As I'm sure is quite evident by now, I am an avid collector of Marvel Legends! I've been doing so for years, and my collection is quite sizable. I have a pretty good idea of how and where to find these figures, as well as the risks of collecting. One of these risks is swapping, when someone purchases a figure, swaps it out for another one (usually old or undesirable), and then returns it to the store. The employees often don't know any better, especially if it's similar enough, and they accept the return, thus the swapper gets brand new figures for free.
Recently, Jay Cochran of Marvelous News reached out to me about a story he's doing on figure swapping (you can check that out right here). He'd seen a picture I posted on Reddit, and wanted to use it. I gave him permission to do so, and I feel like I should tell the full story. This is how it all went down, True Believers.
Over the years I've seen my fair share of swaps. Some of them were so close it almost fooled me, others it was painfully obvious (to me, at least, since I've been doing this for so long). However, I could always see it before I bought it, allowing me to turn it in and attempt to find the figure elsewhere. Well, not anymore. Hasbro, the guys that make Marvel Legends, have switched the way they package their figures to be completely plastic free. Where there once was a transparent plastic window allowing you to clearly see what was inside, has now been replaced with cold, hard cardboard.
They say it's better for the environment, and I'm sure it is. But it's also better for the group of lovely individuals I mentioned earlier: Swappers. And I fell victim to it. Hasbro has just released a Spider-Man 2-Pack that includes him and Spinneret inspired by the Renew Your Vows comic run. People in my circles were finding them in Target, so I decided to try my luck. Imagine my joy when I found one sitting on the shelf, first Target I went into! I was so excited! I preorder all of these figures online, but when I find them in the wild, I cancel my preorder and enjoy my new figure! So I rushed to the register, checked out, and began examining my new item in the car! That's when I noticed the tape looked kind of weird, dirty, like it had been peeled and replaced. Not good, was my initial thought, so I decided to scrap a potential unboxing video just to make sure everything was on the up and up. I opened up the package, and...
Devastated. All of that joy and happiness from finding the brand new figure on the shelf was gone in an instant. I always got a sinking feeling in my heart when I thought I found the figure in a store only to notice that it was a swap. But this time, I had made the purchase. I spent my money, I made it into my vehicle. This time, it was personal. (I know, I'm dramatic).
I marched back into the Target, over to guest services, and explained to the woman. I told her how I'd just bought it, but something told me to check, and showed her what I found. I explained that this was the new packaging for Marvel Legends going forward, and that this was about to be a nightmare for collectors. She seemed to genuinely care (trust me, I've seen their reaction when they don't) and suggested honestly that I check the box before I even leave the store. Of course, I still very much wanted the figures, you all know how much I love Spider-Man and Mary Jane (and if not, well, now you do!) So I asked if she had anymore. She said they didn't, but gave me two Targets nearby that did, one closer to me that had one, and one a bit further that had four. So I thanked her, and set off.
I made my way to the closer Target, in the same city, and went straight to the toys. Sure enough, there was one sitting on the shelf. But on this one, the tape was completely missing. So I went to the nearest employee, explained my experience at the previous Target, and asked if I could check. He told me guest services had the final say, so I walked over there, explained what was up, and the girl said she could open it for me. She did, and then gasped in surprise. Same thing, WWE figures. So that tells me that it was the same loser. This time I wasn't disappointed. I was angry! I swore I would destroy this guy! Target girl probably thought I was crazy, but it didn't matter. This was no longer about right and wrong, this was about vengeance! (I know, I'm dramatic).
So I left that one there, having saved anther hapless collector from being duped, and made it to the further Target. There weren't any on the shelf, but I saw the label. So I used the Target app and scanned it, got the DCPI, and asked a nice lady in the aisle if she could check for me. (Target app and DCPI numbers are very helpful! Use both to their full advantage!) She said that they had four in the back and went to get one for me. She emerged shortly and handed it to me, brand new, in tact, and beautiful! I thanked her gratuitously, and checked out! I did open it in the car (the new packaging also prevents inspecting the figures for quality control issues, so that's a whole other problem) but finally, 3 Targets later, I had my figures!
Let this serve as a cautionary tale, True Believers. Hasbro seems dead set on this packaging, and as long as their only security option is a flimsy piece of scotch tape, we need to remain vigilant. So look out for each other. This is the fight of our lives. And we're gonna win. Whatever it takes. (I know, I'm dramatic).
So that's it, the full story behind the swap. Be careful out there fellow collectors! I'll keep you updated if hopefully something changes in terms of Hasbro's packaging. Until then, Face Front True Believers, and I'll see you in the Multiverse!