Do action figures really suck?

Posted by Sanjeev 
Maybe those "My Dinner With Andre" action figures (from "Waiting for Guffman") could have been a true game-changer. *Sigh*
Sanjeev (Admin)
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fujikuro
Such a shame too. Adventure People is still probably my favorite "action figure" line of all time, and it's a perfect example.

Absolutely. Adventure People were great, but the earliest classic Lego space sets were also my jam. Granted, they had implied rayguns and whatnot, but they were a lot more neutral than the average explicitly-war-oriented shit coming out around that time.
GCrush, what you are arguing has changed repeatedly. I think I'm done talking to you now.

-Ginrai
Golden Gate Riot on dead trees at: [www.destroyallcomics.com]
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H-man
Maybe those "My Dinner With Andre" action figures (from "Waiting for Guffman") could have been a true game-changer. *Sigh*

It's a damn shame that the world doesn't have a proper Parker Posey action figure.
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Sanjeev
That said, however, I still think Joes going from militarism to Adventure Team WAS primarily brought about by the unpopularity of the American war in Vietnam. That's not to say that non-militaristic values weren't present before, during, and after military Joe dolls, but the war was likely the deciding factor.

I don't know if we can say that war burn-out was really a factor a not. It's possible. But it could have also been painfully mundane business issues like market saturation, over-production, or a case of sales not meeting expected growth. I do think that Joe's lack of diversification in themes at the outset contributed a lot to the situation - had there been an Adventure Team theme from the start the line might have weathered more than five years.

In terms of people's attitudes about war turning so quickly on Joe, we have other examples in popular culture that show different trends. Hooker's Korean War memoir came out a year before OG Joe died off and it was wildly successful; one year after Joe was gone the same book was turned into a feature film and then a long running television show. To blame Vietnam we'd have to accept that the American public was nuanced enough to distinguish between the Korean War and the Vietname War in popular culture, but not smart enough to know that Joe was based on the Korean War and not the Vietnam War.

We could also frame the current demise of the modern 3.75" Joes the same way - burnout from the War on Terrorism (Iraq, Afghanistan) forced Little Joe off of store shelves. But, does that make sense? How could Americans be prejudiced against a toy line while still showing massive economic support for gung-ho war movies about the same conflicts? Why would there still be enough consumers to support a premium-priced line of the same products? It would make more sense to say that normal market forces and/or internal mismanagement contributed to the departure of Little Joe. In fact, we hear that right now. People blame Hasbro's distributin problems and disbanding of its product management team for the current dearth of goods. Why wouldn't that be equally feasible for OG Joe?

I think the blame-teh-war narrative is convenient, but inconsistent. It puts the blame on external forces in a way that feel common-sense-y, though it can't account for why that same common sense doesn't apply in other areas. It's easier to explain both Little Joe and OG Joe's passing without invoking a war.


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Sanjeev
Similarly, a lot of toy historians point to the '69 moon landing as a huge turning point against space-themed toys. Prior to Apollo 11, there were shit loads of space toys...but once we learned there were no actual moonmen, kids stopped being interested in ray guns, space ships, alien figures, etc. At least for a time.

Or... Was this another case of toy execs overcompensating???

I don't know enough about what toy lines they're referencing. But (as you alluded to) the big break-out toy line a decade later was based on a space opera, and most of the toy lines that followed used space/sci-fi as an essential backdrop. So maybe it wasn't a shift away from space exploration, but the popularization of Space Wizards as opposed to the death of Real Space Science?

Also - hang the execs. It's always their fucking fault anyway.


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Sanjeev
And I also agree about adventure/exploratory science being a better (more healthy, anyway) theme than anything more clearly conflict-driven...but I'm not sure US culture is really amenable to that (yet?). There *have* been many such themed toy lines in the past, but to my knowledge, none has endured like conflict-driven lines...

I agree. American media tends to focus on violent conflict as a source of dramatic tension. The whole "man vs. himself" theme is mostly absent from our most popular mass-media. Adventure People were a good counter point. Maybe even early Playmobil and Lego. But these days? Well, Lego still makes pretty balanced non-conflict driven products, but the last I heard the sales of those items were dwarfed by the sales of their licensed ones that are driven by conflict-based media.

But maybe there's hope yet. Gravity was a pretty big entertainment deal and it was a fairly simple survival tale that didn't involve guns or bad guys...
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Ginrai
GCrush, what you are arguing has changed repeatedly. I think I'm done talking to you now.

Does this mean you're not sure?
I don't get all this talk about how action dolls ever softened up...nothing was tougher than the 12 inch Robotech line...

[www.toyarchive.com]

Comb and all.

Of course there was Rio from the Jem line, who looks suspiciously like he could be Rick's fashion-forward brother.

[www.ebay.com]

BTW, the villian chick in Jem, Phyllis...yup...Phyllis...had GREEN hair.

[jem.wikia.com]

I have spoken...
Here's yet another Superdude...with optional faces including:

Constipated.

I really, really, have to GO!

and

Fire is drizzling from my face...why did I eat that pepper? I don't have anything to prove to nobody!

[www.bigbadtoystore.com]
Sanjeev (Admin)
Wow, that's...ghastly.

For a second there, I thought one of the interchangeable hands was in the "shocker" pose. If only...
See...I was right along. Batman really was Robert Wuhl!!!

[www.bigbadtoystore.com]
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Supersentai
See...I was right along. Batman really was Robert Wuhl!!!

It's true! We never ever see them at the same party together and when we do see them they're both always wearing the exact same tuxedo.








Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/24/2014 11:06PM by Gcrush.
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Looking at Wuhl again, he may as well have been the Joker! You got the wrong guy Bats!!! Maybe take care of dem both just to be sure.
Noticed "Guardians of the Galaxy" stuff now at your local TRU's and Targets... Overall, it's pretty much same old Marvel/Hasbro stuff but one thing that caught my eye were the line of "mini-figs" that go with their spaceships. It reminded me of MASK and Starcom a bit - it's intriguing enough where I'm hemming and hawing about picking up one of them... probably Starlord's ship, The Milano.
I can tell you from seeing them in person masked Keaton Batman and Danny DeVito Penguin look great! Here's the weird thing though: Penguin is much too large to be in scale with Batman. HOWEVER, it is PRECISELY in scale with the 1990s Kenner Batman figures and they never did a DeVito Penguin in the Kenner line, just recolored the old Super Powers Penguin that looked nothing like DeVito. If you are a 1990s Batman toys person like myself, this is the Penguin you've been waiting 22 years for!

-Ginrai
Golden Gate Riot on dead trees at: [www.destroyallcomics.com]
Time to preorder the sweet looking Super 7 Alien ReAction Egg Chamber Playset. They are being made to order, so if you want one, you will have to preorder. $100 a pop. Going to be resin cast unless they get enough orders to do injection molded plastic (which I am really hoping for!). It totally looks like a vintage playset along the lines of the early Kenner Star Wars playsets and that really makes me happy.

-Ginrai
Golden Gate Riot on dead trees at: [www.destroyallcomics.com]
Sanjeev (Admin)
I almost wonder if it would be easier/cheaper to vacuform it. Of course, even if painted nicely, vacuformed stuff always feels super-light and crappy...but it would sure bring the cost down! I dunno--$100 for a resin casting seems a little ludicrous...but obviously, that doesn't take into consideration the packaging, licensing, and other staging and logistics. So the price may technically be "fair", but I doubt a whole lot of that $100 is *actually* going into the physical base.
Isn't vacuform super brittle and thin and liable to break? Not so into that... I'm just hoping for injection molded ABS but I will settle for resin if that's the only choice. The price seems about right to me for something so large and with such nice packaging and shit. I'm pretty down for anything more Super 7 gives us for Alien ReAction. Totally digging the hell out of this line.

-Ginrai
Golden Gate Riot on dead trees at: [www.destroyallcomics.com]
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Ginrai
Isn't vacuform super brittle and thin and liable to break? Not so into that...

Depends on what plastic is used. However, the big difficulty apparently is to build a vacuform table that is large enough for the subject, and that heats the plastic properly, unless you use industrial equipment.

--
SilhouetteFormula.Net
Sanjeev (Admin)
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thomas
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Ginrai
Isn't vacuform super brittle and thin and liable to break? Not so into that...

Depends on what plastic is used. However, the big difficulty apparently is to build a vacuform table that is large enough for the subject, and that heats the plastic properly, unless you use industrial equipment.

Wut.

Yeah, you can just use a thicker plastic stock. Companies vacuform strong, structural parts all the time--it's only the Ben Coopers of the world making crummy Halloween masks out of the ultra-thin crap! :P

But why would it be difficult to build a large table? Marty Hansen just vacuformed his Crayboth collection for shits & giggles. It's not really a difficult thing...so it would be trivial for a larger company like Super7. The problem is that they probably want sharper detail (which is inhibited by thicker stock)...and undercuts (especially at the base of each egg) would obviously be impossible.
I was thinking about this the other day, when I went into TRU and was shocked to find three of the new Marvel Legends Jubilee wave. Of course, as TRU exclusives they raised the prices, and I was tempted. However, I knew I'd have a difficult time getting the rest of the wave (having the head and arms of Jubilee without the rest seemed weird to my OCD self), and I had long ago dropped the line because I couldn't find them in stores, so ultimately I didn't pick them up (also was really tempted by the old-style Movie classic turtles, and they did have all 4!). Then I went online and found they were even harder to find than I realized (with a ton of stock being allocated and a lot of cancelled online orders)

But you know what? If I could have a reasonable expectation of finding them in stores, I'd probably still be collecting the line, and would've had every figure. It doesn't help that I live in scalper central and that these are being stockpiled at various booths at Frank and Sons, but I've almost completely lost interest in a line that should perfectly appeal to me. Same with MOTU classics, where for whatever reason I'll never get a Teela.
Sanjeev (Admin)
I'm not really *actively* collecting any lines, but I'll certainly take a spin through the toy aisle at Target or hit up a local TRU when I'm bored. The scalping doesn't seem to bad in my area, but if I ever see something that catches my eye, I'll just hop on my phone and do some quick searching to see how hard the item is to find and how expensive it's going for. I find it useful to do that for Transformers, and I can imagine the same being true for most action figure lines...
Transformers are actually really well distributed. Occasionally you'll get the heavily scalped exclusive (like TRU masterpieces) or the end of a line being swallowed by the beginning of another, but for the sheer volume of stuff they put out, I can usually find most things eventually.

Not so for Superhero lines, at all.
Hey! Somebody call the Po-leece!

There's some CRAY-ZEE looking dude running around in a rubber suit outside freaking everybody out...

[www.bigbadtoystore.com]
Those Big Hero 6 toys from Bandai are now on the shelves and worth a look... especially the BAYMAX toys...

There's an Armor Up Baymax that I picked up for $20 which is a pretty darn good value. You get a decently articulated non-Armored Baymax figure that's reasonably to scale to the 3 inch Hiro figure. The armor up gimmick itself has some clever engineering (you need to invert his entire front torso with a spring loaded mechanism) and once you snap the armor on, you get a nice chunk of plastic.

There's also an 18 inch Deluxe Flying Baymax for $40 that has light up/sound (whooshing sound effects varies with motion), spring loaded wings, magnetized Hiro figure AND ROCKET PUNCH.
Saw Big Hero 6 with the boy last week, pretty solid flick as far as I'm concerned. Aptly kept the attention of a 6 year old to boot!

Have seen the DX Baymax Flying Figure going for $30 at TRU this week on sale. It's a nice piece, with my only complaint being that it only has one phrase in Baymax voice. Missed opportunities a plenty.

Found this "gem" on BBTS...who says Liberace is dead?

[www.bigbadtoystore.com]
That's not an action figure, darnit!

If the Hiro figure was a little more posable, I'd like that flying Baymax a lot more, but I still caved and got it for my boy. (I really like the armored one, but he'd lose those pieces in 10 minutes).

Of course, he's only 1 so he'll need some help zooming it around, and I guess I'll oblige.

On a side note, as a superhero fan I think the Imaginext line is pretty cool. They bite from a bunch of different series (like that Bioshock-looking diver suit) but man do they do a decent job of making a bunch of different designs, all in the same scale.
I recently picked up a couple of the Disney Store talking "lights & sounds" Star Wars figs and it might be one of the best things you can get for a SW toy. 13 inch figs with decent articulation, paint apps, plus lights and sounds and voices gimmicks. I got the Boba Fett and Stormtrooper for $20 (they usually retain about $30 which is still a good deal).
My Father's Day gift was the Imaginext Megazord. Basically a hollow original Power Rangers Megazord which is a base not a combiner, but it's huge and awesome and it shoots multiple projectiles and my son loves it. I have no idea if it's brilliance for the fisher price brain trust to go after the parent's interest, or insanity, because you'd think if they were going to do a PR line they would do one that little kids would have actually seen, but then they've also given us a DC super friends line that has non new 52 designs, so I appreciate it.
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