Saying goodbye to 2020

The year 2020 is over and I’m confident it will be a year we all shall remember for quite some time and a year that will make it into the history books. It was the year that saw G.I. Joe figures back in retail! There was a pandemic too, and some heated elections, forest fires and disappearing Chinese billionaires. But that doesn’t matter that much if you got hold of these new figures.

I must admit that – at first – I was very skeptical about the new 6″ Classified line. I’ve quite literally grown up with the 3.75″ toy line. Sometimes change can be hard, but sometimes you just have to accept it, I guess. I’m glad that the 3.75″ (or 4″) line did get some love, albeit that the figures we got were a bit overused. As soon as I got my hands on the first 6″ figure, I knew that I was going to get a whole lot more. There is more to love (1.25″ give or take) and the designs were recognizable and yet fresh.

As always, the hardest part was getting hold of the figures over here in Belgium. No toy stores are selling them. We have no online retailers that sell them. For a while, it seemed that I would have to go through eBay and pay scalpers’ prices + shipping to get them. Then I discovered In Demand Toys. They’re a UK based toy store (yes, a physical store as well as a webshop), but they ship to Belgium. I placed a few orders immediately – both for the Classified and the Retro Line. There are still some items that are pre-ordered. But now it seems, Brexit may be causing the prices to go up significantly. And not just the prices, but we’re facing Import Duties and Taxes when receiving goods from the UK. And of course, our local postal service will be more than happy to charge an increased handling fee (INSERT bPOST RANT HERE). Nobody can tell right now how it’s going to be, since even the transport companies don’t know how everything will work. We’ll just have to wait and see.

One more point I’d like to make on the new way Hasbro is distributing the new Joes. It’s killing us International Collectors. We love the brand and we are paying top dollar to get our hands on them, but if the trend of store exclusives and limited editions continue, it will become impossible for us to keep on getting the new stuff. So, if anybody from Hasbro is reading this, get the deals done to sell G.I. Joe back in European stores. Or let us purchase directly from Hasbro. There are a great many of us over here that collect and who go to extreme lengths to get our plastic crack, but it keeps getting increasingly difficult. I won’t beg (just yet, who knows what the rest of this year brings), but I will ask you with great urgency to keep us international collectors in mind.

As you may have read, I still shop on eBay occasionally and I keep a close eye on some of the local marketplace apps we have available. Most of the sellers think that some vintage Joes are worth ten times their weight in gold, but sometimes, I can find a good deal. I’m always surprised if I can find something I never knew existed. Even in French (Part 1 & Part 2). I don’t just want to collect the action figures (in assorted sizes), but also the – admittedly sometimes little weirder – stuff that has G.I. Joe branding.

I guess I also should take some time to look at the 2020 numbers. I don’t make any money from the blog, if you would like to support me in keeping the site online, check out the Supporter page. In short, 2020 has been the best year for the blog until now. There have been 65% more visitors and I averaged about 2 posts per month. I would have thought to have more time to write posts, with working at home, but I have been fortunate to keep my job as well as the workload it comes with. I guess for 2021, I’ll keep trying to find as much time as I can to write (I still have a novel idea in mind that I need to put to paper). The plan is to pick up the Impel Trading Card review and continue posting new additions to my collecting as well as some random posts about just about anything Joe related. Thank you for coming to the blog and taking time to read my thoughts and opinions. If you like, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Or just send an email to bjorn@europeanjoes.com if you have comments, suggestions, or remarks.

I’m hoping 2021 will bring us all a lot more Joes and joy. I hope everybody is safe and healthy, including your friends and families. We won’t let this virus beat us. We are all in this together and we need to take care of each other and the planet we live on.

Happy Collecting and YoJoe!

The tale of the well-traveled Mr. Sneeden

Last year, Funko released the G.I. Joe Beach Head figure as an NYCC Exclusive. At first, it looked like it would be very hard to find one over here in Europe. After searching for a while and debating with myself just how much money I was going to spend on him, I found one on eBay for a very reasonable price, $30 including shipping to Belgium. All the others I had come across were either cheap but with expensive shipping costs or they asked already more than $30 for just the figures. So, I didn’t doubt long and bought it. Paid with PayPal. Friendly contact with the seller. So far so good. And then started the waiting game. 

I waited a long time, but suddenly I got contacted through Facebook Messenger by some guy from Norway. He sent me pictures of the Beach Head Funko pop, papers with my name and address on them, and accused me of trying to rip him off. I explained that I did buy the figure on eBay, that my data was correct, but that the tracking information I got from eBay was still showing my figure in transit. We soon discovered that we both ordered from the same seller, and that most likely the packages got mixed up. The confirmation for that arrived a few days later, when I received ‘my package’. It contained the Norwegian’s Star Wars figure. 

I contacted the seller and he remained friendly and was quite upset with the mixup. He only had 2 international sales and it just happened to be these 2 that got messed up. He told me not to worry and just file for  a return through eBay. There the trouble started. There was no way that I could initiate a return shipping other than sending it back on my own initiative and cost. The seller tried to get it initiated, but couldn’t make it happen as well. I then contacted the eBay Customer Support. I must say, they were quite helpful and quite timely to reply. They told me that because it was an international sale, no returns could be initiated from eBay itself and I would have to arrange it through PayPal. So, I launched an inquiry with PayPal. Meanwhile, the Norwegian guy and I had come to an agreement, we’d ship the packages between us, if the seller would pay for the fees. We never heard back from the seller on that offer. And after escalating with PayPal Support, we got our money back in full. We could start the exchange ourselves.

I tried to register the parcel with our Belgian Postal Service, but they were asking $44 to ship the package to Norway! I wasn’t going to pay that much for the Funko Pop figure, and so I looked at other shipping providers. DHL, DPD, several others, they all charged more than that. It was insane. Since we don’t live that far from the border with The Netherlands, I thought to look with their PostNL. They offered the shipping for just $23. So I risked it – technically all non-essential travel outside of Belgium is still discouraged – and drove to the nearest Dutch post office. I filled in a few forms, paid the fee and the package was on it’s way to Norway. Due to the pandemic, shipping times are longer, but just a few days later, I received my Funko Pop figure and another few days and the Star Wars figure landed in Norway. Happy Ending 🙂

Let me end this post with some pictures of the Beach Head Funko Pop figure. I won’t go into another Belgian Post rant. Believe me, I want to, but I’m not going to. Enjoy the pictures.

Happy Collecting and YoJoe!