Auction Watch #206


This is not a rant about prices. I’m wondering if we are approaching a new period of M.U.S.C.L.E. collecting. Four years ago I spoke about the Bottleneck. I believe this can and does still happen, especially with long-term sellers looking to get unrealistic top dollar. But I think we’ve seen an influx of sellers that had M.U.S.C.L.E. figures or acquired them relatively inexpensively. They’ve been lured into selling M.U.S.C.L.E. figures because of what they discover on eBay.

In the past, an event like SGS would happen; temporarily bring in some new sellers; temporarily spike prices; and then M.U.S.C.L.E. figures on eBay would return to a “regular” state.

The trend I see potentially emerging is an increase in Class A listings, but a harsh decline in Class A buyers. That’s not to suggest there aren’t a dozen or so fools attempting Master Sets. And that’s not meant to suggest certain figures will always demand a higher price because of popularity. But what happens when the Master Set fools need less and less figures?

I believe it nullifies the MRT. Without Master Set fools, the various Classes become unimportant. The Figure Guide becomes informative – unable to affect prices. Because the remaining buying population doesn’t care. They don’t want them all, they just want a few favorites.

I believe this idea is easier to illustrate with specific auctions.

The first auction, M.U.S.C.L.E Muscle Men ASHURAMAN Rare Class A PURPLE 199 Kinnikuman 1985 figure, is not a terribly popular figure. The buyer of this figure is almost guaranteed to be a Master Set fool. The buyer that “kind of likes it” is not going to spend the opening bid of $49.99.

If several Master Set Fools (it’s an official title now) still need the figure, then it is reasonable to assume bidding will drive the price up. But what if only two Fools need it? After the auction is over, the MRT for that figure basically dies. There isn’t another Fool to drive up the price. There’s only the other bidders that think, “I kind of like that figure.” That isn’t the buyer (or group) willing to pay a premium.

Don’t believe me? The Class B figures perfectly prove the point.

It is easier to buy most of the Class B figures. And sellers, that only use the Class as a price guide, rarely start auctions above $20. Most Class B figures are scored in large lots and ultimately end up costing maybe $1~$2 apiece. I recognize I’m painting with a broad brush, but those statements are much closer to true than to false.

If the Master Set Fools don’t need them, then the only buyers are the “Kind of Like That Figure” crowd. Class B figures offer us a sneak preview of the future.

Below are three Class B #199 figures. They are all listed with their starting bids.

I don’t believe one of them will sell.

Oh sure, I could be wrong. Maybe someone does need one of these guys. But that would still be an accurate vision of M.U.S.C.L.E. Figure Future. Selling overpriced figures has nothing to do with the market or collectors. It will rest solely on snagging the desperate buyer. If sellers actually want to sell figures, then they will have to target the Kind of Like That Figure Crowd (also an official title now).

Is this the start of the Kind of Like That Figure Crowd period?

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