There is a practice in toy lines today that discourages me from buying certain action figures. It is a feature that drives me up the wall. It is called build a figure. I hate it.
The way it works is you have somewhere between six and eight figures sold separately each come with a limb or a part of a larger figure that you assemble once you have collected all of the different parts figures. I hate this. For one it forces you to buy an entire series of figures, including characters you aren’t interested in and would otherwise never buy, in order to obtain the chase figure. The logic behind build-a-figure is it allows toy makers to produce super sized extra large characters to scale with the rest of the line. This is usually done in a six inch line where individual figures cost bare minimum $20 retail each. That makes purchasing the assembled figure nearly impossible as some people only buy the figures they want, discarding the limbs leaving collectors to fend for themselves or having to turn to the later market to complete the larger figure.
The toy makers reason for doing this is it allows them to release extra large figures in the toy line. However it prevents collectors like myself from even starting a collection for a couple of reasons. If I am interested in the larger figure I don’t want to have to hunt down its individual arms, lets, chest, etc., from different toy stores. I don’t mind the assemble a larger figure from smaller ones, especially in toy lines where it makes sense such as with Power Rangers and their Zords or Transformers combiner figure sets. But you get the whole figure not a limb. The problem I have with build-a-figure is it often forces you to choose between buying an incomplete figure if you can’t complete the set or discarding the parts you don’t need from figures you desire. I don’t have the energy, time or patience to trade the limbs to other collectors hoping to finish their build so I refuse to buy figures that come in build-a-figure packaging on principal. I understand this keeps me from buying a lot of really cool 6 inch action figures but I don’t care I despise the practice.
I would be okay with it if you made two additional options available. Option one make the smaller figures available for sale sans build-a-figure parts for collectors like me who only want one or maybe three figures in the set so we don’t have to hassle with those extra pieces of plastic we don’t care for. Option two make the build-a-figure available in two additional skus, one is a larger assembled figure sold at retail for a higher price point. Considering Power Rangers, Godzilla and Transformers all have $50 “leader-class” toys I don’t see why Marvel/DC/Star Wars can’t do this also. Then you can also sell the individual components that come in the build-a-figure packaging separately too for the collector who wants to mix and match someone who buys a handful of the six inch figures but can then buy the remaining parts separately if they so choose. You can even put them in those blind packs and make then chase the limb they want. I prefer that method over either forcing me to buy all the figures in a product line or none at all. Given the choice between being greedy and getting nothing from me or being sensible and at least selling me the toys I do want to collect, I think this is a much better option.
However I hit the nail on the head. Toy companies are greedy. They even sometimes include build-a-figures that assemble another 6 inch toy in exact scale and size as the others meaning it could have easily just been a 7th figure in the line. Minecraft is now doing this with Build-A-Portal and it disgusts me because I will likely never have a complete Nether Portal which I would have gladly purchased full retail price but refuse to buy all the parts figures I need to assemble it. It’s a disgusting marketing scam and I despise it through and through.