Ok. So there isn’t a modern line of toys out there today that doesn’t have flaws, something for the average collector and/or fan to be aggrieved about when they inspect their new purchase.
I know I’ve found them. Loose joints, bad paint masks, bad tampo printing, oversprays, mold marks, splatters, frozen joints, scuffs, nicks, and on and on.
These things used to really bother me. I mean, really, really bother me, in an OCD/can’t stop fixating on them way. But now, today, they don’t anymore. Because I’ve come to a realization: flaws are inherent in the manufacturing process. They’ve always been there. The toys haven’t changed…I’VE changed. And it’s not just me.
When did this happen? When did we, as collectors, start expecting perfection in a cheap, mass produced item? When did toys stop being toys, and start being "works of art"? Was it when McFarlane pushed the boundaries of sculpting and modling in the late 90s? Was it when toy companies stopped targeting kids and started catering coley to adult fans? Was it the advances in molding technologies that allowed sculpts to be incredibly intricate while the painting and manufacting processes haven’t changed as much? I don’t know. But I do know my memories of always being this demanding are faulty.
Now, before I go further, let me clarify the difference between "flaws" and "bad decisions". I’m not talking about figures that look like bootlegs, or that can’t stand due to engineering mistakes, or ones that have clear mistakes, like two left legs. Those are problems. Scale differences are not flaws. Painted detailsinstead of sculpted details are not flaws. $5 figures priced at $10 are not flaws.
That said, it took Cantina Dan’s awesome blog that compared old figures to new figures to really open my eyes that figures have been far, far worse in general in the past few decades than they are now. I think when we have such high standards now for sculpts and articulation, when there are flaws it is that much more glaring to the critical eye. I’m not caring too much if Bob the Goon has a lazy eye, but the Riddler better damn well have multiple crisp, clean question marks on his jacket!
But you know what? I’ve been focusing on things that just don’t matter, even at my nerdy collector level. I’ve now realized that once these guys are displayed on a shelf, especially if they overlap each other in a tight group, I can’t see those flaws, even if I look hard. Yeah, my Metallo’s legs didn’t fit in the sockets. But superglue fixed that real quick. Yeah, the Eradicator’s goggles aren’t clear. But his eyes don’t really work, do they? Yeah, Shazam’s ankles have a bright red overspray. but who is looking at his ankles?!? I look back at my Toy Biz figures from the 90s, and wonder why I wasn’t enraged when those were out of scale, or badly painted, or had crazy articulation that didn’t make sense. I dunno, I just liked that I got a Swarm, and a Stegron, and Spat & Grovel (well, maybe not the Spat & Grovel!).
So look closely at the picture above and tell me what you really see: is it a bunch of figures that just aren’t as cool as they possibly could be, or is it sheer amazement that we have figures of all of these characters in the same year? I know what my answer is, and I’m all the happier for it.