Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Tale of Two Sales

I'd like to think that if the head is okay, chances are, the limbs are okay as well. In the big picture, Hasbro is doing well while Mattel sales are still low. I wonder how the local distributors of these brands are doing. 

Playkit is the local distributor of Hasbro while Richwell is for Mattel. Recently, both distributors offered discounts on some of their older products. Most of the discounted products were release internationally in the middle of 2013. That was two years ago. Toys arrive locally late compared to other countries. The rainbow Barbie Fashionita arrived at the local toy shelves at the end of 2013. Playkit was rumored to have issues with the local customs. The Marvel Universe figures came later, in the middle of 2014.

The big discount made me buy another item for full price, as a form of gratitude.

Even if the rainbow Fashionista doll have been in the local toy shelves longer than the Marvel Universe figures, the later are being offered with a larger discount (over 60%). The former has a measly 30% discount.

Playkit maybe the smaller company of the two local distributors. I'm saying this because Playkit doesn't even have its own official site outside FB. I'm also guessing that unlike Richwell, Playkit doesn't have enough budget to pay for shelf space for an extend time. That is why they have to drastically lower the price because everything must go, to save on shelf space expense.

I didn't really need all the discounted toys I bought. I got them for parts, to be used in future custom projects. Discounts are about making people buy things they don't really need. If they truly needed the product, it would easily disappear from the shelves, no discounts needed to motivate the buyers. But Playkit also made me buy another item at its original price. I was trying to wait for it to be discounted before I get it but then the other items were being discounted. The illusion that I got big savings (from the discounted items I don't need... yet) made me think that it's okay to buy another at full price. It's something Richwell wasn't able to do, because in my mind, the savings were too little.

Hasbro is doing well compared to Mattel. I'd like to think that the local distributor's success contributed to the international brand's success. I can't be sure which local distributor (Playkit or Richwell) is doing better, but I'm sure a lot of my toy fund has been going to Playkit lately.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


It's okay, I guess. When the highlight of the movie is cameo of another character, what other compliment is more appropriate?

The best part of the movie is the appearance of Falcon and the fight scene between him and Ant-man. Of course, the lead character of the movie wins. This movie is all about making the viewers like Ant-man after all. Had Ant-man been a stand-alone movie with no tie-up to the Avengers, it would have been a flop. With the help of the Avengers, it has been doing okay in the box office, although it's still one of the lowest earning Marvel movies.

That fight scene made me take my Falcon doll out of storage and re-enact the scene. I don't have the movie version of the Ant-man doll but the red suit (of the comics version) makes the small figure pop out. 

I'm still on the fence about buying the 4-inch doll of the movie version Ant-man. I don't like the giant ant it is packed with. It's bigger than the doll so it probably the main contributor for the high price. I'm expecting the Ant-man doll to be re-issued along with the toys for the upcoming Marvel movies like Captain America: Civil War or the third Avengers movie. I may have to wait until then. There is no rush. It's not like there are other good scenes in the Ant-man movie to re-enact with toys, right?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron All Star 3.75-inch Scarlet Witch

I love-hate this action doll. There is no other movie Scarlet Witch action doll in this scale, so there.

I'm looking forward to Hasbro's quarterly sales report. A lot of people who liked the 4-inch action dolls have been ranting and cutting their purchases. I don't know how this reaction affects Hasbro. We'll see.

*You're not even two-faced...grrrr!!!

At least, I didn't have to make my own. Her look is temporary, anyways. She'll have a new look in her next movie. I hope she gets a better action doll in this scale by then.

I thought I'll have a hard time buying her. Luckily, she was a lot easier to find than Black Widow but more difficult than Hawkeye. I got her at SM department store just this weekend. That's 3 months after it was released internationally and about 2 weeks after it was released locally.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A broke girl in the making

Barbie sales is still falling but it is no surprise, really. All that fluff about diversity, well... it wasn't as successful as planned. Barbie is really a big problem for Mattel now. I wonder how low the sales have to drop before they drop the doll from their roster of toys so they won't go broke.

I'm not worried about the end of Barbie. Some other doll will emerge eventually. Plus, sometimes I think I have enough dolls already. I have too many dolls that I plan to customize and they keep on piling. These days, it's hard to find a Barbie doll that's acceptable as is.

It's hard to be inspired to work on a doll these days. Like this Max Black (2 Broke Girls) doll I'm making. I kinda like her now but she needs more work.

I know it's ironic to take a character like Max Black who is so unlike Barbie in every sense and turn her into a Barbie size doll but then she has a friend who is like Barbie so I guess it's okay to make her a Barbie-friend doll.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Enlighten (No 128) Police Riot Tracking Truck

I wanted a trailer truck that can hide a control room and a motorbike for a vigilante character I have in mind. I was willing to build it from multiple sets but I was lucky enough to stumble upon this Enlighten set. It is what I had in mind, except for the color scheme and the "police" prints. I was hoping they would just be stickers that I'll just keep unused. Sadly, there are no stickers. All the prints are printed on plastic.

Front of the box

Enlighten is one of the better bootlego brands although I can't be sure if they are indeed bootlegs. Lego's patent for the toy brick design has expired years ago and I don't think you can patent a basic truck design. Sheng Yuan are bootlegs since they don't have licenses for the superhero characters. This set doesn't have that. Enlighten is also sold at major toy stores (making it look legit as reputable stores will avoid selling illegal items) while Sheng Yuan isn't.

Back of the box

Enlighten has a series of police sets. I have bought smaller Enlighten sets (not police) and I was satisfied with the quality so I was not worried about this set. I got this set for about US$10. It just has a pair of minor parts missing, a piece to make the smoke stack fit properly. No big deal.

Smoke stack with missing piece

I do like the printed pieces for the control room. I can also use it in the X-mansion's control room. The set came with a trike. I want cool vigilante motorbike instead. For now, I'll just keep it in the trailer.

The truck will be modified later on. The objective is to make it look inconspicuous. I wanted this to be a mobile hideout for a vigilante so it shouldn't attract attention.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Lele Sentinel (No 78087B)

The box could have been smaller by half. There were no extra piece except for Magneto's hand.

Lele is not as popular as Sheng Yuan (SY) with bootlego collectors because of the quality. There some leftover plastic flash in some pieces. The printed lines are bold compared to SY's. The triangles on the chest is a little off-center. The pieces are also a little darker in Lele's.

Guess which is which.
Since Lele is the only one offering a stand-alone (without the Blackbird) Sentinel, it's a practical choice when building a Sentinel army.

It cost for PhP150 in Cubao. I'm guessing this will be about PhP75 in Divisoria.

Back of the box shows an image from an X-men movie.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Bootlegos are more fun than Hasbro's 2.5-inch Avengers

The Avengers is a team and having members missing doesn't make the team as strong. Hasbro left out some characters in their 2.5-inch line so you really can't complete the team. It's a depreciative response to the "Avengers, assemble" battle cry. Way to go, Hasbro, for teaching teamwork!

The Avengers minifigs which are mainly from Sheng Yuan SY275 and SY276

That is not a problem with bootlegos and the minifigs have better articulation than Hasbro's 2.5-inch line. And of course, you can complete even the supporting characters. I still have to find a Falcon and War Machine minifig.

Bootlegos also have better playsets than Hasbro's 2.5-inch line. The former allows the child/adult to be imaginative by giving the person the opportunity to redesign the set.

The best thing about bootlegos is the price. If you had it with big toy companies increasing their prices while lowering the quality, make a statement by not buying their products. Buy something else instead, something worth your pennies. Buying bootlegos is one hell of a statement.

I may not be able to protect the world from increasing toy prices, you can be damned sure I'll avenge it.

Friday, July 10, 2015

It's my fault

I think I may have contributed to the increase in the prices of Barbie dolls. Let me explain.

I'm from the Philippines and the salary here is lower compared to developed countries. Yes, the cost of living here is lower so it seems to balance out. That means we get stuff (rent, food, Spotify etc.) for a lower price. The weird things is we get Barbie for a much higher price. (I collect toys from another line but the price difference is little.)

If a low-income (compared to the rest of the world) person is willing to pay more for a doll, why can't people with higher income, right?

Oh, it's not because of the shipping cost that makes us pay more. We're closer to China (where Barbie dolls are made) so shipping should be cheaper. We're just being used as a test market (along with other countries) for the rest of the world.

From time to time, Mattel increases the price to check if people will still buy. They say that it's because of the increase in the cost of production. Do we believe them? It doesn't matter as long as people are always willing to pay more, like the people in my country.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Sheng Yuan (no. SY357) The Hulk Buster Smash

This is a bootleg copy of Lego No 76031 The Hulk Buster Smash. I got the bootleg set for US$6.20 (PhP280) at Divisoria. Others sell it for US$8.90 up to US$13.30. It all depends on how skilled you are at bargain hunting.

front of the box 

The Lele version is also available locally but based on previous releases, Sheng Yuan is more consistent in quality. I was supposed to get two Hulk Buster sets but I decided to wait for another trusted brand, Decool's version.

back of the box 

Unlike in a Youtube video I saw, mine didn't come with a box tray. Instead, every piece was in a big resealable plastic bag. Two pieces were loose inside the big bag while the rest were secured in smaller sealed bags. It made me worried about missing pieces. Luckily, the set is complete.

There are some confusing instructions. An example is shown in the scanned copy below. One is supposed to get 3 of the piece illustrated at the top left corner and attached it to the assembly as shown. The assembly shows only one piece attached.

Of course, it came with the cute minifigs. Here is Scarlet Witch and Ultron reenacting a scene from the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie. Everything is just cute but Ultron could be bigger and look more menacing.

I'm glad I didn't get the big Hulkbuster figure. This version of the Hulkbuster is more fun. You can place an Iron Man minifig inside, just like in the movies.

Yes, I know this is a bootleg set. It violates copyright laws but then again I don't know if the same laws apply to the country where it is from. Maybe they don't apply. The situation seems threatening, right? Let's just see what the Avengers will do about that.

And by the way, there are no Avengers.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Divisoria Rush

Everything costs less in Divisoria. The only thing you have to pay more is attention. Every seller will try to get it. The displayed items will surely have it. Just make sure you have enough attention left for the other people around you.

Paying less attention to everything will cost you your hard earned money. Pickpockets or robbers, Divisoria abounds with those people. Since it is a shopping place and people who shop have money, it is a haven for criminals.

The next challenge is getting the item you want at the best price. That could mean haggling from store to store. This requires a lot of walking and some physical endurance to go to different stores, just to know the going rate for an item. At this stage, you should already size up the sellers if they are willing to haggle. Those who give a high initial price usually plan to drive a hard bargain.

Going to and fro Divisoria is no joy ride. The streets are narrow, the traffic is heavy, the air is polluted making almost every jeepney driver rude. Whether you'll drive or commute, it's stressful.

If you are successful in all of these challenges, you will have the best shopping experience. I always get a rush every time I make a good deal at Divisoria and leave unscathed. Today, I got everything I planned to get and none of those tempting items that weren't on my shopping list.

Like any adventure, shopping in Divisoria makes you a little tougher and wiser. It's not for sissies.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

More on bootlegos and more

Apparently, there is a bootlego following in my city. In one store, I overheard how the seller explain to one hobbyist why the stock ran out for a certain set. From what I gathered, there are people who hoarded it after it was posted in their online community. So, there's an online community where fans can get updates on what's available in what bootlego store and there are people who hoard bootlegos. Here I was thinking that I'd be safe from self-serving people in the bootlego scene. It's good that there is ample supply, no limited edition drama. There is no need to stress out about running out of stocks if you know where to look, that is. There might just be a problem if one is looking for old releases. 

I don't belong to their online community so I get my bootlego intelligence from other sources (and there are already a lot of info online about this toy, reflecting its popularity). I don't really get to know right away what's available locally but I get to know what will be available, just not the when part. The good thing about bootlegos is that almost all sets have been released locally. There's no ek-ek exclusive, something I really hate about other toy lines. I visit nearby stores (Cubao, St. Francis Square etc.) to see what's available but I don't buy from them. They usually sell it for 50% more. I go directly to their source, Divisoria, when I know it's already available.

I'm looking forward to getting and building this set:

I still don't know if I'm going to get two. I'm quite sure my nephews will love that. I can't wait for this weekend.