Friday, 31 May 2013

Steelbooks.

Since the closure of Play.com's store side (as opposed to their marketplace, which is still in use), earlier this year, which was a great source for steelbooks during mid-to-late 2012, there was a short period of worry within the steelbook collecting community that there would be a sudden shortage in steelbook releases from then on. We had not long gotten used to the influx of steelbooks being released per month, so for that to suddenly be snatched away from us was a sad thought.

Play.com really upped the game for steelbook collectors. We were no longer restricted to one or two new releases per month at most, and new releases at that, but we were being treated with wave after wave of older movies being re-released in steelbook form, too.

And not only that, but Play.com's steelbook postage boxes were far superior to that of any other store that sold steelbooks. 

HMV shipped theirs in rigid cardboard boxes, however these boxes were slightly too big for a steelbook, so they'd rattle around inside. This would've been easily remedied by some bubblewrap or foam insert, but we never got that.

Zavvi tended to ship theirs in bubble mailers, the bane of every steelbook collectors existence. If used well, these can be fine: some cardboard (longer and broader than the steelbook itself) on each side of the steelbook, as well as some extra bubblewrap, and a bubblemailer isn't so bad. But alone, they don't protect steelbooks very well from the abuse that the postal services give them.

Amazon were also guilty of the bubble mailers, or very occasionally (usually if buying more than one steelbook), a small box.

Play.com's packaging outshone every single one of them. Small cardboard boxes with a foam sheet inside to wrap the steelbook in. In all of Play.com's time of using this packaging, I only received two damaged steelbooks (and those were damaged prior to shipment, since the box was perfect - don't worry, I got replacements!). 

Having this packaging made Play.com be the "go-to" website for steelbooks, especially due to their large number of exclusives, which couldn't be purchased anywhere else.

But since the demise of Play.com, the title of steelbook retailer had to go somewhere. HMV stepped up for a while, since it had a fair number of exclusives even prior to Play.com's departure, however, this was short-lived as they soon went into administration - of course, they are now back in business, but nothing compared to what they were previously, since they are now minus a proper website, and most high street stores closed, boo.

During this time, Amazon upgraded their steelbook shipping boxes, and listed more steelbooks for sale than before - companies were obviously spotting the interest, and decided to produce more steelbooks for their movies.

However, it was Zavvi who really stepped up. Not only upgrading their steelbook packaging, but gaining the rights to many exclusives - to the point where I am actually struggling to keep up with them!

If there could be one thing I'd get Zavvi to change, and I know it isn't entirely up to them, but to the studios themselves, too - it would be their release schedule.

Steelbook collectors, are of course, their main customers. Obviously, non collectors will buy steelbooks occasionally too, but a lot of people avoid steelbooks as they tend to be more expensive than the standard release (although this isn't always the case). To quote someone I saw in GAME in Buchanan Galleries last Christmas, whom was in store looking for a copy of Sniper Ghost Warrior (and whom the GAME staff had handed a steelbook copy, which was the same price as the standard): "I don't want that f*cking metal case, why do I want to pay extra just for a stupid shiny case!?" - this was even though he'd been told it was no more expensive than the normal amaray copy.

(I should add that this guy also saw me purchase Driver: San Francisco CE - it was down to £20 :P and moaned rather loudly behind my back "why is a f*ckin' girl buying games".)

So anyway, back to my point - steelbook collectors are the main buyers of steelbooks, since most of us buy most - if not all - steelbook releases that we can each week/month. But of course, when there are at least 5 released per month - and most steelbook collectors I know also collect movie or game CEs too - as well as everything else that has to be paid for in a month (such as bills!), and other things we have preordered, etc, it becomes crippling for us, and practically impossible to afford them all.

June 3rd sees the release of 5 steelbooks in the UK (and maybe more that I haven't got preordered): Black Swan, I, Robot, Commando, Independence Day and The Great Escape. The first four being Zavvi exclusives, and the last being an Amazon UK exclusive (if I remember correctly). The four Zavvi releases are £14.99 each, and The Great Escape was £13.99 when I had it preordered (not sure if it fluctuated at all). So those 5 alone, not including anything else that I may potentially have to pay for on that day cost £73.95.

£73.95!
For one day's worth of steelbooks!

And June 24th is similar, with SEVEN Batman steelbooks being released on the one day, the original four as well as the Nolan Trilogy. With prices ranging from £12.59 to £13.25 (within my preorders), that's a total of £89.45 - again for ONE DAY's worth of steelbooks.

I understand that for the Batman ones, it's good to have them all due out together, but why not at least seperate the original four from the new three by a month or so? Make it easier for people to cope.

Plus, to add insult to injury, the 3rd and 24th aren't the only two dates in June to have UK steelbook releases. There are two on the 10th (Argo and The Town - both Zavvi exclusives) and maybe others, too.

Honestly, if I had my way, I'd limit UK steelbook launches (and other countries too, preferably, since I often go for international releases, too - but obviously have each countries limit independent of each other) to one steelbook per week, or four per month, that way you can budget accordingly, and not have to worry that one month (such as this month!) is going to have over £160 worth of steelbooks in one fell swoop.

That's a lot of money, especially to people who have other things to pay for.

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!
And feel free to share this post on relevant pages if you want Zavvi, Amazon, etc to change their ways!

V.

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