It’s a thrilling moment for every K-pop fan. As soon as the tour ticket fever cools – got a ticket and it’s exactly where I wanted to be! – the next thing your wallet starts itching for is goods. When will the goods list be out? How much exactly will things cost? Will they have that top I saw on the Seoul tour goods list? Can I pre-order it somewhere? When it says free size does it mean actually tent-like?
Doubt it not, the K-pop machine is not only slick at turning out bands; it’s slick at producing official goods. Physical CD sales clearly can’t be relied on – many fans prefer to download straight into their iTunes. (Oh, hmm, unless we make the CDs limited edition with a special goody inside… ditto DVDs) But those aside, live events are where the goods sales really go down; where you have an excitable crowd of fans with (hopefully) some cash to spare after their ticket. Let the goods sales begin!
T-shirts and hoodies are pretty standard music goods, but don’t be under any illusion they’ll be a bargain – or even available once you do get to the front of the line. While a basic EXO tee sells for about £16 in Seoul, prices will be amped up to £25-30 for buying direct at international events. Hoodies will be double that. Plus, we can’t forget the limited edition stuff – this Big Bang Limited Edition jacket sells for about £98 in Korea.
Attend any K-pop event in Asia and you’ll likely see an array of old, new and home-made tour clothing, but almost everyone will be carrying today’s official lightstick. The lightstick is usually one of the cheapest goods, yet when the lights go down they make the concert venue look like a pleasingly twinkly sea. Simple is best (and cheapest) when it comes to these goods; the slim or flat penlight selling for under £10 is preferable to some of the more oddly-shaped ones, which risk hitting your wallet and/or hitting you in the head when fan flailing begins. You hear that, 2NE1? Now here’s the rub: because of their relatively lower prices, lightsticks are often limited stock items. If you’re hell-bent on an official item, get to the lightstick line quick and don’t look left or right at anything else until you’re home clear.
Clothing and lightstick not to your fancy? Fear not. K-pop is a world of goods innovation! Why would anyone have an ordinary pillow when you can have a £40 one in the shape of G-Dragon hugging you to sleep? Or cuddle this Girls Generation GIRLS&PEACE teddy bear instead for a mere £47. If those price tags would induce sleepless nights, but you still want an official souvenir, climb right back down the price scale to face masks, usually in the £5 and under area. Actually quite useful if you live in an Asian country where they’re standard fare in cold and flu season; and a great talking point for parties everywhere else. (‘What the hell are you wearing?’) Heck, you can even host a Gangnam Style party yourself to wear it at with these cheap and handy PSY paper cups. The ultimate party treat? Spritz yourself with one of Big Bang’s official perfumes, and although £280 worse off, you’ll smell Wow! Fantastic Baby.
Are all these goods worth the slowly increasing price tags? It really all depends how deep you’re already into the fandom; a newbie fan might just ponder investing in a lightstick, but the hardcore will most likely need the lightstick, the body poster set and the hoodie in both colours*… to add to last year’s versions. How much you spend on official goods can also depend on if the unofficial stands outside the venue have made a half-decent copy… but let’s save that can of worms for another day.
What’s the most expensive, weird or wonderful item of K-pop goods you’ve bought or seen? Let me know in a comment below.
*hey, I only intended to buy the navy one but the cream one just looked cute too.