Soapbox Sunday (the Late Edition): Online Feud Exposes the Ugly Side of the Toy Review Business

The Critic

There’s an old adage – do what you love, and the money will follow. In the world of toys (and probably every other industry), they should have inserted “sometimes.” There are some good examples where it works, like the customizer who parlayed his considerable talents into a professional sculpting career. There’s a lot of bad, like the dirty rotten scalpers who try to legitimize their businesses by opening “professional” online stores.

And then there’s the ugly. Yes, I’m talking about some “professional” toy reviewers.

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Soapbox Sunday: Did Hasbro Miss Their Best Chance to Release the Marvel Legends Bulldozer?

The Wrecking Crew

In just a couple of weeks, it will have been two years since Hasbro first showed us the Wrecker and Bulldozer, and gave Wrecking Crew fans the hope of completing that foursome in their Marvel Legends collections. We had gotten Thunderball and Piledriver as variant swaps in an earlier wave, and the plan was to do the same for the remaining pair by the middle of 2013.

But while the Wrecker made it to shelves, retailers threw Hasbro a curveball, necessitating a rebranding plan to tie Marvel Legends more closely to the Marvel movies. And we’ve been waiting for the fourth and final member of the Wrecking Crew ever since.

This begs the question – did Hasbro already miss their best chance to release the Marvel Legends Bulldozer?

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Soapbox Sunday: Top Ten DC Universe Classics We’ll Never Get

DCUC-Top-Ten-Never

With Doomsday and the Damian Wayne Robin in my hands, it’s starting to dawn on me that the DC Universe Classics line has finally come to an end – not a hiatus, as I had hoped when Mattel pulled the line from retail, but an end. So there’s no better time to talk about what-ifs.

We all have our favorite characters that never made it into the line. For this installment of Soapbox Sunday, I’ll take a look at my most wanted, and give you my picks for what if we could have one more figure from each of the DC family of characters. Then you can tell me yours.

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Soapbox Sunday: Breaking Bad – When a Mom Protests Your Action Figures (Almost) Everybody Wins

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.

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Soapbox Sunday: Latest Mattycollector Sale Shows Shortcomings; How to Turn it Around

Mattycollector Shortcomings

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.

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STGCC 2014: Frank Kozik Interview by Jedd Jong

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

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.

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