Lights, Cameras, Music!

Everyday all across the world there are nerds humming and whistling their favorite movie themes or show theme songs. Chances are, that tune was composed by the great John Williams. Here in sunny California, at the Hollywood Bowl, there is a yearly concert put together by the Maestro of the Movies himself to celebrate not only his own works, but the art of live orchestra in movies.

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The best part of this concert is how easily accessible it is to all fans. Tickets start at 15 dollars for the nosebleed seats and anyone that has been to the Hollywood Bowl knows those seats aren’t bad. I have sat in those 15 dollar seats for the past 7 years and the experience is still amazing! The picture below shows the view from the last row.

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John Williams creates themes for each performance, making each concert a different experience. In previous years he has centered these concerts on The Art of Choreography, and he conducted songs about dance with “Singing in the Rain” and “An American in Paris” followed by swordplay songs like “The Mark of Zorro” and “Duel of Fates.” A few years ago the entire night was dedicated to the works of Julie Andrews.

This year, the theme was Triumph after Tragedy. The concert started with what can only be described as a conductor’s apprentice. David Newman conducted a few pieces that were picked out by the theme such as “Cathy’s Theme” from Wuthering Heights and Judy Garland’s cover of “Born in A Trunk”. Then John Williams came out with his First Chair to a roaring applause. He talked about why he decided on the theme Triumph after Tragedy and why the musical pieces he chose are important to cinema and to himself.

In silence, he turned around and began his first song “The Adventures of Mutt” from Indiana Jones and The Crystal Skull. This lead into “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” Three Harry Potter scores and then, before the intermission, we get a celebrity guest. Kobe Bryant.

Yes, Legendary NBA star Kobe Bryant came out and John Williams began to describe how he had never seen a game of basketball in his life, but that the poem Kobe wrote for his retirement press conference made an impression on him.  The story goes that Kobe and John had met a few years before he decided to retire. After that press conference, “Dear Basketball” was in everyone’s mind.  Kobe and John Williams collaborated on the animated project made in honor of Bryant’s career (with score by Williams). I’m not a basketball fan, but it was an inspiring piece/moment with Kobe reading his poem to the audience while the music played.

Then came the intermission, and with the intermission came the wine. This is Hollywood after all.

The 5-minute warning flashed and everyone returned to their seats while Mr. Williams began to talk about Daisy Ridley and her character in Star Wars. He explained that the only reason he agreed to come back and score the Star Wars films was that he didn’t want anyone else to do music for the character of Rey. The night ended with “Scherzo for X-Wings,” “Rey’s Theme,” and the Star Wars Main Title. At this point everyone who brought a lightsaber to the concert turned it on and waved it in the air to the tempo of the music.

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At the conclusion of the song, the lights dimmed and The Conductor exited the stage, but since the first chair was still seated, John Williams returns and performed the theme from 1995’s “Sabrina,” “The Imperial March,” and the theme from 1978’s Superman.

The man is A LEGEND. I recommend everyone who reads this to try and come out to California for the experience of seeing the creator of all our favorite songs live. His concert is at the end of August or the beginning of September and with The Last Jedi hitting theaters this winter, anything could happen for next year’s event.

Esteban Romo

IG: @Danttebay0

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Welcome To The New ROC Blog!

{Paul C here.  Before I get started with this post, just a bit of…admin.  I’ve been appointed the main editor of the ROC Blog.  As I also plan on contributing material to the blog, if I need to post anything as “The Editor,” I will post as “Glorious Stefan.”  This way, there’s no confusion between something administrative or something nerdy.}

 Welcome!

Welcome!

Hi Folks!

The ROC has a number of podcasts/YouTube shows and depending on which ones have caught your fancy lately, you may or may not have realized that we are opening up this Blog to members of the ROCFam.  The Realm rolls deep and we know everyone has their own perspective on things, and this blog is a great way to share that perspective with others!  Much like The Cool Table Network has done for its “group of likeminded podcasts,” I am envisioning this blog as a great way to bring us all closer together as a community and as a fandom.  It’s a safe space for us all to share our thoughts (on pretty much anything) amongst a group of folks who by default share a common ground. 

Over the past few weeks, we’ve had a number of submissions posted on these pages.  We’ve heard from Anna D (the First Lady Of The ROC) who shared a bit of what it’s like to be a female collector in this male dominated community.  We’ve heard from Tim Kay who showed us how different life is as a collector in Germany.  Are we spoiled for choice here in North America?  Hell yeah, we are, and we still take it for granted (Mericuh!).   JR Linke gave us his thoughts on a great nerd show (LORE) and a…not-so-great one (The Gifted).  Rob Milton gave his thoughts on his rekindled love of collecting. We have other contributions coming, but we want more! 

I am personally looking forward to contributing regular material to the blog in the immediate future.  I actually have so many ideas floating through my head that I don’t know which one to do first!  Leave a comment below if you find one of them particularly intriguing.  I’m currently torn between:

 

  • A Valiant Comics review (starting with the reboot all the way to the present)
    • Valiant is without question the deepest and most wonderfully interconnected comic universe at the moment and a huge majority of comic readers don’t even know it
    • They’ve also been the most award winning publisher for the past 6 or so years since that reboot
  • A “retro” nerd cartoon review
    • I’d probably start with The Tick animated series or Batman: The Brave And The Bold
  • A non-Cool Table podcast spotlight
    • I listen to a lot of great podcasts of varying topics.  I’d love to be able to turn some other members of The Realm onto some of them  

 

Though there are a lot of Transformers fans in the ROC, the “C” stands for “Collectors.”  That’s a very broad term and we’d love to hear about all of your passions.  Do you love GI Joe or MASK?  Do you love Super Robots and Gokin figures?  Do you get excited (so to speak) whenever Harvey__Dent talks about the newest SH Figuarts DBZ figures and start chomping at the bit when pnkr10 or Dust have no idea what’s going on?  Do you want to share your love for Gundam with the group?  Do you build dioramas or do toy photography?  Do you do all of these things and have tips about how to manage them all?  Then we welcome your submissions!  If you’d like to contribute to the blog, leave a comment below or send me a PM in the Facebook group (either directly to Paul Chiu or to the Realm Of Collectors page in general).  We can talk topics and I can give you the information on how to submit your contributions.  Are you passionate about something that is under-represented in The Realm?  Here’s your chance to bring others into the fold!  Let’s grow this community and expand some horizons! 

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REALM!

Glorious Stefan 

 

IG: @glorious.stefan

    : @paulchiu1

Twitter: @paulchiu1

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Do You Believe The LORE??

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Well it looks like FRIDAY THE 13TH has brought us some pretty interesting geeky things this year. We were blessed with a trailer to a new Fox and Marvel X-men film The New Mutants:

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Another Fox and Marvel X-men film got a release date, and yes it’s going to be for all the lovers out there in movie world.  February 14, 2019:

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Both of these pieces of news, at least for me are Ho-Hum boring (see my prior BLOG post regarding my feelings on X-men films & TV products from FOX/Marvel), because also on this Friday, October 13, 2017 we have been given the gift of LORE.  Now I am not sure how familiar you are with LORE, but this show is from the executive producer of The Walking Dead and The X-Files, and it brings to life the Aaron Mahnke podcast LORE

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The LORE podcast uncovers true events that are from our deepest, darkest nightmares. The LORE show is a blend of all of our beloved horror legends (werewolves, vampires, ghouls and goblins) and how they are all rooted in some form of real truth. Now I have to say I am a really big fan of the podcast.  I think the show is top notch and extremely well produced.  The podcast is bi-weekly and is narrated by Aaron Mahnke.

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Mahnke writes, directs, and produces all of the podcasts with help from Chad Lawson who does all the creepy music.  The podcast always seemed like the perfect vehicle for a television show and thanks to Amazon Prime, we have it! Amazon Prime has given us six episodes in the first season of this show. Each episode has a little surprise in that we actually get good actors in them! You have stars like Campbell Scott (Amazing Spider-Man), and Robert Patrick (T2, X-files) just to name a few. The show has the same feel and tone as the podcast and is genuinely creepy, but in a good way.

I have only just started with the series and will update the BLOG with a much better and in-depth synopsis of this series, but after watching the first episode (They Made a Tonic), this show is definitely worth a watch. It fits perfectly with the month of October, for the fall season, for the Halloween season.  If you like horror shows (or if you just want to see some real life horror stories) give this show a try, and hell why not try the podcast too?

Let me know what you think in the comments section. Or hit me up on my social media  

Instagram – Jr.missing.linke

Facebook – Jr Linke

Jr.

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Welcome To The Wasteland

I´m just on my way out of our local (and pretty much my favorite) multimedia store where I get many of the blu-ray releases I want (in steelbook format). I exit the building, stop and think to myself: “Naaah, why not…maybe I´m lucky.” (Spoiler alert: that´s how it is each time)

I´m about 10 yards away from the place I want to check on toys, the one where I check the most, the center for toys in my town (Bremerhaven in the state of Bremen, northern Germany. Population: approx. 100.000), called “Spielemaxx” (Gamemaxx, if you want to translate it roughly). I enter our “Columbus Centre” (our main shopping mall, named after Christopher Columbus), slightly curve to the left about ten yards, then hard right to enter. I know where my toys are, so I´m heading straight to it and here comes the wasteland and the disappointment again.

I´m standing in front of the shelf that inherits the Transformers and where I always see my brothers in plastic dwell in toys, grabbing all kinds of Marvel Legends, Titans Return Transformers and, if we talk very well equipped Toys ´R Us, even NECA Aliens or Storm Collectibles Street Fighter and/or Mortal Kombat…I´m again facing a Ghost Shelf, yes…I think that is a fitting term.

I see lots of Wave 1 Titans Return Titan Masters, a few Wave 1 and 2 Legends (please bear in mind, this is about 2 weeks ago. Most of the people that will read this here are on Wave 4, bought Trypticon in a store, and scratch on the release of Power Of The Primes), and Oh, that´s right!  Just the same as always: Deluxe Scourge and Blurr and one Leader Class.  A sad, sad Soundwave, standing all by himself. It´s been a while that I saw Voyager Galvatron and Sentinel Prime. There were 2 of each and they were gone fast. Means there have to be fans or at least kids that knew what they want. Don´t ask for Trypticon. I think it was cancelled for Germany. The same as Metroplex, Devastator, and Fortress Maximus. We didn´t even get Powermaster Optimus Prime. The one thing that identifies Transformers?  We don´t get it. Either way, I´m ranting off, it was as disappointing as always. I don´t even bother checking the Lego section.

I exit the store, turn left, and think that maybe the second store I could check may have something (“Karstadt,” just got a big overhaul), but let´s scratch that. It’s not even the same story.  It´s even worse.

Hasbro´s answer to the bad support in Germany, from an interview at the German Transformers convention C.O.N.S. (Cybertron´s Open New Spaceport) is (taking Combiner Wars Wave 2 as an example): “Wave 1 wasn´t a success in Germany, so Wave 2 wasn´t produced as much and Germany was left out.” And the subject is the devil´s triangle. Hasbro doesn´t bring the lines (and also, none of the exclusives) to Germany, but on the other hand they say and plead for us to buy in Germany and not overseas. How are we supposed to do that?

Fast forward a few months, the 9th iteration of the C.O.N.S. is over, and it is the first time I attended.

It wasn´t big, but it sure was lovely. It was the first time I was able to do proper shopping, transformers-wise. I got everything I wanted (TransForm Mission´s Havoc Team AKA Masterpiece IDW Comics G1 Reboot Stunticons) minus one figure (Fans Toys Sovereign AKA Masterpiece G1 Galvatron), which was sold out in most places; I got my alternate though: Generation Toy´s OP.EX (Masterpiece IDW G1 Optimus Prime). But I got a great experience, being able to rummage through private sellers’ offerings, seeing pieces I have never seen 1:1 (like a G1 Metroplex or Menasor!). I talked to likeminded people and met a Facebook friend and fellow Transformers collector. I was able to talk a little bit about the Realm Of Collectors and just had a great time - watching a cosplay competition, listening to several interesting standpoints on transformers (why people prefer the one and not the other, sometimes even hearing arguments I never heard before), and even talking to my supplier who is a humble man and now also part of the ROC. I hope this convention gets bigger and more successful, because the Transformers fandom in Germany needs this, maybe even the Collectors fandom in general.

A few pictures from C.O.N.S.

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Don´t get me wrong: It all has gotten to the point where you can walk down the streets and get a thumbs up for certain gear you are wearing, but it still is seldom and mostly only people who think it´s “cool” to do it will wear shirts with a Superman insignia or a Batman hat, but the real fans are more incognito, and I hope this will change in due time.

For now I can only be happy for my brothers across the big pond, because they can toy-hunt big time and I will continue to do so, because this hobby is about happiness and reliving the times of old and not being salty, and because I know things are going to change, because they always do.

My IG picture of TransForm Mission Powertrain (as featured on Enter The Realm)

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Timo Kuehne AKA Tim Kay

IG: @Figurephotographycrate

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Don’t Call Me a TomBoy

Conversation overheard in toy store (1984):

Girl:  “Mom, can I have this Darth Vader toy”

Mom: “No honey.  That is for boys. Here, what about this Barbie doll?  She’s pretty.  And you can put her in any outfit you want to.”

Girl:  (pouting) “I want Darth Vader”

Mom: “You are not going to play with boy’s toys.  You are a girl.”

 

This was an actual conversation between my mother and I way back when.  I was not yet 9 years old and I loved Star Wars.  She let me collect trading cards (Star Wars, Baseball).  She even let me have Tonka Trucks and Hot Wheels but that Darth Vader doll was the line.  This was my first taste of the sex divide in toys.  

One of my good friends gave me 2 GI Joe action figures for my birthday that year.  I was so excited to finally have a “boy toy.”  In my room I would pretend that Barbie and Ken were drug dealers and GI Joe would raid their townhouse.  Since I couldn’t have a GI Joe Jeep, The Joes drove around in Barbie’s pink remote control jeep.  The best part of imagination is that even the My Little Pony stable was imagined into Joe headquarters.

My mother always knew I was a “Tomboy”.  I hated that term.  I liked what I liked and I didn’t understand why what games I played and what toys I played with mattered.  I knew that I liked to play with action figures.  I loved racing cars on the RC tracks that my friends had.  I would ride 4-wheelers and play football.  I also liked to cook.  I enjoyed reading.  I found peace in music.

When I met my husband (at the age of 16), I was thrilled that he had loved the same cartoons as I did.  We talked about He-Man, She-Ra, ThunderCats, Voltron, Transformers, and even GI Joe.  We would watch Star Trek and Star Wars every time it was on.  For the first time in my life I realized that it was okay to like this stuff.  It wasn’t keeping me from finding someone to fall in love with.  I wasn’t abnormal.  I was a woman that liked “boy’s toys” and all things Nerdy and it was okay.

Years later, my husband started to collect Transformers and I was intrigued.  I had no idea that anyone actually collected toys.  I had fallen under the adult notion that when you are an adult, you are too old to have toys.  At that moment though, my mindset was changed.  I sat down and played with toys that didn’t belong to my children.  My patient husband walked me through the transformation of a figure and I was hooked.  

As our collection grew, and our enjoyment in “all things Nerdy” grew, my family and I ventured to our first ComicCon and that was when I noticed something strange.  The attendees at this Con were mostly males between the ages of 25 and 50.  My husband was in a few collecting groups on Facebook and was subscribed to a number of YouTube channels.  Since I was with him in collecting I would watch the videos with him.  He would share posts from the groups with me until one day I decided that I was joining a group too.  

As a female collector, I will tell you that I have had nothing but good interactions within the collector groups I belong to.  It can be a bit intimidating at first to join in a group of majority males.  It is a fact that women are typically more comfortable interacting with other women and men are the same way.  At least it used to be that way.  Now, however, I will say that I can see a change.

More and more women are joining in collecting groups, watching podcasts, watching and creating youtube content related to their toy collections.  It is becoming very mainstream to be a toy collector of any toy.  There are men that collect My Little Pony (Bronies) and women that can’t get enough Ninja Turtles.  I am happy to say that today, a woman that collects or is in a fandom is not looked down on.  I am looking forward to gaining more female collecting friends, you know, so we can swap recipes and cleaning tips. NOT!!!

Anna D.

First Lady of the ROC

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Find me @

@stardubois on Instagram

Anna DuBois on Facebook

Somebody Stop Me! Save My Wallet!

For the love of all things nerdy, I've decided I need a 12-step program. Let me set the stage. I'm a 36 year old man with a wife and 3 awesome children. I work full-time plus, and have (I believe) hit an early sort of mid-life crisis. 

My wife and I have been avid collectors of video games over the years, mostly retro. We both grew up in the NES/Atari/Sega days. I stepped away from other things and even had breaks in game collecting while we built our family and settled into our lives. I became "that guy," and tried to be the "adult" I was told I should be. 

Fast forward to about 2 years ago. We were struggling with our oldest child who falls on the Autism spectrum. School was a mess for him, and I fought to find a way to bond with him and relieve some of the stress. Then it happened: I found a copy of the original animated Transformers movie. We watched it together, and he was HOOKED! Even more, it re-lit the love in my soul for the franchise that meant so much to me as a child. We found the original series episodes and binge watched them together. The flood gates had been opened!

Shortly after that, I found a website called TFW2005. I knew Transformers toys had continued, but I hadn't paid much attention since what I usually saw were the ones from the live action movies. No, I'm not a fan. Cool beans if you are, but they aren't for me. However, little did I know how much I had missed! 

A little more background on me: I also fall on the spectrum. Yep, Mr. Father of 3 falls right on the Autism spectrum. How else did you think my son was cursed with this whole ordeal? Heredity at its finest! One of the endearing traits is our tendency to hyper focus. When something strikes our fancy, it consumes us. We devour anything and everything we can learn. I guess that's a perk? 

What I found started with the whole Generations line, CHUG scale as some people may refer to it. We were smack in the middle of Combiner Wars. Now, I loved my G1 toys as a kid, but THESE were the characters I knew! Not the old bricks, but REAL representations of the characters I loved as a child! I went purchase crazy! Menasor, Bruticus, Superion, Defensor, and the big daddy of all Devastator! Those flood gates were getting a little weak, suddenly.

About half way through this, I was introduced to a new line. Somehow, in all my crazy lust for CW, I missed out on another line that brought these characters even closer to reality: Masterpiece. Oh. My. Primus!!!!! The first one to hit my doorstep was Wheeljack. He was a favorite as a child, and this figure BROUGHT IT! I was in a state of shock as I sat at our kitchen table and opened the box for the first time. Shortly after, I stopped at a Toys R Us, and saw Bluestreak on the shelf. His Datsun brothers followed shortly after. Then it was Sideswipe and Red Alert. But, where was Sunstreaker? You can guess where this is going...

Wait a minute? What's this "Third Party"? You mean to tell me that other companies are making Transformers that are ACTUALLY Transformers? Like, the real characters? And they're GOOD? Ok, these things and the MP molds are a bit pricey, but I've had far more expensive hobbies (ever build cars? yeah...). 

Remember those flood gates? Gone. I blew up the dam, leveled the town below, and drowned the citizens. I started buying everything! I would think I was done, for about a week or 2, then I would see something else. Hasbro also launched their Titans Return line, and when I wasn't buying MP or Third Party, I was buying more Hasbro. 

All this was aided by finding more like-minded fans. After TFW, I discovered a local group hosting a convention. My son and I attended our first con together, Dairycon 2015. So many good people, so many cool toys! We filled the trunk of my little VW Jetta with so many cool figures, pieces of art, and memories! I was also finding the podcast and YouTube communities, as well as the Facebook groups. Ultimately this led to the best group of guys a nerd could ask for, the Realm Of Collectors. Scratch that, I'm calling these jackals the Realm of Enablers!

Where did this take me? Well, I'm still playing catch up. I missed so much over the years. The ROC family really got me back into reading the comics, and I saw waves of cool new figures. Now don't get me wrong, TFW holds a place in my heart for getting the ball rolling, but ROC brought the love. And with that love came the further desire to push my collection. 

That brings us to the current day. I'm still behind. There are so many good figures, I just can't keep up. I need more overtime. I need a second job. I need to win the bloody lotto! My wallet is on life support, my display room is getting cramped, and someone needs to get me an intervention!

And if I could go back in time, I wouldn't change a thing. 

Rob Milton

Instagram @Robsrobits

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Have we been “Gifted” with another great Comic Book Show?

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So Gifted by Fox with Bryan Singer and Matt Nix as the creators is the new Fox series that takes place in one of the many Fox X-Men Universes. I’m not sure which one yet, but it has to be one of them because Bryan Singer is involved so there is that. Anyways let’s get a brief synopsis of this show; Gifted is a basic by the numbers family drama series from 20th Century Fox Television in association with Marvel Television. The show tells the story of a suburban family; Mom/Kate Strucker, Dad/Reed Strucker, Daughter/Lauren Strucker, and Emo Son/Andy Strucker, whose ordinary lives are rocked by the sudden discovery that both children possess mutant powers. With this our suburban family is thrust into the life of being hunted mutants. This leads us to the introduction of the Mutant Underground(Going forward I will refer to them as the MU-Men), who are:

Polaris/Lorna Dane

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Eclipse/Fake Havok

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Blink

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& Thunderbird/John Proudstar

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...in a word YAWN!!! The only one of the MU-Men who is remotely interesting is Blink, the rest look like they should be extras in one of the Twilight movies. What is it with these comic book shows that the creative minds behind them feel the need to change an amazing looking character like Blink into a regular looking human...who is now Asian with Big green contact lenses...Thunderbird doesn't look nearly big enough nor strong enough to pull off the character. With Polaris, what happened to her trademark hair? I mean she was born with GREEN hair, it’s canon, it is directly from the comics…nope. Finally we have Eclipse….um…well they at least sort of got Havok’s powers right.

Now to be fair to this show is only two episodes in, so my only basis for my opinion are these two aired episodes. But I cannot in good conscience recommend this show. I just can’t. Why, some might ask, it’s the X-men! It is a show created by Matt Nix, and Bryan Singer. Matt Nix created one of my favorite shows of all time in Burn Notice, and Bryan Singer had a good movie at some point in his career.  I’m sure there was at least one, let me think about this…..

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The Usual Suspects is his ONLY good Movie. None of his X-Men movies are good (they just give you those nostalgic tickles). This show should be a slam dunk, a home run.  Fox and Marvel have given you the ability to use a world of characters, and you make up a fake Havok character? This is just the beginning of the bad. Why couldn’t they just use Havok? Since in the comics Polaris and Havok are a couple, and it would make a TON of sense, but alas it wasn’t to be. The show is well under-written. The poor actors are trying so hard to pull something from nothing.  All the acting is wooden and hollow.

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These poor actors and actresses are fighting to keep in character and keep a straight face when they are delivering some of these awful lines. For a show based on the X-men universe where it should be balls to the wall action from the jump, the cast all seem to be just going through the motions.

As boring and ridiculous as this show may seem, the writers keep dropping X- Men references so people will remember why they're watching the show and keep hope alive that maybe the REAL X-Men will come in and save the day. But who really knows what X-Men team we will get really? Because we really don’t know what X-Men Universe this is yet.

The show really reminds me of that failed experiment that NBC tried a few years ago with the Heroes reboot

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This Gifted show has lifted so many ideas and themes from that awful Heroes show that it should be considered a ROBBERY. Case in point "Mutants/Evos are ordered to register with the government, the powerful ones are being exterminated by a Government sanctioned group (either the Sentinels or Vigilantes), so the Mutants/Evos figure out a way to get them to a safe location where they can live without persecution." Does it seem similar? Why HELL YES it DOES!! Shame on you Bryan Singer, Matt Nix, and Fox TV Studios.

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Fox Television does have one X-men universe show that is at least a decent show because it was so different and from left field.

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Gifted is way too easy to compare to ABC’s Agents of Shield season 1 but with an EMO-Twilight feel to it which is reaching out for all those Tweenage Viewers. So, could this show get better? Sure, I mean look Gotham has stuck around on Fox for a while now. I asked at the very top of this article, Have we been Gifted with another Great comic book show? In a simple answer NO! But is there hope that they can get this show on track and make it a huge hit? Sure they can, but for me honestly I would rather look at j_ruze’s busted up gross looking finger (I’m sorry j_ruze, but it’s GROSS, bro) than watch another episode of this dumpster fire.

 Gross

Gross

Let the Hate come;

Oh, you think the HATE is your ally. But you merely adopted the HATE; I was born in it, molded by it.

Jr.

IG: @jr.missing.linke

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Takara Masterpiece and Fans Toys are all I need!

Hi again, I wanted to carry on from one of my previous posts talking about how I started collecting and go into a bit more detail of what i collect. I need to correct my last post on how I started, my first purchase was MP-08 Grimlock and not MP-10, Prime was my second so I managed to get that wrong. Anyway, I had no idea these sorts of toys/figures were being made and I loved the fact these toys and characters from my childhood we being recreated so wonderfully! Knowing for well I had started down a rabbit hole I would probably never get out of I started looking and researching more about this toy line.

So yes MP-10 was my next purchase, this also started my long standing relationship with Kapow Toys who I can safely say have had most of my spare money over the last 5 years or so, all well worth it though!! Sideswipe, Soundwave followed very quickly and so did pretty much every Masterpiece release from them on.

 

While buying and enjoying these figures I was starting to become aware and learn about what we know as ‘3rd party’ companies. My first encounter of such company was Fans Toys and Scoria. I’m so glad I found that when I did. I researched the company a loy before buying because I didn’t know anything about these 3rd party companies and wasn’t sure on quality and reliability, especially with the cost associated to it. Once I had Scoria in hand I was a Fans Toys fanboy right there, no question and something I’m not ashamed to say lol. I can safely say I will pretty much decide on buying a Fans Toys figure as soon as I see a render.

 

I have kept my collection pretty much exclusively to Takara and Fans Toys. The only exceptions so far are MMC’s Sphinx, Jaguar and Make Toys Despotron. I really like these three figures but it does take a lot for me to sway away from the other two companies. For me Takara is still the bench mark because they are the official product and I am a sucker for an official product, what ever it may be. But, running along side that i think Fans Toys have not only provided figures that Takara have stayed away from they have absolutely nailed the look of their figures. For me though the reason they are at the top of the tree is their quality. I think it’s miles ahead of anything else and I include Takara in that. When I opened Sovereign I held it along with Takara’s Shockwave, which I really really like. There was absolutely no comparison, Sovereign made Shockwave feel cheap. I think Takara’s figures have slowly lowered in the quality of materials, especially from the MP-10 and Soundwave figures. The designs, engineering and paintwork are still among the best but the choice of materials really let them down in my eyes. Tracks is the best example of this, from a distance it looks good but when in hand it’s an absolute shocking attempt for a Masterpiece figure. Inferno is a fantastic figure, the finish and transformation are stunning but it still lacks a bit of a wow factor when held in hand. I think this is down to the new simply designs they are producing. Saying that i will still buy the Takara products because I think if you’re a Masterpiece style collector you need to include the official products in that collection.

 

I’m not going to sit here and say everything Fans Toys have produced are perfect because they’re not. Lupus feels great but is a bit of a let down, Spotter does a god job of the character but I can’t to excited about it. But when they get it right which is most of the time they knock it out of the park. The Bugs are pretty much perfect to me, the Dinobots are works of art, Stomp being a literal masterpiece. I was dubious about Grinder but now am very much looking forward to completing the set. I literally cannot wait for Pheonix to get here, he’s one of my all time favourite characters so I hope he turns out well.

 

I know it could be thought I am being a bit narrow minded to only really consider a few companies for this collection but I guess you have to stick with what you know and like. This has been discussed on the Enter the Realm show where Pnkr10 shares the same sort of collecting ideas when it comes to Transformers and the Shattered Cast guys briefly talked about it on their last show. It does take longer to get the figures when you’re waiting on fewer companies but then it does help to save money in between I always look at and investigate new figures by other companies but eventually i think ah I’ll wait for Takara or Fans Toys, Downbeat being the latest example.

 

Anyways I wanted to share a few of my thoughts on my collecting habits and hope you have enjoyed it. Be great to hear your thoughts on your collections and what companies you like and dislike.

 

My list of figures so far:

Takara Masterpiece

MP-5 Megatron, MP-6 Skywarp, MP-7 Thundercracker, MP-8 Grimlock, MP-10 Convoy, MP-11 Starscream, MP-12 Lambor, MP-14 Alert, MP-13 Soundwave (with Condor), MP-15 Rumble & Jaguar, MP-16 Frenzy & Buzzsaw, MP-17 Prowl, MP-18 Streak, MP-19 Smokescreen, MP-20 Wheeljack, MP-21 Bumble (with Daniel Witwicky), MP-22 Ultra Magnus, MP-25 Tracks, MP-27 Ironhide, MP-28 Hot Rod, MP-29 Destron Laserwave, MP-30 Ratchet, MP-33 Inferno

 

Fans Toys

FT-04 Scoria, FT-05 Soar, FT-06 Sever, FT-09 Tesla, FT-12T Grenadier, FT-11 Spotter, FT-13 Mercenary, FT-07 Stomp, FT-14 Forager, FT-15 Willis, FT-16 Sovereign, FT-18 Lupus

 

MMC

Sphinx, Jaguar

Make Toys

Despotron

 

 

Take care and thanks for reading.

Sam

Instagram: Samsformers

Twitter: @66SamThompson

Becoming part of the Realm of Collectors and the Cool Table Network

Hi again, I wanted to carry on from my last post and talk about the collecting communities I have discovered and become a part off over the last year. I had been collecting for a while and really enjoying building my collection and also learning about all the different companies and lines of toys out there. My brother is an avid Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles collector as well and boasts a very good collection himself. You can check him out on Instagram here. I can tell him about my latest purchases and photo's and he as interested as me and vice versa for his collection. My mum always shows a high interest mainly I think from when I had the toys as a kid, although recently she called Galvatron Cyclonus so as you can imagine I have since stopped talking to her lol. My friends share the same love for films as me and have an appreciation for the toy lines but not a lot more than being interested as it's my hobby. I think deep down they all think I'm stir crazy lol.

So my collecting hobby took a drastic turn when I started watching toy reviews on Youtube to start learning about the figures being released and already available. This helped me to decide what type of toys I wanted to collect and also what companies make the figures that would best suit what I was looking for. At first this was the Masterpiece line from Takara and the original G1 figures I was buying from Ebay. As I mentioned before I was caught out on Ebay when I purchased a G1 Optimus Prime that turned out to be a KO, this was my first experience of a KO of toy so I was quick to research the differences and what to look out for especially when buying original G1 figures.

Thank you to the recommended features on Youtube I eventually stumbled across a podcast show which was a bunch of guys talking about toy collecting. This was the Enter the Realm show from the Realm of Collectors group. I started watching some of the old shows whilst watching the new ones each week. It was great to start watching and listening to other people talking about the hobby I love. This then lead me to follow their Instagram page and start interacting with some of the people posting. They had photo competitions at the time that I entered into a few. This also sparked my use of my Instagram account to share photo's of my collection. I think I then joined their Facebook group which is where I really started to become part of the community.

During this time and have got to know a lot of people who share my love for Transformers and collecting in general. They come from all over the world which makes it even more fun being able to talk to people from all walks of life. I have even taken part in a few live shows broadcast on Youtube which have been aimed at the people not based in the US, if you know me this sort of thing is way out of my comfort zone. I enjoyed them immensely but still wouldn't want to watch myself back lol. I have even attempted to stay awake until about 2am to join a few other shows but it's difficult :).

Linking on from the ROC I have then discovered and started to follow many other podcasts and toy reviewers in the community. These are all part of 'The Cool Table Network' which is an umbrella group that links them all together. I created a trailer for this group a little while ago.

 

Video link

https://samsformers.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/the-cool-table1.mp4

 

 

So to talk about some of the other groups that are involved. The ROC Hangout is broadcast every Tuesday night on the ROC Youtube channel. Figga Banging is every other Tuesday, again on the ROC Youtube Channel. The ROC International Hangout which is broadcast when people like myself from across the world can get together and fit in with members based in the US. Shattered Cast Uncut which comes out every Friday which is a very good transformers podcast! Plastic Fanatics is the ONLY podcast on a Saturday night :) :). Toy Detox, Hail Hasbro Reviews and Stasis Lock and a few other Youtube based shows. There are also some great shows on iTunes. Nerd Rage radio is one of my favourites which is a weekly podcast on everything nerdy :) 8 weeks and Beers and Bolters are another two that I haven't listened to as yet.

Coming back to talk about toy reviewers of which there are many many great channels for reviews and to be honest you can pretty much find out all the information you could possibly want to help you decide on what figures to buy. This can take away some of the anticipation especially if you have pre-ordered a figure for some time. I do wish sometimes I hadn't of watched so many reviews on some figures. Saying that my favourite reviewer by a country mile is Bobby Skullface, you absolutely have to check out his channel if you are remotely interested in toy collecting, great guy who really knows his stuff.

So anyway I think I have rambled on enough now but wanted to talk about my toy collecting experience after and during becoming part of these excellent groups. I am lucky to have a fantastic support group from family and friends for which I am extremely grateful. To also join and share one of my biggest passions with an online community which I can see can seem weird to some people but it has really enriched and boosted my enjoyment and love for this hobby so also for that I am very happy.

 

Thanks for reading, take care, Sam

Instagram: Samsformers

Twitter: @66SamThompson

Generation Plastic: The Evolution of the Action-Figure

Pop culture in 2016 is at an all-time high with movies, television shows and multiple miscellaneous themed products ranging from party supplies to full scale statues in high demand, with fans of all ages. “The Force” has awakened, once again revitalizing the Star Wars franchise, while both Marvel and DC Comics continue pumping out new movies & media to support their mainstay characters. Images of Darth Vader, BB-8, The Avengers, Batman, X-men And Superman are literally everywhere you look throughout the web & social media, in addition to product placement at every possible level of retail. Yet, as you zip-up your Batman Masked-hoodie, slip on your Star Wars themed-Vans Sneakers, eating a bag of Avengers Doritos, let’s not forget the most popular product associated with all pop-culture franchises: The Action Figure. As a kid growing up in the 70's & 80's, action figures were a big part of my childhood and probably for many reading this as well. These little plastic men provided kids (ok, and adults) an innovative and imaginative way to role play with all of the fresh, new characters that were debuting in comics, cartoons and movies.

But what IS an action figure? Where did they come from? Aren't they just dolls? Any why is your your husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend buying so many of them? To truly understand how & why the Action Figure has become such a large part of the Pop-Culture phenomenon, means travelling back to the Golden Age of toys, back to the beginning. A long time ago, in a corporate boardroom far, far away..the evolution of the toy world was about to take place....

The term “action figure” was created by Hasbro in 1964 to market the GI Joe franchise to boys, in the same manner that Barbie had been presented to girls. While sharing some core similarities with a Barbie doll, as far as removable clothing, accessories and articulated body parts, action figures were a way to reach the younger male demographic, giving them their own toys to fantasy roleplay with. GI Joe figures were 12 inches tall, equipped with multiple accessories such as guns, knives, sheaths, holsters, helmets and everything you’d need to take your troops into battle. With an accompanying array of vehicles and themed playsets, boys of all ages were now delving into new adventures daily, wherever their imaginations could take them. In 1971, the action figure craze continued as Mego Toys launched their “Worlds Greatest Heroes” line, licensing and producing both Marvel and DC comic book superhero action figures, which would be unheard of today. Mego’s approach was a bit different, as they focused on 2 different scales: a 3” tall molded plastic figure with 5 basic points of articulation and an 8” line that followed the GI Joe formula, with added articulation, removable cloth uniforms, accessories and playsets. As a kid growing up in the 70’s & 80’s, some of my favorite childhood moments were spent with Mego Toys, including the Hall of Justice 3” scale playset, to the 4’ high “Wayne Foundation” that came equipped with an elevator and 4 separate floors. Many a battle was had back then, “crossing the streams” as it were, with both Marvel & DC characters fighting side-by-side. At one, point, my cousins “Jill” doll from the Mego “Charlie’s Angel’s” line may have spent a night or 2 in the Penthouse of the Wayne Foundation. Ah, the care-free 70’s.

As awesome as it was to have all of your favorite Superheroes in action figure form, there was a new “force” to be reckoned with, debuting that would impact the world of merchandising, product licensing and pop-culture beyond comprehension. In May of 1977 George Lucas inadvertently revolutionized and pioneered the film industry with the classic release of Star Wars. While the Star Wars franchise has set unprecedented box office records with the 7 films released to date, it also revolutionized the manner in which products would be licensed and marketed in the future. Lucas negotiated licensing on every imaginable product including Bedding, Curtains, Clothing, Party Favors, Books, Food and even toiletries. Star Wars had it’s own disco themed record (an ancient, round plastic disc that created sound), underwear and even shaving cream (Crazy Foam!). And of course, Star Wars took the toy industry to a whole new level with its line of Action Figures. The line would begin with Kenner and continue on with Hasbro, with literally THOUSANDS of different figures & vehicles released over the last 39 years and counting. Words cannot describe the childhood glee upon discovering a new figure for even the most obscure character at the local Two-Guys, Bradlee’s or National’s Store. (yes, I am old and from NJ).

While Mego had done it first, Kenner revolutionized the now legendary 3 ¾”scale Action figure concept with accompanying playsets & vehicles, that were released on a wider scale than any other line to date. The Star Wars franchise universally expanded the concept of Action Figures to fans of all ages, with unparalleled depth and detail, paving the way for other manufacturers and their licensed properties for decades to come. The late 70’s / early 80’s are considered the golden age for many toy collectors, as the Star Wars craze paved the way for other franchises including Buck Rogers, Battlestar Galactica, Planet of the Apes, Micronauts and The Black Hole. Between these new characters and the existing Comic Book Super Heroes, there was a plethora of Action Figures to collect in various scales ranging from 3” -14” until Mego finally bankrupted in 1982. As a kid, I remember beginning to gravitate more to the smaller scale figures, as the idea of having vehicles was more inviting than removable clothing. (They were NOT dolls dammit!)

By the early eighties while Star Wars continued to reign supreme as the iconic Action Figure property of that era, many new lines and brands were created Including Masters of the Universe, Transformers, Inhumanoids, Mask And the return and of GI Joe, in a smaller and more modernized scale and format. GI Joe and the Transformers were revolutionary both in concept and product design. This era is the second greatest in the history of Toy Collecting, as each of the major lines released contributed something very special & unique that would pave the way for the next generation to come. While GI Joe Figures were now in a smaller 3 ¾”format, all of the articulation and designs of their larger predecessors were present including the legendary “kung fu grip”. The rebirth of the brand expanded the depth of the Heroic roster, while also giving a face and name to its nemesis in "Cobra-the Enemy". This version of GI Joe was more modernized, adding a futuristic edge, working hand-in-hand with its Marvel Comic counterpart. The Transformers Was a US version of the Japanese Diaclone line, which saw Heroic Autobots battling the evil Decepticons with each robot Character capable of transforming to an alternate Vehicle or creature mode, hence the term “Robots in Disguise”. This era saw many changes to action figure concept including added points of articulation, more durable materials and even the use of die-cast metal. Cloth uniforms gave way to sculpted detailing, which provided a more realistic aesthetic, while further distancing it from comparisons to the traditional "doll". However, another more disturbing sign of the times was about to emerge (other than Cocaine, Mullets and Valley Girls) which was the parallel between the Toy Line and its Cartoon/Comic Counterpart. While the 80’s ushered in new, unique heroes, villains and storylines, it all came at a price. Hasbro & Mattel realized the money to be made with toy lines of these fresh new characters and concepts, which led to the creation of various new episodic cartoon series that would air every day, after school as well as new comic book titles. Anyone that grew up in the 80’s can sing along the theme songs of GI Joe, Transformers, MASK and Masters of the Universe and probably even quote their episodes verbatim. To this day, I still have an extensive library of collected comic books in Tarde Paperback form, in addition to boxed set collections of the se cartoon series. While I loved then, I watch some of the shows and read some of the books and wince at how poorly written and scripted they were. While both the cartoons and comics started out strong, they quickly became more about introducing the next wave of action figures, than actual character development. This was especially the case with GI Joe & Transformers, where characters would go from main characters one season, to background fodder the next, all driven by the next hot characters toys. This was right about the time I took a several year hiatus to focus on girls, girls and girls.

Around the early 90's there was a huge resurgence in the Comic Book industry, as Marvel & DC both began to make their characters and storylines edgier, to match a changing world-climate. The fun-loving, drug-ridden insanity of the 80’s gave way to a darker, more violent era in the 90’s where the US faced war overseas, inner-city gang violence and the rising epidemics of crack & AIDs. Comic writers realized the issue of relevance and need to adapt or perish, which resulted in a number of major changes from character deaths to entire reboots. Driven by the almighty dollar, all of these changes came at a price, which was usually a $4 exclusive, holofoil gateway variant cover designed to lure the reader to collect & keep each version mint as a “future investment”. This same marketing concept was being used with Sports Cards and was about to affect the Action Figure world as well. In the meantime, other third party publishing companies began to spin off from Marvel and DC leading to the creation of many new properties, one of which was Todd McFarlane’s Spawn. By this time, Toy Biz had taken over the Marvel license and had been producing action figures both in a 6 inch and 10 inch format. Mattel Had been focusing predominantly on Batman, releasing 6" figures of movie related characters. While the sculpting of both lines was solid for that time frame and available technology, a majority of the product had the same basic design and standard five points of articulation. There was usually also some form of gimmicky action feature, such as light-up parts, spring-loaded weapons or attack moves.

This left the door wide open for a young, pioneering entrepreneur named Todd McFarlane, who had burst on the scene with Image Comics and his Franchise character, Spawn. Spawn was unique in that he was an anti-hero, a former military man who had died and was battling the devil and his forces of evil for control of his soul, while at the same time protecting his wife and child. The comic was violent, gorier and edgier than anything else at the time, with a very dark story content. But MacFarlane did not stop at comics, as he raised the bar with his milestone production of Spawn action figures. McFarlane Toys quickly became a cult-classic amongst Collectors of ALL ages, as they offered superior design, sculpt, paint applications and character choices. In addition to Spawn, other characters and properties emerged such as The Maxx, Witchbade and Shadowhawk, all of which followed a darker, more graphic path then that of the Marvel and DC titles. While the battle for comic book supremacy in the 90’s is a story and topic for another day, one of the long-term, after-effects was the impact it had on action figures and toys in general. McFarlane Toys Had set a new standard in quality, while solidifying a new demographic in the adult-collector. There had always been an adult demographic within the Toy Collecting World albeit a small one, but that was about to change. While action figures had been considered a children's toy for years in the past, McFarlane’s new lines were definitely geared for the adult collector, as they paralleled the dark, graphic, more violent story content of their comic book counterparts with added element of sex appeal. Image really pushed the envelope by introducing more sexual undertones and visuals than either Marvel or DC and it carried over into the toy lines as well (Hence the Angela action figure “No Panties” variant). Mcfarlane began to work closer with actual comic shops, offering them exclusive action figure variants as purchasing incentives, in addition to distribution with brick & mortar retail outlets such as Walmart, Kmart and Target. Comic shops across the country began to see an increase in the sales of action figures in addition to comic books and sports cards, which had previously been their mainstay. The emergence of McFarlane Toys not only helped to solidify the Adult Collector Demographic, it also challenged rival manufacturers to raise the bar to meet the new standards in design, detail and construction of the conventional action figure product. However, as innovative as they were Mcfarlane Toys meteoric rise would not last, as they would become their own worst enemy. The constant release of repaints, reduction in articulation and growing number of quality control issues would soon begin alienating them with fans that had once been rabid for the product.

By this time in the mid 90’s GI Joe had fizzled out for Hasbro and was given limited releases every so often in both the 3 ¾”and 12” format. They continued with the successful Star Wars franchise, but were constantly releasing newer versions of the same characters, but with different gimmicks, as fans began to grow tired of rehashed, repackaged, repaints As Episode 1 The Phantom Menace had not yet been released, their return to the 12” format was successful in appealing to the adult collectors and also increased interaction with the larger brick and mortar retailers. In fact, I can still remember seeing the signs posted in the toy aisles at Target stores, which stated that “Customers would be limited to 1 of each item”, as adult collectors were now following the distribution chain and delivery schedules. As the World Wide Web began to grow, websites and online Collector Communities including ROC, began to allow the sharing of information, promoting networking & unity. But as with anything else, there are always those that seek to capitalize on a good thing, ruining for most others, which is how “Scalping” came to be. Scalping is the act of buying up as much of any given item(s) with the intent to sell at an unreasonably high price. In buying up all of said item in a region, you basically alter the supply, while artificially increasing the demand. It has always been a delicate subject as some see it as a crime, while others consider it capitalism. Again, this is a topic for another day and trust me, we’ll get there. Recognizing the opportunity to reach the adult collector demographic, Toy Biz created a new line of super articulated Action figures, based on Marvel characters, with an unparalleled level of sculpt, paint application, accessories and design, aptly titled " Marvel Legends". Marvel Legends took the term "action figure" to a whole new level, as some characters were equipped with over 25 points of individual articulation including fingers, toes, ab crunch, thighs swivels and double hinged elbows and knees, which had been unheard of In previously released lines. Each figure also came with a base or stand, as well as a comic book . Future editions of the line came with a separate ”Build A Figure” component, which allowed the collector to construct a completely unique character using the part included with each figure in the assortment. This feature enabled collectors to obtain figures of larger characters, such as Galactus, Apocalypse and a Sentinel, which would not have been feasible to produce in an individual manner, due to size and accompanying price point. I will never forget meeting Toybiz designers Jesse Falcon and Damon Née at the Toy Fair International trade show in New York, which is where the line was first unveiled and shown to the Press and Retail Buyers. I knew this was the beginning of something very special and would be a cornerstone in the hobby, in the same way that the original GI Joe, Mego Superheroes and Star Wars figure lines had done before. Being an Adult Toy Collector was no longer viewed as strange and it was not uncommon to bump into other fellow collectors in the aisle.

The Toy Biz Era, creation of the Marvel Legends line and recognition of the Adult-Collector demographic, meant that Mattel needed to rise to the occasion as well, which they did, b y bringing in the legendary design group known as “The Four Horsemen” to handle the sculpting of their "DC Superhero Classics" line. They began expanding the focus to include more than just the mainstay characters of Batman and Superman, following the recipe of Toy Biz success, increasing the quality of sculpt, paint applications and articulation. They also followed suit with the "Collect and Coinnect" feature that allowed a new character to be constructed of separate components packaged with each figure in the assortment. Both Toy Biz and Mattel also revitalized the “Chase Figure” craze, which meant a limited edition variant of a base character in an assortment was randomly short packed, making it harder to get and thus more valuable in the eyes of the collector. Thus, collectors would literally chase each other around, attempting to stay ahead by getting to a store, gaining access to a freshly stocked pallet, to get to the unopened case of figures, in the quest to get the Holy Grail short-packed, chase variant action figure.

While it sounds ridiculous (and it really was), I had a blast hunting in the wild for figures for my own collection and for my fellow “Brothers in Plastic”, the other members of our Collector Community, as well networked to help on another. It was truly a great time to be a pop culture enthusiast and action figure collector. If you had a specific Favorite Character from The DC, Marvel or Star Wars Universe there was a good chance you could locate and purchase an action figure in one form or another. The advent of the adult collecting demographic also led to the expansion Into the world of sports With McFarlane Toys “Starting Lineups” which offered Baseball, hockey, football And even NASCAR Athletes In the various Team uniforms they wore. The World Wrestling Federation/ WWE also entered the action figure market by signing a deal with Jakks Pacific to release the highly successful Classic Superstars line, which was a long-time dream for fans of professional wrestling and sports entertainment alike. And of course, with these new lines came just as many variants and chase figures to keep you on your toes and spending money.

The technology also improved, as some companies began to dabble with “real scan technology” which used computer scanning instead of relying on the actual talent of a sculptor, with mixed results. It was basically a 3d Printing Concept used to create the head sculpt of the figure. With all of these mainstream products and innovations available to the adult collector, another market began to emerge which was the premium format, higher end collectible product offered by companies such as Sideshow Toys, BBI, Hot Toys and others. Sideshow & Hot Toys will always have a place as some of the most innovative companies in the collectible world, but for the sake of this article, I am not including in the “Action Figure” category. Yes, these 12” or 1/6th scale versions have more articulation, better accessories, paint, sculpting and detail than anything at mass retail, but they also cost about 10 times more than the average Hasbro or Mattel Action Figure and can only be purchased online or at a Comic Shop. Again, the High End Collectible Market is a topic for another day.

 

After 3 decades of solid innovation and growth, the Toy Industry was about to take a long detour. Heading into the 2K era, Hasbro had continued with the Star Wars Franchise offering newer versions of the same characters along with newer Prequel additions. They also wound up acquiring the rights to the Marvel Legends Line. Mattel continued ahead with the DC Superhero Classics Line and had varied success with online subscriptions for their Masters of the Universe line. The US was still reeling from the events of 9/11, which had tremendous financial ramifications affecting Wall Street, Retail and the spending habits of the consumer. Disposable income items suffered greatly, as did brick & mortar stores, as they competed not only against each other but also against the online e-tailers, such as Amazon, Ebay and other cyber stores. Retailers such as Walmart & Target began to limit the lines they carried, in addition to greatly reducing the inventory volume. The overall economic climate and decrease in volume required manufacturers like Mattel and Hasbro to make immediate changes to allow them to keep their brands alive by focusing on their core demographic. The Increase in costs to manufacture and ship meant the necessity to raise the price of the product in order to maintain the profit level required to satisfy each Board of Directors and Shareholders. I remember speaking with a Hasbro executive at Toy Fair In New York prior to the release of Revenge of the Sith about the future of the action figure and changes that were to come. He explained to me that while the Adult Collector demographic had a louder voice, its buying power was nowhere near that of the core demographic, which caters to kids 4-12. The younger demographic is what now keeps lines like Star Wars alive and the parents are now the people spending the money, which means the product needs to be revamped in order to make it economically feasible for them to purchase. This meant reduction in articulation, accessories, gimmicks and packaging. The average Marvel Legends and DC superhero classic figure had gone from a price point of approximately $8 in Wave 1, to $14. With manufacturing costs increasing and sales volume dropping, this meant the end of some lines and a decrease in the release of others. Hasbro had began scaling back from 6 inch figures to the traditional 3 ¾”scale. Mattel followed suit by slowing the releases of 6” scale product and creating a 3 ¾”scale offering of their own. By now Hasbro had begun incorporating “super articulation” into their 3 ¾” Star Wars line, which was also suffering even with the release of the prequels.

Today, Pop culture is at an all-time high with both Marvel and DC franchise characters gaining more exposure than ever before. By 2017, we will have had 2 different actors portray Batman, 3 different actors portray Superman and a 3rd set of Star Wars prequels underway. In addition to Marvel, Disney has acquired the rights to the Star Wars franchise, as The Force Awakens has become the number one highest grossing film of all time. T shirts, party favors, Bumper stickers and of course, Action Figures are sold in every brick and mortar store and Online outlet. While you can even find Action Figures at your local CVS, Walgreen’s and Rite Aid Pharmacy, a majority of what you see at mass retail are what the adult collecting demographic call the "5POA" which stands for the basic five points of articulation. These are products specifically geared towards kids and are usually a lower price point. The 6” Action figure format has returned in a more limited basis with a slight decrease in articulation from their original Marvel Legends and DC superheroes counterparts, yet some still come with Build a figure pieces. After Several decades of maintaining the same 3 ¾” scale, Hasbro has released a 6” line Super articulated Figure line As a part of the successful, Higher end "black Series". There is actually strong rumor that the 3 ¾” line may be discontinued in the near future which would mark the end of a long standing tradition.

As a 45-year old man child that grew up in the 70's and 80's, I've been lucky enough to witness and partake in the evolution and growth of the Action Figure movement and creation of the adult collector demographic. It's a hobby that I've passed along to one of my kids and am happy to see her face when she enters my collection room, aptly titled the "Chamber of Plastic". The ROC was originally created as a means to join together and network other like-minded Adult Collectors With the same Passion For the hobby. Today, the ROC joins people together, period. While I still collect Action Figures, I am very selective about what I buy and maintain a strict discipline in which I sell an older, outdated version of a character if I purchase a better, superior version. These days, it’s about smarter spending, storage and selection. It’s getting tougher and tougher to find “ a better version” of any character these days and at some point, I will have sent my last paypal payment and received my final e-tailer delivery.

I hope that one day after my last “Plastic Therapy” session that something new, cool and exciting happens that changes the landscape of Action Figure collecting and that someone else picks up the timeline, where I’m leaving off.

One day, I hope my daughter or nephew will follow suit, continuing this story, sharing the history of the Action Figure, because in the end you're never too old to enjoy toys. Until that day comes, I'll see you in the aisles and on social media, where we are all young at heart.

Brian Steel

Submission 01/21/16

Brian E Santore

Realm of Collectors / ROC Media

Div. of Phoenix Marketing Corp