Tales of a Would-be Scalper

I have a dirty secret.

One that I don’t readily admit to.

You see, I’m a toy scalper.

Or, rather, I was one.

It all started in 2003. A bunch of us from Ionfuse were in San Diego for our annual San Diego Comic Con trip. Everyone entered the lottery for the rare “Masters of the Universe” Keldor figure. And everyone won one.

Except me.

My friend Sam used her winning ticket to buy one for me. I was juiced. I got a cool toy. We went to dinner later that evening. Toy correspondant Mikel Samson opened his up. He’s a big Masters of the Universe fan.

So, I watched as he put the parts together. The figure had little articulation. So, I decided to get rid of it on eBay when I got back home.

I checked eBay… holy cow! Those things were going for a hundred bucks. I quickly started an auction and got paid. I lucked into another Keldor at Wizard World Chicago. He went for $100 on eBay, too. “Wow,” I told myself, “I can make a killing on this stuff next year.”

So, SDCC 2004 came along, and I had my hit list. I needed an Extra Nazi Kroenen, a few of the Street Fighter 2-Packs…. She Ra was a must, and there was a Batman figure. The only way you could tell which one you had was to open it up. There were three variations. Battle Damaged Bats was the rarest one. I also needed an Extended Features Hellboy.

I’m not sure if he pitied me, or wanted to see what trouble I’d get into, but our fearless Editor in Chief followed me on my scalping adventure, picking up a figure here and there for himself. At the end of the night, I had an impressive haul. All of the toys on my hitlist, plus a Nazi Kroenen, and a Street Fighter two-pack. My friends bought me a couple of ZMDC figures for my birthday, and I sprung for a 12” Panzer Cop from Mamoru Oshii’s stray dog trilogy. I even lucked into the rare battle-damaged Batman varient. I was in a zone.

Only one problem.

I blew through my budget for the entire week in a day. Oh, my beer money was still around, and so was my food money, but no more toys. I figured it’d be OK. I’d go back home, put stuff up on eBay, and make a ton of cash.

So, the following Tuesday, I flew home and hopped onto eBay, waiting to make my mint.

I noticed the items I bought for myself weren’t going for too much more than they sold for at the show. Except the Batman fig. So, I decided to wait a week.

The week became two.

Prices still hadn’t gone up, so I put the toys up on eBay. I earned maybe $5 more per figure than I paid. Except Batman. I paid $20 for him. He sold for $200.

I spent about $200 for all of the toys. In order to make sure they were in pristine shape when I sold them, I spent $30 to ship them back to Chicago.

Did I make a few bucks? Sure. By dumb luck.

While in San Diego, I passed up a Zatoichi figure, a Lone Wolf and Cub figure, and a Sonny Chiba as Jubei Yagyu figure. I could have picked them up, had I not tried to be a scalper.

Scalping is like gambling or the stock market. If you aren’t careful, today’s $100 toy can wind up worthless tomorrow.

I’ve learned my lesson. From now on, I buy what I want, not what I think can be worth money. In the end, it’s not worth it.