There were several SDCC exclusives that I had on my list to get this year, and it pains me to say that, try as I might, I only managed to obtain one. But of all the exclusives I wanted, this was the daddy of them all.
And getting one of these in my hands proved next to impossible.
I'm talking about the Exclusive Star Wars Black 6" Boba Fett from Hasbro.
I don't want to get off on a rant here, but I do feel the need to at least give a quick rundown of how insane getting one of these turned out to be. And all of my troubles were due to a series of inane blanket policies allegedly designed to keep scalpers from snatching everything up and then flipping them for a profit in their booths. Ha.
It all started on Preview Night, when I was informed that no exhibitors were allowed to purchase anything for the first half hour. Now, keep in mind that I was there as an exhibitor for another toy company. I was not a store owner looking for hot merchandise. I just wanted one for myself to display on my desk at work. But that didn't matter. To Hasbro, and exhibitor is an exhibitor and that's that.
When I asked "a half hour starting from when" I was told from the opening time of Preview Night. Now, Preview night started at 6:00 PM, this conversation was at 5:40 PM and thousands of people were already let in and standing in line at the Hasbro booth. So I had to come back at 6:30, which meant that everyone actually had an hour head start. Great.
So, I waited until 6:30 and returned, at which time the guy working the main table (a pretty rude chap, to be honest) informed me that the line was closed for the night.
I'm not going to lie. I got pissed. This was a stunningly unfair thing to do to people who are genuine fans of their toys.
But, I decided to calm down and just come back the first thing the next morning. I was going to get that damn Boba Fett.
Thursday morning came and I went straight to the Hasbro booth first thing. There was a completely different yet somewhat even ruder chap working the table this time who let me know that to get in the line to buy toys you needed a ticket. Just to get in line. And when I asked for a ticket, I was told that they had already been given out. When? I asked. The convention had literally just opened. The guy couldn't even look me in the eye and clearly just wanted me to go away. "At 6:00 AM," he said.
SIX IN THE GOD DAMN MORNING.
Given out to all of the people sleeping out on the sidewalk in front of the convention center.
Now, hear me out. Hasbro doesn't want scalpers to buy all the toys and then mark them up and sell them in their booths. So they institute a system that makes it impossible for the average Joe who simply arrives at the con when the doors open to even get in their line, much less able to buy one of their items. Instead, they give carte blanche to the people sleeping outside all night. And do you know what kind of people sleep outside all night hoping to get tickets for toy lines? GOD DAMN SCALPERS.
I admit that I lost my cool at this point and read the riot act to the poor sap working the booth, saying things like, "I can't believe you're treating your honest customers this way. You should be ashamed of yourselves." He didn't look at me once.
This went on for three days.
For three days I was denied even the possibility to buy a toy that I just wanted to keep for myself, to look over at every now and then throughout my work day for a brief second or two of enjoyment and inspiration.
And while I was being denied this chance, Star Wars Black Boba Fetts were popping up in just about every toy dealer's booth, marked up from $50 to $120. AND PEOPLE WERE PAYING IT.
There was actually a brief moment when I considered giving some scalper scumbag $100 for one, but just couldn't stand the thought of him getting my money.
Finally, late on Saturday afternoon, I decided to take action.
I simply walked up to the people standing on the outter edge of the cow feeder line into the Hasbro booth and just started asking random strangers, "Are you getting a Boba Fett? You are? How about you? Getting a Boba Fett?"
Eventually, one of the "line guards" came up to me and said, "Are you trying to get someone to buy you something?" I started to immediately get defensive, but he calmed me down and lowered his voice, "Dude, it's cool with me, but don't let anyone here see you passing money over. They'll kick you out." At that point, this amazingly understanding Hasbro booth employee, the only one who seemed to have a heart, proceeded to quietly ask people in line on my behalf. He eventually found a guy and beckoned me over.
I explained my situation to the fellow con-goer and he was more than happy to grab a Boba Fett for me. The Hasbro booth worker had me slip the $50 bill into an order sheet, hand it to him (further down the line, real 80s spy style) which he then handed to the buyer. The buyer gave me his cell number (we acted like we we're friends planning to meet up later) and I texted him so he had mine, and we made plans for him to text me when he was through the line.
I then calmly walked off and took some time to enjoy the warm wave of relief that only a collector who has just scored the one thing he was hunting for can understand.
About 45 minutes later, I got the text; time to pick up my Boba Fett.
I couldn't thank that guy enough (I remember his name, but I'm not going to mention it here). The one thing I wanted most was finally mine, despite Hasbro's efforts to keep it from my hands.
Take that, Hasbro.
Now let's look at this beauty...
From the moment I laid eyes on the box alone, I was in love.
I rarely decided to collect a series of toys without ever seeing one in person, but I had been wanting a line of 6" Star Wars figures for years.
Let's take a look inside...
The reason this figure is so special (besides it being the first release of what I hope to be a long-lived line of toys) is that it come specially packaged and with extra accessories that will not be available in the regular release, specifically a certain space smuggler encased in carbonite.
Even the inside of the box is a work of art...
The figure itself is everything I dreamed it would be, brimming with detail and packed with elegant articulation.
As angry with Hasbro as I am, I have to admit that they knocked this out of the park. This is the kind of toy that will spoil me for other, lesser toys.
They even included a stand so Han can "hover" above the ground while the dreaded bounty hunter guards his prize.
This figure is simply astounding and I can't wait to get my hands on the rest of the 6" Star Wars Black line.
Now, I know that it is more than a little absurd for a 40 year old man to get so steamed over not getting the toy he wants. It's not my proudest moment. But it was the perfect storm, colliding my love for toys, my love for Star Wars and the unfairness with which simple, honest toy collectors were being treated that just boiled my blood.
Still, at the end of the day, Hasbro will get my money again. At least insofar as this toy line is concerned. So as much of a winner as I feel I am now, with my SDCC 2013 holy grail sitting on my desk at work, we all know who the real winner is here.
Well played, Hasbro.
Now don't even get me started on Mattel.