I’ve always been a fan of statistical data. They’re an objective way to reinforce or debunk misconceptions. While a hobby such as figure collecting may not seem to benefit from the inclusion of stats, I beg to differ. For one, numbers can provide and help us project what a company’s future moves will be, even “predict” product lines and such. At first I didn’t think that going on such a tedious and seemingly pointless crusade to crunch manufacturer data would yield any fruitful results, but to my surprise, they did. The first company I’ll be covering would be Alter. Future articles would cover other manufacturers and data shall be used as comparative analysis.
The image above is a little table I did reflecting the different price points that Alter has sold their figures over the years. A thing to note about the numbers above is that limited, exclusive and collaborative figures (Alpha X Omega, etc.) were not included. All of the figures represented here are standard release. Rereleases were counted as only one figure.
Over the years, Alter has been consistent in releasing at least 20-30 figures a year with the peak being in 2007. However, what’s more interesting is that between 2007 to 2008, there was a change in how Alter marketed their products so it seems. 4800 yen was the “sweet spot” for Alter in 2007 and yet, they settled into 7140 yen as their new standard price for their future releases in 2008. This can be due to a number of factors such as increase in production costs, increased build quality, economic factors or a change of focus in the market targeted. Moreover from 2008-2011, we can see that 7140 yen is not only the new standard price, but is actually becoming the new minimum price that Alter is charging for their figures. Over time, this means that we should expect most if not all Alter figures to be priced at 7140 yen or higher. Clearly, Alter is marketing itself as a maker of premium products and their price structure reflects that. It is also interesting to note that Alter is the only mainstream figure company (not including Daiki Kougyo and other smaller manufacturers) that charges 13000 yen and above for figures. Whereas in the earlier years, Good Smile Company and Max Factory (as will be seen in future installments) have had higher average prices than Alter, the past 2 years (2010 and 2011) have seen this trend reversed with Alter now commanding top dollar (or yen in this case).
In terms of scales, we can see that over the years, Alter has generally avoided going over 1/7 scaling and in fact most (but not all) of their 1/7 figures only come from one series, Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, which means that it’s almost certain that a bigger part of their products would be scaled at 1/8. It’s quite interesting to note that Alter actually started with some 1/5 figures which is a weird scale nowadays (both came from Evangelion). The most interesting thing to note about their scaling distribution is that from 2010 to 2011, there has been a startling increase in percentage of 1/7 figures produced or to be produced. While it is too early to be certain, it would not be surprising if more 1/7 figures make their way into the Alter production line.