Yes, some might say, that I’ve been a bit obsessed with my preconceived theory on the failure of the current toy industry– or more specifically the action toy (figure) line.
As I continue to research and delve deeper into my theories, I did discover there could be, at least one, main point that I forgot. That being, I’m not getting any younger and that over time inflation rears its ugly little head. I will admit: I’m gettin’ old.
The price I paid for a toy when I was a child isn’t necessarily the price of a toy today nor should it be….or then again, why couldn’t it. This brings me back to the Hot Wheels debate. Below, there’s several examples of the cost of toys then and now. These numbers were obtained through a Inflation Calculator that was found on Google.
I have decided to use the year 1983 as my baseline year. Not only because this was one of the greatest years of my childhood, but that year several popular toy lines were at their pinnacle– including G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, He-Man and Masters of the Universe, and Star Wars. There was still another year before we got Transformers and Go-bots. And lastly, I found a 1983 Sears Catalog that aided in the prices for that time period- take note, this isn’t the absolute price of the day. I understand Kmart, Walmart or Toys R Us prices may have been cheaper and varied.
- 1983 $1.00 equals $2.70 in 2021 money.
- GI Joe RHAH. COBRA H.I.S.S. (High Speed Sentry). ….. 1983 Real Price $8.99 ………… 2021 Inflation Price $24.30 (Currently Wal-mart sells the vintage styled H.I.S.S. for $24.99.
- GI Joe RHAH COBRA F.A.N.G. (Fully-armed Negator Gyrocopter)….. 1983 Real Price $4.99 (did NOT include a figure)….. 2021 Inflation Price $13.49 (Currently Wal-mart sells the vintage re-release for $24.99 but it includes a figure)
- GI Joe RHAH 3 pack of action figures: Airborne, Doc, and Gung-ho. ….1983 Real Price $7.99 or about $2.66 a figure…. 2021 Inflation Price $21.60 or about $7.19 a figure (if you add that with the inflated FANG price you get $20.68. THUS, I think Walmart should be selling that box set for $19.99 (production materials considered)
- Star Wars figures are the same price as the GI Joe. 3 pack of Vader and Two Hoth Stormtroopers … 1983 Real Price $7.99…… 2021 Inflation Price $21.60.
- He-Man and Masters of the Universe 2-Pack He-Man & Trap Jaw 1983 Real Price $9.99 (or about 4.98 a figure)…. 2021 Inflation Price $27.00. Wal-mart currently sells the retro line of figures for $14.99 each. This is slighter more than inflation would calculate as 2 figures now would be $29.98)
So there you go. If you really take into account inflation, maybe today’s prices are so bad. Yet, I will still debate whether these toys should be priced at the inflated price. I understand that materials could go up in price, the wage for those making the toys has increased, and freight costs have gone up with the price of gas. Should action figures be $10? I’m not so sure. I guess I relate it back to the enjoyment factor along side games or video games. $50 bucks gets you a video game that you can play nearly 100+ hours. Or you could buy 5 action figures. Not sure it equals. The average 1983 price of a video game was $39.99 and an action figure was $3. So in 1983 I could get at least 10 action figures for every one video game. Now that number is cut in half. So I would argue that perhaps cost of the toys aren’t just limited to materials and freight anymore. Perhaps R&D (research and development) plays a big role in today’s prices. I don’t exclude licenses for properties like Star Wars etc. But Mattel owns He-man and Hasbro owns GI Joe, so those extra costs are excluded.
And lastly, I will continue to question toy costs when a Hot Wheel in 1983 was roughly 79 cents and is still about 99 cents today. Granted I remember Hot Wheels on sale for as little as 59 cents and as high as a 1.09 at Kmart. What was up with Kmart’s wacky prices? Is Mattel taking a loss on Hot Wheels? Or are they just accepting a smaller profit with the hope of larger quantities sold? If those are both mute points, then would and should toys today really be priced as I’ve demonstrated above?
The discussion will most likely continue….