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Is Palisades Toys on the verge of being the "Next Big Thing"?

I first remember seeing Mike Horn at the San Diego Comic Con in 1998. He had a small table set up near the back, with some prototype two-ups of his Tekken 3 figures in lucite cases. My partner at the time, Eric G. Myers, and I were in a rush flying around the enormous convention center, trying to see everything in between the toy events we were organizing. We only had a few minutes to talk to Mike about his toys, and to be honest I thought he was just a distributor of Japanese toys at the time. But he was very friendly, very open, and we left feeling impressed with his clear enthusiasm for what he was trying to get made. At the time, I would have never thought that Palisades Marketing would turn out to be any different than the many independent toy makers like Antarctic Press and Skybolt Toyz.

Fast forward a few years and Mike (and members of his staff) have been frequent guests on those SDCC panels (now run by Daniel "Julius Marx" Pickett) and have cemented their status as not only a fantastic toy company, but still some of the nicest folks around. And there isn't anyone who now thinks that Palisades Toys is anything but one of the big boys of the business. As an aside, I know a lot of people have wondered what happened to my Ottertorials over the past year or so, and to be honest this is the one I've planned on writing as far back as early 2003. I kept putting it off for two reasons: one, I'm lazy. But two, I kept hoping that Palisades would land that one big license that would make me leap out of my chair and make the fanboy inside me yell with joy. You see, I've grown steadily disenchanted with the whole toy industry since becoming a part of it over seven years ago. And I've been covering it even longer for various websites. So what does Palisades have to do with my disgruntlement with the toy industry? More importantly, why would a new line from them maybe change my outlook?

Well, to start with, you might need to read an older screed I wrote lambasting DC Direct for what I perceived as their shoddy practices back in 2002. While I don't want to go back into that argument again, it might help you relate to how I see toy companies. Too frequently you see a licensed character toy being produced by Hasbro or Mattel or DC Direct or whoever and it's pretty far off model. In fact, this happens way more often that not. And if you might happen to question this, if you can get a response at all from the companies, you usually hear a litany of excuses that always boils down to the same things: "We don't have the time, that's the best the sculptor could do, it IS on-model, it costs too much to fix, the factory messed it up, etc". And sadly, too often the toy buying public (and not the kids or their parents, but the collectors who should be a bit more discerning) not only lap these excuses up, but then turn around and use them as gospel to refute anyone who questions the haphazard items. To all of these people and companies who tell me you can't make toys that have complete fidelity to the source material I only have one thing to say: Palisades Toys does it. Every time. Using many of the same talent that the other companies use. Again, and again, and again.



So why does Palisades do such a better job than most other companies? Well, to be honest, I'm not totally sure. I can make an educated guess, though. The toy industry is an odd place, and so many little things factor into each job that it takes almost a "perfect storm" of just the right ingredients for everything to fall into place to make fantastic toys like these. To begin with, no one person can totally control every aspect of production. And even if you do have final say on most aspects of production, it's tough to make sure that one unifying vision is what guides the process the entire way through. But Palisades has somehow done it. By all accounts, a large part of this is due to Director of Product Development Ken Lilly. Ken has been willing to put in the very long hours, hard work and attention to detail that it takes to make sure that everyone (designers, sculptors, painters, etc) are on the same page. It's a testament to his guidance that you'd be hard pressed to recognize who did what on each figure. At most other companies each figure wears the distinct markings of the sculptors like fingerprints. But Palisades understands that to make perfect representations of each license you need your input to be invisible. And that's one big reason why their products are always in scale and totally consistent in style through the line. Many, many other figure lines look like they're feeling their way through the life of the line, changing and evolving with each assortment as they figure out where the line is going. Palisades has it figured out by Day One. Packaging might change, but the first assortment always looks as good as the last assortment.



Well, to start with, you might need to read an older screed I wrote lambasting DC Direct for what I perceived as their shoddy practices back in 2002. While I don't want to go back into that argument again, it might help you relate to how I see toy companies. Too frequently you see a licensed character toy being produced by Hasbro or Mattel or DC Direct or whoever and it's pretty far off model. In fact, this happens way more often that not. And if you might happen to question this, if you can get a response at all from the companies, you usually hear a litany of excuses that always boils down to the same things: "We don't have the time, that's the best the sculptor could do, it IS on-model, it costs too much to fix, the factory messed it up, etc". And sadly, too often the toy buying public (and not the kids or their parents, but the collectors who should be a bit more discerning) not only lap these excuses up, but then turn around and use them as gospel to refute anyone who questions the haphazard items. To all of these people and companies who tell me you can't make toys that have complete fidelity to the source material I only have one thing to say: Palisades Toys does it. Every time. Using many of the same talent that the other companies use. Again, and again, and again.


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All images, format, content, and design are copyright © 1996-2005 Jason Geyer unless otherwise noted. No part of these pages may be reproduced without express written consent of Jason Geyer. Licensed character names and images are copyright © their respective companies. But hey, ask me; you just never know what I'll say.

 

All text and commentary are the opinions of the authors solely, and not to be attributed to any other parties.
All images, format, content, and design are copyright © 1999-2008 D. ”Julius Marx” Pickett unless otherwise noted. No part of these pages may be reproduced without express written consent of D. Pickett. Licensed character names and images are copyright © their respective companies. But hey, ask me; you just never know what I'll say. - Logo Design by Matt Cauley. Web Design by Jason Geyer.