The expensive merchandise problem - should the Bond brand become more accessible?

DeerAtTheGatesDeerAtTheGates Belgium
edited November 2019 in Merchandise Posts: 459
With the release of a new Bond film on the horizon, I kept thinking about how the Bond brand represents itself outside of the films and if that strategy is (still) a good one. As you probably all know, the James Bond 'brand' is the epitome of luxury: watches, pens, suitcases, cigar cutters, clothing lines... They all are available, but they're also quite expensive. For a 23 year old student like myself, many of these articles aren't affordable. As I am a young fan growing up in a world dominated by Star Wars, Harry Potter and Avengers, I can only look at what they have to offer and marvel: I want that too for Bond. I want to be able to buy Bond items other than films and books that are in my price range.

As an experiment, let's hit up the 007 Store, and see what we can find.

Clothing
As one would expect, the clothing ranges from the luxury brands are heavily promoted. N.Peal has a new line of replica sweaters and knitwear from various Bond movies. Their most expensive item, the GF jacket, is £795; their cheapest, a GF tie and a SF scarf, both £95. Orlebar Brown also has a clothing line. Their most expensive items (the SP, LALD and GF sweaters; the DN bathrobe) are £295, their cheapest item (TB swim shorts) £195. Not really for me. But the Store also sells polos and t-shirts, you say? Let's see. Polos are £30, while t-shirts are available in two categories: £25 or £20. A quick check tells me officially licensed Star Wars shirts are on average £20, Marvel features t-shirts in between £15-20, and Harry Potter fans can get official t-shirts for £12-15 pounds. While not terribly bad, Bond is the most expensive of the four.

Bags, wallets, electrics, accessories
Want to feature 007 on your school bag, backpack, tote bag or laptop bag? Tough luck. Or unless you'd like to purchase a Moneypenny Leather Bag by Globe Trotter for £1,445 or £1,190. The bag is more expensive than whatever you'd put in it! And the design is of course really recognisable as Bond, right? No, of course not. But don't fret, there's also a tote bag with a picture from DN on it. The price? £37.95, that's a bit.. much, I'd say. There's a laptop bag for £34.99, which I'd call a fair price for such a bag. It has a Spectre logo on it. If you squint, you can see it. Not really a Bond bag, IMO. There used to be some affordable tech things in the shop (speakers, power banks), but now there's only 2: a bluetooth speaker (£44.95) and a very weird looking power bank (£59.95). These look top-notch, high-quality. But it seems that these replace some cheaper items (widely available products with a 007 logo slapped on it), in an effort to upgrade the 'luxury'. Why can't we have both? At the time of writing, the S.T. Dupont pen range isn't available anymore through the site. Is there actually a Bond fan who bought a golden pen that cost them over £1,000? For which market are these pens? Not for Bond fans. The notebooks by Moleskine are between £21.98 and £32.98 I know they're very nice, but that's way more than I'm willing to pay for a notebook.

Collectibles, replicas
This is the one category I can understand the prices and the market: good replicas are expensive. While the Bond replicas are way more expensive than, say, the Harry Potter ones (Bond between £900 and £60, Potter between £50 and £395), those are not meant to be cheap or mass produced. Perfectly fine by me. Same with the Big Chief figures: other films have the same ranges of really high-end figures. Only difference is that other brands typically have other, cheaper figures for people who can't afford the high-end ones. Bond doesn't have those.

Posters, postcards
Again, I'm a bit baffled when I look at the site. I wanted to compliment them for the range of posters, which used to be top-notch. Looking now, I see a load of films don't have a poster for sale anymore. There are £20 art prints, which is fine by me, and prints that are exclusive, around £225. No problem with that, art prints are always around that price. But where are the different movie posters? Just a 'normal' format of each film's poster would not be strange. Luckily, they are all available as postcards, which cost £0.70. This is the one instance I'd like something more expensive: a neat tin, featuring postcards from all films? Why not?!

Toys, Funko Pops
And now we get to what some consider the worst thing ever happen to Bond since Stepbrothergate: Funko Pops. Love 'em or hate 'em, they are exactly what I've been asking for: affordable merch. I collected Funko Pops before they came with a 007 range, so I'm actually glad Danjaq jumped on board. Though I can understand people not liking them. I hoped it would be a step in the right direction. Corgi came with some new Bond car models and even Little Nellie, so I have to applaud them for that. But we all know which mould they will dust off for NTTD... Yes, time for them to produce another DB5!

Odds and Ends
Which brings me to my final point: with Corgi delivering more effort and Funko getting the Bond licence, I had hoped the Bond brand was headed in a new direction. More items that are available for everyone. The kids, the casual moviegoers, the Bond fans, the super rich people who buy Globe Trotter and don't see that it's Bond-branded, everyone. But then we get things like a ridiculously expensive and exclusive backgammon set, new Omega watches left and right, and no real products for a movie that's out in 5 months. And then that hope I had, goes away quickly.


And with all this in mind, comes the central question. Should Bond stay a luxurious brand (almost) none of us fans can afford, because 'Bond is a man of wealth and taste', or should Bond try to get more into the mainstream with their merchandising? Should they try and find new groups that'll buy products, or should they stay focused on associating themselves with exclusive brands? You know my answer, now I'd like to know yours.

(Mods, I've tried to look for a general merchandise discussion topic, but couldn't find one. If you feel this topic should not exist because it has been discussed elsewhere, feel free to close this)

Comments

  • Max_The_ParrotMax_The_Parrot ATAC to St Cyril’s
    Posts: 2,175
    Must say I agree with your assessment pretty much spot on. I think part of the problem is that the franchise just doesn’t seem to be aimed at children anymore.

    I’m not saying that Bond should be a ‘child’ franchise. But you look at something like Harry Potter - the books are aimed at children, and yet it is adored by people of all ages, with merchandise aimed at all ages as well, from cheap action figures and other toys all the way to expensive replica items and limited edition memorabilia. Whatever your age or price range, you can find plenty to collect and enjoy.

    When I was younger (in the days of Roger Moore) there were a whole range of annuals, action figures, games, colouring books, etc all aimed at kids that I used to love collecting (and they could be bought with pocket money). Of course I loved the Lotus Esprit and DB5 cars, and there were ‘matchbox’ size cars a plenty.

    That whole section of the market seems to have pretty much disappeared. I was at the Bond in Motion exhibit in London a few weeks back, and my friend was looking in the shop for a little gift to take back for his grandson - the only thing we could find that would be suitable was a packet of Top Trumps cards, everything else was aimed at adults or too expensive for a ‘little gift’ - the only Lotus was a remote control car over 20 pounds.

    It’s a shame as toys and other collectibles are great ways of getting children into a franchise that they will enjoy for life - it worked for me, and I think it’s important to keep bringing new generations into the franchise - especially at a time when the films are no longer aimed at young children - cinema releases are all 12A, home release seem to be a consistent 12.

    Whilst I collect a little bit of Bond memorabilia, it’s books - both reference and fiction, that I personally enjoy buying into, and luckily that’s still a relatively cheap way of enjoying Bond. That might be something worth looking at until you are able to afford 007store prices!
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 29,587
    Just give me a decent Bond film and I'm happy.
  • royale65royale65 Caustic misanthrope reporting for duty.
    Posts: 4,159

    Whilst I collect a little bit of Bond memorabilia, it’s books - both reference and fiction, that I personally enjoy buying into, and luckily that’s still a relatively cheap way of enjoying Bond. That might be something worth looking at until you are able to afford 007store prices!

    Me too. My shelves are stuffed with all sort of Bondian reference goodness. I'm hoping for an updated "Some Kind of Hero" when B25 comes out, along with it's now obligatory "Bond on Set" photo book. If Corgi does the new Aston Martin I may buy it. Perhaps some Bond alumni is planning on releasing their biography come April.

  • LeonardPineLeonardPine The Bar on the Beach
    Posts: 3,168
    You make some great points @DeerAtTheGates i've been saying for years how the makers have missed the boat when it comes to Bond merchandise.

    Me personally am not going to pay £250+ for a Bond action figure or over £500 for some replica clothing. That's ridiculous!

    I mentioned on another Bond merchandising thread that the makers should bring out an affordable action figure range (Like McFarland's horror series) of characters throughout the series. Imagine the huge range that would give them and how popular they would be!

    Personally i do try to dress like Craig's Bond (And Connery's to a certain extent) as i like that kind of style and i'm of a similar age. Obviously the brands i go for are a lot cheaper than what he actually wears!
  • MooseWithFleasMooseWithFleas Philadelphia
    Posts: 3,142
    The 60's merchandising seemed much more accessible. Corgi toys, Gilbert figurines, attache case and other gadget related toys, lunch boxes, thermoses, affordable shirts and clothing (though some of the quality was questionable). I remember in the 90s Bond merch and toys still accessible, though not as prevalent as the Batman, Power Rangers, other tv/movie merch. I wasn't sure if in the 00's it started to disappear or if it's just because I reached adulthood and got interested in the classic vintage merchandise and collectables.
  • After Roger Moore’s tenure ended there definitely was an effort to deemphasize the family appeal and marketing of Bond towards children. I think the closest the Michael and Barbara era came to that was through video games. I was 10 years old when GE on the N64 came out, and during that era I can’t really recall much merchandising towards children. Contrast that to other films of the 90s like Batman, Jurassic Park, Independence Day, Star Wars, etc. To think there was an era when Bond was as merchandised as those films certainly feels off putting to me. Part of the appeal to Bond for me growing up was that it felt like something aimed for grown ups, which gave it a certain allure. It’s become something your dad would introduce you and say “don’t tell mom I showed you this”.

    Now without a video game license like in the 90s and 00s, the franchise does certainly feel even more adult oriented than ever.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 29,587
    I had the FRWL suitcase when I was a kid in the '60s. Oddly enough, that was the only Connery Bond film that my parents never took me to. Also had plastic Odd Job and Bond figures.
  • Posts: 3,001
    A very good post and analysis @DeerAtTheGates. If you're interested in Bond toys and memorabilia of the past then I recommend checking this site out to see how things have shifted from the kid-friendly merchandise to modern times...

    https://007collector.com/category/toys/1960s-bond-toys/

    Personally, I'm not so sure that Craig's era lends itself to the lucrative children's market anymore. That said, I've always felt that Eon never properly exploited the toy market when they should have in the past. Judging by the lack of enthusiasm for the recent Disney Star Wars merchandise, I'd say that if your movie is disliked or no longer popular with the majority of fans, then the tie-in stuff will go unsold or heavily discounted in the shops. It's probably too late for Craig's Bond to ignite the young collectors or enthusiasts, but it's something Eon should consider when casting their new James Bond in future, should they want to fill that void.
  • Posts: 1,287
    Good thread and needed to be said. If you're going to collect most anything, it's going to come at a cost, so it's often down to that and Bond merchandising is a great case study.

    I became a serious Bond fan when about all we got, at least in the U.S., were the soundtracks, movie tie-in novel and Corgi cars along with like a Moonraker shuttle model and things. It seems we've gone from too little to too much recently.

    My main collecting focus was and still is basically Bond-related books, magazines and fanzines. It's also a matter of cost and space. I've got a pretty extensive Bond collection of various things, but it's all in a storage unit as I've got no place to display it. And things more in my price range I just have no desire for. I have absolutely no use for yet another set of trading cards that repeat the same images or a directors cut Aston Martin die-cast or action figures. How many times can they reinvent the wheel with some of these products?

    Then we come to the high-end stuff, some of which would be fun and others not so much. Why have a multi-million dollar DB5 replica that isn't even street legal. I like some of the Orlebar Brown and the other label things or Omega watch, but it comes down to owning one of these or paying for my daughter to finish her masters degree and her impending wedding.

    I like the Thunderball polo, but nearly $500 for it? I've had close variations of it for years as I have other Bond-inspired clothing, which give me a close enough feeling. What I would still like is a Goldfinger Connery 3-piece suit replica. That would be stand out piece, but since I don't attend a lot of formal functions, would it?

    Even the fanzines are tough to collect all of since they come out at a rapid pace and the postage alone can get prohibitive. It's still a fun challenge and there is some great content coming out. There are fewer interesting reference books these days, but still worth the time and cash, especially when they're along the lines of the Charles Helfenstein Making of books and a few others.
  • royale65royale65 Caustic misanthrope reporting for duty.
    Posts: 4,159
    I see the late Terry O' Neill is releasing a book to tie in with NTTD.
  • edited November 2019 Posts: 14,212
    Interesting topic!

    Personally I've never been into the collecting and merchandising side of the franchise. Even as a kid I wasn't that bothered with the stuff that was available, which during the late 90's and early to mid 00's(?) was probably - at least to some extent - more targeted towards kids/teens. I have a remote controlled Vanquish from the DAD era, but that was a surprise gift from my mum. Other than that, I just own books, comics, the films and a small size TB poster. I do occasionally like to keep an eye on what's available on the 007 website though, and it seems to me that they have made a conscious effort to target adults with their current line(s) of merchandise. I can understand that, since to me, the Craig era doesn't lend itself towards the kids market at all.

    It's no doubt however that the prices of many of these items isn't for everyone. Since I'm not the type to display/walk around with items with a huge 007 logo on them, it wasn't until the Bond inspired clothing lines from Orlebar Brown and N.Peal were released I found items that I really wanted. But the prices of these clothes is way beyond what I can ever justify purchasing. I have enough issues trying to pay my student loan and saving up money for the things that really matters, like buying myself an apartment (which of course will take years of downpayment…). It looks like these items are really just targeted towards filthy rich fans that can afford these ridiculous prices, such as Zaritsky from The Bond Experience etc.

    As for the question if Bond should stay a luxurious brand or try to get more into the mainstream with their merchandising, I definitely feel they're not doing themselves any favours doing what they're doing now. There's no doubt room for items that are more accessible, and which are not just cheap products with the 007 logo on them. What about cheap and mid-priced poster prints, cheaper replicas and a more varied catalogue of accessories? The opportunities are there, that's for sure.
  • GoldenGunGoldenGun Defender of Timothy Dalton, George Lazenby, Éric Serra & the Bond double bill of '83!
    Posts: 4,772
    I agree some collectibles can be less expensive but Bond’s tastes should under no circumstances become more mainstream. I’m not saying his tastes should always be expensive by default, though they have to remain tasteful and stylish.

    I don’t want Bond to go out wearing H&M or some such thing. Drinking Heineken and driving a Ford were bad enough. Let’s not make him an Everyman, after all that’s what differentiates Bond from every other ‘action’ hero.
  • Posts: 1,287
    GoldenGun wrote: »
    I agree some collectibles can be less expensive but Bond’s tastes should under no circumstances become more mainstream. I’m not saying his tastes should always be expensive by default, though they have to remain tasteful and stylish.

    I don’t want Bond to go out wearing H&M or some such thing. Drinking Heineken and driving a Ford were bad enough. Let’s not make him an Everyman, after all that’s what differentiates Bond from every other ‘action’ hero.

    No, you wouldn't want to see a Wal Mart-sponsored collection nor Bond Happy Meal tie-ins. But they shouldn't limit where money can be made from just the higher-end luxury brands. There can be a nice middle ground in there somewhere that doesn't cheapen it without making it so far out of reach for us fans who buy Bond merchandise.

    I wouldn't exactly call the FunkoPop line tasteful and stylish, for example. Those things are dire and seem like the cheapest way to capitalize on pop culture. The thing is somebody out there is buying the things as I've seen book stores to department stores clearing out other items to make room for those things.
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