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.
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?”
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.
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.