A new movie-based action figure line has recently hit the toy store shelves, and with it came the requisite round of internet complaining.
Complaints ranged from the sculpting, to the paint apps, to the articulation. Comments ranged from "some of the worst executed tiny line figures ever" to "horrendous" to "the fact that they have a sticker on the front stating that they are ‘highly articulated’ is totally bogus" to "they look like they’re carved from soap"
The figures in question are Spinmaster Toys‘ line based on The Last Airbender coming to theaters next month.
I’ve seen the figures. I even own one (but fully plan on getting them all).
I honestly don’t understand the complaints.
I picked up one of the Aang figures. It’s a nice sculpt and it’s very nicely articulated. I wouldn’t want more articulation in this figure.
The paint is pretty much standard for any mass market toyline. Up to part with any of Hasbro’s offerings, for example.
So, when I read the complaints referenced above I was left scratching my head a bit. Why the hate?
Well, frankly, part of the answer is it’s the Internet and message boards are generally full more of condemnation than of praise.
But, I think another piece of the puzzle is expectations.
I believe that there’s a segment of the online toy collecting population that has set it’s expectations way too high when it comes to a mass produced toy product aimed at the younger end of the demographic spectrum. I think some have taken the standards set by companies such as McFarlane Toys, and NECA and applied them to Hasbro, Mattel, Playmates, Jazwares and, now, Spinmaster.
Whereas a company crafting a product specifically for the collector markets knows that it’s going to either a) remain in it’s packaging for all eternity or b) be removed and remain displayed upon a shelf for near eternity. These products are expected to be viewed under great scrutiny by discerning collectors just looking for something to complain about, or possibly to have praise lavished upon it.
However, your general mass market toy is expected to be played with by kids who will do everything from play in their room, play outside in the dirt or in the pool or the bathtub. They will be dropped. They will be tossed against walls or trees. They will generally be mistreated and beaten until they, one day, fall apart. Very few kids will ever say, "Sigh. This guy could use a few more paint ops" or "I wish this figure had double knee joints like those crazy, expensive Japanese toys"
My daughter is 5-1/2 now, and she loves to come into my studio and play with some of the figures lying about. It took me awhile to be comfortable saying OK to that, but they’re toys, right? They were made to be played with. In fact, she just came in and is playing as I type this.
Now, I don’t mean to offend anyone. I realize we’re talking about my opinion vs the opinions of others. But, I do feel that when it comes to a mass produced line that some individuals in the collecting community (and i don’t mean to just single out the ones quoted above) need to relax. I don’t think it’s fair, or even logical, to hold mass market lines aimed at kids to what seems at times to be impossibly high standards.
I’m not talking about settling for less quality, but rather have a realistic expectations of what is possible given market conditions, budgets and retail pricepoints.
After all, they’re just toys, right?