Friday, September 4, 2009

DBZ figures from Lawson's, Set 2

Back a couple of months ago, Lawson convenience stores sold the first set of Dragonball figures, which had come packaged in 2-bottle sets with Coke, Royal Milk Tea and Sogen Bicha (green tea). At the time, there was a mention in the little included pamphlet that the second set would be released in August. Well, it's August and the second set came out on the 18th.

Both sets are derived from the spine art of the original Dragonball manga collected volume covers. They're very high quality figures, made with soft plastic, and stand about 2" to 3" high. Two of the more complex figures - Freeza and Gyuunyu - come in two parts and need assembly first (basically just pushing the two parts together). The mounting stems are flimsy and can easily snap in two if you carry the figures home in your backpack, so you want to be careful of that.

The little pamphlet that comes with the figure has contact information as part of the promotional campaign, and 2 pages of information about that specific figure. So, you don't want to throw away the pamphlet without fully reading it first.

When I started getting these figures, I noticed the Lawson's clerk scanning one bottle of the 2-bottle pack and then hitting the "2" key on the register. I then noticed that there weren't that many 2-bottle packs on the shelves but lots of singles. And I added this to the fact that the two bottle packs with the figure cost exactly the same as 2 single bottles without the figure. My conclusion - the staff were breaking the 2-bottle packs up into singles and selling the figures on some auction site (easily worthwhile if the more popular characters are harder to find to begin with.)

This got me to thinking. If the figure is free to me, then either Coke is charging Lawson's extra for the promotion and that Lawson's is then losing money because the sales of Coke isn't being driven by the desire to buy the figures (since the bottles are now being sold as ordinary singles). Or, that Coke is swallowing the cost of producing the figures themselves and they're being gypped because there's no increase in sales to Lawson's to cover the cost of the figure. Either way, there's no barcode for the figure, no way for anyone to track how well the promotion went, and no way to tell if the staff is pocketing the figures for themselves for free.

However, one event changed my mind. At least, a little. I went back to Lawson's to get the three remaining figures needed to complete the set. As I was pulling bottles off the shelf and putting them on the floor to see if the figures I wanted were at the back of the case, a shop clerk went into a back room and returned with a shopping basket filled with the loose figures pulled off the bottles. Turns out that if you decide to buy 2 single bottles, they'll let you grab the figure you want from the basket. But, there's no sign out front saying that - you have to know enough to ask for it. Apparently, either there are people that want the Coke but not the figures so they hand them back at the register, or the stores have decided to keep some of the figures on hand after the promotion expires for anyone wanting the figures after the fact. Either way, instead of auctioning the loose figures pulled from the 2 bottle packs, some of the stores put the figures in a basket for the customer to dig through themselves.

But, one fact remains - these DBZ figures are really high quality for the price. (Free if you normally buy Coke from convenience stores. Or about $1 if you normally get it from a grocery store. It's $1.50 at Lawson's and $0.95 at Summit, per 20 oz. bottle, so you're paying $3 at Lawson's to get a figure only available there when you usually spend $2 to get the soda at Summit.) Highly recommended to anyone living in Japan that likes DBZ. But hurry, Lawson's will probably end this promotion in the next week or so.

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