Why do bad things happen to good fans? Whether it’s atrocious art, ridiculous writing or something else entirely – some crimes against fandom cannot go unanswered. When that happens, it’s time to say “BLAARGH!”
Supply and demand. It’s a cornerstone concept of a capitalist economy. Simply put, it’s an equation for value. Something that is in high demand doesn’t automatically have high value, because it may be readily available. Breathable air, for example, is an absolute necessity for human survival. You can’t really charge for it, however, because it’s everywhere (Yes, I know oxygen bars exist, but that’s not QUITE the same). Low supply doesn’t immediately translate to high value, either. There is a distinctly finite supply of my finger nail clippings in the world, and yet I’m not about to turn a profit if I set up shop and try to sell them. No, high value stems from an item being both desirable and hard to come by. Like our friend Wreck-Gar here.
You see, Wreck-Gar was woefully under-produced (or at least under-distributed) as a result of being one of the last Classics/Generations/Reveal the Shield Transformers figures to be released prior to the onslaught of Dark of the Moon movie toys. I don’t know of a single area to report a glut of Wreck-Gars, and in fact have talked to many people who never once saw the figure themselves “in the wild.” I say “in the wild” in reference to toys actually hanging from pegs in stores, as opposed to in stock on someone’s eBay store. Because let’s face it – of the few Wreck-Gars that DID make it to the shelves, most were gobbled up by savvy scalpers and turned into a quick buck online. Ebay wouldn’t be the success it is if not for the concept of supply and demand; every year as Christmas approaches, all of the hottest toys are identified and quickly turned into filthy lucre for the hoarders who find them first. And here’s the real meat of the argument…
Supply and demand is supposed to dictate the monetary value of an item based upon how desirable and available it is, but companies are learning how to use supply and demand to their own benefit. Take the Leap Frog LeapPad, for example (at left). The LeapPad is essentially a tablet for young children on which they can take and store photos and learn and entertain themselves through the use of tailor-made apps. Neat, sure, but what makes it the hottest toy of the season? When it came out late this past summer, no one seemed to care. But suddenly, distribution halted and LeapPads were nowhere to be found. The people who DID want to get one became frantic and quickly spread word to friends and family “If you see a LeapPad, pick one up for me.” But wait… what’s a LeapPad? And if I see one, why wouldn’t I pick it up for myself? By late October, the LeapPad was the hottest toy you couldn’t find anywhere, and parents everywhere were primed for any opportunity they might have to get their hands on one.
But I don’t get it… why would the company intentionally under-produce? Doesn’t it make more sense for them to keep their product on shelves for the consumers to purchase? Sure, at face value, that seems like the smart play. But consider how many fewer people would care about the LeapPad, or any other toy-du-jour, if they couldn’t turn around without tripping over them. No, I fully believe it is a calculated move on the part of manufacturers to withhold product just to generate heat. And it works! People buy not because they want it, but because they’re afraid they might never get another chance. I wonder how many LeapPads will be sitting on store shelves come the new year.
And speaking of the New Year, do you have your Panels on Pages 2012 Fangirl of the Month Calendar yet? Supplies are limited, make sure you pick yours up today before they’re gone!