Monday, March 5, 2012

[Acquisitions] Marvel Universe Red Hulk and Black Widow

Nope, I haven't ran out of toys to talk about. In fact, I have yet to post entries about a ton of goodies that I had purchased during the past three months. Work has consistenly been an absolute killer as of late but I'll try my best to sneak an entry every so often to keep things moving. Today, I'm featuring two Marvel Universe acquisitions from my China Square Central visit last February and as usual, these figures have a story to tell.

I've always been vocal about my displeasure with the way Marvel Universe figures are being distributed here in the Philippines. I really don't know why peg-warmers from Waves 1, 2, and 5 are still being sold at various Toy Kingdom and Toys "R" Us branches here when Wave 16 has been out for months overseas. Yes, Playkit holds distribution events for different Hasbro products regularly, but let's be honest, attending one is no easy task. Local collectors, including myself, have to endure some pretty serious stuff just to get our action figure fix from those distribution events. We have to wake up early to get to the venue before everybody else does, line up for registration, wait for several hours for distribution to start, line up again for distribution, and line up yet again to pay for the goods. That's actually the best-case scenario, and trust me, things can go bad in an instant. I've seen fellow collectors spend a good part of their day falling in line only to be informed that stocks had ran out upon getting their que numbers called. I've seen point-of-sale (POS) machines crash, causing massive delays. I've seen items get mispriced, rendering the POS machines useless. Indeed, shit happens.

Undoubtedly, hardcore collectors have benefited from Playkit's distribution events regardless of the aforementioned hassles, but what about casual collectors? Well, good luck. Categorically, casual collectors here in the Philippines have long been dead. Distributors don't seem to recognize them and that's the sad truth. Majority of the items available during the distribution events are being sold only as parts of particular sets which means that if you want just one figure from a specific wave, you have to buy the whole wave to get it. Of course, you can resort to specialty shops or eBay but doing so disqualifies you from being a "casual collector."

Both MU Red Hulk and MU Black Widow are pretty hard to find here in the Philippines. On eBay, a mint-on-card Red Hulk goes for an average of 1000 bucks (23 USD) while a mint-on-card Black Widow commands an average of 1200 bucks (27 USD). Needless to say, when we went to Singapore, these two were at the top of my list. On our first day there, we were able to locate two TRU branches but sadly, both stores were ripe for a Marvel Universe restock. Whatever MU figs they had left carried a price tag of 19.90 SGD (675 PHP or 15 USD) and clearly, their MUs were 35% more expensive than ours. On our second day there, we went to CSC and that was where I spotted these two. I bought the Red Hulk fig for 25 SGD (850 PHP or 19 USD) and the Black Widow fig for 28 SGD (950 PHP or 22 USD) and I thought it was my lucky day. On our way back to the hotel, we saw a nearby shopping mall and so, we decided to drop by and check it out. To my surprise, there's a TRU store inside and that's where the other shoe fell. Nope, they didn't have a Red Hulk fig in stock but they sure did have a ton of Black Widow figs clogging the shelves up! And guess what, all the available Marvel Universe figs were on sale for only 12.90 SGD each (440 PHP or 10 USD)! Aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh! What a bummer! There really was no sense crying over spilled milk so I just decided to do the next best thing: grab all the available MU figs that my Avengers line-up lacked!

I'm totally in love with this Red Hulk fig and that won't change anytime soon. Yes, it's just a repainted Wave 2 Hulk slapped with a new head and a new left hand but it's a repaint that works. I like the overall look of this figure: the head sculpt, the color scheme, the paint apps, they're all fantastic. My only nitpick is that its head rests only on a swivel joint but I think that's not too big of an issue. On the other hand, there's nothing to write home about this Black Widow fig. It sports the basic female body that I'm quickly getting tired of, and even though the head is new, it doesn't float my boat. The figure looks bland but it stays true to the look of the character, so maybe I just have to deal with it. Accessories-wise, Black Widow comes with a black assault rifle which is made from a very soft type of plastic and a display stand. The fig looks somewhat odd carrying a huge machine gun but thankfully, I have a few pistols from my Joes lying around.

With the upcoming Joes getting some reductions in articulation, I'm thinking about shifting my focus. If distribution improves, I might go all-out on the various 1:18 Marvel toys. Right now, that's a big if, but I'm sincerely hoping for it to happen. For the mean time, I still have some new figs to enjoy.

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