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When I first started collecting toys back around 1990 I would run into other collectors sporadically (this being in the dark days before the internet collecting community at large had coalesced around USENET, for the most part). One way I would know that they were die-hard toy hunters was that they had had “The Dream”. Usually this centered around Star Wars, but every collector who I talked with had it at one point or another after they had become totally immersed in hunting down old toys.


Make no mistake, The Dream never involved new toys. It always started with you being in a store (most likely a store that no longer existed, frequently a department store that still had a toy section) and as you wander through the store you find all the toys you wish were still there brand new on the shelves. And tons of them: the first 12-back Star Wars figures, all MOC. The original run of Master of the Universe. The 3rd wave of Super Powers. Maybe a Bionic Bigfoot, or Micronauts vehicle peeking around the endcap. And even better, toys that were never made! A vintage Tie Bomber! A Bantha playset!  A whole rack of He-Ro figures!

And then you wake up.

Well, I didn’t have that dream often, but I did have it. Up until about 12 years ago, that is. And then it went away, probably because nothing was hard to find anymore thanks to eBay, and everything you wish had been made in the 1970s was now being made in the present day. But last night, I had the dream again! Sorta…

I dreamt that I was buying Marvel Universe figures. And not just the ones I’ve been passing up, but ones we haven’t seen yet, like the Lizard, and Juggernaut, and Wendigo. And even better, there were a lot of DC characters there too: Superman, Joker, Killer Croc, Blue Devil. All sculpted just like the MU figures. Now, I don’t know what this means. I’m in the process of dumping most of my toy collection for good, and I surely don’t need anything new outside of DCUC to take my money these days.

But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t do some mental calculations about just how much it would cost to catch up on the MU figures as soon as I woke up…

Posted by Jason Geyer [14] Comments
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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.


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Oh, did I say Star Trek review? I meant my presentation of the amazing cross between "Planet of the Apes" and  "Stop, Look, and Listen": the halucinatory classic, "One Got Fat".

I’ve worked for the past 48 hours with only 2 for sleep, so I didn’t see Star Trek. 

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Enjoy, you Star Trek watching bastards!


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So we here at AFI were talking amongst ourselves the other day and the question was raised, "why do some blog comments show a user’s avatar, but others don’t?" And it was a very good question, indeed.

And of course our very own Vader had the answer: Gravatar

Yes, my friends, Gravatar. 

You go to their website, sign up for free with the email you use for forums, wordpress blogs, comments, what-have-you, and upload your favorite avatar. Those programs then do a search whenever you post and grab the avatar associated with that email. You can register multiple emails, too, and it’s all free!

Sweet, sweet Gravatar…will you marry me?

(Yes, I realize I’m just avoiding finishing my Star Wars post at this point).

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Ha! I bet you thought this blog would be about toys!

Well, it’s not. But these things tend to overlap with the same target audiences, so I thought it was neat enough to mention here. First, my apologies for not having my long awaited followup to last years Rejected Star Wars concepts up today. I’m really hoping it will be up tomorrow to wrap up our anniversary week, but my day job is just using up every spare moment of my time right now, nights and weekends included. And sleep time. And bath time. And time I haven’t used yet.

So, not complaining, just explaining why some site stuff is late. Daniel has really stepped up to make our anniversary as memorable as always (did’ja check out the Power Girl unveiling?!?) along with he great companies who contributed items to our little celebration. I’ve enjoyed my time here immensely, and still can’t believe I’m a part of this whole thing again, thanks to Daniel.

Anyway, what the title is referring to is this nifty Netflix account analyzer. As a movie buff, especially a classic film buff, Netflix has been invaluable in watching a lot of stuff I wouldn’t have otherwise seen. But over the years I find that I’ve tended to go through periods of a lot of watching, balanced out by having those red envelopes sit unopened for weeks on end, only to be sent back unwatched. These days I’ve done far more of the latter, unfortunately. 

But how has the subscription been as a whole? Have I saved money over Blockbuster, or buying DVDs outright? Am I wasting that money each month I’m not watching my full amount? Well, now there’s an easy way to check it out! Just go here to the Netflix History Analyzer.  It turns out my investment has been well worth it (although I did cringe at seeing the total spent in the past 5 years!)And yes, I do still have the same three discs I was sent on Feb. 24th…


OK, that’s it. More coming tomorrow (if only more Bollywood goodness)!

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So it’s been 25 years since Marvel Comic’s Secret Wars Limited Series debuted.

For those who don’t know what that is, you really need to know only 3 things about it:
1) it was the first time a company put all of it’s major characters together in a company wide crossover that affected all storylines.
2) it was created because Mattel wanted a good "hook" to tie a toy line into, that used all the characters since Marvel had no current movies or TV shows on the air.
3) it really sucked.

Yeah, it was pretty bad. The art was rushed, the writing was abysmal, and the characters behaved very out of character. But, it did give us Spidey’s black costume (and therefore, also Venom) and a short-lived, yet beloved, toy line. And this year there have been tons of Secret Wars related articles, events, and merchandise. This is amazing because the series has pretty much been left alone since seeing publication back in 1984 (the less said about Secret Wars II, the better).

So what kind of things are out? Well, for starters, the new Secret Wars Omnibus is out, with an in-depth history of the toy line special feature by yours truly, with a photographic assist by our very own General Zod. Then you have the amazingly cool Hasbro Marvel Universe Secret Wars 2-Packs. So far we know that the first six are going to be  Spider-Man & Thunderball, Wolverine & Human Torch, Captain America & Claw, Black Costume Spider-Man/Magneto, Iron Man/Spider-Woman, Hulk/Cyclops. Supposedly all of them will be out by the end of 2009. The Captain America and Wolverine are resculpted from the main line, so we can only hope that the other repeats like Hulk will be similarily streamlined.


There are homages with smaller lines, too, such as the Monogram Miniature Alliance Secret Wars 2-Pack, and the new Minimates first ever Fan’s Choice poll.  And our very own Man of Action Chip Cataldo has been blogging about the crazy unseen SW bootlegs out of South America.As an added bonus, here’s a pic I recently found of my very first custom figures that I made back in 1990, which happened to be Secret Wars figure based (and a few Star Wars/ Indiana Jones efforts to extend the original line from 1985!) Note that I repainted Wolverine, but not shown are the black claws I painted silver. Oy.

And of course, we can’t forget our pals at the late, lamented Geek Week, who were ahead of the curve on this one:

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Ok, so I’m a wee bit behind on the blog. 


Lots of new stuff coming up this week for our 4th Anniversary, including a new story of never before seen by anyone Star Wars merchandise on Monday, and various features and goofy crap. Speaking of goofy crap, I was watching Slumdog Millionaire recently (didn’t care for it; the script had more coincidences and contrived moments than a George Lucas script) and it reminded me that I hadn’t posted a Bollywood video in awhile. So here is a little something to prime the ol’ blog pump, as it were,  and it should come as no surprise that it is once again a video highlighting my favorite Indian culture.

Near as I can tell, it’s a mash-up of She’s All That and Proud to be an American, with a dash of Ferris Bueller thrown in for good luck. So enjoy this fun, rap-filled rendition of "Pretty Woman":


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Of course, it’s no "Jai Ho".


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Or, when is green not the right green?

We all know Mattel has had some issues in the manufacturing of our favorite DC Comics characters. But the one that really puzzles me is how often the colors of the final product do not match the paint masters supplied by the Four Horsemen, or even the designs as seen in the comics.

Sure, they are the right color, per se. But they are not the right value of that color. And this should be a very simple process: your get a paint master, you match each base color to a Pantone guide, you figure out which parts are molded plastic and which are painted, you send these numbers off to the factory in China, and eventually you should get back some color chips that show the actual plastic that will be used, and what the base plastic looks like painted.  At this point you double check the samples against your original Pantone numbers AND the paint master. If they deviant, tweak them and send for new chips. This seems like a pain, but the manufacturing window is long enough that you should be able to handle at least 20-3 rounds of tweaks if necessary.But for some reason, what we see in the prototypes IS NOT what we get.

Case in point is the new Superman/Brainiac 2-pack shown at NYCC. The sculpts are great, but the green on the classic Brainiac (seen on the left)  is waaaaaay too blue, and waaaay too dark. In all the original comics he was more of an olive shade of green. Who makes the decision on what PMS was used? And is it too late to adjust it? See the original comic cover at right, and my quick photoshop mockup below left of what I think it should be. I just don’t understand going to the trouble of making these characters and not going all the way.



And speaking of color, check out the Superman on the right in the pic below, too.  If we’re going to get yet another Superman (albeit one with short hair with the new body) why not adjust the color on him, too, and give us a classic Superman in the shade of blue that the old comics used? The shade of blue that Christopher Reeve wore in the Superman movies? The shade of blue that was used for the Super Powers Superman figure? You get the picture. Fans don’t want to feel screwed with rebuying the same character,  so why not do everything you can to make it feel different?

How about it, Mattel? And if you need someone to double check your colors on any other upcoming figure, give me a call. Better to head these things off up front than let a substandard product go to market.

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