Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Economic Insanity of Haruhi Suzumiya

Fans of Haruhi and her motley crew of aliens and humans, self-proclaimed members of the S.O.S Dan, and Harutards found a reason to rejoice and to weep a week and a half ago, when Max Factory announced their quite amazingly sculpted Suzumiya Haruhi PVC figure at a quite unbelievable price. The catch? ONLY 5000 units (since increased to 10000) of the hyperactive schoolgirl would be released. O.o

Now, before we get to the figure itself, one wonders what is going through the great minds at Max Factory. What would drive them to LIMIT (for now, at least) a figurine from one of recent times' most successful and contagious anime franchises? It's pretty well-known that Haruhi-ism is well and truly present among anime-watchers and otakus in Japan, most of Asia, and in the U.S, not to mention other parts of Europe I haven't heard about. Face it, I have seeds in my torrents from Chile and Ukraine...EVERYONE watches anime.

So, what part of economics preaches low supply when quantity demanded is way in the clouds? You don't sell less when you can sell more. ESPECIALLY when you can sell more AND up the price in the process. A projected price of 3990 Yen? When Ryougi Shiki is 5000 Yen, I'm sure people would buy Haruhi at 6000. =P The figure seems simple enough, not many frills like the recently released Ignis of Jingai Makyo. So, I don't think they're worried about her armband warping and changing shape.

Maybe they're holding it back so they can increase the price later? When desperate Haruhi fans turn into rabid, snarling maniacs, you never know what they'll pay to satisfy themselves. But that would just be simple insanity and commercial suicide, so to speak. Sure, they MAY get to sell their 2nd batch at a generally higher price, but what of their reputation? People would just hate them for doing it. Nah, even a dumbass would know this isn't a good plan.

So, what drives this somewhat inexplicable move from Max Factory in limiting the seemingly limitless (at least in PVC figure terms) profits just waiting to be plucked and stuffed into their pockets? Some other issue behind the scenes? Or just plain mental retardation? (spoken like a true fan that has not yet secured his own pre-order of the figure, lolz)

Anyway, here's what's causing all the 'ooh's, 'aah's, 'orz's and 'meh's on the internet. Suzumiya-san in all her glory.

Suzumiya Haruhi 1/8 scale PVC
From: Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu

Suzumiya Haruhi 1/8 PVC
Suzumiya Haruhi 1/8 PVC Suzumiya Haruhi 1/8 PVC Suzumiya Haruhi 1/8 PVC Suzumiya Haruhi 1/8 PVC Suzumiya Haruhi 1/8 PVC Suzumiya Haruhi 1/8 PVC

She's 1/8 scale as is the norm. And she's wearing her trademark school uniform, musch better than a bunny dress, in my opinion. Yup, she's got the S.O.S Leader armband, and she seems to have interchangeable hands, one for posing and the other for holding that little yellow horn. What can I say, it's a dream come true for me. And even people who don't like Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu would be hard-pressed in finding much fault with the figure.

Release? February 2007 for the 1st batch (of 10000). And a tentative April for more? There had better be more...*readying ESPer powers to blast Max Factory out of the closed space they're lost in*. ^^

Manufacturer: Max Factory
Release Date: February 2007
3990 Yen

>>> Toyzlog

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super rats said...

That is the most puzzling thing. The only thing I can think of is by creating limited batches they prolong interest in the product and create even more demand by initially limiting it. I wish I knew the average number of units for a new figure release in general to know how short the supply is relative to the norm.

Hangmen said...

Limited Edition Release = PROFIT!
And the same can be said towards the 1/6 industry nowadays: companies like Hot Toys releasing limited edition action figures (usually around 300-500 units) at an insane price range of RM380-RM450, in stark contrast to the largely acceptable RM180-RM250 price range of common releases from Dragon and BBI. Heh, I can do better by kitbashing accessories from Dragon and BBI and come up with something on par with what HT has to offer, though their quality and detail are undeniably top-notch.

And then, there are companies like Medicom Toys that loves creating overpriced 'elitist' figures for deep-pocket collectors with pricetags that may skyrocket as high as RM650!

Of course, this brought upon some negative implications towards these 1/6 companies: the emergence of Chinese copycats which, interestingly, as far as the 1/6 scene is concerned, are not half-bad themselves. A company called Very Hot is pirating stuff from Hot Toys and making them available in mass-production at a cheaper cost (about RM120 less than HT) but the quality itself is quite good surprisingly, besides the Sader*-quality looks of its stock figure and guns, though it's always replaceable with other spares.

Sorry for straying away from the path of PVC that your blog is largely about (besides animes). I'm posting this because what's going on in the 1/6 market these days draw some similar paralel with the PVC industry.

PS: In case you don't know what Sader is, that's the pirated Saber figure that grew notoriety in Imageboards and some PVC sites/blogs.

BTW, if you're interested in the 1/6 scene, I got a blog that is specific to that subject:

under construction so please be patient!

Regalia said...

That's actually the question I was asking. It is true...Limited Edition Release = Profit, in most cases. But with this PVC figure being announced at a price of 3990 Yen (ie RM130, SG$60, USD34), what profit do they hope to make?

In economic terms, I have to say a well-made figurine like this is price inelastic (high prices do not affect demand much) to any fan of the series. (And surprisingly, Haruhi seems to have gotten herself a pile of rabid followers) So, why not increase the price to around 5k-6k Yen, release more than the current 10000 (not even enough for the Japanese much less the international market), and reap the rewards.

Unless they make a turnaround, the only halfway logical reasons I can fathom are either that they hope to gradually increase the price as they release batch after batch of the figure, or they simply don't care. Meaning they're just going to release that 10000 and that's it. Max Factory's Haruhi will go down in history as one of the super-rare PVCs you'll have to pay thru your nose to pry away from a fellow collector.

P.S And no worries about the 12-inch talk. I do have an interest in them myself (I have a couple of Hot Toys & Medicom figures), but I guess my interest in anime and it's figurines are just stronger. ^^

lanie-emon said...

it wil be mine....miNeeeee :)

Anonymous said...

You can pre-order this figure at

Anonymous said...

I have that figure!!! Is cheaper now than what is was before. If you guys pay like $50 or even $40 you are being ripped off.