Everyone on this forum seems to be in the same boat I was a few years ago.
We're collectors at heart, trying to make our way in the universe. All we want is to go into a store and see the figure we want hanging on the rack! But, the problem is we do this alone. We drive out of our way to destinations far and wide looking for figures that may or may not be there.
Some of us hate E-bay while others are willing to pay a premium to get the figures we want. The question everyone asks....is there a better way?
The answer is "yes" and many of you have already been doing it for years - get friends to help.
Be it forum, be it friend, find someone who's just as nuts about collecting star wars as you. You'd be suprised to find out how many fans are located next door. Chances are good the reason you don't find figures is because some of these people next door are competing against you! Don't compete, help eachother and your chances of finding figures increase tenfold!
I had a friend who missed the Jango Fett Preview wave and was bumming cause he wanted one. I said, well, I'm having a hell of a time finding a Dooku. Look for me and I'll look for you.
Within a week we had found the figures for eachother.
I also have a rockin' girlfriend who now knows Star Wars backwards and forwards to the point where she can even pinpoint figures for me if she's out. Not only that this girl lives with her cell phone so she always calls me if they have something I'm looking for. Damn I love that woman!
So my advice...band together with collectors in your area (or get yourself a kick *** girlfriend) - not only will you find the figures you want, but might also find out who the scalpers are in your town! If you really need a figure and don't like E-bay shop around. Eventually you'll find someone selling the figure you want at the price you want.
It's just that simple!
Never give up! Never surrender! Happy Hunting!