There was a price increase when it first went to Sephora (from my understanding THAT was the increase associated with Sephora being added to the supply chain). They went up to $16 last year around the time that they were announced for Sephora. Then they went up to $18 this year...I think right before Sci-Fi Lullabies. Unless both increases were associated with Sephora...all I know is that until recently only Sephora puchased lip tars came in the little pouches with the mini-brush. OCC orders came with the mini-brushes but not in the pouch.
As far as the stained ones go...I know they aren't opaque but the way that the OCC reps talked about them at IMATS NY they aren't considered "sheer" but more like a stained glass window would be...not opaque but not completely see-through. I think it's a plus though that they appear to be sheer in that video...it's always a plus to me if you can build up the coverage on a product versus needing to do something to sheer it out. They appear to be different enough to warrant trying them out. Just hope they expand the color options in the future.