The Passing of Wizard
January 31, 2011

 

Well, by now we’ve heard and read eulogies to the passing of Wizard and Toyfare magazines ad naseum. Regardless, I felt remiss in not sharing my thoughts on the matter.

Basically, I find that the cancellation of these two magazines saddens me. Quite a bit, actually.

The ironic thing is that I hadn’t read either one in years.

I used to read each faithfully. I remember picking up the very first issue of Wizard from a little comic shop across the street from Valley Fair Mall in Santa Clara, CA. Man, I loved it at the time, and read it for years.

Some time later, when Wizard Publications launched ToyFare as a special issue I ate that up, too. And, when it became a monthly I was there…each and every month. I even sent away for some of those awful slapped together Toy Biz exclusive figures they offered.

But, as time wore on I found two things happening. News and information was becoming far easier and timelier on the internet, and the reporting found in both periodicals began to slide. I always had issues with the price guides that both magazines used to run that artificially inflated the secondary market prices of comics and figures that should have been easily available on shelves. But, as Wizard grew in popularity and influence I would see comic retailers pull issues from their new release wall…bag and board them and put them behind the counter…complete with a marked up price! It was, frankly, sickening.

Action figures experienced a similar fate as figures that were featured in the Hot 10 list started disappearing from the pegs (if they even made it to the pegs and not out the back door of TRU). I always wondered how a figure was in the Hot 10 list that was prepared for press 3 months prior when the figure hadn’t even made it to stores yet.

It just wasn’t right.

But, eventually both magazines dropped the price guides…but, what was left was lacking in a lot of cases. Interviews in both magazines were typically softball questions, information was often erroneous and as time wore on the page count began to dwindle to the point that neither magazine was worth the cost.

For me, anyway.

The funny thing is, over the years I have met and talked with many folks who worked for both periodicals in either an editorial or content capacity. They loved comics and toys as much as I, and were generally good folks. So, I never really got the disparity between them and what came out in the magazines each month. I certainly wish the very best to folks who are now finding themselves out of a job due to the shut down. From one unemployed person to another…may you all land on your feet soon!

So, eventually I stopped getting them. Wizard first. I can’t even remember when I dropped Wizard. Toyfare fell a couple years back, but I would pick up an odd issue here or there about once or twice a year. The last issue I picked up felt no thicker than a regular comic book. The page count had been slashed dramatically.

Still, I am sad to see them go. I’m sad that I won’t be able to walk in to my local Barnes & Noble or Borders and see two visually appealing, full-color magazine devoted to two of my favorite hobbies. Sure, Tomarts and Lee’s are still out there…but they’ve become little more than bound press releases with next to no editorial content. 

Comic Buyers Guide and The Comics Journal are still out there, too. Maybe they’ll pick up some former readers (‘though, someone going from reading Wizard to reading The Comics Journal is in for quite a system shock, I think).

So, rest in peace Wizard and Toyfare. You will be remembered for what you once were to me and you will be missed. 

 

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Jeff Cope
Jeff Cope has been collecting toys and action figures since he was a wee lad growing up in the 70s, and is still waiting to grow out of it. He's been involved in the online collecting community since he first started writing for Raving Toy Maniac in the mid-90s, and is proud to call AFi his online home.
Read other articles by Jeff Cope.

 

 

 

10 Comments »

  • David N. Pender says:

    This reminds me of nwhat happened to Starlog which had been my favorite sci-fi source for years until about 1994 when I became tired of them thinking a lot of the Disney animation was science fiction and it wasn’t. I quit it in favor of Sci Fi Universe which ran for more than four years and I miss it more. The internet has gotten bigger and will continue to grow. I will weep for Wizard and Toy Fare the way I did for Starlog but we will always have the memories and that is something the internet will never take away.

    • Jeff Cope Jeff Cope says:

      Ah, Starlog…I remember picking up the first issue of that, with the Star Trek TOS cover (of course, all there was back then). Loved the magazine back then. But, as it went on it had such cheap looking production values. But, yeah, I read Starlog for years.

  • Erik superfriend says:

    I too have Wizard #1, from when it hit comic stores. I picked it up here or there. I too have not read either for years.
    .
    Toy Fare had to battle for my money with Lee’s. I subscribed to both of them over the years. And I still love some of the early Twisted ToyFare Theater comic like strips they ran in the beginning. I still think my favorite is: Luke Skywalker on Tatoine talking to the ghost of ObiWan. All of a sudden a ghost trap pops up. The Ghost Busters show up and capture ObiWan in the trap. Makes me laugh just remembering it.

  • Danny CantinaDan says:

    I’ve subscribed to ToyFare for years. Maybe I’m just an easy guy to please, but I still like it. Its the best mail I get all month. I mean, besides coupons to Bed, Bath and Beyond. At least the guys at ToyFare had the time, connections and resources to give us some cool insights into vintage lines with creator interviews and such. I’ve tried to track down insider information on vintage stuff for blogs a number of times only to come up empty handed. I’ve always felt that if Toyfare had focused more on that sort of thing, rather than trying to compete with the interwebs for the “latest” info, they may have been able to survive. Sad to see it go.

  • Greg says:

    Being a journalist, it is sad to see any publication fold. But, you guys provide me with the information that I want to know about so I haven’t picked up a ToyFare except to flip through it. I get all my news from you guys. So, thanks for doing such a good job, er… I guess. Weird, huh?

  • Shellhead says:

    I used to LOVE both magazines. But they kept dropping in page count and quality. Wizard was dropped at least two years ago, but I kept with Toyfare to the bitter end (in fact, I think I re-upped less than a year ago). TF wasn’t very good the last six issues or so, but they still have decent articles and some nice sneak peaks, especially of Mattel and Hasbro stuff. I’m sad to see them go, but I can’t help but think they did it partially to themselves.

  • red Ricky says:

    Jeff summed my feelings for Wizard & Toyfare perfectly. Specially the part about Market Manipulation. I never quite understood how they were able to deem figures & comics that hadn’t been released yet as “hot”. So in my mind, they contributed to the comic book publishing era of “greed is good” and “multiple foil-stamped covers with holograms are even better”. Plus it irked me to no end, the fact that in order to read and enjoy the next installments of the latest Teen Titans, Dark Victory and/or Flash epic… I had to fork over $4.99 for the Wizard Magazine Coupon; plus the $3.99 for the 10 page ½ Issue Comic.
    .
    Sorry for the rant. But after 7 years, it’s still “too soon” for me. And it’s not so much about the money. I didn’t end up spending it. It’s more about the experience of having to chose between reading an incomplete story, paying extra for the Wizard issues, or interrupting my reading and waiting for the trade. I opted for the latter, and I’m sure that in the end, those “0” & “1/2″ issues hurt more than they helped. I for one felt like I was being “held up” instead of being offered an extra.
    .
    Anyways…
    .
    Not everything was bad. Toyfare’s Mego Theater had to be the precursor, or at least influence, the development of Robot Chicken. So that’s good. Plus, I always loved their dedicated issues. Specially the ones that took a comprehensive look at the Good, The Bad and The History of series like The Avengers, JLA and Kingdome Come.
    .
    But at the end of the day, it all has to do with the prevalent “tunnel vision” this industry has. To me it seems as if they never looked for different distribution channels and/or alternate means to market themselves. I mean, right now I get like 3 different magazines that I don’t even bother reading. But since they were given to me as “a gift” from my credit card company, I figured “what the hell”. However, if Wizard and/or Toyfare had been offered to me; or in one of those list promotional subscription lists, hands down I’d be getting them instead of say… Entertainment Weekly.

  • Rye says:

    All the comments remind me why I dropped Wizard a few years back as well. In addition to the above problems they also seemed to pad its dwindling page count with such crap as Top 10 Lists. Its a shame that a magazine that started off so strong ended so weak.

  • PhilWright says:

    I figure the writing was on the wall as far as the magazines go. print in general is in trouble in the U.S, and the quality of both magazines declined over the years. I mean when I pick up a toyfare or a wizard, there was usually only one thing in each magazine that I would actually look at, the rest was just filler.

    It’s a shame, but I don’t think anyone thinks that it was undeserved.

  • Lt. Clutch says:

    I remember when Amazing Heroes competed with CBG back in the 80’s. Then Wizard arrived in 1991 and AH went out the door. I picked up the first issue of Wizard and it felt different, more “hip” as it always tried to be, but still inclusive and respectful towards readers. By 1997, I was only checking it out for mere shock value. Much like the speculator boom that it helped fuel, the Wizard empire grew too big for its own good.

    I haven’t checked out Lee’s or Tomart’s in years but have been thinking about it. Too bad their format has changed as well. Despite the Internet, there’s a timeless quality to print magazines that never fades away.

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