Making sure they end up in the hands of Pokémon Trainers and mobile suit fans, not resellers.

You’d assume that the people buying anime and video game-related merchandise are, well, anime and video game fans. What does the average person want with, say, the newest Pokémon cards or latest Gundam plastic model kit? Unfortunately, though, a number of people buying those kinds of items have no burning desire to catch ‘em all or save humanity from the tyranny of Neo Zeon. Instead, the only thing that sets their heart aflame is cold heard cash, as they’re snatching up supplies of the fan-oriented items to resell online at a tidy profit stemming from the scarcity resellers themselves help create.

The problem has only gotten worse during the pandemic as demand for stay-home entertainment has risen, but good countermeasures aren’t easy to implement. Severely limiting purchase quantities can hurt people who are buying multiples for personal use, such as a parent buying more than one because they have more than one kid, and they’re of limited effectiveness since resllers can just make the rounds to multiple shops, maxing out at each. Some sort of online pre-registration could alleviate that, unless resellers make multiple accounts, which they certainly will, at which point it’s just another hassle for genuine fans.

So the best solution is some sort of plan that hurts resellers but has no ill effects for personal-use customers. Does such a perfect solution exist? It might, with a very smart idea from Mickey, a toy shop in Nagoya.

Taped to Mickey’s new arrivals shelf, where you’ll currently find Gunpla plastic models for the RX-178 Gundam Mk. II MVF-X08 Eclipse Gundam, is a notice that reads:

“To purchasers of plastic models:

As a countermeasure against resellers, for certain Gundam models and other low-inventory items, at the time of purchase the staff will open the interior part pouches and cut away a portion of the plastic runners.

We thank you for your understanding and cooperation.”

For those not versed in plastic model lingo, the runner is the frame that holds a sheet of model pieces together. Here, for example, is an array of Gundam model pieces still attached to their runners.

When putting together a model kit, obviously the first thing you have to do is remove the pieces from the runners. By doing some of that work for customers at the time of purchase, Mickey isn’t just saving genuine fans time and hassle, but also making the model kit technically a used item before it ever leaves the shop. Since it’s only been used for a few seconds, there’s no actual drop in quality to adversely affect anyone who was planning to put the kit together once they got home. At the same time, because the kit isn’t “new” anymore, its resale value is dramatically reduced, so anyone buying the kit with the intent to flip it for profit is now looking at a much bigger risk, and hopefully will decide that Mickey isn’t where they want to go fishing for product.

Something similar was implemented by at least one branch of the Yodobashi Camera chain, one of Japan’s biggest electronics and hobby retailers, last month in an attempt to thwart scalpers of the Pokémon trading card game’s Sword and Shield-Chilling Reign expansion. Inside the store, customers were greeted by this sign.

“Notice regarding box purchases of Pokémon card game cards

In order to allow as many customers as possible to make purchase, we are implementing countermeasures against resellers. If you are purchasing a box of cards, the shrink wrap will be removed before you are given your purchase.”

Both stores’ policies won tons of praise from online commenters, and hopefully they’ll help ensure the cards and kits end up in the hands of people who’ll actually want to play with them.

Sources: Twitter/@mickey_shimada via Hachima Kiko, Twitter/@kabuto_w via Hachima Kiko
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