One of the first places rare or leaked action figures seem to hit is Tabao, the most recent being Hasbro’s SDCC 2014 exclusive Infinity Gauntlet Set. Tabao is one of China’s many versions of eBay but seemingly the biggest and most popular. Nobody knows for sure how these figures end up on Tabao but plenty suspect they are either taken right from the assembly line or were factory rejects removed from the trash.
As a buyer in the United States you can’t easily order from Taobao yourself because they do not take PayPal and it wouldn’t exactly be safe to shoot your credit card # across the planet. Not to mention a lot of the sellers there do not speak English, so it would take a lot of translating. In order to buy from Tabao you’re going to need a buyer agent. There’s a bunch of different buyer agents to choose from that act as the middle man for your purchase. You enter the item you want and they tell you how much you’re going to pay for the item and for the shipping to their location in China. Also included in this price is a small commission for their work. When the item arrives to the agent they inspect it and take pictures so you can make sure everything is in order. They then calculalate the shipping cost from their office to you. Once you make your second and final payment for the shipping, the item is then shipped to you.
For my first purchase I went with the well-reviewed Taobao Focus who made the whole process very easy and had a very low commission cost. I also picked Airmail, which is the cheapest shipping option.
- Found item I wanted on Taobao using Chrome’s built in Translator.
- Registered on Taobaofocus and started the initial order process.
Item price: 15 RMB
Domestic shipping: 15 RMB
Subtotal: 30 RMB
Commission: 35 RMB
Total: 65 RMB
Total in USD: $11.05
- Paid securely using PayPal.
- Agent ordered item from seller.
- Seller shipped item to Agent.
- Item arrives at agent.
- Item is inspected, photographed and International shipping is calculated.
International shipping fee: 41 RMB ($6.97 USD)
- Order shipped via Air Mail, tracking # uploaded on website.
- Item arrives in the United States.
- Processed through sort facility in NY.
Total spent in USD: $18.02
Outside of a long time spent in customs the ordering process was relatively easy and I ended up getting a pretty rare figure for a decent price. From now on i’ll be keeping an eye on Tabao for other rare action figures.