AFi 5th Anniversary – Catching Up With Larry Marder
April 19, 2010

 

As part of our 5th Anniversary we are launching a new feature called "Catching Up With…" 

In the course of our 5 years here at AFi we have had the privilege of getting to know a lot of great people in the toy industry.  Some we meet at Toy Fair, some we meet at Comic Con, and some we were introduced to by other people.  Over the past 5 years things change, people move on, people switch jobs, sometimes companies close down, sometimes new companies are formed. It’s hard to keep track of it all.  We thought it might be fun to catch up with some of our old friends and contacts, the people who helped make us who we are and see what they are up to these days.  We will be running this feature all week and updates on and off as we get them


 

For our first entry in our new "Catching Up With…" feature we catch up with former President of McFarlane Toys.  I first met Larry 4 years ago when he was on one of my panels at San Diego Comic Con.  He did my panels two years in a row, and from what I know of him he is a class act.  He answered every question honest and thoughtfully, there was no corporate speak and you really got the opinion that he could make the hard decisions.

Before he started at McFarlane Toys, Larry was one of the pioneers in the self-publishing world.   His Beanworld comic features stories about the life and times of the Beans, minimalistic characters which Marder has been drawing since childhood. The stories borrow concepts from various world mythologies, popular concepts of ecology, and pop culture. The first issue was published in 1985, and the series ran 21 issues until 1993.

Let’s Catch Up With Larry Marder….

 

Previous occupation in the toy industry?

President of McFarlane Toys: 1999-2007

 

 What are you up to these days?

Creator of "Beanworld": A most peculiar comic book experience published by Dark Horse.

 

What did you learn from your time at your old position that you use in your new position?

Not much. I was a cartoonist and an executive in the comic book business before Todd McFarlane asked me to join him on an eight year detour into the toy business. When my work with him and the toy business was concluded, I went back to what I know best: Beanworld– in the world of comic books.

 

What do you miss about your previous position?

The people in the Tempe office. Ironically, virtually all of them have moved on to  new horizons also.

I miss talking and working with the folks at McFarlane Design in New Jersey, particularly Ed and Andy Frank.

 

What DON’T you miss?

The necessity for running changes.

 

How closely do you still follow the industry?

I watch from the corner of my eye. If something really cool happens, someone will tell me about it.

 

What trends in the past 5 years have you been the most impressed/surprised/ disappointed with?

The drift towards electronic and digital platforms as things-to-play-with has accelerated and re-inventing the purpose of action figures doesn’t seem to be  happening at all. Everyone seems to be making more or less the same sorts of figures as 15 years ago. Clearly innovation is long over due. A new Todd McFarlane needs to arrive out of the blue just like he did.

 

If you did get back into it what line/license would you love to work on?

I pretty much always liked everything I worked on. I wish I could go back and work on the Hanna-Barbera line with Scott Shaw! again. That feels like unfinished business to me. Same with the REH literary Conan figures.

What does the future hold for you?

FREE Beanworld Action figures have always been a great parody and marketing tool and will continue to be part of my convention set-up. Mass manufactured Beanworld toys….both in plastic and in plush would be a fun thing to do. At this point it doesn’t seem so much question of "if" but of "when."

 

We’d like to say a big "thank you" to Mr. Marder for being our fist volunteer for AFi’s Catching Up With…." 

You can read more about Larry Marder and Beanworld at these links, and you can buy collected editions of Tales from the Beanworld here

Daniel Pickett
Daniel “Julius Marx” Pickett has been around toys his whole life. The first line he ever collected was Mego’s World’s Greatest Super Heroes line back in the 70s. He has been surrounded by collectables ever since. In 1999 he was confounded by a lack of information and news about some of his favorite toy lines he was collecting. Since he couldn’t find the information he decided to pursue it himself thinking other people might also be interested in the same news. He started writing a weekly column on the toy industry and action figure for a toy news site and in a years time he tripled the sites daily traffic with his updates, reviews and product features. He built relationships with every major toy manufacturer and many sculptors, painters and mold makers. He grew his hobby into a world wide expertise that the industry has embraced. In 2004 he teamed up with his toy buddy Jason “ToyOtter” Geyer and they created their own website www.ActionFigureInsider.com. Daniel has been quoted in both industry and mass media press outlets. Over the years Daniel and AFi have been sought out as experts in the field. Daniel was regularly featured on “Attack of the Show” on the G4 network as the primary contributor to their “Mint On Card” segment, and our front page has been linked to from USA Today’s “Pop Candy” Blog twice. Daniel’s content has also been featured on MSNBC.com, Wired.com, Fark.com, Boing-Boing, Gizmodo.com, Ain’t It Cool News, the Official Star Wars blog, Geekologie, G4, CNet and Toy Fare magazine, among many others. He has consulted on toy lines, books, documentaries and TV shows. But all of that really just sounds snooty and “tootin’ his own horn” – the long and short of it is that Daniel loves toys and he LOVES talking about them.
Read other articles by Daniel Pickett.

 

 

 

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