Yeah. I know it’s been MONTHS since I blogged anything here. But this isn’t my New Years Resolutions post. That’s not for a few weeks. No, THIS is a Christmas post. And you know what I find interesting…?
I haven’t forgotten about this space. I’ve got a half dozen blogs started and another half dozen or so rattling around in my skull. You’ll see more from me here in 2012.
It was a one year ago today that I got the early morning call from Jesse Falcon that our dear friend Eddie Wires had passed away suddenly in the night, at the age of 38, while at his workbench doing what he loved – painting action figure prototypes. For everyone one that knew him the hole in our hearts that Eddie left with his passing is still there, and some days are tougher than others… like his absence felt all week at Comic Con last month, but we continue to celebrate his life, his work and his legacy.
Eddie’s brother Jason is caring on with the family business and is growing Wires Productions to new heights. Expanding from just prototype painting to include molding, casting and 3-D printing. Taking the company and fulfilling the dream of his brother to be a full service studio. As a remarkable tribute all of Eddie’s clients including DC Direct and Diamond Select stayed on with Jason, not just in memory of Eddie, but also because of Jason’s enormous talent. You can check out Jason’s amazing work at www.jasonwiresproductions.com/
At Comic Con last month it was my intention to do a panel about the legacy and work of Eddie Wires. Unfortunately Comic Con wasn’t convinced there would be an audience for that, and passed on it. So instead I took some time at the end of my other panel to talk about Eddie since most of the panelists were his friends and the audience was familiar with his work. Abby and I, along with many of Eddie’s friends had the opportunity to raise a glass to Eddie on Saturday night along with Jason.
Eddie’s passing at such a young age is a constant reminder to not put things off -not your dreams, not your health, not your responsibilities, not your relationships. Don’t keep putting that stuff of to some theoretical "someday." There will always"someday" out there you can keep pushing things off to… until there isn’t. Do it now. Do what you love. And most of all – be happy.
There’s a disturbing trend in the retail world. It’s not new, but it looks like it is becoming more pervasive in the stores that I frequent. I first noticed it at Toys R Us stores in 2009 , but now I am seeing it at some of my local Targets as well.
I don’t know if this "device" has a real name or not. If it does I’d love to know what it is. I call it "the shopper stopper," and what it is, is a little rubber grommet that fits on a shelf peg and keeps the minimal stock that the store has have pushed forward to give the "illusion" of full pegs worth of product. Literally there will be one figure on the peg pushed forward.
But it’s a shame, a facade and not a very good one at that. And in this age of recessions, and stores struggling to make projected sales it just seems lazy and dumb.
Is it really easier to put one figure on a peg and push it forward than to order new product and actually have your pegs full of product people want to buy?
This is a blog that I started over a month ago, that I keep putting off, because it was just too painful and finishing it would make it all the more real. Tonight at a Dave & Busters in Georgia and in a few weeks at New York Comic Con there will be gatherings of friends and family to celebrate the life of Eddie Wires. I’m not able to attend these because of other family obligations, but still wanted to participate by posting this blog:
THE FIRST AND LAST TIME I SAW EDDIE WIRES
There’s a lot of great stuff in the middle of these events with my friendship to Eddie Wires, but in this blog I’d like to talk about the very first time I met Eddie and the last time I saw Eddie.
I don’t remember exactly what year it was, but it was roughly10 or 11 years ago, and it was in June. It was Eddie’s birthday. These days there’s always an easy way that I remember when Eddie’s birthday falls. The pants tell me so. You see there’s a little “Easter Egg” on one the Marvel Legends/Hulk Classics figures that Eddie painted. In wave 2 of Hulk classics, if you were one of the people fortunate enough to find one of the Absorbing Man figures in that wave, on his prison pants there are a string of letter and a string of numbers that are supposed to be his prison ID. The letters are “PRJFEW” That stands for “Jesse Falcon, Phil Ramirez and Eddie Wires.” The numbers are “060572” That’s Eddie’s birthday. June 5th, 1972.
Back to the first time I met Eddie. This was still pretty early in my “toy journalism” career. I was a new friend with Jesse Falcon of Toy Biz (Now Marvel) and he was in LA for some meetings. I was working for Disney Animation at the time so I had free access to Disneyland for me and 3 friends. I wanted to introduce Jesse to another friend of mine, Chris Tallman, who like Jesse was into improvisational comedy. At that time Chris was working for Disneyland as the Mayor of Frontier Land. Jesse, Phil Ramirez and I headed out to Anaheim to the“Happiest Place on Earth”.
Fast forwarding past spending the day at the park riding rides, talking nerd-stuff and then having several drinks at the Anaheim House of Blues. Jesse invited Chris and I out that night to celebrate the birthday of one of their friends, who was also a painter for Toy Biz… Mr. Eddie Wires.
Before working in toys Eddie was a bartender at “Dave &Busters” in several cities. For those of you that might not be familiar with “Dave & Buster’s” it’s like the adult version of Chuck E. Cheese; great food, lots of video games and some VR stuff thrown in.
That’s where he met the love of his life, Jennifer, who would later become his wife. Jennifer still worked for “Dave & Busters,” as a manger and helping new locations open all over the country. That’s where Eddie’s party was, at the “Dave& Busters” in the Block at Orange. That was our night; meeting Eddie and his friends,hanging out with Toy Biz guys, free food and free video games all nightlong. It was like we had died and gone to heaven. To this day that night is still in my top 5 greatest days of my life. Chris and I couldn’t stop grinning that night.
At the amazing center of it all was Eddie Wires. There was no weirdness about these two goons crashing his party. Any friend of Jess and Phil’s was a friend of his, and he was more than happy to talk toys and shoot the digital undead with these strangers until the sun came up. After 10 minutes it was already like we had known each other 10 years.
At the end of the night he hugged us and we exchanged emails. That was just Eddie. If he knew you, he hugged you. I think all of us have been the recipients of voice mails or emails from Eddie informing us that the next time we saw him that we could expect to have his arms around us. And he was always a man of his word.
That was the first time I saw Eddie Wires.
Now for the last time….
This past July Eddie asked Abby and I if we wanted to share a hotel room with him at Comic Con. Eddie always stayed at the Marriott next door to the con and for the past5 years he’s always allowed the AFi team to use his room as a hub for dropping stuff off, checking email, uploading stuff or just taking a break. This year he suggested “why not just stay?” The idea made a lot of sense to us so we did, and it was great. We loved being able to spend 5 days with him, catching up, and talking about what was cool at the show, just being with Eddie for 5 days. I’ve really missed him since he moved to the other side of the country.
We had 5 amazing days, and went out a few nights. Then it was time for the show to end. Anyone that has been to all, 5 days of the con knows that by the end of the show you are ready to go home! It’s fun, but covering the show, the late nights, the early mornings, the crowds, the walking… ugh.
Eddie had mentioned several times in the last 2 days of the con that he really wanted to have diner with us before we got back on the road to drive back to LA. We wanted to as well, but we were tired, we still had to pack the car and unpack when we got home, and we wanted to beat the traffic of the thousands of people leaving the show. We kept debating weather to stay or go. Eddie said he was going to help the guys from Diamond Select break down their booth, so that was going to add even more time before we could go eat. But we had a lot of stuff to pack in the car… and then we came to the decision that it was Eddie. We love Eddie, we miss Eddie and we love spending time with Eddie, so we would stay. We loaded the car. He packed up DST, and then we went to eat… and we had such a lovely time. We were just in the Marriott pub in the south tower,but there was just something so… nice about that dinner. We even commented on it several times on the drive how great that was and how glad we were that we stayed.
Time really seemed to stand still that night. While it was only 2 hours it seemed like we were there all night. Talking about the con, our families, TV, movies, life, his band, and friends… everything. I’ve known Eddie for about 11 years, but it’s really been the past two years that he has really opened up with Abby and I and really gone beyond “nerdy talk” into a lot of meaty stuff and this dinner continued in that vein.
It really was the perfect evening. Anyone that has ever gone out with Eddie knows that it’s damn near impossible to pay for your own drinks or a meal. Picking up the check was one of Eddie’s superpowers. That night Abby had a plan and she snuck her card to the waitress before she came over to the table so we had the last laugh and did the near impossible… we picked up HIS check!
With the news of Eddie’s passing just a few weeks later,that evening is priceless to us. Thank God we stayed. We wouldn’t trade that for time anything… anything except for the chance to see him and talk to him just one more time.
Eddie really was the nicest person I have ever met. It’s easy to give lip service to a phrase like that, but searching the cobwebs of my mind I really can’t think of a nicer person that I have encountered in my almost 40 years of life. He would give you the shirt off of his back, literally. And then he would secretly sneak away and buy you 10 more shirts.
Like everyone that interacted with him with any frequency we miss him like crazy every day. He’ll never be forgotten.
If you haven’t watched LOST then there may be some spoilers here– Just warning.
As I sit here watching the 2 hour recap of LOST before the 2 1/2 hour series finale I’m looking back on the past 6 years. So much emphasis is being put on "will they answer all of our questions?" and I’m sit here pondering that question the answer comes back for me personally - It doesn’t matter. Of course I’d LIKE a satisfying resolution to the series, but for me, it’s been such an enjoyable journey it doesn’t really matter. I watch a lot of television, some of it better than others. I watch dramas, comedies, animated shows. reality shows, sci-fi, shows from the UK… maybe too much TV. There’s a lot of crap out there, so you really have to look to find the pearls. I try so seek out SMART TV. I’m not watching "The Hills" or anything like that. LOST fits into my wheelhouse.
My favorite shows are always ones that try to surprise me and that’s what LOST has always had in spades. For six years, six seasons, week after week they blindsided me. I never watched an episode and at the end thought "yeah. That’s enough LOST for tonight." Every time as I was fast-forwarding through the last commercial break week in and week out I would think and sometimes SAY "ah, man.. there’s only 9 minuets left." There are so many shows that are predictable. There are so many shows that follow the same formula. LOST never did. As soon as you thought you had… may not a handle on it… maybe a thread you could hold onto, they would change it up again. I always appreciate it. That’s why some of my favorite shows in recent history are things like: The Wire, The Shield, Battlestar Galactica and LOST. These were shows where the creative teams were really trying to do something fresh and different.
I know there are lots of people that think it "Jumped the Shark" or that season 4 was bad, but I loved it. Week in and week out it was something that I looked forward to. I had this conversion with Jesse Falcon of Marvel/Toy Biz back around series 3 and his theory was that people that grew up reading comic books had an easier time enjoying LOST than for people that didn’t. LOST was written by people that loved comics as kids, they brought in current comic book writers for several seasons and it followed a very similar format. Comic book fans can make those leaps of faith that LOST demands – time travel, ghosts, people who talk to dead people.
I loved searching for clues each week. I loved looking for examples of "the numbers" showing up in each episode. I loved talking about the show with friends. I loved re-watching episodes as new information was revealed. I loved that they never dumbed the show down as the viewership changed.
Hatches, Other, Polar Bears, Smoke Monsters, Numbers, Men in Black, Glowy-Caves, Men of Science, Men of Faith, Immortals, Flashbacks, Flashforwards, Flash-sideways. I loved every second of it. I’ll enjoy watching it all over again at some point, but I’ll miss it starting next week.
So for me, what is the island? What does it all mean? I don’t care. I’ve had such a good time watching that all that will just be the icing on the cake.
Thank you to all the cast and crew of LOST. It’s been an amazing ride. So much drama, so much suspense, so much fun.
Ok… it’s time for the last episode. I’m going to post this and shut my laptop off so nothing gets spoiled. See you all in 2 1/2 hours.
It was 30 years ago this past Friday that Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back was released in theaters. I remember when the first Star Wars movie came out, my folks asking me if I wanted to see "Star Wars." I was almost 7-years old at the time and I remember saying the words "I don’t want to see a bunch of STARS having WARS." Then my mom showed me the news paper ad and showed me that there were robots and spaceships and other things that I’d enjoy. They eventually talked me into it and we went that night to see the movie that changed my life. I think a lot of us have that same story. I was hooked. I got the early bird set for Christmas that year and begged my parents for everything Star Wars related for the next ten years. I had all of the figures, all of the ships, all of the playsets and had already ordered FIVE of the Boba Fett preview figures in the mail. I didn’t know who he was, but I had a lot of proofs-of-purchase so I was going to use them!
Cut to thirty years ago this past week the NEXT chapter in the Star Wars saga, The Empire Strikes Back was released in theaters and it was ALL I could focus on. I HAD to see that movie. I’m not sure that I even needed to see a movie that bad before or since. It was imperative. I had watched the Star Wars Holiday Special and it gave us a little more of that world to tide us over… but it wasn’t quite the same…
I was almost 9-years old at that point and my parents took my brother and I too our first 10:00pm movie- opening day. We went to the Southroads Twin, which had one of the biggest screens in town and a robust sound system. We arrived at the theater several hours early my day got tickets and we waited in line. God bless my folks for agreeing to do that. I’m sure they could have cared less if they never saw "part 2" of Star Wars, but they knew how much it meant to me and my brother. So they waited as the sun went down in a line full of fans. We were 3rd in line for the 10:00 show. They bought me the official program (I still have it) and we finally got inside and got some seats.
You know what happens next: Lights dim, "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….", Hoth, Imperial Walkers, Dagobah, Yoda, Cloud City, Boba Fett, Carbonite, Paternity Reveal ,Cliffhanger… my mind was blown! I saw it all on opening day. No spoilers for me on the playground. But now I had to wait HOW LONG to find out what happens next? What happens next.. that would be the topic of discussion for the next 2 years.
Thanks mom and dad for helping to fuel the fire. And thanks to the cast and crew of The Empire Strikes Back. That was movie magic, the likes of which I have rarely seen again.
I know it’s going to be controversial blog and idea to some, but I think Mattel should merge the Justice League Unlimited and Batman the Brave and the Bold action figure lines.
As I sit here, still in my pajamas on a sunny Southern California morning watching the latest episode from Batman the Brave and the Bold I can’t help but want figures of these characters, but I want them in an adult collector setting and design. I don’t need plug and play accessories or fractal tech gear or any of that other nonsense. I just want accurate representations of these characters with accessories that make sense. Ideally I’d LOVE to have them in a scale that works with some of my other DC animated figures, instead of starting over with an all new scale that fits with nothing. I’ve dabbled a bit in the current Brave and the Bold line, picking up a few characters here and there. I have yet to open any of them because they don’t fit in with anything else.
Then I think about my Justice League Unlimited collection. I love that line. I’ve been in it from the beginning and was the first person to post pictures of the figures on the Internet. This line, despite it’s flaws, will always have a special place in my heart and on my shelves. But, it’s no secret that the line has struggled in the past 2 year. The JLU line was set to end with the Grodd Target 6-pack, but like "The Little Engine that Could" these figure keep resurrecting and giving us more JLU plastic goodness. This blog is just me spit balling and brainstorming on a Saturday morning, so I might not have all the kinks worked out yet. I’m just going to put my thoughts down and you guys tell me what you think.
Mattel still views the Brave and the Bold line as a "kids" line, so much so that it’s not even managed by the Boys Action Play team that handles all of the rest of Mattel’s DC properties. Justice League Unlimited has been a hard sell for years because of a lack of media tie-ins. The B&B line is sold by every major retailer. JLU is a Target exclusive line.
The Batman Brave and the Bold TV show started off a little stumbly and direction-less as have almost all of the DC animated properties, but has morphed with the help of actual DC Comic writers and previous DC animated property staff into a love letter to classic DC stories and characters. It’s a great show that is steadily building it’s own universe and continuity. Brave and the Bold is starting to take on some multi-episode story-lines and their range of characters is only surpassed by JLU.
Justice League Unlimited is back on Cartoon Network now in reruns, but hasn’t had a first run episode in years. The DVD sales have done well for Warner Brothers, but the show in it’s original airing was so all over the place was almost impossible to follow. The final two seasons featured brilliant story telling and a shining example of how well the DC Universe works in animation.
I think if Mattel started making Batman the Brave and the Bold figures in the same scale as JLU without the "plug in accessory" holes it would really breath new life into BOTH franchises and would open up a whole new roster of characters for us to put on our JLU shelves. Characters like: Guy Gardner, Mera, Speedy, Aqualad, Ra’ Ah Ghul, Killer Moth, The Challengers of the Unknown and Detective Chip. It would also get us some key characters in other eras of costumes, and could finally get us a real Hal Jordan with a mask.
We’re already getting some fun and interesting characters in the Brave and the Bold line like the Metal Men and Black Manta, characters not seen in JLU. But if the line remains as a "kids property" we will never see the depth of characters put into the line that the show deserves. We’ve been told not to expect females in the line and anytime a question about Brave and the Bold comes up in the monthly Mattel Q&A’s we are always told that "Brave and the Bold is a kids line. If Collectors want DC characters bases on DC animation then Justice League Unlimited is the line for them." Does it REALLY have to be that way? is there something in the contract that makes them have to be separate? Is it "that’s just the way it’s always been" thinking holding the line back?
Here’s how I think it can work.
Separate but similar lines. We’ve already seen a version of this in action with the similar packaging, but different product both from Mattel in the DCUniverse lines (JLU and Infinite Heroes) and with Hasbro and their Star Wars lines (Legacy, Droid Factory and Clone Wars) Both of these examples allow for different styles, but similar product. Clearly the Star Wars example work as a better example of this than trying to match JLU and Infinite Heroes, but I think you get the concept. These lines can run along side each other and leverage off of each other to improve the overall health and longevity of both.
You still would need to work on the packaging concept as anyone that has found JLU mixed in with Infinite Heroes or Clone Wars mixed in with Droid Factory figures can tell you. The people stocking the shelves can’t tell the difference in subtle packaging. You could do a similar card design, but with a different colored backer for instance. There just has to be some blatant differance between the cards because just changing the chip or strip at the top doesn’t work.
Of course there will be some other kinks to work out as well. I know some fans of both properties will be protective of each shows style and not want to mix then on shelves, but it wouldn’t bother me a bit. If need be Mattel can keep the 5" kids line running separately, but at this point they are really missing out on capturing a lot more DC fans by embracing Brave and the Bold as an additional collectors line. It’s like they are leaving a suitcase full of money on the sidewalk and walking away from it.
So what do you all think? Am I crazy? A genius? Somewhere in-between? Tell me what you guys think!
Julius Marx was know the world over for 10 years as the title character in the long running TV cop-on-the-edge show “Hockuly!” Now he writes about and takes pictures of toys and attempts to put all his weird knowledge to work for him. He has been collecting toys his entire life.