point, when a poster in better condition comes along they will try and upgrade.

This poster probably won’t serve as an upgrade, but it may serve as an entry poster. The price certainly may have climbed to the $60 neighborhood, but will collectors be willing to start there?

The third auction will sell for $63.50.

The first auction served as a perfect example of the large lot featuring an outrageous price tag. The second and third auctions were good examples of higher starting bids that don’t have to be ridiculous. Sadly, more and more often the ridiculous prices are affecting Class C figures. Below are four examples that show the range of absurdity.

When auctions like these last four appear, the question really becomes, “What are they thinking?”

It appears that the sellers must be willing to do a tiny amount of homework. They have identified figure numbers and recognize that some M.U.S.C.L.E. figures sell for more money – but that seems to be the extent of their research. Some sellers do take an extra step. And that extra step may provide M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors with their best insight into some of these sellers asking outrageous prices.

The most common search term and question sent into UofMUSCLE@gmail.com is some version of, “How much are M.U.S.C.L.E.’s worth?”

In most cases a simple response helps these sellers get the information they are looking for. Most of the people find out that they don’t have the priceless artifact they hoped for, but occasionally something like this happens. Either way the seller gets one more piece of information and it is a pleasant interaction.

Auction Watch #128 is the first and hopefully last of a strange occurrence – but does offer some interesting insight. A seller contacted UofM, but totally ignored the selling advice. Perfectly fine. Apparently he thought the email exchange meant Auction Watch would shower him with praise. It didn’t – but it was honest. (If there are any other questions about the Auction Watch #128 situation, I think this sums it all up.)

Apparently the Auction Watch #128 upset the seller of the Nesquik figures and he emailed:

Well I can see that I made you upset with the gamble I made with the price.
You call me a liar, use my pictures WITHOUT permission and ridicle me. Real professional..
You should be ashamed of yourself for acting childish.

This was the initial response to Rick:

Hi Rick,

I am far from upset with your “gamble.” It’s a terrible asking price. I pride myself on being honest in any review (auctions, figures, etc.), and in this case I am being honest. Here’s another Nestle Quik auction that just ended: http://blog.uofmuscle.com/22518/auction-watch-128/#comment-203712

You are lying about it being regional. That’s a fact. M.U.S.C.L.E. did not do anything on a regional level. I believe it’s one of the things that hurt the brand – although Mattel’s reduction of brands spelled almost certain doom regardless of anything else.

I did use your pictures without permission, but full credit and links are provided. I never claim them as my own and have driven numerous viewers to your auction. I can see the clicks.

You may not like what you see, but it is far from childish – at the same time it is far from professional. M.U.S.C.L.E. is a hobby that I enjoy. I enjoy sharing it with other people and try and act as a positive steward for it. That’s it.

Hopefully after the auction is over you will break up the figures and start with the $1 bids I suggested. You will see collectors swarm to your auctions – especially in the final seconds as they try to snipe the auctions. I will be one of the bidders in that scenario!

If you ever have any other M.U.S.C.L.E. questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Take care,
Chad

Rick was still unhappy. His response, in its entirety, can be seen here. But to further understand these types of M.U.S.C.L.E. sellers it is best to break-up his original email and react to each section.

Dude please, I know you think your the smartest muscle guy armchair professor on the planet.
But give me a break. You trashed me. And you relished it.
Saying “I think these might be” is a far cry to saying “I know these are”. to warrant calling me a liar. That was bullshit. Totally.
The Nestle plant in Fulton were I grew up was right down the block. The guy was from Rochester , and had these in his ma’s house in fulton from his youth. He said she worked there. The chances that more of these come from my hometown and were probraly packaged here is a realistic description and would be more prominent to find around this area then lets say Texas. There wasn’t alot of info to go with on these.
Thats were my thinking and statement came from. Trumpet my ass.

Rick had originally attempted to post his Quik figures in the Comments section of Advertising & Promotion 300 – M.U.S.C.L.E. and Nestle Quik page. UofM has never posted auction links in the Comments because there is not any longevity to those posts. Plus, older posts don’t get the same traffic as new ones – so it’s not even helpful to the seller or buyer.

Those figures may have been from the Fulton, NY Nestle location. All Quik M.U.S.C.L.E. figures may be from there – but the campaign was clearly not regional and that does not make the figures regional.

It seems that sellers may become so excited to trumpet their wares that logic and clarity become secondary. These sellers may act more like a partner in an argument that misspeaks, is corrected, and then frustratedly says, “You know what I mean!”

Your the one that was blowing the horn to prove how smart you are.
And don’t give me this crap that you were helping me by bringing people to my site.

This point needs a first-person response.

This site exists only to help people and enjoy M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. I will admit that I know a ton about M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. I would argue that there isn’t anyone in the world that knows more – and that’s sad. I am the biggest fish in the absolutely smallest and least important pond in the world.

I can quantifiably see the impact I have on auctions. I know people click the link to see auctions – my writing may influence people to further explore an auction, but nothing more. I can’t control bidding and I can’t even affect prices. When I started this site some M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors were concerned Auction Watch would have a direct impact on M.U.S.C.L.E. prices. It hasn’t and it won’t – it simply can’t.

You made me look like a fool then flat out stuck it to me by showing another completed auction with one in it. Just becuase you were either envious or pissed some smuck found these. whatever.

Not quite sure what this means. A completed auction was simply quantifiable data backing up statements from Auction Watch #128. There was not angry or envy – just documentation to help support a point of view.

Fine, you were trying to help others perhaps, like its your soul concern to save the world.

Save the world, no – not with this site. But maybe this site can help buyers, sellers, and M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors to have a central resource for M.U.S.C.L.E. information. That would be nice.

Great, I can understand, but your comments were hurtful and very distrustful of how you deal with others. Totally uncool, when there was nicer ways to point it out and be honest.

This might be the most insight comment into the minds of sellers with outrageous M.U.S.C.L.E. auctions. In this specific case, Rick states that the comments were hurtful – not bad for business or even hurt the chances of selling. Instead the comment is 100% personalized. Rick is hurt. The outrageous price tag seem to be tied to the seller’s individual self-worth. A perceived “attack” is not on the auction or sale, but the seller as a person.

If this is the case, it helps to explains why sellers with outrageous BIN’s and Make-An-Offer buttons usually reject the offers. A substantial price decline is bad, but it feels like they, as a person, are being undervalued or discounted.

I have been a steward towards the toy and comic collecting field for over thirty years.
I know hundreds of collectors, had my stuff displayed in museums , been on TV, wrote magazine articles and etc. I’ve been around the block. I don’t go around stabbing others behind the back by publicly saying there liars and basically laughing in there face.

Again, this information has nothing to do with the auction. This defensive behavior (“Look at how important I am!”) does not argue the validity, or lack of validity, of the statements from Auction Watch #128. Instead it attempts to build up the seller as a good, valuable, and important person. And all of those things may be true.

But it helps buyers better understand the logic behind why there are outrageous M.U.S.C.L.E. prices.

If you want to stand on the pedestal and preach, well don’t judge others openly. Its obvious owning your own site has gone to your head with a attitude you can be cocky and get away with anything to make yourself look good.
You could of rolled your eyes and said under your breath good luck buddy trying to get that.

Owning and operating a M.U.S.C.L.E. website does not make anyone look good. However, if Auction Watch is going to have any value to the interested parties that read it, then it better be honest, authentic, and hopefully interesting.

Ignoring the largest Quik M.U.S.C.L.E. auction ever was not possible.

But it was a starting price and some people have more money than others.

This serves as another wonderful insight. That the original $1,025.25 opening bid was just a “starting point.” It would have been fine if the “big fish” would have seen it.

Having money does not automatically mean spending it frivolously. The sum of $1,025 on a handful of Flesh Poster M.U.S.C.L.E. figures probably makes sense for lottery winners looking to go bankrupt, professional athletes looking to go bankrupt, and maybe Monty Brewster.

The key, that many of these sellers fail to realize, is that the people with more money to spend want to spend it wisely. Purchasing a large lot of figures for only one or two desirable figures is inconvenient. The added value is paying for the specific desirable item.

I did have a best offer attached to this, which you didn’t mention by the way.

See above.

It wasn’t my full asking price you moron, I wasn’t sure were to start them and my wife and I kinda come up with what we would truly like to get for them with intent to go for the upscale market. . I didn’t design for this auction to go to cheap chups like you.

Another wonderful insight into the logic. The price wasn’t set based on the current market or even past auctions – it wasn’t based in anything besides desire. It would be wonderful to sell a 1989 Honda Accord with 200,000 miles on it for $75,000 to an upscale market, but that doesn’t exist. It’s just not possible. But, in this case and many others like it, logic has not deterred the seller.

You must of loved it to update everyone to my new revision. I noticed the slight dig there also.

No real added insight, but further personalization.

I sit here with a shattered heel on my foot from a accident, out of work for the first time of my life and I felt sick to my stomach to read your pompous know it all article and emails.
Especially knowing all the hard work me and my wife did on these just to be treated like shit.
Without a simple sorry or anything. You have no clue.

This may provide two insights into sellers with outrageous prices: (1) outside, unrelated conditions drive the price; and (2) an entitlement attitude.

First, each person faces struggles in their life. Sometimes those struggles become financial and tough decisions need to be made. For some people that means selling various belongings. While it would be nice to add a premium to those ideas to help with difficulties, an open market like eBay doesn’t afford a luxury like that. Items are purchased at the market price – not the “what we need” price. A sad, but true fact.

Second, “hard work?” This can be an easy trap for many sellers to fall into – and one that is most recently fueled by reality TV shows. In the case of the Quik figures, the hard work negates the first point. These are not treasured items that financial hardship forces a painful and personal sale. If “hard work” has taken place, then the seller has likely, and inaccurately, placed a value on their time and the “worth” of their find. Sellers believe their item deserves the large payday that is seen on shows like Antiques Roadshow.

Just because X hours were spent, to drive X miles, and spend X amount purchasing the item does not guarantee a large windfall of money when the item is resold. The item will sell for what the buying market will support. When it comes to M.U.S.C.L.E. figures that is a tiny market.

And lastly, playing the “oh, poor me” card with strangers never goes over well. Even when 100% true it lands like a lead balloon. Meth-heads get a more sympathetic response when bothering people for “bus fare.”

Then you end with the fact you want to be one of the bidders on them, which clearly shows your underlying motivation.

This point also needs a first-person response.

I was trying to be nice and illustrate a point. I probably failed on the second part (arguably, it seems I may have failed on both points). M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors are a tiny group. You need to attract all of the bidders that you can and hope that the gaming aspect of eBay helps your auction in the end.

If a Quik figure came up for auction with a low starting bid, then I would probably bid. But I’m not going crazy to try and win it. As a seller you want to capture as much of that M.U.S.C.L.E. market as possible.

To bad, with the stuff I find, I’m a guy to make friends with.
Go back to playing with your little pink men. After the auction ends these will probraly go back in my closet collection with a bitter feeling but a satisfied feeling knowing some jerk like you doesn’t get any of them.
If you have anymore questions, feel really hesitant to ask.
Have a good day. and thanks for ruining mine.
Rick at R.I.C.K.Z.T.O.Y.Z.

This might be the most insightful regarding outrageous M.U.S.C.L.E. auction prices. Knowing that a seller is willing to simply, and happily, sit on some figures speaks volumes and provides tremendous insight for collectors. The seller clearly has an unwarranted feeling of superiority – almost righteousness. Those bidders on his auction were beneath him, only interested in silly pink men.

M.U.S.C.L.E. figures are silly pink toys, and most M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors realize exactly how silly and fun the figures truly are. That is the reason that outrageous prices for M.U.S.C.L.E. figures don’t exist. Sure there is occasionally an expensive auction, but it is the exception and a relatively rare occurrence. M.U.S.C.L.E. prices have remained largely unchanged since the late 1990’s because new and old M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors know exactly how silly little pink men are to collect.

The next time a M.U.S.C.L.E. auction is posted with a ridiculous starting price it won’t be fully appropriate to say, “What are they thinking?” It might become more appropriate to say, “Don’t they know these are silly pink men?”


To see the Final Results of the auctions – CLICK HERE

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  1. #1 by Douglas Quinn on May 22nd, 2013

    Jeeeez. Sounds like the dude wore you out with that.

  2. #2 by jason76basin on November 23rd, 2016

    lol at the monty brewster comment. i quit collecting muscle long long ago, but i always enjoy your site still to this day and i ALWAYS look at the auctions,and it has tempted me more than 20 times(no joke)to start collecting the line again.

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