I don’t know if it is because of the return of “The X Files” to the TV, but lately I’ve been seeing a lot of conspiracy theories crawling out of the shadows. Let’s make it clear to those who come here to talk about the quality of the company’s figures: this texts is not about it. I suggest you to stop reading. I understand this problem has been overcome after the fiasco and lots of complaints about the quality of the Iron Man Mark 42 Legacy Replica. This subject is already dead. In case you have an open mind to other subjects, keep following the facts listed below and take your own conclusions.

Once I’ve mentioned about the Iron Man incident, since that time, it has been noticed that the company had clear and consistent problem with their after sales process (lots of negative points and lots of complaints). A problem like this can be easily solved by learning from one’s own mistakes, since the company was just newly arrived on the business. It’s just water under the bridge, but not necessarily, the traumas were overcome. Mythology has its Achilles’’ Heel, and It seems Iron Studios found their “Achilles’’ Base”. First happened the strange fact that the pieces from 1/6 “Magneto vs Sentinel” had their bases with Wolverine’s name printed instead of Magneto’s. The company positioning about that fact? As follows: “This happened due to legal/contractual decisions, and the license we have only allows us to use some specific logo…”. OK, but that sounds at least weird to me negotiate image licensing without right to use the name as well – two distinct licenses? Well, life goes on, or at least it should have.

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During the last month, lots of foreign and Brazilian collectors had begun to receive in their homes the long waited Captain America, 1/4 scale, from Iron Studios – shown during the company’s event about “Age of Ultron”, back on April 2015. I must say, a very well-crafted piece, but you see… Ghosts came back haunting the statue’s base. Many customers have received broken bases (possibly due to a project mistake in the styrofoam conditioning project a.k.a. “bad packaging”, that led the piece to break during transportation).

Then the real headaches started. The company didn’t have replacement pieces and lots of sales started to be canceled. Company positioning? As follows: Money back to the customers. I would say that this is economic and morally fair, but very frustrating for the collectors that have anxiously waited almost 9 months for this piece (almost the time needed to a baby born!). Result? More and more sales being canceled. Including the sales from third part Brazilian sellers that saw an opportunity to make some money selling these pieces to the international markets, specially the north American one (driven, obviously, due to the very good moment of the American Dollar compared to our extremely fragile Real, trying to maximize their profit – very fair approach, commercially speaking). And we won’t even talk about the foreign exchange exposure that is constantly grossed-up into the product price here in Brazil (someone needs to teach some good hedging skills to Iron Studios folks), this is, certainly, a subject for another post. After a lot of buck-passing-game, we saw the company starting to replace the broken pieces. Oil poured on troubled waters.

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But again, while lots of folks here in Brazil were enjoying Carnival, lots of things stated to appear on Facebook and other foreign collectors specialized websites. A series of posts talking about, guess what, problems with Captain America’s bases. And what was the problem this time? Well, originally, when the product was announced, it would run on 400 copies. Well 300, but the demand was high and they’ve raised it in another 100 copies. When a collectible is announced as Limited and Numbered, it has a huge impact on its price, because it brings, even more than the preciosity of some collectors who prefer the lower numbering, but also, the matter of exclusivity. Many collectors invest their money in acquiring this kind of pieces. A part of the pleasure of collecting exclusives is the fact that there are only “X” copies of an item in the whole world. Well, that’s what we all were expecting, at least. Without any explanation, another 181 copies of Captain America popped out on the market, breaking the Exclusive concept.

Business are Business, I see no problem with that… IF the company had at least informed the public that they would make a second (third or even a fourth) batch of the pieces, ensuring that the numbering would grow sequentially. No longer would be 1 in 400, but 1 in 581. (putting in numbers, it would mean an increase of 45% of the original run for the piece). But that’s where the contradiction begins. I know that this is a stupid example but let’s say that you’re an art collector and you buy an original “Monet”. Weeks later, you find out that your exclusive “Monet” has a “twin brother/doppelganger” right there, crossing the ocean. What would you do if your exclusive painting wasn’t so exclusive and, from that moment on, you couldn’t prove it’s authenticity anymore?

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Now we don have just one Captain America with the number one, but two pieces! And it goes on until number 181. This is an attitude that is at least disrespectful with the collectors that buy “exclusive” items. I’ve seen many companies re-release their pieces, but always with previous announcement (that, inevitably, weakens the the sales for the first pieces and often drops down their prices). This is the first case of similar and simultaneous numbering for a piece. The company Positioning? When questioned about this issue on their Facebook Page, Iron Studios repeated the speech about legal and contractual conditions imposed by the product license. So I soon think that if Marvel works with a lot of other companies and none of these companies has adopted this “rule”. You know that gutsy feeling telling you that something is not right in this puzzle? The disrespect we talked about here happened not only to the Brazilian, but also to the foreign consumer. Everyone was incited to believe in a numbering that is not real. A “virtual” number that can be molded and the rules of the game can be changed on the fly by the company.

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I must confess that I still don’t understand the logic behind Iron Studios behavior. What is the frontier between the desire to grow and profit versus the respect for the costumers? I keep waiting for an official communicate from the company about what happened, bringing some light all these shady questions. At this particular moment the only ones that lose with this are us, the collectors.

I repeat the question made by our american collector and friend, Steven Blinoff: HOW DO YOU AS A COLLECTOR FEEL ABOUT THIS ?

Special thanks, also, to my friend Rafael Cruz, which helped me with translation of this article.

 

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