Auction Watch #47

Normally Auction Watch is posted once a week and every effort is made not to post consecutive Auction Watches. However there is one figure that causes all the rules to be thrown out – Purple #153, the Purple Claw.

The auction, PURPLE CLAW HAND M.U.S.C.L.E. FIGURE 153 MATTEL YSNT, featuring a Purple #153 has a seller that clearly understands what is being sold. There are numerous pictures of the figure, the auction description accurately and excitedly describes the item, and the starting price is, at least, and arguably fair price for the figure (based on the previous two Purple #153 auctions).

The seller’s feedback is even quite good, with only one negative feedback removed since 1999. However, the seller’s buying habits (coupons) might be disconcerting to some people – as this is an easy way to build positive feedback.

The two greatest questions that arise from this situation are:

1. How does this person, currently unknown to the M.U.S.C.L.E. community, have such a sound understanding of the popularity and value of this figure?
2. How will the very high starting bid influence the course of the auction?

In regards to the first question, it could be argued that a simple Google search may have led them to Auction Watch #35. However it seems a bit perplexing that no other M.U.S.C.L.E. figures, or other toys from the 80’s, are being sold. Based on the buying and selling history of this seller the Purple #153 simply seems out of place.

Whether other potential buyers share similar skepticism is debatable. The topic that would get the most unanimous agreement is the high price of the starting bid. As stated previously, the opening bid appears to be heavily influenced by the ending bids of the two previous Purple #153 auctions. However, both of those figures had much lower opening bids. The opening bid of the current Purple #153 auction is essentially a Buy-It-Now price at $995.

This figure will sell under only one condition – a collector willing to pay anything to have the figure. The high starting bid discourages many bidders that could potentially get “wrapped up” in the bidding process. There must be a buyer willing to pay approximately $1000. If there isn’t a collector willing to make that investment, than this widely popular figure will go unsold. Is that collector out there?

Yes, just like M.U.S.C.L.E. figures there is always another collector. This figure will sell for $995.

Auction Screen Shot

Auction Picture

Update: The seller added the following paragraph to his auction description:

History: I am the owner of of over 1,000 MUSCLE figures. I own two complete flesh collections and many colored figures. I collected these figures when I was a boy. I sent away for posters and used to hang them on the back of my door. The Claw was my favorite figure. Almost impossible for me to find as a kid, it became even more valuable. Any chance I got a purchased a pack with a Claw in it. This particular Claw came out of a 4 pack. I am receiving a lot of feedback regarding photos and the back story behind this figure. Please send your email address in your “ask seller a question” and I’ll be happy to answer any questions or send addition photos etc. Thank you for your interest.

The response to this addition from the M.U.S.C.L.E. community is currently unclear. It seems like it would cause one of two responses: (1) collectors will feel that it is a perfect explanation and clears away any feelings of suspicion; or (2) collectors will wonder, “Why (and/or how) would such a seemingly active M.U.S.C.L.E. collector remain largely unknown?”

Updated Screen Shot

Follow-Up: The prediction was wrong. The Purple #153 did not sell. It appears that the opening bid was too much to overcome. The fact that, arguably, the most popular Class A figure did not sell for a similar price to the previous Purple #153 figures could suggest that even the most popular Class A figures are seeing a decrease in their prices.

Final Auction Screen

Auction Poll Results: The question was asked, “What costs more than a $995 Purple #153?”

And the options were:

1. Panasonic – VIERA / 46″ Class / 1080p / 600Hz / Plasma HDTV
2. iPad (64 GB + 3G)
3. 1993 Land Rover Range Rover LWB
4. Maytag White 24.8 cu. ft. French-Door Bottom Freezer Refrigerator w/ Ice Maker

M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors overwhelming selected (with almost 70% of the votes) the 1993 Land Rover Range Rover. No one was fooled by the inclusion of the iPad and the Panasonic TV received 7% of the votes. However only 23% of M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors correctly selected the refrigerator as the item that cost more than the $995 Purple #153.

The products and their prices were taken from the following websites: TV ($899), iPad ($829), Car ($995), and Refrigerator ($1359).

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  1. #1 by vette88 on July 12, 2010 - 12:35 pm

    I just Googled/Ebay the 4 things you have listed. Obviously, I’ll lean more to the Land Rover. 🙂

  2. #2 by Chad Perry on July 12, 2010 - 12:39 pm

    I hope you don’t mind, but I took out the prices you listed. It may kill the game for other people trying to guess. I hope you don’t mind.

    And don’t worry, I have links to show the prices everything was based on. I’ll post that after the poll has closed.

  3. #3 by vette88 on July 12, 2010 - 12:44 pm

    I’ll have to say this person is smart. Person did his/her homework. I believe a month or so ago an issue aroused on the LRG board. It was about a person who didn’t know there was a popular figure (MIMP) in the collection he/she had for sale. The auction went for a low price, but someone else notified the seller about the figure, and let’s just say things got ugly after that. That issue was due to the seller not doing his/her homework. It’s too easy to Google/Ebay/Craiglist something, and/or to search for information on toy forums.

  4. #4 by vette88 on July 12, 2010 - 12:44 pm

    Oh, sorry, about first post. I obviously didn’t think that through. Me stupid.

  5. #5 by Chad Perry on July 12, 2010 - 1:01 pm

    Not a problem – no worries.

  6. #6 by stoneyface on July 12, 2010 - 3:54 pm

    a: this person did his homework and found all the background info on this figure from a complete and thorough background search of the figure with no knowledge from the community about this person.

    b: he is in cahoots with an already knowledgeable muscle collector or is selling for said collector.

    occam’s razor here says b. i don’t want it to be b and hope it is a but dangit!

  7. #7 by Chad Perry on July 12, 2010 - 4:51 pm

    I took a look at some of his older feedback. While it doesn’t look like the average toy collector’s feedback (with all the shoes, clothing, and tickets being sold), it does appear that he sold over 80 M.U.S.C.L.E. figures and some 4-packs in October of 2007 and then a Satan Cross in March of 2009.

    It still seems strange, but it doesn’t seem very nefarious.

  8. #8 by Biffard on July 13, 2010 - 1:44 am

    Seems like he’s a pretty good shoe salesman too. He made some pretty good cash on some of those.

  9. #9 by Ericnilla on July 13, 2010 - 12:49 pm

    I really hope it doesn’t sell, we need to put a stop to these crazy collectors that spend anything to finish a collection. Is it really fun to pay thousands of $$$ to finish a set instead of taking your time~? I love the chase much more than outright buying. to each their own i guess, but who says this figure is worth that much. I see it as a figure is worth how much will pay, but… what happens when that one person that would pay $1000 buys his, and no one else is willing to pay that much~? every figure after that will sell for significantly less, and after that guy lesser than that. Maybe~?

  10. #10 by SmokinGun on July 13, 2010 - 8:43 pm

    I just dont know about this seller. I email the seller about more pictures and info about this figure. He refuse to repley. Him being a shoe salesmans, why would he know anything about old MUSCLE toys of what might be worth? This is really strange.

  11. #11 by vette88 on July 14, 2010 - 11:00 am

    I’ve asked too SmokinGun, and same response.

  12. #12 by SmokinGun on July 14, 2010 - 9:11 pm

    More pictures added on the auction!

  13. #13 by Jason on July 15, 2010 - 10:28 am

    Looks like he just posted an update on ebay. I’ve contacted him through ebay and he has been responsive within about 24 hours.

  14. #14 by Merovingian on July 18, 2010 - 11:26 pm

    Item didn’t sell.

    Glad cooler heads prevailed on this auction.

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