The Qualcomm processor is their mid-range 64-bit processor using a stock ARM design. It isn't particularly impressive and is outperformed by the 805. Similarly, the Exynos processor is using fairly old processor technology.
I think the key difference is that it isn't as if the manufacturer separately sells the "rare" dolls at retail at a significantly higher price. Instead, they sell all of them for the same price, and create multiple designs, some of which are less common than others, which fosters a secondary collectible market in which the manufacturer doesn't participate.
The value of trading cards is in the secondary market. Topps (or whoever makes them now) sells full sets at fixed prices, and random decks at the same fixed price. They don't operate a separate single card market. The difference with these "lucky bags" is that Apple itself sells the contents at full retail in its own stores (and at wholesale to resellers). So since $349 might get you a bag with items that Apple sells for $400 otherwise, it might also get you a bag with...
It's considered a sweepstakes. In most states, contests must provide an equal chance to win with no purchase required. The closest Apple could do here is to allow anyone to enter a drawing, no purchase required, to win merchandise.
Yes, Verizon requires a dedicated SIM. The whole point about the Apple SIM is that it was supposed to make it easier to choose between plans, and make it easier when traveling. For instance, I may purchase a 30-day T-Mobile plan with 3GB of data, try a Sprint plan the next month, or activate a 7-day EE plan on a trip to London, all without having to get new SIMs.
I think Apple would love it if it could do away with SIMs altogether and just have it so that the customer could choose whichever carrier he or she wanted whenever he or she wants simply through software. It would significantly reduce the number of separate SKUs they need to carry. The carriers had become stodgy, anyway. I'm not sure why people are opposed to the phone makers trying to get the carriers to bend a little.