Although Star Wars was released in 1977, and even though a merchandise deal was struck up between the producers of the movie and Kenner back in 1976, as I have previously mentioned in my post The Decision That Saved Lego From Going Out Of Business, Star Wars figures as we know them didn’t hit the store en masse until 1978.
Back in 1978, according to a website Toyworth, the original 1978 Star Wars figures had the recommended retail price (RRP) of $2.49 and seeing that back then we didn’t have all the discount stores and online retailers that we do now, it would be easy for me to assume that this was the price that retailers sold them for back then.
In the next few paragraphs I’m about to paint some doom and gloom for Australians who are going to be buying Star Wars figures, but stick with me to the end where I show you how things aren’t as bad as they seem and Star Wars figures are now cheaper than they were in 1978 for Australians.
Knowing that Australia is a market where everything is always dearer than anywhere else in the world, where the former Labor government held an inquiry into what Federal MP Ed Husic called “The Australia Tax” during the IT Pricing Inquiry which showed examples of how Australians are being ripped off in comparison to Americans buying the same thing, and knowing that whilst the RRP for the new 3.75 inch high Star Wars figures is $14.99 in Australia versus the RRP of the exact same item in the United States being $7.99, that RRP of $2.49 from that American website might not be reflective of how much we had to pay in Australia back in 1978.
But it was a starting point.
Right now, I bet there are some of my fellow Australians that haven’t picked themselves off the floor since reading that pricing comparison between what our RRP is for the new Star Wars figures, and the RRP of our American friends and allies.
Here’s a screen print from Hasbro’s website which instantly changed the details to their Australian website based on my IP address.
As I seemed to be geo-blocked on my device, I had a friend and fellow Dad Blogger, Adam Hall from Tenor Dad who is in the United States do a screen grab for me showing Hasbro’s RRP for American shoppers.
There’s a couple of ways that we can look at those RRP pricing comparisons;
- The American RRP is only 53.3% of the Australian price, or 46.7% cheaper than the Australian price.
- The Australian RRP has an 88% mark-up on the American price.
Either way that you look at it, those are huge percentages that we should be concerned about.
At the time of writing this, one Australian Dollar (AUD $1) equals $0.71 US Dollar, or to flip it, one US Dollar (US $1) equals $1.40 AUD. If I was in the United States right now and I purchased one of these Star Wars figures at US $7.99, doing the conversion, I would be paying AUD $11.18 plus any conversion fees if paying via my Australian credit card. So right now, looking at the fact that we’d be buying the item in America at a 40% higher price versus buying it in our own country at a 88% higher price, we know that we are being totally ripped off.
“But you said it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Australians…”
That I did.
I gave this post the title Are The 2015 Star Wars Figures Are Cheaper Than The 1978 Figures? because when I first started planning this, I didn’t know the answer myself, but as I did research into it, I found out that the answer to this was in fact “yes.” Even though the Australian RRP in 1978 wasn’t $14.99 as it is now, we are in fact paying less for the Star Wars figures than we did 37 years ago.
Yes, what am I taking about, exactly?
According to the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the average weekly wage for a full time Australian (male) worker in 1978 – yes, seriously, they specified that this was based solely on that gender – was $209.00 per week, or just less than $11,000 per annum. Again, from the same source, the average weekly wage of all Australian full time workers in 2015 is $1,484.00 per week, or just over $77,000 per annum. The latter figure is based on what they call ordinary earnings, and whilst a slightly higher figure is given for total earnings, the lower figure will be suffice for what I am trying to show here.
Let’s break that down;
If we were to use the only 1978 RRP that I have found on the Internet and use that as a starting point, based on the ABS’s figure of $209.00 per week, buying a Star Wars figure for your child back then would have seen you fork out 1.19% of your weekly wage.
If we were to use today’s pricing discrepancy difference between how much the figures are now in the United States versus how much they are now in Australia, by adding 88% to the 1978 RRP, the RRP for Australia would have been $4.68 back then. If that was the case you would be spending 2.24% of your weekly wage back in 1978 to get your child a Star War figure.
Now I find this highly unlikely that the RRP in Australia would have been that high, so I am going to take the assumption knowing how pricing worked back in the late 1970s, and I will suggest that the RRP in Australia in 1978 was $2.99 which is would have been 20% higher than the American RRP of the same year. Buying your child a Star Wars figure based on that RRP would see you fork out 1.43% of your weekly wage.
Now that the weekly wage in Australia is much higher 37 years later, when we do the math of buying a single Star Wars figure at the RRP of $14.99, we are now spending only 1.01% of our $1,484.00 per week wage.
So to answer the original question posed, “Are the 2015 Star Wars figures are cheaper than the 1978 figures?” the answer is yes. Even though I have proved that, I bet you still feel ripped off handing over $15 for a 3.75 inch tall piece of plastic and a few accessories.
But here’s my parting words that may make you feel a bit better about spending that sort of dough on a toy…
If you were to have purchased the 1978 Luke Skywalker with the Double Telescoping Lightsaber for US$2.49, and if you kept it in the original packaging, unopened, you will find that it is now valued at US $7,000.00, or $225 of it is not in its packet but still in good nick. So maybe, just maybe, if you buy a 2015 Kylo-Ren and keep it in storage for 37 years, in the year 2052, someone just might want to offer you $42,140.56 for it.
Just for the record, I’m still going to buy these for my kids. I mean, come on, Star Wars…