Last week, a Florida mom petitioned Toys R Us to stop selling Breaking Bad action figures, using the tried and true family values argument. Nearly ten thousand people voiced their support, and then Toys R Us blinked. This helped fill out an otherwise uneventful news day (if you discount the news of Ebola landing on US soil) with a story that resonated widely by bringing together pop culture and human interest angles. The story was picked up by everyone from ABC News to Zimbio.
Mainstream media came out largely in support of the Florida mom and the actions taken by Toys R Us, and this prompted fans of the TV show and action figures to protest the protest. Action Figure Insider’s Daniel Pickett launched a counter-petition, keeping the story in the news cycle for another revolution. The petition to keep Breaking Bad on toy shelves has garnered over forty thousand signatures, but despite this, TRU has not reversed its actions. This leads me to today’s topic: who actually won this fight?
You might be surprised (if you already forgot the title of this article) – almost everyone comes out ahead.
» There’s more… click to continue reading Soapbox Sunday: Breaking Bad – When a Mom Protests Your Action Figures (Almost) Everybody Wins
Remember the good (or bad, depending how you fared) old days when there were toys that you actually wanted to buy on Mattycollector on their monthly sales dates? Those toys would sell out in hours, sometimes minutes. And while that truly meant missed opportunities through lost sales, the quick sell-outs became the barometer for successful products.
Fast forward to today. We’re a couple of days past the Mattycollector sale for October, and looking at the sale page, there’s not a single item on the page that’s sold out. There’s not even a single item that’s marked with the “Almost Gone” tag that Mattel would add to give you a sense of urgency to grab up those soon to be sold out toys. And for a company whose marketing team is so fond of saying “We’ll keep making them as long as you keep buying them,” I’ve got to wonder how much longer Mattel will keep making them, because we certainly not buying them – at least not like we used to.
» There’s more… click to continue reading Soapbox Sunday: Latest Mattycollector Sale Shows Shortcomings; How to Turn it Around
On the eve of New York Comic Con, I’m doing a bit of catch-up on a piece that our good friend Jedd sent in several weeks back, during the Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention. It’s a great interview with designer toy icon Frank Kozik. Be sure to check out Jedd’s own site, The Movie and Me, for his full coverage of STGCC and much more.
Frank Kozik with Marvel Labbit Rocket Raccoon – Image Credit: Vinyl Pulse
Artist and designer Frank Kozik is known in collectible art circles as the creator of the Labbit, but it also famous as a poster designer who created artwork for bands such as The White Stripes, Pearl Jam, The Beastie Boys and Nirvana. The commercial artwork he has done includes work for Nike, Swatch and MTV. Kozik was in Singapore as a guest of the Singapore Toys, Games and Comics Convention (STGCC) and I got to sit down with him to discuss his work. He was somewhat intimidating and frank and off-the-cuff, giving a detailed description of how Labbit came to be (it involves booty calls) and offering a surprising, piece of advice to aspiring artists.
Jedd Jong: What was the genesis of Labbit; how did you conceptualise that?
Frank Kozik: That’s an interesting story. In the mid-90s, I was going to Japan quite a bit, I was working with the people there. When I went over there for the first time, I was really in Sanrio products, was really into like Hello Kitty and Keroppi and stuff, I thought it was very interesting, the stuff they were doing. I liked how they did the characters, it was like super-perfect. What’s interesting is in Japan then, it was just something for low-class people. These were are sort of like snotty Shinjuku fashion dudes, right? And they’re like “what do you want to do, do you want to do cocaine on top of a mountain?” and I’m like “no, I want to go to Kitty Land!” And they all just thought I was crazy, they were like “what?!” They couldn’t understand, it was such a low thing for them. And I tried to explain it, I said “look, there’s something really interesting here. It’s like super-perfect way to develop a character,” like you got to get beyond who buys it. In the US, it became a really big cult thing.
» There’s more… click to continue reading STGCC 2014: Frank Kozik Interview by Jedd Jong
To be frank, I haven’t been paying much attention to the Mattycollector subscription drive this year. Last year, I did a fair bit of agonizing over Club Eternia before re-upping very late in the game. Sure, I chuckled a bit and wondered what was behind Mattel’s announcement that they would *limit* subscriptions for 2015 – but I still waited to see Mattel’s 1st quarter selections for Club Eternia, then subscribed without much further thought.
So it was somewhat of a surprise to see the subscription drama starting to unfold just like it did last year – with an impassioned plea from Toy Guru followed by a confirmation from the Four Horsemen along the lines of “hey, this isn’t a marketing ploy – it’s real.” To state the obvious, this is not good news for Mattycollector. And it begs the question if the collector-oriented site will follow Masters of the Universe Classics into the sunset after 2015.
» There’s more… click to continue reading Soapbox Sunday: Mattycollector to Close Doors after 2015?
This holiday season, I’ve found myself playing a fair amount of Marvel Heroes, the action RPG from Gazillion Entertainment. I was a big fan of the earlier Diablo games (not so much Diablo 3), and the team behind the first two games drove the development of this one. As such, the game may look a bit “classic” but the non-stop action coupled with the Marvel lore makes it a very fun experience.
Before I started playing, I wondered about what it would be like, since as a player, you are limited to choosing from the roster of Marvel heroes in the game (versus designing your own hero, like in many other RPGs). But with a steady release of new playable characters, it’s not all a bunch of Wolverines running around. Which brings me to my point – of *all* the playable characters (and a fair amount of villains in the game), there’s only one who doesn’t have an accompanying action figure in Marvel Legends – Squirrel Girl. It’s time for Hasbro to step up to the plate and make her!
» There’s more… click to continue reading My X-Mas Wish – Hasbro, Make a Marvel Legends Squirrel Girl Already!
Hope you had a good Halloween! Here’s some treats from the gang at Mattel.
1) With regards to 2014 / 2015, you’ve said that since there are two Snake Men left it’s likely to see them split across the two years. Does the same kind of rationale apply to Stridor and Night Stalker? Or is there too much tooling to consider them in the “big hitters” category that qualify for the next two years?
Our goal for 2014-2015 is to release all of the basic figures. How many beast or vehicles released has yet to be announced. We can tell you the more tooling a beast or vehicle has the less likely it will be released ?(unless a basic vintage figure like “Gwildor” etc.. which we will prioritize).
» There’s more… click to continue reading Ask Matty Q&A for 11/1
Last week, I suggested that Mattel is making a mistake by choosing the “bound” or “jail-suit” version of Doomsday for its San Diego Comic-Con exclusive next year. To summarize, I put forth that most people would prefer the “unleashed” version of the monster that killed Superman, and that with 2014 being the swan song for DC Universe Classics, going out on a whimper would be a disappointment to fans and Mattel alike.
And then I put it to you and asked which Doomsday would you prefer. So far, a couple hundred of you voted, and I’ve taken a look at the results – are any surprises in store?
» There’s more… click to continue reading Soapbox Sunday: Doomsday Unleashed vs Bound – By the Numbers (Yours)
If you’re a toy fan, even if you don’t know his name, you’re probably a fan of his work. Dave Cortes started his professional career at McFarlane, but soon went independent. I first became a fan when he worked with Toy Biz on Marvel Legends, but his work on the Mezco Hellboy lines is still the tops.
One of his recent projects is on the Dream statue commemorating Neil Gaiman’s return to the character. Dave talks about sculpting, including the transition to digital from traditional clay sculpting. Be sure to check out the full interview with Dave Cortes.
For those of us who are unfamiliar with the process of sculpting a collectible like this, can you give us a quick rundown? How does it generally work?
When starting a new project, I’m first given artwork, either concept or control art depending on whether it is a statue or articulated figure. I usually take reference photos for the projects, which means I’ll be dressing up one of my friends to shoot 360 images of them in a pose to get clothing detail and wrinkles which will make the whole modeling process go quicker. Then at some point I deviate from all reference and just do my own thing. About three weeks later we have something that everyone is happy with, then the model is prepped for 3D printing and the rest is out of my hands.
Do you miss sculpting traditionally or have you completely adapted to the digital medium?
I do miss traditional, but still get to do some here and there. I teach a traditional clay class as well as digital sculpting at SVA (School of Visual Arts), so I at least get to sculpt every fall with the students. Digital modeling is a great tool for the professional industry. There are many benefits to working digitally, so I will always suggest doing projects digitally for the companies I work for. At this point, I also favor the medium for my own work. I can work much quicker. But I do feel that my sixteen years sculpting in clay made the transition to digital easier, so I suggest some clay sculpting for every digital sculptor.
via Dreaming in Three Dimensions: An Interview with Dave Cortes | DC Comics.
Totally my fault this time. Toy Guru got our answers back to us on the 15th (all of them, this time!) but I was distracted winding down after New York Comic Con. My bad!
1) The new Masters of the Universe comics from DC have provided some new design twists for existing characters. What kind of collaboration is there between the Mattel design team and the comic book creative team? Do you consider the new designs on the table for MOTUC in 2014 / 2015?
The MOTU franchise team works very closely with DC on story lines and character designs. We certainly could look into DC designs in the Classics line, but not until after 2015.
» There’s more… click to continue reading Ask Matty Q&A for 10/15 (a Few Days Late)