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I don’t feel like going overboard on a big blog post today, so instead I’ll just gather a few neat things I’ve seen around the web recently.

First, Christophe of the Hall of Justice webpage has made a couple of really nice visual checklists for Mattels’ JLU and DCSH/DCUC lines. Click on each one to enlarge.

Speaking of DCUC, the first wave is now hitting sporadically at local Targets and Toys R Us stores, I haven’t found them yet, but Chris Karath has and he gives a really nice review of them along with his usual great pictures on his blog. Go check it out! And really, if you aren’t already reading Chris’ blog, you should be. He puts me to shame with his consistently great toy posts, among other varied topics. Another great toy related blog is Kastor’s Korner. Good pictures, good stories, good folks. 

Finally,  here is a bunch of Kenner Super Powers commercials from the 80s, thanks to the best time water ever, YouTube:

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Since I was in high school at the time these came out, I don’t remember them at all. But they’re pretty cool. And they make me feel like an old, old man! Dynomite!


Posted by Jason Geyer [2] Comments
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Recently a person who had been banned some time ago from the AFI forums wrote to demand that he be let back on the forums. Never mind the fact that he was warned multiple times before being banned (and the fact that almost no one goes far enough to even get banned from AFI) or that he continually goes to other forums to trash talk me and others here. What gets me is that he somehow thinks we are trampling his rights by not letting him post his rants here.

His rights?!?  Let’s get something straight: this is my website (and Daniel Pickett’s, and our mods). If you break the rules, we throw you out. You have no rights. The rules are there for a reason. Why is this something that happens over and over and over again, in every forum across the web? Seriously, somehow people think that being on the internet means that they can say anything they want, insult anyone they want, and whine, bitch, and complain about everything but when anyone disagrees with them then suddenly you are taking away their right to "voice my opinion". 

When this happens, I tell them the same thing I’ve always told them (when I can be bothered to actually respond to the many trolls out there): build your own damn website! Why keep trying to get into someplace that doesn’t want you? In this day and age, it’s pretty darn easy to set up a website for next to nothing. Heck, I’ve done it four times: from my original AF Archives, to Raving Toy Maniac, to ToyOtter, and now AFI. It’s easy

I’m writing about this partly because of the ex- forum member referenced above, and partly because of a message board that I was pointed to this week: Critical Mess.  Back when I was at RTM and my partner and I started the first toy forum, it really was the only game in town. When we had the inevitable troublemakers on the buzz, we played "good cop, bad cop" to keep the perps in line. But it was tiresome. Over time, some folks who wanted an alternative that was more in line with their way of thinking set up their own sites rather than deal with the clowns who never seem to get the message. Folks like the Fwoosh, AFHub, RingOfCollectors, LOG, Doosh, AFI, and yes, Critical Mess. These guys wanted something else and instead of endlessly bitching that they deserved to have things changed to fit them, they went out and did their own thing. And that thing is great!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking RTM. It still outpaces pretty much all other toy sites and is just as popular as ever; Bobbi & Rob have kept it minty fresh over the years. Heck, I probably post more over there than I do in our own forums! But I applaud the folks who did it their way, instead of trying to impose their views and disrupt peaceful communities who like being what they are. We may not always agree with them, but we sure respect them. The web is more than big enough for everyone, and is probably still not big enough quite yet.

So next time, before you think you need to question why a mod has deleted your post for the 20th time, why not look into a nice domain from GoDaddy with one of their introductory packages?  Because if you build it, they will come. Trust me (unless you’re Shocker Toys. I think that’s a lost cause at this point) But please get the hell away from here first. Go try Doosh; they take anyone! 


Posted by Jason Geyer [9] Comments
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They pull me back in!

Over the years I’ve "quit" collecting toys many, many times. But this past year I really thought that i was done for good. I had stopped picking up most current lines, I moved into my own house, and had about 75 boxes of toys that had been in storage for years until the mythical day that I owned a house. But now that i actually owned a house I found that I didn’t really want to display any toys at all in it!

After a few months, though, I did end up displaying a small assortment of representative figures from a choice selection of toylines: Marvel Legends, DC Superheroes, DCD New Frontier, JLU, Star Wars, and of course Super Powers. But it felt very finite that this was the collection, and everything else was destined to be stored or sold.

Hasbro made it really easy to quit Marvel Legends, but oddly made it too hard to resist picking up my first Star Wars figures since 2002: the Ralph McQuarrie Concept line. And in 2008 they’ll pretty much kill my resolve by finally bringing out the line I’ve waited for for almost 30 years- a new Indiana Jones figure line! From all 4 movies! And Mattel is doing its part by making sure I can’t pass up the DC Universe Classics line, maybe for years to come.  

But a big part of me still wants to stop. So what do I do? Go cold turkey? I was able to stop collecting comics in 1992 thanks to my apartment flooding and wiping out my entire collection (near full sets of Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men, and all their spin-offs). I somehow don’t think I’ll get so lucky with my toy collection, nor would I be quite so happy about it (the comics were insured at the height of their value, allowing me to buy a computer and a few more years of college). Luckily, I recently got my own office at work so if I choose I can display a few lines there. However, almost no one at work has toys so I also don’t want to go too overboard there. It does help a bit that I’m known as "the guy who used to design toys", although that really doesn’t help me get a date.

Hmmm. Maybe I should get rid of the toys after all!

But then what if they make figures to tie in with the upcoming Tintin films?  Man, I’m just screwed.

 


Posted by Jason Geyer 1 Comment
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Looking back on 2007, I think the number one complaint of most collectors has not been a lack of product range being produced, but the near impossibility of finding many, many figures. Although all companies are to blame, Mattel probably comes of harshest in the eyes of collectors for the crazy distribution and bizarre case packouts that we’ve seen in the past year.

JLU was all but non-existent on shelves (and Wal-Mart dropping the DC lines didn’t help) and certain DCSH characters like Two-Face, Blue Supergirl, and Batgirl were only seen sporadically. While it is understandable that some product shake-ups are inevitable, delaying the handful of new figures until later in the year and shipping huge amounts of Batman & Superman is just…odd.

Hasbro had its own issues, as recently seen by the dearth of Transformers toys at retail this holiday season. You’d think that someone would have thought that putting in a huge buy for the biggest toy tie-in of the year would be a prudent decision, but I guess the economy fears have played havoc with toy prognostication. The Star Wars lines suffered from a stranger fate: some waves were overly plentiful, and yet the McQuarrie figures continue to be in high demand with low availability. 

Will these issues be fixed this year? Probably not, but the backlash has been heard loud and clear at Mattel at least. Hopefully it has made enough of an impact to trickle up to management and they can streamline the supply chain for a smooth roll-out of product year round, just in time for the launch of DCUC and the relaunch of JLU. If they can’t fix the problems, though, I’m placing a bet for these lines’ early demise, much like the similarly distributed He-Man relaunch.

Look, we all realize it can be tough to get everything just right. But 4 years into a license is too long to not understand your audience or retail channels. And everyone wants to see a fifth year…they just don’t want to buy the 30th Superman figure to get it.


Posted by Jason Geyer [2] Comments
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And what have you done?

 Apologies to John Lennon, but this year I haven’t done anywhere near as much as I should have. Sure, I finally bought my first house and gained a couple of dogs (and a 40 mile commute! Yikes!) but I had planned on accomplishing a lot more.

A lot of things on the list are the old standbys that everyone always lists: lose weight, read more books, devote more time to your hobby, meet new friends, etc. But I also had a fairly ambitious list of goals for this very website, not the least of which is to blog at least once every single day. Considering just three days ago I told Julius Marx that I was going to blog every day for the next two weeks (during vacation) and I’m just now starting to do so says a lot.

So as of now, I’m throwing down the gauntlet publicly. We’ll see how well I do. One thing I am proud of is that we’ve brought on board the  invaluable Peter "Vader" Go who not only saved our bacon during our first real hack attack, but also has been working tirelessly to overhaul my half-assed setup of our server that left us vulnerable in the first place. The best part is that now we have the capability for some great new features and we’re working on AFI 3.0, incorporating all we’ve learned with new and better functionality for our readers and regulars. With any luck, we’ll be able to get it all online by Toy Fair 2008, which looks to have a fair amount of surprises this year.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without ol’ Julius Marx himself, Daniel Pickett. I’m a cranky guy, and I’ve had lots of partnerships that have just run their course or disintegrated due to differences of opinion on how things should progress. My tenure at AFI grew from what was supposed to be a brief consulting gig to a full fledged partnership, and I can’t remember a single day where Daniel and I weren’t on the same page. Daniel has to be the absolute nicest guy I’ve ever known, and 3 years on I still get excited when we make plans for the site. I’m pretty proud of what we’ve built here, and even more excited about the year to come.

Finally, I have to give mad props to our community that has stayed with us through hacker shutdowns, empty shelves, and Hal Jordan flame wars. You guys make it all worthwhile considering we still haven’t figured out a way to even recoup our costs for running this place! And even more important have been our motley AFI crew who also have kept this place a safe haven from the usual net madness: Ryan "Superfly" Prast, Mike "SDComics" Walker, Erik "Superfriend" Skov, Peter "Peter" Fries, Jeff "Alleycat" Cope, JJJason Chiveras, and Darren "Dare" Chia. You guys rock the house.

And now 2008 looms large. Will we see a renewed JLU line? Can the Horsemen fully revive Super Powers in DCUC form? Will I finally lose some weight?!? Stay tuned…

Happy Holidays, each and every one of you! More to come!  


Posted by Jason Geyer No Comments
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…every time I watch this!

From Cartoon Brew:

Colin Sanders, a game development student at UOIT,was frustrated by the quality of instruction in his animation class. Below is the animated piece he created for his final using all of the techniques that were taught by his professor. He concludes the piece with a “Thanks for nothing” note in the credits.

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Good stuff. Although I’m not sure how much he applied himself to only get that much out of the course ( I mean, c’mon; I’ve never taken a web course and I’ve figured out how to do a lot of stuff) but at least his sense of humor is working just fine.


Posted by Jason Geyer 1 Comment
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Over the past 15 or so years every new superhero toyline that springs up has been anointed as "the new Super Powers" by someone or other. I’ve always argued against it in every case, or just plain laughed it off. While Super Powers might not be able to compare to today’s manufacturing techniques that allow more detailed sculpts and paint jobs, and single figures might pale in comparison to a single modern sculpt, as a whole the line has never been surpassed in my eyes.

Because the whole line has always had as its key strength one characteristic that has been unmatched since: consistency. Consistency in scale, consistency in style, consistency in features and articulation. More than most line, you immediately know when you see a Super Powers figure just what collection it is part of.  And then you have the fringe benefits of the line being well thought out: every character can easily stand on it’s own, the action features make sense and are hidden, and pretty much every major character was included before the line’s untimely demise. Top it off with the added bonus of no variants and all new crazy characters added to the mix, and Super Powers was the proverbial lightning striking.

And as we all know, lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice. And up until now, no other line has come close to matching these criteria. Yes, I said up until NOW. But now, after all these years, I finally do think we’re seeing the true successor to Super Powers: Mattel’s DC Universe Classics. True, Mattel has stumbled around with the DC license for the past few years (they’re really stretching out that learning curve!) but after finally landing the master toy license they seem to have hit their stride. Although we won’t discuss the JLU line, which people somehow equate to Super Powers greatness based on depth of character alone. But I digress…

So why DCUC? Well, a huge part of the reason is the sheer greatness of the driving force behind the line: the Four Horsemen. We all already know that the Horsemen do a great job on everything they touch, but this line looks to be their crowning glory. How much of the direction being taken is their doing, and if Mattel plots out every little detail or just stands back and gets out of their way I don’t know. And to be honest, I don’t care as long as the direction seen so far stays that way! In any case, even if we didn’t know that the Horsemen were huge Super Powers fans, their work surely tells us this fact: the versions of Lex Luthor and Brainiac that have been released in the earlier Superman line are sporting their Super Powers togs. And of course we know that Mattel’s DC man on the scene, Scott "ToyGuru" Neitlich keeps a Super Powers checklist at his desk for comparison. And really, that new Hal Jordan Green Lantern figure sealed the deal for me. The Super Powers Green Lantern has always been (in my mind) the perfect realization of a comic character in figure form. It just stick outs from the pack for some reason. But the new DCUC Hal is just…awesome. If the final product looks like the prototype, it may be my new favorite figure.

And speaking of the character selection, with 15 characters down and only 19 more to go they are nearly halfway through the Super Powers roster with only the first 3 of 5 waves for 2008. And it’s doubtful that they can/will make Samurai, Golden Pharoah, or Cyclotron due to licensing issues so they really have only 16 more characters until they match exactly the Super Powers line-up. But outside of that line-up they’ve already produced iconic versions of many, many characters that Kenner never came close to touching, like Clayface and Etrigan. And dare I hope one day the Horsemen are given free reign to insert their own characters into the line from time to time? Probably not. But by the time the license expires in 2012 (if it isn’t renewed for some reason) we’ll have seen 150+ unique figures in this line. All in scale. All in the same style.

All completely consistent.

And that, my friends, is why for the first time I look forward to having a unified display to rival the only one that has been near to my heart for almost 20 years. God bless you, Four Horsemen. God bless you, Mattel. Now hurry up and fix JLU, you bastards!