Hollywood films boost Ani-Com figurine sales
Thomas Chan and Michael Au
The Ani-Com and Games fair ended yesterday, and despite the early controversy some exhibitors said sales of superstar figurines got a big boost from Hollywood blockbuster movies.
Hong Kong-based figurine maker Hot Toys saw business rise 30 per cent from last year, on the popularity of film characters such as Captain America and Jim Gordon of The Dark Knight Rises.
Diehard fans pre-ordered the figurines online because the organiser this year banned over-the-counter sales of limited-edition items to thwart professional queuers working for speculators. The ban led one exhibitor to pull out.
'The pre-order items are bringing in the bulk of our revenue,' said Emily Leung Oi-yee, a spokeswoman for Hot Toys. 'They have all been reserved since the beginning of July.'
Candice Chau Hiu-kwan, sales and marketing manager of figurine retailer Enterbay, said many were keen to get their hands on characters such as Batman and The Joker.
'Our team has chosen to showcase products that coincide with the blockbuster movies,' she said. 'We've received twice as much business compared to last year.'
Local designers also created Hong Kong political figurines. Kif Hong Tin-yuen designed and sold figurines of former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
'We almost sold out all of the Tang figures,' he said. 'I think he is popular among our customers, either because a lot of people don't like Leung or they think Tang is funny.'
It was the first time Hong took part in the five-day fair, and he sold 500.
The rules on queuing took a toll on some exhibitors specialising in limited-edition items. Online games company Gameone Group said sales dropped 10 per cent from last year.
Sze Ling-ling, Gameone's general manager, said: 'In previous years, we manufactured dedicated items for the fair - which successfully drew comic lovers' attention and boosted our business volume.'
But this year, the company cut back on the number of limited-edition items because of the ban.
The firm received four verbal warnings due to messy queues and excessive noise - which might lead to fines that could be deducted from the HK$15,000 deposit it paid organisers. The deposit was a new requirement this year to pressure exhibitors to maintain order at booths.
Fair chief executive Leung Chung-poon said he had no choice but to employ such sanctions to avoid a return of the queuing gangs that plagued the event last year.
With large profits to be made from selling the scarce figurines online, speculators last year hired groups to queue outside the fair and grab the items when it opened.
Attendance at this year's fair was 701,000, up from 690,000 last year.