Friday, January 20, 2012

Never Underestimate What You'll Want to Pick Up

After last SDCC last year, I thought the first part of 2012 would have been a nice break in toy fever. Well, I was wrong. The problem isn't that there are so many things I feel like I need to add to the ever-growing ranks of my collection. As it turns out, the handful of items that I want are on the high-end side.

Hot Toys is about to give me a panic attack with the Christopher Reeve Superman, Batman & The Joker from the '89 film, and the ridiculously awesome Captain America and Red Skull from last summer's blockbuster, I'm banging my head against the wall trying to decide which two I might be able to splurge on this year.

Also on my "must-have" list are the new Medical and Weapons Specialist figures from Transformer compatible third party toy producer iGear. These babies are looking pretty money, and should look great alongside my TF collection.



Since we're on the subject of Transformers, I am also dying to finally get my hands on a Masterpiece Optimus Prime. With recent release of the MP-10 Optimus Prime, I have been hoping to reel this puppy in sooner than later.



When it comes to missing out on things, no item I have missed has made me more heartbroken than last year's Mattel Ghost Trap. When push came to shove, I just didn't have the bones to put forth to land one of these. So, now I'll have to shell out nearly twice what I would have if I'd bought one in October.



AND I still haven't picked up the SDCC Marshmallow Man, Vigo, or "Ready to Believe You" Venkman w/ Taxi Cab Ghost. And now, the Hot Wheels Elite Cult Classics 1:18 Ecto-1 is up for pre-order. This stuff just keeps snowballing!

I figured with no new G.I. Joe vehicles on the horizon, I'd have a break in the action there too. Nope. I'm going nuts trying to find the most recent waves with Lifeline, Sci-Fi, and the new Renegades figures.



If I factor in how behind I am on Pursuit of Cobra (and I don't even want to think about how far behind I am on Sideshow Joes...), I'm constantly playing catch-up here, too.

I thought this year I'd have a chance to catch up on Star Wars, and finally be able to pick up some more Vintage Collection from the Original Trilogy, Jabba's Throne Playset, and the Legacy Millennium Falcon.



Also, on the plate is all the new Lego DC stuff. Which, knowing how fast Lego increases in value, it'd be silly not to grab it while it's on the shelf at retail.



This summer I parted with my Lego Batman and Justice League Unlimited collections--and I'm still feeling a hole in my heart. So, I'm thinking these collections may have to be rebuilt, as well.

Contrary to my predictions this summer, it looks as though this year will be like any other year. I will have to cut corners and really decide what I really want to pick up. I pick up a few odds and ends throughout the year, but typically have only one major splurge of purchases, which I try to keep at or under $1K. So, it's going to be a paramount task, trying to figure out what I need to get sooner than later. What will be the most likely to hike in price the quickest? What might be the most difficult to find later? What can I wait on? What items will maintain stable prices on the secondary market?

Any collector knows these are tough calls to make, but it's also part of the fun. If you could get it all and get it now, it would just be too easy. And that's no fun at all, right?

The moral of this blog entry: as a collector, NEVER underestimate what you'll want to pick up in a given year. And try to keep some extra $$ on hand for those surprise releases (or that have simply slipped past your radar).

Next Blog Entry I will try to break things down into my budget and finalize what this year's big purchases will include. Stay tuned!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

TRANSFORMERS Collection

Greetings! This video showcases my modest, yet solid, Transformers collection as of August 2011. There are so many that I would like to add to my little horde, but for now, this represents my entire collection of soldiers in the trenches of war between the valiant Autobots and the ruthless Decepticons.


Click here to see more photos.

Do you collect Transformers? Which is your favorite? Is there one you always wanted but never managed to acquire? Have any pics of your Transformers collection? We'd love to see them here!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

San Diego Comic-Con and Beyond for 2011

Well, having seen most of the new product for the remainder of the year and into Spring of 2012, it seems it will be a quiet year for several collectors.

Star Wars: Lately, there has been an incredible amount of attention to detail and a major spike in quality with Hasbro's Star Wars figures, and I LOVE the vintage theme... but to me, it only makes sense for original trilogy characters. There is also always an abundance of re-tooled or re-packaged Star Wars figures and vehicles, so they're not really going anywhere, and I'm getting to the point where Original Trilogy is all I'm gunning for. The speed Hasbro continuously puts out bigger and better products is so ridiculous, I feel like they're making a good chunk of my collection "obsolete," so it's hard to get too carried away with the line.

Transformers: Hasbro seems to be mainly focused on product from Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Transformers: Prime... I can pass on all of it. A few choice figures from the Generations line will be more than plenty to fill my needs.

G.I. Joe: Hasbro has released some nice additions that fit right along with the 25th Anniversary Line, such as the "Wolf Hound" (Snowcat), and the new Skystriker, in addition to a few new figures like the SDCC Exclusive Zarana, Sci-Fi, and Crazylegs... but not much else, save a handful of cool re-imaginings of character designs from the "Pursuit of Cobra" line. Though, "must-haves" are few and far between. As far as G.I. Joe: Renegades goes... meh... Let me see a new U.S.S. Flagg and we'll talk...

Marvel Universe: Again, we are plagued with a line of action figures of fair quality and selection, but how much will ever be enough? I have a feeling this line will end with collectors clamoring for just ONE MORE FIGURE... JUST THREE MORE FIGURES... JUST FIVE MORE FIGURES... "If they'd only made a *insert character name here* then my collection would be complete!" Who will collectors have to do without in their 3 3/4" Marvel Universe when it's all said and done? I'm thankful I'm not particularly vested in this line.

Justice League Unlimited: Mattel's initial DCU "Budget" toy line has made a remarkable streak. Some of the rarities in the line are fetching big bucks on eBay. The animated style is fantastic, and the selection is great, but the figures are just... shoddy. Not worth the price they're going for. I recently parted ways with my entire JLU collection for a steal (which shocked even me). At first I was uneasy and regretted the decision, but the more I think about it, the more I'm glad it's gone. JLU is another line that just won't ever be complete... no matter how many figures Mattel would have put out. "If only I had a *insert character name here*."

DC Universe Classics: It looks as though Mattel is pushing collectors to shell out money for an online collector club through Mattycollector.com to get the good figures. They say the regular line will continue at retail, but the "most fan-demanded characters, team builders, and collector favorites," you need to subscribe. Translation: "If you want what you came for, you'll have to pony up the dough for the exclusives... retail's going to be re-packages and fluff." There's been enough "fluff" in DCUC, and I can't see paying for a club membership, plus the cost of tons of figures I don't want just to get a Jay Garrick Flash. Sorry Mattel... Not this time.

Ghostbusters Movie Masters: Okay, this line has got me hooked. If there were one toy line in all of creation I wished had been made, it was this one... and Mattel did it! I'm still quite pleased with the line and have my Club Ecto-1 membership. The thing about this line is that since one new figure only comes out every two months, it's easy to maintain and not too costly. Also, I was more than impressed with Mattel's Prop Replica PKE Meter, so I'm really looking forward to the Ghost Trap. Bring it on, Mattel! My $$ are secure, here.

Lego: Some of the biggest toy news at SDCC this year was the announcement of Lego obtaining the licenses to the entire DC and Marvel Universes! Big news! The drawback here is that Lego costs and arm and a leg, and it typically spends limited time at retail. And boy-howdy! If you think it's expensive at retail... just wait a year or two and look for it on eBay, you'll feel otherwise. So, while this is awesome news, Lego collectors are going to have to shell out some mad money for these items.

Everything else seems to be centered on the Marvel films and Green Lantern, most of which is aimed at kids rather than collectors. With the exception of the GL Movie Masters and maybe a few Marvel Select figures from the movies, I can resist most of the urges here. (Although, if I get one more figure from Diamond, of which the wrist joint breaks immediately out of the package, it may be the straw that breaks the camel's back). Aside from a few grabbers mentioned above and a new Thundercats line and the continuation of Mattel's Masters of the Universe line... collectors don't really have an unobtainable wish list this year... at least, not this one.

But honestly, I could use a break from "Man-I-Gotta-Have-That" fever. It'll allow me a little peace of mind, time to get what I do have in order and organized (as I'm currently trying to thin out some shelf space), and several extra bones lingering around in the old wallet for a rainy day.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why We Collect: Part II - The Macrocosm of Identity

I own more than 2,500 action figures, vehicles, accessories and playsets. Does this make me one of those people? You bet your derriere! Well, at least, as far as the average person is concerned. Toy and action figure collecting is like anything else not fully understood by its host culture; it’s perceived as a little bit outlandish. To the average person, action figure collecting is nothing more than grown-ups desperately trying to live in a perpetual fantasy-world, or at the very least an inability to mature enough in order to leave their youth behind.

The average person couldn’t be more wrong...

Have you ever met someone who doesn’t have any real interests? Their hobbies never seem to surpass the standard party line of watching movies, reading, listening to music, going out with friends, or spending hours glued to reality television. These robots, disguised as humans, have no definitive taste or anything that represents an essence of their identity. While some people don’t understand action figure and pop-culture collecting, I fail to understand the infatuation with the mundane. Dr. Robert M. Price, Professor of biblical criticism for the Council for Secular Humanism’s Center for Inquiry Institute, among other preoccupations, is also an avid action figure collector. In his 1998 sermon, “Action Figure Addiction,” Dr. Price notes, “I believe that your environment is a macrocosm of the microcosm inside you.” What might this sentiment imply about our illustrious Robot population?

A friend of mine once told me she didn’t understand the psychology of collecting, and she thought it was "weird," as I browsed her multiple shelves containing several hundred literary works. The problem here lies in perception. It’s often difficult, if not impossible, to see what’s right in front of you, if you aren’t attuned to it. If Zach spends thousands of dollars restoring classic cars in his garage, nobody bats an eye. If Kayla amasses a wall-sized DVD collection to go along with her home theatre, it’s “awesome.” Even if Marty goes out drinking four nights a week (or more), spending all his money on booze, it’s still seen as fitting in with the status quo. However, if Anna, an adult, collects toys… now, we’re talking “out there.” Why? Because the average person just doesn’t get it, therefore it is not accepted as “normal.” There is a large community of toy and action figure collectors, not only in the United States, but also all over the world, ranging from all ages and socioeconomic statuses. Those not overly familiar with this culture tend to reject it.

Dr. Price eloquently sums up action figure collecting, stating, “…For me to be able to rejoice at the sight of my superhero action figures is to live in a shrine of fictive meaning festooned with idols and icons of the gods of imagination. They are the tokens, the clutchable talismans of my fictive faith.” That said, if people don’t become more willing to embrace the culture of action figures, they’ll simply get left behind, and while the Robots of socity waste away, merely going through the motions and watching the latest episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County, a select few of us will be left playing with our toys… and unlocking the secrets of the universe.

Read the sermon, "Action Figure Addiction," and check out more awesomeness from Dr. Robert M. Price here:

"Action Figure Addiction"

Hero Worship Column

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hiatus

Hello Everyone!

My apologies for falling behind with the blog. Although, I'm sure the half-dozen or so of you will be able to move on with your lives without too much remorse caused by my stint of not posting.

Life as both a full-time student and full-time parent is frequently... time consuming. I will be posting "Why We Collect: Part 2" later this week.

Thanks for your patience and hanging in there with me!

Cheers!
-J

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Why We Collect: Part I - The Superhuman Element


Hello everyone! As my true first blog entry, I thought I'd try to tackle the subject that is at the very heart of collecting. Before we spend oodles of cash on some articulated plastic "talisman," there has to be a key interest in the first place. What is that interest?--The characters and what they represent to each and every one of us. 

The Superhuman Element: 
A Literary Examination of the Superhero Genre

“Look!--Up in the sky. It’s a bird! It’s a plane. It’s popularized, trite graphic fiction!” …Or is it? Since it’s inception in the late 1930s, the superhero genre has had no shortage of criticism, from McCarthy-Era politicians, to the worrisome mothers of yesterday. Even Nancy King, a 2010 Senatorial Candidate from Maryland, condemned comic books in her recent political campaign. Despite the rollercoaster of criticism over the decades, colorful stories of unbelievable feats by beings with unimaginable power are popular to this day and continue to thrive. Superheroes have become one of the most successful genres in print, on screen, and in licensed property. However, do these superhero escapades offer more than simple entertainment?  They do.
Although primarily targeted at the demographic of children and young adults, superhero comic books and other fables have significant literary value. These comics represent a correlation to ancient mythology, reflect where their society of origin is politically and socially, and explore the cultural and psychological aspects of individual personalities. To this end, superhero fiction is worthy of deeper examination and understanding on a literary level.
More than three thousand years ago the ancient Greeks believed in Gods and Goddesses that ruled over the world. One in particular, Hercules, stands out as one of the earliest superheroes. In a Storyworks article, Yesterday and Today: Hercules & Superman, comparisons are drawn that illustrate the many similarities of the mythological heroes from thousands of years ago, and the spandex-sporting superheroes of contemporary comic book fiction. Both Hercules and Superman had tremendous power at an early age. Both dedicated themselves to using powers to help humankind. Each defeated villains and monsters, had a nemesis, and rescued beautiful damsels from certain peril. In Mark Waid’s Kingdom Come, however, heroes such as Superman, rather than portrayed simply as infallible God-like beings, suffer from fear, guilt, and uncertainty. This dynamic allows more complex plots to unfold and readers find the heroic characters more easily relatable. 
Tales of both heroes sprouted from a society in need, and generated profound effects. Ancient Greeks had tasted blood in many conflicts, and stories of courageous warriors, such as Hercules, enabled these soldiers to fight on and ready themselves for the next great battle. Superman came about at a time when the Nazi regime rose to great power. G.I.s received comic books from home to boost moral while fighting overseas in the largest global conflict modern society had ever witnessed.
Greek mythology is seen as scholarly literature, with immeasurable historical significance. One day, perhaps the stories of the Justice League of America may prove as important in the development of western cultures.
One might argue that Greek mythology and contemporary superhero fiction differ as the Greeks believed the stories true and that belief shaped every facet of their culture and way of life, while the society that developed the comic book superhero knew it to be escapist fiction from the get-go. However, these stories also serve as effective social and political allegories. Alan Moore’s Watchmen (1987), a twelve-part comic mini-series published from 1986 to 1987, was set to the back drop of New York City during the latter years of the Cold War and exudes a dark, fearful, and paranoid tone reflecting society’s disposition at the time. The book received a Hugo Award in 1988.
Captain America is another example of socio-political status reflected in the pages of comic books throughout the years. In the 1940s, the stories were extremely simplistic, good versus evil tales where Cap valiantly fights off Nazis at every turn and always emerges victorious. More modern Captain America stories, particularly after the events of September 11th, 2001, show the character as a human being much more torn and conflicted between morality and duty in a complex world, as expressed in Jerry Adam Smith’s article from Utne, “Not Your Father’s Captain America. “Comic books have always reflected the social and political environment in which they are created, but only recently have superheroes started to address the issues raised by the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq” (Smith).
             On a smaller scale than mythology, sociological perspective, or politics, superhero stories affect people on a personal psychological level. Comic books, movies, and television programs about superheroes continue to rise in popularity in our society because, at the core, most people desire to achieve difficult feats and receive admiration and praise for that achievement. People fantasize about scoring the winning touchdown of a football game, a promotion in their careers for a revolutionary idea, or sweeping a potential lover off their feet.  The superhero adventure is an extension of that fantasy. In “We Need a Hero”, an article from The Futurist, Philip Zimbardo, renowned psychologist and author, writes, “We may all be called upon to act heroically at some time, when opportunity arises. We would do well, as a society and as a civilization, to conceive of heroism as something within the range of possibilities for every person.” Although people may never “leap tall buildings in a single bound,” superhero fiction encourages people to be heroic, courageous, do the right thing, and make sacrifices for the greater good, even in our day-to-day lives. After the catastrophic climax of Kingdom Come, Batman chooses to aid those affected by the aftermath by spending his days running a hospital from his home, while Superman begins the cultivation of new farmlands for future crops. Both are examples of how one has the ability to simply make the choice to help others or not. In “superhero,” the human element of the “hero” is more important and more powerful than the “super.”
            Comic books and superhero lore are much more complex and relevant than one might believe at first glance. The stories say far too much about society and culture, as well as speak to the fantasies of the deeper psyche to be simply dismissed as mindless entertainment. Whether art imitates life, or life imitates art, the superhero genre documents poignant reflections of humankind, how life is lived, and provides a moral compass for exploring one’s personal integrity.
           


“Yesterday & Today: Hercules & Superman.” Storyworks Oct. 2010: 22-23. Print.
Moore, Alan. Watchmen. New York, New York: DC Comics, Sept. 1986-Oct. 1987. Iss. 1-12. Print.
Smith, Jerry Adam. “Not Your Father’s Captain America.” Utne Nov/Dec. 2006: 26-27. Print.
Waid, Mark. Kingdom Come. New York, New York: DC Comics, May-Aug. 1996. Iss. 1-4. Print.
Zimbardo, Philip. “We Need a Hero.” The Futurist Nov/Dec. 2010: 25-26. Print.

Friday, November 5, 2010

An Introduction to Pure Plastic Awesome!

Hello all!

I'm thrilled to introduce my blog! I will be posting news, reviews, rants, and raves on anything and everything that has to do with action figure collecting. That includes upcoming movies, products, business ventures, and anything that might excite me or really, REALLY piss me off.

I will also be starting a YouTube channel to go hand-in-hand with my blog. Look for the first "official" blog soon.

Until then, thanks for reading!