It is time to update the ongoing Tool Fear Inoculum vinyl saga. I have posted about it before, this was when I brought it up as part of a larger look at vinyl prices. While I want to cover that latter topic again, this Tool thing has grown legs of its own now and deserves its own post.
Last I wrote, the band had offered an ultra deluxe 5 LP, signed version of the album to VIP ticket holders at concerts. The box was priced at $800 for them. A “normal” (or, uh, unsigned) version of the box was made available to the public in April for around $160. I secured a copy, even though I’ve had a bit of a year and have better things to spend my money on.
My last line about the Tool LP package in that post has me cracking up right now:
“These will be flipped very hard when they hit in April, no doubt about it.”
It’s LOL time. Quite the opposite of being flipped hard, it turns out there is plentiful supply of the 5 LP box set. As soon as the boxes hit the market it was clear that supply was going to outpace demand. $160 quickly turned into $130, then the Discogs median crashed into the $99 dollar range. It is very easy to pick up a copy of the 5 LP box set for $99 plus $8 or so shipping today, months after release. Brick and mortar stores will sell them at cost just to get rid of them, which is a touch more than online pricing but should tell you something about just how depressed this asset is financially.
It turns out I was wrong about something. But hey, in today’s climate of Record Store Day flipping and price gouging, can anyone blame me for guessing that the Tool box would go for big money? I was far from the only one – many Tool fans rushed to get their pre-orders in, with good old FOMO (fear of missing out) playing its part in the modern vinyl economy.
Before I move on I do want to mention something – I am not, at all, mad about this. I wanted Fear Inoculum on vinyl and I have it. It’s not “worthless” by any means, though it is worth less than what I paid for it. It is an album I really wanted to have on vinyl and now it is on my shelf – its financial value is not a concern beyond any possible replacement cost from a disaster of some sort. I don’t feel “ripped off” because the price is less than I paid for it. I don’t complain when a record has a secondary market value far above its retail price, so I’m not gonna cry over spilled milk if one isolated album actually was pressed beyond demand.
If the Tool vinyl saga ended here, it would be a mildly funny but not all that out there story. It’s almost a nice thing – in the age of vinyl scarcity and supply constraints, a group of fans got a deluxe format for not a bad price. But, alas, the saga does not end here.
This is actually the third time I brought up the Tool vinyl in a post. I also covered it in a post called “Sticker Shock” when the world first learned of the deluxe box. I’ve updated it once to reflect a lower price point than what I originally anticipated, and I’m about to update it again to reflect that almost everything I said in that post is now bullshit. Or actually, it isn’t.
Here’s a choice cut from the Sticker Shock post:
“After all – if the vinyl takes up 5 sides, that only requires 3 LPs.”
It’s true – the deluxe version of Fear Inoculum is on 5 single-sided vinyl records with etchings on the other sides. That would easily fit on 3 LPs, it’s very obvious. It was obvious to me when I typed it in February and it’s obvious to Tool and their record label, who will be releasing a 3 LP version of Fear Inoculum in August. The price point for this release is running around $65.
On the surface it does seem funny that there will be a $65 version of the record when a $99 deluxe version can be had. But hey, in today’s economy, that $35 difference can add up. It saves money, it takes up less space than the gigantisaur 5 LP box, it (probably) isn’t insanely reflective and impossible to photograph like the 5 LP box. This version also has unique artwork from guitarist Adam Jones, so I’ll bet even some people who bought the big box will also buy this. Tool fans are easily parted from their money, we’ve certainly seen that in action. (I will not be buying the new configuration, for clarity’s sake).
Something else I said in Sticker Shock still rings true – Aenima is not readily available on record, the original pressing is scarce and costs several hundred dollars. And yet that’s better than the status of 10,000 Days, which is 16 years old and has never been pressed on (official) vinyl. But here we are with now two official pressings of the most recent album. That is one point several fans have been up in arms about that I can’t fault them for. I too would like to have vinyl copies of both of those records.
Of course, no one outside of the usual channels knows if there are plans for pressings of those other albums – we’ll find out if an when pre-orders open, more likely than not. It would seem strange to essentially flood the market with Fear Inoculum yet ignore highly sought-after versions of past records. But Tool is a strange band, so I won’t place a bet on it either way.
And so now, finally, I can (probably) lay the Tool Fear Inoculum vinyl saga to rest. My old “Sticker Shock” post from February seems freaking obsolete now, and even the blurb in the other post barely covered the tip of the iceberg with how this whole ordeal panned out. But hey, it’s hard to complain about having a ready supply of something on vinyl, given the scarcity and supply constraints still gripping the industry.