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Bellwether Updates: Linear Regression Breakthroughs and Brands put on point!

I did some exciting additions to the Bellwether system including a trendline on our graph using linear regression and a ranking page by license showing top and bottom 10 on Amazon

Trendline Graph – The new trendline seen on the dynamic graphs generated at the item level is the result of some extra variable setting and some eighth grade linear algebra. With this, we can now see a possible forecast of rank position and visually witness an items velocity of popularity based on the slope. I only have it for the last 14 days as my chart was made for that time frame initially, but I may widen the window to get a better view of longer term trend.

License Ranking – this is a tricky one. Essentially, all I did was take the earliest rank and the latest rank of each item in a brand, found the difference and calculated the % change, then averaged the sum of all the % changes of all the items in the brand collection. I feel there’s some truth to it as I’m only showing licenses that have more than 10 skus, and the more skus there are the better overall weighting the average will hold, but I don’t take into consideration any explosive or deflating ranking values that may have occurred in the middle. Ideally, I’d like to include this as it would lead to overall brand trending, but its interesting to see how accurate the current equation is turning out to be. Check out the brand ranking here.

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Everlasting Cartoon Beauty Jessica Rabbit Immortalized in Funko’s Rock Candy Collection at a ‘Fair’ Price

I use the term ‘fair’ with some freedom as its more than its original MSRP, but with eBay sellers pitching it at $76 on the low end, the seller on Amazon mustn’t have the faintest idea on how much this figure’s really worth as its currently offered at only $29.99! The second lowest price on the River is $40+. So, it sounds like a fast grab for anyone out there looking for a decent figure of the curvy bombshell from the beloved movie classic Who Framed Roger Rabbit? that won’t make all the guys in the room too uncomfortable.

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Your reminder for TPS reports for only $2.99 shipped!

To further add to your iconic collection of Office Space Funko figures, Bill Lumbergh is now available at a rock bottom $2.99 shipped! The shipping cost alone cost more than this. How do they do it? Who really cares? Its a deal for you so make the most of it. You know I will!

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Aliens: Neomorph 1/18 Action Figure (PX Exclusive) by Hiya Toys more than 50% off!

The Alien franchise has been one of those strange licenses that despite the hyper scary scenes of its time, has endured to become less space horror and more space action.

The brand has had a notorious history with toys having had figures for kids made for the first movie in 1979 when the feature was rated R.

The kids have grown now, and with it the need for some newer figures outside of just the standard Xenomorph. Enter the Neomorph. As a PX Exclusive, you won’t see these at mass retail chains anytime soon. Grab them while you can at under $10!

Oh… and here’s the commercial for the kids in 1979

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Perspective: The Toys That Made Us (TTMU) Season 3 Episode 1 – Mighty Morphin Power Rangers / BANDAI America

What a way to start off a Friday! I’m a big fan of the entire TTMU series by Netflix as a toy buff myself, and the first episode of the newest season was a doosey as it was pretty close to home. To sum up my thoughts on this in one word: OUCH!

This episode went into some pretty intense detail talking about the rise/fall/rise/fall/rise(?) of the Might Morphin Power Rangers, Saban Brands, all the hands that touched the property, and my alma mater, Bandai America (BAI) which I worked for during its speedy spiral face first into the ground. A fitting sub-header for this episode could probably read BANDAI: From Broke to Billions to Busted.

Important note: I wasn’t part of the MMPR at ALL. I was part of their ‘New Business’ department trying to capitalize off of niche collector’s markets, which they really wanted to exploit at a mass retailer level. I did what I could, but in the end, niche markets belong to community curators, not mass market, and social media was not Bandai America’s greatest concern.

I knew the Power Rangers toys built Bandai America, but it was eye opening to see the business risks taken and the tenacity of Saban trying to make all this work.

In the end, it basically showed how Saban took what was ahead of its time in Japan and applied it in a streamlined fashion to America. In a time of no internet and opposite points of the planet worlds apart, it was a refreshing injection of kid interest that really surprised me to the level it had blown up to. I finally saw what carried Bandai America for the last 20 years because it wasn’t like there as anything in there catalog that had busted down doors in quite a while.

Having lived in Japan for much of my youth (Okinawa for the most part), I grew out of ‘Super Sentai’ stuff way early so I didn’t think much of it when it debuted on US TV. Of course, I was 10 years older than the intended audience, but still, even I couldn’t believe how kids could eat up this low budget crap… low key though, I still watched it for Amy Jo Johnson, but that’s an interest for another website…

To see a more unbiased explanation of the Bandai America appearance in the US market was refreshing as the intro I got from the company was understandably all about their successes, and not the failures. To be quite honest, looking at past issues of lines gone by and my experience in retrospect, it didn’t look like the company learned from their mistakes and were too afraid to do anything outside of what’s been done.

The evolution of the toys was really interesting too. To think the Japanese toys were the thing that started it all, but it was the head switching transforming figures made by the US unit that was the biggest seller of any toy. As time went on though, it looked as if the US faction took on risks that were really stretching the limits of fans. I remember the strange motor cycle that would slightly fold to make a weird tall cycle that didn’t look to really fit any other toy and just seemed… awkward. It still surprises me that something so outside the series was even conceived.

Looking back, I feel if Bandai America would have taken more risks to change a bit with exploration and experimentation on media, promotion, and directly connecting with fans, they could have went much farther. Instead, it looks as if their razor focused hopes of a brand that once was hot bled them high and dry until they simply couldn’t afford it. When you’re latest release for a high budget movie is a key line item ‘henshin’ belt that never got featured in the film and worked off the same tech as the belt made for Japan almost 40 years ago, you’re not realizing that times have changed. The tech is old. Give the audience more credit for demanding something modern. Above all else, there needed to be much more planning.

As always with these episodes, I learned more than I expected. It did a great job in digging into the history and referencing all the key players throughout its history. How the name was conceived, how the business model was designed, the risks taken, the victories won, and the dramatic fall from grace of a once formidable juggernaut.

It was exciting to see so many familiar faces that I’ve had the chance to engage with including Greg Mitchell, Shin Ueno, and Eric Phan, but strangely absent were any of the current Bandai America employees. I wonder why??? Oh, was it the shady slap in the face when Saban basically explained the company lost its way and couldn’t sell water to a desert dweller? To paraphrase, ‘In the last year that they had the license, they only sold $20M. To put that into perspective, they were selling hundreds of millions.’ Then Saban sells to Hasbro whose leadership and lead toy designer for the property coincidentally worked for Bandai America during the MMPR heyday. As it was stated ‘when BANDAI America lost the Power Rangers license, it was like they lost a part of their soul.’


Things learned:
1) Be it brand, client, or business as a whole, always have an exit strategy (diversify)
2) When all you got left to run on is pride, step away (stop digging)
3) Never lose the connection with the customer (MMPR movie toy fail)

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Fortnite – Dark Voyager Funko POP flying up the charts at rock bottom prices

Grab him while you can! At regular price, this select skinned Fortnite fighter putted around the slightly 20k+ in sales ranking, but as soon as you drop it below $4, *BOOM* it breaks the top 1k. This is the exact behavior you’re looking for in a figure that shows a shift in price has exponential shifts in demand. More than likely the price correction will bobble back up to $6-$8 still giving today’s buyers a quick tentative 85% on return.

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Brands Waking Up to the Amazon Effect

Category : Blog

In a bold move, Nike has decided to pull the plug on direct retail with Amazon. Decrying that “Amazon is just a traffic aggregator that reduces friction in consumption… It doesn’t build communities,” Jefferies analyst Randy Konik hits the nail on the head.

The ‘community’ Amazon would probably express in rebuttal (if ever they answer the article) would be all the buyers attached to its service as well as its massive network of resellers who’ve long made a living conducting business on their platforms. But even looking at these groups, as an Amazon customer, I rarely interact with other buyers outside of reading some reviews which have been widely known to be plagued with fake booster testimonies for years. And it only takes one visit to the Amazon seller forums to see how disgruntled many of the sellers are with the lack of affect support and every changing anomalies putting to risk many seller’s way of life.

Two communities that are notably missing are the brand owners and manufacturers. Until recently, there really hadn’t been any true enforcement of Minimum Advertised Price to protect an IP’s value integrity, or counterfeit/copycat regulation, which are the two communities that don’t make as much vocal noise, but affect the platform drastically from on a day to day basis. As a matter of fact, in many cases, Amazon themselves are part of the ‘copycat’ community feeding off of sales metrics of items from other sellers and brands that can be easily white labeled and sold under any number of Amazon owned brand names. You can see a rather exhaustive list here , and this is from 2018. Probably many more have been added since.

As a long time reseller on Amazon, this has been a long time coming. Although Amazon has always been the golden marketplace for small entrepreneurs, in all honesty, its really just a platform that simplifies the process of facilitating a sale for a quick buck. Stay there too long, and you’ll get the community of listing leeches undercutting you on your own product offering in no time. Trying to promote a small business on this platform has become practically non-existent as Amazon has made it impossible to enable sellers to manage customer information, and put restrictions on what you can communicate to customer through messaging, packaging, and item listing. You can’t even put a return email address in your Amazon messages without the Amazon authority knocking on your virtual door. Speaking about Amazon authority, they are ruthless in their suspensions that are well known in many cases to withhold funds for months on end. With slow response time and criteria held at a highly ambiguous standard, filing an appeal for re-reinstatement is no simple task.

The articles above are absolutely correct in that Amazon is really only about furthering their own brand impression with little regard to any brand unless a hefty investment is made, but sellers don’t need to be subject to this type of treatment.

In Amazon’s defense, I do understand that their mission is to protect the consumer at all costs, but what they don’t seem to realize is that Brands, manufacturers, and sellers are also their consumers… of their services. They are treated so differently than the consumer side that in the long run, its a losing game.

Giving away the sales metrics of your products, no price control, no appearance advantage over competition, mixed within counterfeit and low quality products. Game Over.

Nike gets it. The one thing Amazon can’t sell other than for itself is a product’s brand. With that brand comes a real community completely dedicated to not the shopping platform, but the product makers, the rabid enthusiasts, and the influential fans free of copycats, counterfeits, and ‘fake’ fans. The brand isn’t in it for the quick buck, and those who invest a little more time to experience the brand, whether it be from attending a major release event or downloading an app, deserve a product that retains its value. That’s where your long term sales potential is: in the impression of not necessarily just the product, but the brand experience. When a company has customers live streaming and Instagram posting not their newly bought shoes, but the confirmation of purchase for shoes on a branded app, that’s momentum Amazon simply hasn’t figured out yet.

There will always be a space for business for Amazon, but I do feel other brands will follow suit behind Nike in the pursuit to preserve meaning in a company community and its long term loyalty of its clients. It won’t be long until many premium brands utilize Amazon like I was told by an old friend in the anime retail biz, ‘I only use Amazon to blow items out at deep discounts. The market is cutthroat with amateur sellers trying to make a quick buck. No money to be made by racing to the bottom.’




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Funko POP Disney’s Screen Slaver – A very computer relevant Disney villain dirt cheap!

Today I saw on my Report Round Up a crazy deal on a thought-provoking character from Disney’s The Incredibles 2 movie. The movie itself did quite a bit of mild virtue signaling, and an extremely well job at jabbing at some modern day social behaviors that I’ve caught myself on a couple of times (When did they change math?).

Outside of some unspectacular trope-ish super hero introductions, the initial enemy, ScreenSlaver, seemed a little generic with the ability to control people through hypnosis via screens, but as Elastigirl was zeroing in on the villain’s transmission, the villain’s monologue really struck a cord with me. It certainly got me thinking about society as a whole and how many are unconsciously manipulated through the addiction of instant access to images everywhere as made apparent when the masses finally realized that their surfing behavior was being profited on. Seriously, how else would Google have made its billions? Did everyone really think AdSense advertising was really random?

Sorry, digression… back to the figure…

I won’t ruin it here if you haven’t seen it already, but I will certainly give it a thumbs up to take the movie in at least once, and a thumbs up to buying the Funko POP Screen Slaver figure as its now on sale for less than $4 shipped on Amazon! This is ridiculously good.

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Post Halloween All too expected sale – Nightmare Before Christmas POP Figures

Category : Deals of the Day

As most would guess, the days after Halloween are riddled with sales on everything costumes, candy, and themed figures. One brand in particular that strangely never fizzled in the many years since its release is Nightmare Before Christmas. In all honesty, I never got it. The stop motion animation was a little off for me even in that time… I was more of a Ray Harryhausen fan myself, but hey, to each their own… and in this case, there’s an overwhelming majority in favor of Tim Burton’s feature. In that spirit, Amazon’s offering a special deal on the troublesome child trio that are so iconic to the image of the brand.

For under $20, get your hands on the Funko version of Lock, Shock, and Barrel! Unlike other Funko that i’m rather critical about (don’t get me started on the generic features of Soccer Stars line), these 3 turned out to look rather slick. Its a ‘Deal of the Day’ collection, so its not going to last passed this day. Happy hunting, all!

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Under-priced Funko POPs! Fortnite

Category : Deals of the Day

With the ravenous popularity of Funko’s POP Figure line, figure valuation for the collection will have a decent demand for the time being. Of course once people realize these figures aren’t in any way a decent representation of the licenses and personalities they love, the value will drop like a rock. Let’s face it: each Pop is essentially a figure of the same generic dude (lets call him Freddy) cosplaying as every character ever. They essentially scream to desperately be accepted as mainstay figures of any brand using the most basic, flat styles of designer vinyl collectibles. I mean, seriously, real fans of any major license would look to find something that truly defines the images that lay locked in their memory. POP’s are far from that. They are in my mind what I once called a ‘Quick Collectible’ akin to ‘Fast Fashion’ Cheaply made, generic in detail, quickly produced, and made in such a variety as to get something new daily.

Aside from my own sour taste of these figures, they’re still the most accessible, mobile, and affordable collectibles for a great deal of licenses because frankly speaking, most licenses aren’t worthy of figures. That being said, the purchase in rock bottom Funkos is still good for the time being from an investment point of view.

Here are some recent winners you might consider:

Fortnite is one of the hyper phenomon games that captured a generation. I consider generational because gamers my age don’t have the slightest urge to play, and we’re the seasoned veterans. When a license captures a generation, collectibles will undoubtedly become long tail opportunities. Fortnite may be one of the only licenses for specific age groups as its one of the only brands that has taken hold of major channels of exposure and promotion, namely the PC gaming and YouTube.

Fortnite POPs! for under $5 shipped!

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