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Since I started this column in 2011, one of the most common questions I’ve received from readers is, “How valuable is a figure of Wrestler X in the wrong package?”
For the longest time, this was a common occurrence and an honest mistake; just like one baseball player’s stats may wind up on the back of another player’s card, companies like Jakks Pacific occasionally put wrestling figures in the wrong packaging.
But over the last few years, mispackaged figures are more often the result of scammers, cheats and thieves. More and more often, these individuals are buying expensive figures and taking them home, opening them, and replacing the figure with a junky old figure. Among other terms, these have become known as “swaps” to collectors.
This repackaging most often occurs with Mattel WWE Elite figures. These figures are more expensive than basic figures ($20 compared to $10) and are more detailed, with more points of articulation, better head sculpts and more accessories, such as a robe, T-shirt or title belt.
Elite figures are designed to appeal to collectors. They come in boxes with windows that allow a better view of the figure, whereas basic figures come on a more traditional basic card with a plastic blister. Because of this, Elite figure packaging can easily be reopened and the figure replaced. When a person does this and returns the figure to the store, the employee working at customer service often doesn’t know enough to spot the swap.
A gallery of more than 300 of these awful swaps are available from Heroes & Legends on Facebook at Facebook.com/HLProWrestling.
Sometimes the swaps might not be very obvious to the untrained eye. Some unscrupulous person may buy a $20 Elite figure of Charlotte Flair, take it home and replace it with an old $10 basic figure. Collector @nyrbfan15 on Twitter posted a picture of a fairly recent Elite figure of Triple H repackaged in an Elite Series 50 package for the Warlord.
Torch reader @CeeHawk on Twitter recently shared pictures of an old Jimmy Snuka figure swapped into a box of a new Elite Flashback figure of Yokozuna. Oddly enough, the person took the time to wrap the Snuka figure in the robe that came with the more expensive Yokozuna.
Other swaps are more blatant, to the point where it’s hard to believe nobody caught the discrepancy before replacing the returned figure on the shelf. Twitter user @52pointsofart recently shared a photo of what was supposed to be an Elite Series 54 figure of Rich Swann – but in the box was an old, beat up Jakks Figure of Bobby Lashley, with a random Goldust T-shirt also stuffed in the package.
One of the worst examples of figure swapping was posted recently by Jef Toon (@FullyPoseable): a figure that consisted of a Ric Flair body and a Kane head with a moustache drawn on that was repackaged on an Iron Sheik card.
Figure swapping isn’t unique to wrestling toys; any time there is a higher end toy in a re-sealable box or package, someone will inevitably try to pull a scam. Torch reader Mike the Cleaner on Twitter recently posted a picture of a toy of Giant Man crammed into a Marvel Legends box for Deadpool – even though the Giant Man figure was about twice the size of the box, with the head and legs breaking through the packaging and sticking out.
For the most part, collectors aren’t going to be caught off guard by these types of swaps. Unfortunately, kids and parents who buy a $20 figure may end up with some junk swap and not even realize it.
If you happen to come across a figure like this that looks suspicious, take it to customer service and make them aware of the swap. Multiple collectors have posted stories of finding a bad swap, turning it in to customer service and then finding it right back on the shelf, so be persistent if you see that happen.
Have you seen a bad figure swap that you’d like to share with other Torch readers? Tweet them to @MMooreWriter using the hashtags #TorchSwaps or #FigLife.
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PWTorch Collectibles Specialist Michael Moore can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MMooreWriter.