Should eBay Be Banning Sale Of These Controversial Toys?

    January 27, 2013
    Chris Crum

Last week, news came out that the National Entertainment Collectibles Association’s (NECA) Django Unchained action figures had been discontinued after drawing controversy from groups like the National Action Network and Project Islamic Hope. Director Spike Lee has been particularly critical of them.

Naturally, once discontinued, the toys became instant eBay shopper bait. TMZ is reporting, however, that eBay has banned the toys from sale on the site, providing a statement from the company that they were removed because they violate its Offensive Materials Policy.

Do you think eBay should be banning the sale of these toys? Let us know what you think in the comments.

First, a little background. If you’re unfamiliar with Django Unchained, it’s a recently release film from famed director Quentin Tarantino. It’s a western set in the pre-Civil War south, about a slave who gains his freedom as he teams up with a bounty hunter to kill slave owners and ultimately find his wife and win her freedom as well. The movie itself has drawn its share of controversy, for a variety of reasons, but it has also won a great deal of critical acclaim and has become an instant classic to many of those who enjoyed it. The film has been nominated for four oscars (best picture, original screenplay, best cinematography and best supporting actor for Christoph Waltz, who plays the bounty hunter). It already won two Golden Globes for screenplay and supporting actor (Waltz).

It is likely this acclaim that illuminates the spotlight on the action figures – some of the latest in a long history of toys based on popular movie characters. When controversy struck, the toy maker was quick to discontinue the line (according to reports, it was actually the Weinstein Company, the studio behind the film, that had NECA discontinue to the toys). Obviously, this made people want them more, as they were turned into instant rare collectors’ items – the kind of thing that people like to find on eBay.

In a blog post describing the toys before they were discontinued, NECA said, “True to the vibe of the film and to Tarantino’s aesthetic, our new Django Unchained action figures are classics in the truest sense — cloth clothing, window box packages, larger scale — and still they keep the level of movie-accurate detail you’ve come to know, love and expect from NECA.”

According to TMZ, only about 1,000 of the toys were made.

You can go to eBay right now and find numerous listings for the toys. Here’s one:

Django Toy Listing on eBay

At least one seller is trying to sell the whole set of figures for about $7,000.

Apparently they haven’t been able to keep the toys off the site. This could end up hurting some sellers, as the company “cautioned sellers not to re-list the items,” according to TMZ, which also shares this quote from an email eBay has been sending sellers:

“Since the manufacturer of this product has discontinued the item’s sale due to its potentially offensive nature, we are not allowing it to be sold on eBay.”

Here are some things that are still perfectly acceptable to sell on eBay, according to its Offensive Materials Policy:

– KKK memorabilia pricing guides
– News and magazine articles about the KKK
– Documentaries about the KKK
– Books about the KKK
– The film “Birth of a Nation” and the book it is based on, “The Clansmen”
– Stamps, letters and envelopes displaying Nazi postmarks
– Currency issued by the Nazi German government
– Replica or novelty stamps or currency of Nazi Germany

Also, if you’re in the market for old racist salt and pepper shakers, this is currently listed on eBay (though it’s not clear whether or not eBay considers this a violation of terms – if so, they don’t seem to be doing a great job policing their listings):

eBay Racist Salt, Pepper Shakers

Listings for the toys are also showing up on other big ecommerce sites. You can currently find them listed on Amazon, Bonanza, and even in Google Shopping, which is now based solely on product listing ads.

Now, there’s more toy/racism controversy related to a Star Wars LEGO play set.

We’ve reached out to eBay for further comment on the Django Toys, as well as to see if the LEGO set is deemed a violation (we haven’t seen it listed on eBay as of the time of this writing). We have not received a response thus far. We’ll update if that changes.

Should eBay ban sellers from selling the Django Unchained toys? Let us know what you think.


Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.