High-grade Eva figure could equal high profits for resellers.

It’s been seven years since the release of the last new piece of Evangelion animation, and fans of the landmark anime franchise have already been told not to expect the fourth, and supposedly final, film in the Rebuild of Evangelion reboot (remake? sequel?) until 2020. Nonetheless, Eva fans still had one exciting release date to look forward to this summer.

On June 24, figure maker Tamashii Arrows began taking pre-orders for its new Metal Build version of Evangelion Unit-02. The high-quality piece makes use of luxurious die-cast metal components, and to die-hard fans, it’s worth every single one of the 24,200 yen (US$224) that the company is charging for it.

▼ Customers lining up to reserve the Metal Build Evangelion Unit-02 on June 24.

Anime robot figure/model enthusiast @nanasiyugi was among those who made their way to the Kyoto branch of electronics superstore Yodobashi Camera, which also sells toys and collectibles, on June 24. However, while he was there an argument broke out between a store clerk and a potential Chinese customer.

@nanasiyugi tweeted:

“I’m at the Kyoto Yodobashi Camera, where they’re taking reservations for the Metal Build Evangelion Unit 2, and they’ve made it clear right from the start that in order to prevent resales, they’ll only be selling the figure to Japanese people!

A Chinese reseller is making a big stink about it, but I really want the store to stand its ground. Right now the Chinese reseller is asking them to find an employee who speaks Chinese. You can tell who the resellers are, because they can’t even say the product name.”

However, @nanasiyugi seems to have initially exaggerated the store’s strictness, and later sent out a clarifying tweet explaining that the store was not, in fact, barring non-Japanese customers from reserving the figure.

“Correction: It looks like the clerk said they wouldn’t be selling to foreign customers who are reserving the figure with the intent of reselling it.”

It’s worth pointing out that a Metal Build Evangelion Unit 2 resale market seems to have sprung up almost instantly. Reservations didn’t open until 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and less than five hours later, one fan was le to find over 100 of the figures’ reservation rights being offered for resale online, with many priced at over 30,000 yen, a significant markup over their first-sale price.

In recent years, the twin booms in independent online commerce and international anime fandom have greatly expanded the scale of limited-edition anime resale operations, with speculative shoppers buying up as many units as they can in hope of flipping them for a tidy profit once the initial distributors are sold out. It’s a frustrating development for individual fans who simply want to get their hands on a special piece for their personal collection, and many Twitter commenters were quick to applaud Yodobashi Camera’s attempted crackdown.

“Wonderful work, Yodobashi Kyoto! Keep it up!”
“Retweeting this. Other chains across Japan Enact the same policy!”
“This is a good thing. The point isn’t to sell products. What’s important is for people who want them to obtain them at the correct price.”
“They should call an employee who’s an Eva otaku, and if you can’t answer a set number of questions about the anime, you get banned from reserving the figure.”

At the same time however, some commenters felt the problem is a complex one, and worried that overly restrictive purchasing policies may hurt fans of various nationalities.

“But how do you determine whether [a foreign customer] is buying figures for himself, or to resell them?”
“It’d be terrible if this leads to [foreign customers] who aren’t resellers not being able to buy the figures they want to.”
“It’s not easy to spot Japanese customers who are buying figures just to resell them either. If the store is only strict with foreign resellers, all that will happen is Japanese resellers will flock to it to buy up stuff.”

The discussion of the situation’s potential complications even had @nanasiyugi backpedaling a bit from his initial sentiments:

“A lot of people have responded to [this story], and it’s taught me a few things…It’s jumping to conclusions to say that someone is a reseller just because they’re a foreigner…Even though it’s 2019, people still have a tendency to voice opinions that are based on just their first impression of a person. But if you’re going to criticize someone, you should look into the situation at least a little bit.”

In closing, it should be noted that in many cases, anime merchandise retailers and manufacturers limit the number of units a customer can buy of a single item. The goal is to strike a compromise that allows genuine fans to purchase one for themselves and possibly a few as gifts for friends, but to also limit large-scale resellers from snatching up as much inventory as they can to promote greater scarcity, and higher prices, for the items they intend to resell. Keeping in mind that @nanasiyugi wasn’t a direct participant in the conversion between the supposed Chinese reseller and the Koto Yodobashi Camera staff, it’s possible the store was blocking the man’s reservation because he was trying to order more than any one customer, regardless of nationality, was being allowed.

Source: Twitter/@nanasiyugi via Hachima Kiko, Togetter
Images: Tamashii Arrows
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s only reselling his Umi Ryuzaki figure after holding on to it for over 20 years.