Auction Watch #320

As I sit down to write this Auction Watch, I expect the review of last week to be longer than this week’s write-up. Let’s see if that turns out to be true.

My overarching question from last week was, “Will all of 1-tallponderosa-1’s listings sell for more than blitzbat27’s?”

All of the listings sold for a combined price of $104.41. Pretty damn good.

I did, incorrectly predict, that none of blitzbat27’s listings would sell. However, I’m giving myself half-credit. None of the listings sold at the original list price. Let’s take a look at blitzbat27’s listings.

Hmmmm. All of 1-tallponderosa-1’s listings sold for a combined price of $104.41. And all of blitzbat27’s listings sold for $25.98. Could somebody, anybody, explain how I am wrong about $0.99 M.U.S.C.L.E. listings?

I have always felt so much resistance to the $0.99 idea – even within the M.U.S.C.L.E. community, which kind of surprises me. Of course, then I remember there are plenty of greedy people in the community.

Maybe the two remaining listings that started at $0.99 will provide further illumination. I expected to be shocked and appalled by the SC listing. I wasn’t. I was shocked and appalled by the Purple #93 listing!

I showcased the sale prices of recent Purple #93 listings. They averaged $10.64 and the $21.50 was the outlier. This one sold for $22.50?!?! Clearly the MRT came into play here – which is further evidence in the folly of a specific price guide.

This isn’t meant to cast aspersions on the seller, but the bidding did seem weird to me. (456) and (475) drove the price up on each other, but the retracted $25 bid from (456) is very strange. They were willing to bid up to $22, but $25 was retraction worthy. That’s weird to me. (I’m not screen capturing it, because I don’t care that much. Apologies to myself if I hate this decision in five years.)

In the previous Epilogue I mentioned that $0.99 has become the secret handshake for actual M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors selling figures. Bryan (viver_28) took that suggestion to heart. As of writing he has 58 M.U.S.C.L.E. listings that have all started at $0.99.

The first listing I saw from him, M.U.S.C.L.E. Lot #13 Colors Class ABC MUSCLE MEN Figures 80’s Mattel Kinnikuman, made me want to do a similar comparison to last week. But then something, kind of amazing, started to happen.

I started to see more listings starting at $0.99. My $0.99 dreams, that have been mostly nightmares in the Epilogue, were coming true. I quickly found four other listings starting at $0.99.

The first three were simple figure lots. However, one of them was an old-school, minifigure mixed lot. It was very cool to see, but made my comparison less rigorous. But then I remembered, “This isn’t a research study. It’s stupid M.U.S.C.L.E. toys. Just enjoy it.”

Check out these three listings starting at $0.99:

Looking at these four $0.99 listings it is crystal clear there are too many confounding variables: condition, lot size, shipping costs, etc.. Plus, this is M.U.S.C.L.E. collecting we’re talking about. Sometimes you have to simply accept insanity.

For example, take a look at this $0.99 starting bid from one of Bryan’s numerous listings: M.U.S.C.L.E. Bulk Lot G 10 Flesh Color Original MUSCLE MEN Kinnikuman Toy Figure.

As of writing, this lot of 10 plain Flesh figures has a current bid of $27. That is pure insanity. Normally, the MRT plays out in the final seconds of an auction. In this case, two idiots are doing it at the beginning of the listing.

In fact, it is so weird that I would normally say we’ve got a shill bidding situation. However, the other 57 listings from this seller do not have the same trend. This is clearly just two stupid bidders.

It also further illustrates the value in starting a listing at $0.99. The bidding is a game. You get sucked into wanting to win the game against that mysterious, unknown opponent. That never happens with a BIN price.

The second focal auction, M.U.S.C.L.E. 4 Pack Unpunched Card, is a perfect 4-pack listing – and it’s not just because of the $0.99 opening bid.

The seller provides an honest description of the 4-pack, and provides corresponding pictures that fully show the details of the text. The seller is trying to be as open and honest as possible, which will make potential buyers feel a greater affinity for the seller and 4-pack. When this happens bidders will spend more because, “they can trust this guy.”

Don’t believe me? Consider the opposite; like this bullshit Red #68 situation.

The cherry-on-top for this listing is the $0.99 opening bid. It accomplishes two things. One, it provides almost zero barrier to entry. As the seller you want as many people interested as possible. Two, it gets it sold. Dreaming of selling it for $100 isn’t as good as selling it for $75.

With the strong description, great pictures, overall good condition, and minimal barrier to entry I expect this 4-pack to sell for considerably more than an average 4-pack. Nothing crazy, but very damn good.

“Yeah, but higher opening bids are still better because…”

Sellers, and people that disagree with me, always love to say the above. And if you’re talking about other hobbies, then you’re probably correct. I know that I check-in on some vintage Star Wars (that I should have bought years ago) and I rarely see a low opening bid. But it’s Star Wars. It’s a Disney-owned, evergreen brand. M.U.S.C.L.E. is light years different than Star Wars.

But let’s take a look at some non-$0.99 opening bid listings. I want to be fair. I tried to select somewhat similar listings to the above showcased listings.

With the amount of stupidity we see on eBay, it would not shock me if all of these lots sold. Ok, the last two would legitimately shock me. But otherwise, I can imagine bidders trying to pouch on these in the last few minutes – even if the per figure price isn’t awesome.

I’ll be more interested to see if any of these lots sell for more than the $0.99 lots. I don’t think it will happen. But let’s watch and see. The results will be win/win.

I either be correct, or people can revel in me being wrong. Win. Win.

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