Marvel 1999 ~ 2000 US Newsstand Price Variants
Here is a summary of the Marvel Newsstand Price Variants that I have found hiding between the dates of October 1999 and February 2000. If you'd like to know more about them, please click the picture below and you'll be magically transported to the discussion thread in which we talk about them:
Notes and Observations
Most comic collectors have heard of the 30 and 35 cent variants which Marvel produced in limited numbers during the 1970s to test how the market would react to increasing the cover price of their comics. Less well known is the fact that, in late 1999 / early 2000, Marvel again produced newsstand copies with higher prices than the then standard $1.99 newsstand price, appearing to repeat that market price resistance test. I say 'appearing to' deliberately, as there is no actual evidence that the higher priced issues in this post were intended to be market testers. But that seems to be the only logical conclusion at present.
I have been researching these books for over ten years now, having first discovered them as a Spider-Man completist. Others have been aware of them, but I don't think anyone else has tracked them to the extent that I have and tried to summarise exactly what exists.
There are two variant newsstand prices known - $2.29 and $2.49 - for a limited number of books which had a standard newsstand price of $1.99.
Here are three differently priced Amazing Spider-Man #10 newsstand copies to illustrate:
Standard $1.99 Issue Variant $2.29 Issue Variant $2.49 Issue
Here is a summary chart which I put together to show what titles / issues have been found so far:
Looking at the chart, we can see that:
- Only six titles have been found to have newsstand price variants from the scores of titles in production at the time. Those titles are Amazing Spider-Man, Cable, Fantastic Four, Hulk, Thor and X-Men
- 32 variants are currently known to exist across those six titles
- Variants are priced at either $2.29 and/or $2.49 - no other variant newsstand prices exist
- Price variants only exist where the standard book is a $1.99 'regular' size issue - no variants have been found to exist where the standard issue is priced at $2.99 / is 'double sized'
- Only one Feb 2000 dated book has been found - Fantastic Four #26
- No title has variant issues in all of the 5 known months (Fantastic Four for example has the only Feb 2000 variant issue, but no Oct 1999 variant issue)
- No title has more than six price variants
My current guess, based on no more than the patterns shown in the chart, the amount of time spent looking, and the lack of other copies found, is that no title will yield more than six variant issues (3 x $2.29 plus 3 x $2.49). If correct:
- Amazing Spider-Man is 'complete', and no copies will be found for February 2000
- Cable will have three more variant copies - #72 ($2.49), #73 ($2.29) and #74 ($2.29) ** See update below 23/06/2023 **
- Fantastic Four is 'complete', and no copies will be found for October 1999
- Hulk is 'complete', and no copies will be found for October 1999 / February 2000
- Thor will have one more variant copy - #17 ($2.49)
- X-Men is 'complete', and no copies will be found for February 2000
This means that a further four copies may exist, pushing the overall total to 36. Only time will tell if this 'gut feel' turns out to be true!
In the main, the variant price is the only immediately obvious difference between the variant and standard editions but some copies (not all) have variant indicias which show the variant cover price - the two examples below show each indicia scenario:
These books are fairly difficult to find and, in some cases, the image I have in the files is the only copy I have ever seen. So happy hunting, if you decide to build a set!
By Stephen Cranch based on v2.6 of the 'Marvel 1999 ~ 2000 US Newsstand Price Variants Summary'
N.B. Those that follow my discussion thread will know that the regular $1.99 priced newsstand copy of Thor #19 has been on the missing list since I started the thread in 2016, proving more elusive than the variant priced copies. I finally found evidence of a copy on the 21/01/20 to confirm that it does actually exist. A second copy appeared shortly after as if often the case.
A Cable $2.29 #74 was found by board member JonnyT2008 (see discussion thread) - this brings us up to 34 price variants:
I believe December 1999 and Jan/Feb 2000 are now complete. If my six issue per title theory is correct, the following issues may yet appear:
- Cable #72 ($2.49) and #73 ($2.29)
Time will tell.....