Oh Canada! Price Variants

by Michael Vlachakis

2943959 Oh Canada! Price Variants

There are certain topics that you should not discuss with friends:  politics, religion, and in the comic book world…comic price variants.  If you go to any message board on the topic, you will inevitably see a comment along the lines of “why would I pay higher because it says 35 cents vs. 30 cents on the cover…I just want a copy.”  Frankly, it’s a good point.  Why is a price variant worth more just for having a different number on the cover? And no, it is not because it originally cost more and compound interest took over.

In the case of the 30-35 cent variants, they were test batches released in small numbers to cities (usually 6) trying to determine if price increases were a viable option…this, of course, makes them rarer than their counterparts which were distributed expansively across the country.  But what about if things cost more in Canada?  Should I care?  Why do they need their own price on comic books?  You might be saying “It’s a huge country so the distribution channel should be similar to the US” but that would be incorrect on multiple levels.

If you had a chance to review my article on Newsstand vs. Direct comics, you can see that the data typically proves out a premium for the rarer Newsstand copies on the open market.  Estimates for the rarity of Canadian Price Variants is based on complex math…so lets take a crack at it!

Canadian Price Variants were prevalent from approximately 1982-1986…a fairly small window in the timeline of all comics.  True to their name, Canadian Price Variants were distributed exclusively to our friendly neighbors of the north (Hi Canada!)…with a small twist.  All Canadian Price Variants are newsstand copies that were distributed in Canada.  If you were a comic shop in Canada, you most likely bought comics from the Direct Sales channel and your books had the same old picture in the corner like ever other collector’s book, and typically a dual pricing notation (60 cents US/75 cents CAN).  Data shows that Canada had approximately a tenth of the population of the US during the distribution period.  Based on that fact, it is safe to assume that Canadian Price Variants were, at their base, 10 times more rare than US Newsstand versions…which were already nearly half of the US distributed copies…and again you have to negate Canadian comic shop sales.  Add to that the ability to keep Canadian Newsstand copies in tip top shape to have them graded…I’m no math whiz, but that all adds up to rarity.  As a speculation whiz, rarity is gold.

The market for Canadian Price Variants has grown over the years due to a few factors.  One is that CGC and it’s counterparts have started to break out Canadian variants into separate categories from direct/newsstand US versions.  Another is just the general acceptance of the rarity disparity to buyers that Canadian Price Variants bring.  For example, a Beta Ray Bill first appearance in Thor #337 had a Canadian Price Variant recently sell on eBay for $911…compared to direct editions selling for around $375 and newsstand versions selling for $450-$500.  That is quite the premium for saying 75 cents instead of 60 cents on the cover.  And remember, you can find a Thor #337 in 9.8 almost any time but I’ve only seen the one Canadian Price Variant version in 9.8 and there are only 10 total.

Let us know your thoughts on Canadian Price Variants, Newsstand vs. Direct, and blog in next time as I review the life and legacy of Mark Jewelers and his inserts.

You may also like

%d bloggers like this: