But it's not just that the toys are expensive that people argue about. I'd rather not get into name-calling or finger-pointing here, but in at least one fan's case, the argument is this: his problem isn't that the toys are too expensive (although I believe that he thinks that they are), his problem is that, if he is unable or unwilling to actually go to the convention, he can't get the toys, even if he's willing to shell out the cash for it.
Of course, this isn't technically true, and never has been. Exclusive toys have always been available on eBay after the convention, and they often sell for very high prices. But the argument goes that the fan would like to give the money to Fun Publications, the people that have actually gone to the trouble to create the toys, but that they have made a decision not to take his money by selling these toys to him, simply because he won't be at the convention. (I should at this point make clear that I'm aware that the 5-figure box set is available to non-attendees through FP, and I myself will be getting these toys this way. Non-attendees do have to pay the same price that attendees do, though, which seems high to some considering that they don't get the benefits of the convention itself. Still, there are other toys that will only be given to those who are there.)
Battles have been waged on the message boards between people with this attitude and those who argue that such people don't understand what the meaning of the word "exclusive" is. And there is something to this: an "exclusive" is something that's available only through a particular source. If a convention offers an exclusive, it stands to reason that attending the convention is the only way to get it.
However, I find myself wondering if the apparent misconception of the word "exclusive:" being taken to mean "something that is special or rare" as opposed to "something only available through a particular source," is a wider problem. Take, for example, one of Slacktivist's criticisms of the Left Behind series of Christian novels (for those wondering about the acronyms, "L&J" are "LaHaye and Jenkins," the authors of Left Behind, and "GIRAT" means "Greatest Investigative Reporter of All Time," which is intended to refer to Buck Williams, one of the lead characters, who in a previous scene survived an car bomb intended for him, and who has supposedly been operating under an alias since then, although no one, including the authors, seems to have noticed):
If the wider culture (of course, one wonders how much conservative Christian writers can be said to represent the wider culture, but the kind of mistake they make here seems to indicate something wider), let alone Transformers fans, has started to think of the word "exclusive" as synonymous with "special," rather than meaning "only one way you can get it," perhaps we can understand why people are miffed that FP won't take their money.
Rosenzweig doesn't ask what happened. He doesn't ask how Buck survived the car bombing, or if he was its intended target, or why it seems someone is trying to kill him. Instead, he says: "[Carpathia] had so wanted to meet you and had agreed to an exclusive interview.""Can we still do that?" Buck whispered, to the boos and catcalls of the competition.
"You'll do anything to get a scoop," someone groused. "Even have yourself blown up."
L&J's image of the press corps seems to be based on the City Hall boys from His Girl Friday, which I guess means Buck is Rosalind Russell. Rosenzweig assures him that he can still get his exclusive interview and in doing so demonstrates that neither he nor Buck (nor L&J) knows what "exclusive" means:"It will probably not be possible until late tonight," Rosenzweig said. His hand swept the room, crowded with TV cameras, lights, microphones and the press. "His schedule is full all day, and he has a photo shoot at People magazine early this evening. Perhaps following that. I'll speak to him."
So, yes, after Carpathia speaks to the entire gathered press corps, and after a jam-packed day of interviews and press events, then Buck can have his "exclusive." This is like those "exclusive" interviews that local reporters claim when they take their last-in-line seat opposite an exhausted and distracted film star at the tail end of a three-day press junket. Even People gets to talk to Carpathia before the GIRAT does....
But even if we grant that people are undereducated or misinformed, the sheer intensity of the arguments on the fan boards seems to indicate a greater problem. It seems to me that it's not just that people get really touchy when you put them behind a wall of anonymity. It looks a lot to me like people are actively trying to get into fights. That's just not healthy.
Life's not fair. Either deal with it, or leave us alone. We've got better things to talk about.