Why did Bethesda Sell Their NCR Ranger Helmets so Cheap?

New Vegas merch is alive and reselling in 2023

News

By RC Staff

Key Points:

  • Bethesda produced 5000 NCR Veteran Ranger Helmet bundles as merchandise for the 2010 video game Fallout: New Vegas for $150

  • The helmets were a variation of a previously released product on Bethesda’s website. While overall the helmets sold well, many sat in stock after release

  • In June of 2022, Bethesda marked them down to $15 + $39 shipping, causing them to sell out and resell

Item

Art & Collectibles
165

Profit

This is the difference between the sale price and resell price. It does not take into account any costs associated with reselling. Things like shipping, storage fees, if applicable.

Fallout New Vegas NCR Veteran Ranger Helmet Replica

This variant of the iconic NCR ranger helmet was released as a limited edition run of 5,000 by Bethesda. In June of 2022, it was surprisingly marked down as part of a bundle to $15. 

Following a rocky release in 2010, Obsidian’s Fallout: New Vegas would go on to be one of the highest regarded games of the decade, and a high watermark for the RPG genre. Even a decade after its release, fans still fervently defend the game and it continues to be a title other games are measured against, fairly or not. Even so, it can be surprising to learn that its publisher, Bethesda, is still producing merchandise for the game 12 years later. Not only that, but some of that merchandise is reselling on the aftermarket.

What are the NCR Ranger Helmets?

One of the most iconic pieces of headwear in New Vegas, and the Fallout series in general, the NCR Veteran’s Helmet is a defining piece of New Vegas’ aesthetic. It can be seen on the game’s case and cover, menu screen, and much of the promotional material. So it’s no surprise that a real-life replica of the helmet would prove to be a profitable piece of merchandise.

First opening for pre-orders in October of 2021 on Bethesda’s website, the Helmet bundles would start shipping in April 2022, for $150. Included in the bundle was a hand-painted and wearable helmet, identical to its in-game counterpart. Helmets featured LED lights in the eyepieces, which glowed red when turned on. The bundles also featured a belt buckle and Deathclaw sticker, along with a stand for the helmet.

NCR Ranger Helmet For Sale

Five thousand helmets were produced, and while they didn’t brick, they didn’t exactly sell like crazy. There’s no exact sales figures, but it’s clear that they did not sell out of their pre-orders, which probably surprised Bethesda.

It should be noted that these bundles were not the first time Bethesda had produced a version of the NCR Helmet as merchandise. In 2021, they produced a very limited run of Desert Ranger Helmets. These were similar in design to the later Veteran Helmets, but tan instead of black and green, and featured green LEDs in the eyepieces.

NCR Ranger Helmet Desert Ranger

This initial run of helmets would be limited to just 500 units however, and sold out extremely fast. Bethesda likely was a considering doing a larger production run of helmets, but was on the fence due to the high production costs inherent with hand-painted products. The Desert Ranger Helmets would serve as a testbed to gauge demand.

After the Desert Ranger Helmets sold out instantly for $150, Bethesda would greenlight a larger production run of the helmets, confident in the demand. While a significant portion of the Veteran Ranger Helmets sold, there was not enough demand to move the remaining stock.

Bethesda likely did not anticipate having having any of these helmets remain in stock, and did not have the inventory space or interest in holding them for very long. So in June 2022, just a few months after their release, Bethesda marked down all their remaining bundles to just $15, although shipping would still cost $39.

Why did the NCR Ranger Helmets resell?

Following the tremendous markdown, word spread quickly in resellers’ circles about the deal. Despite the relatively modest interest among consumers, resellers recognized the tremendous opportunity in the sale. Bethesda limited helmets to three per order, and by the end of the day, the rest of the stock had been bought up.

Despite the steep shipping cost, buying multiple helmets at once would make up for it, as you only had to pay for shipping once. Going from $150 to $15 was an absolutely massive discount, and it would be hard to justify not getting in on it.

There were two major reasons why these helmets would resell:

First, resellers could sell them below retail prices and still profit. Many helmets would be listed for around $80-$120. For the buyer, this was a still a pretty major drop in price compared to what they would have paid Bethesda, while the seller was still positioned to make good profit, especially if they had bought several helmets in one order.

Second, experienced resellers recognized that these helmets were never coming back in stock. While Bethesda’s website has the option to sign up for in-stock alerts on the helmets, the odds of that happening are, well, pretty slim. For Bethesda to mark these helmets down so heavily, essentially throwing a fire sale for them, indicates that they were a failure.

NCR Veteran Helmet Discount

While a good amount of helmets sold at retail, Bethesda was clearly uninterested in holding stock for the long term, and expected them to be out the door in minutes. When that didn’t happen, Bethesda sought to get rid of them at any cost. This failure to perform pretty much guarantees a product will not be brought back, regardless of demand.

Just because Bethesda wasn’t interested in holding helmets for the long term doesn’t mean resellers felt the same, at least for the smart ones. In fact, Bethesda washing their hands of the product was a huge green flag for resellers, as it eliminates one of the major risks of holding a product: surprise restocks. With a practically zero chance of additional production, resellers could simply hold the products as long as they want and sell for profit in the future.

NCR Ranger Helmet Resell

As for the long-term value, these helmets are very likely to go up. Currently, the discussion around them is centered on their sales figures and relative popularity, tarnishing their image. However, if you zoom out and look at the situation, it’s clear that the helmets have a lot of potential.

A total of 5,000 were made. Not super limited, but rare enough to be collectible. The helmets are highly detailed, accurate replicas, and very well made. In addition to the high quality of manufacture, they are functional and wearable, with glowing eyepieces. They make for great display pieces, as well as usable for cosplay, and are official Bethesda products.

It’s likely that we will see the price for these helmets rise in the future as more and more shift hands from resellers to collectors, and the overall discussion shifts from their price to their actual value. As of now, most eBay listings for the helmets are at or above the $200 mark, a significant increase over retail, and recent sales usually exceed the retail price of $150.

Did you manage to get in on the sale, or did you miss out? While sales like this can seem like rare opportunities, you’d be surprised at how often they come up. Whether through price errors or a desire to move stock, companies sometimes put items up for prices dramatically lower than you’d expect. If you missed this sale, maybe it’s time to look into joining a network of resellers, and getting alerted to the next one.

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