In all my years of collecting, I’ve come to notice one thing that is the bane of almost every collector’s existence: exclusives.
In a time that doesn’t seem so long ago, mail-away exclusives used to be incredibly commonplace. These were figures that you would purchase by taking proofs of purchase or little points from the backs of packages and mailing them in with a special form. After 6-8 weeks, you’d get your special figure that you could only get through this process. Some classic examples include the Ghost of Anakin Skywalker, Reflector from Transformers, and the hooded version of Cobra Commander; a figure released through various mail-in offers over the course of ten years.
The concept has sadly died out, but they’ve been since replaced with something much less fun and far more nefarious:
These are, thankfully, not that common in America. There’s MattyCollector, yes, but everyone pretty much universally hates them. What I’m going to talk about here are the three words that send chills up the spines of every SH Figuarts, Robot Damashii, and Super Robot Chogokin collector:
Tamashii. Web. Exclusive.
Now, it needs to be understood what exactly gets made into a webshop exclusive. Figures that end up with this distinction tend to be stuff that wouldn’t be very profitable on the main release market. Examples include Sentai Team members that aren’t the Red and Sixth Rangers, and movie-exclusive Kamen Riders. If a villain is to receive a figure, he too will probably be a webshop exclusive.
Now, some things make sense as webshop exclusives. Namely, weapon add-ons, like the GaoGaiGar Key to Victory sets, or the wings for Kamen Rider OOO’s TaJaDol form. That kind of stuff would just make the base figures far too expensive, and the figure itself can survive without them, making this a more logical monetary move.
However, Bandai Hobby seems to have taken to this idea lately, too…
Bandai Hobby Web exclusives have existed for awhile, but for the most part they wouldn’t be anything extreme. Typically they’d just be a recolored kit with extra decals and weapons. However, things have taken an odd turn lately. Significant variants have been getting webshop releases, such as the GM Sniper II (White Dingoes version) and now, the Tallgeese II. Sure, only a few parts are changed, but what gives? Those are two designs that certainly have a heck of a following, especially in the west.
And therein lies the problem: us. Unless you have a friend in Japan who can get you the stuff, or use a middleman service, you’re out of luck when it comes to finding these. Even if you’re able to get them, be prepared to pay a premium, so make sure it’s something you reeeaaally like.
But thanks to Bluefin, it’s been made clear to Bandai that they have a huge market in the US that wants this stuff, so what gives? All we’ve really gotten is Black Condor from Jetman, as far as domestically-released webshop figures are concerned. The DBZ ones don’t exactly count, since they’re mainly being released FOR the US market.
What I’m trying to get at here, is what to expect as far as webshop exclusives are concerned. It’s unfortunate, and I don’t think we’ll be getting them here any time soon. The best thing to do is to convince them through other means—buy up all the Figuarts and SRCs and whatnot you’re after, especially from places like FPNYC. Maybe that’ll get the idea in Bandai’s head!