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wastes of plastic
or, making all these nowhere toys for nobody

3.19.00

Okay, so you wander into your average action-figure aisle at your average toy store. Half the pegs are taken up by wrestling figures, the other half by PHANTOM MENACE figures that didn't move in May and probably ain't gonna move now. I find it interesting, then, to look at some of the figures sitting lonely on an endcap or in the discount bin or sandwiched between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Darth Maul. The pegwarmers. The misfit toys.

SCOOBY-DOO figures

First of all, is there really much demand for SCOOBY-DOO shit? The Cartoon Network seems to think SCOOBY-DOO is their golden parachute or something. I bought the Velma figure, because it's sort of a cool figure to have, but the other three figures in the set (Shaggy, Scooby-Doo, and Chef Scooby-Doo) don't seem all that exciting unless you're a hardcore SCOOBY fan (and how many are there?). SCOOBY-DOO has marginal '70s kitsch value, and the term "Scooby snack" has entered the lexicon as a euphemism for weed, but how many kids are actually into it after all these years? And why make a Velma figure if you're not going to make a Daphne figure as well? Personally, I think they should've given Velma detachable glasses that can fall off and get broken...

YELLOW SUBMARINE figures

A classic example of making figures primarily because you want to. These are everywhere and they just dangle sadly on their pegs, waiting for nonexistent buyers. YELLOW SUBMARINE is a nostalgia thing. The movie is beloved by those who saw it in 1970 or shortly thereafter. The people who love the movie are generally not the same kind of people who buy figures. If they were, John and Paul and the gang would be flying off the shelves. Maybe the die-hard collectors of Beatles memorabilia bought the set of these, but nobody else has, and it looks like McFarlane just made too damn many of them.

GI JOE figures

Not the little ones popular in the '80s, but the new bigger ones. Big figures in general don't sell much. They're too expensive these days to do anything cool with. When I was a kid, we tortured the shit out of our GI Joes, throwing them out windows and down a flight of stairs, because they were so posable that they landed in really cool realistic positions. But you can't really do that with the new figures, especially the ones modelled after real-life wars. It'd just be disrespectful. Though it'd be cool to buy a bunch of World War II GI Joes cheap and re-enact the D-Day sequence from SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. That movie struck a chord with some of us because the mutilated bodies on the beach looked like our GI Joes when we got through with them.

TOY STORY 2 figures

Now, I know TOY STORY 2 was a big hit. And I know Disney/Pixar felt they dropped the marketing ball with the first movie. But do we really need 1,000 variant figures? It's a little ridiculous. Kids want basic Woody, basic Buzz, maybe a couple of the other characters, and that's it. There's no reason for TOY STORY product to usurp an entire endcap.

BUFFY and ANGEL 12" resin statues

Yeah, I'm gonna buy a $130 BUFFY statue that doesn't even look like her. Keep dreaming. The Angel one is a better likeness, but I'm content with my cheaper, little figures that don't look like the characters. For insane BUFFY fans only.

BATTLEFIELD EARTH figures

This hasn't even come out yet and already the Travolta figure smells like a pegwarmer. Even if the movie's a hit, that doesn't mean anything. ID4 was a hit and the figures stayed on the shelves. Same with MEN IN BLACK and THE MUMMY. Key rule for collectibles:

MASS-PRODUCED COLLECTIBLES AREN'T COLLECTIBLES.

If there's a glut of them, there's much less chance that anyone will want to buy them. People want what they can't have. They want that hard-to-find shortpacked figure or recalled figure. Really, it would be so easy for the toy websites to get together and create a false feeding frenzy by starting an April Fools rumor that, say, the Shmi Skywalker figure has been recalled and is ultra-hard-to-find. Then everyone would snap them up wherever they saw one ("Ooh! Shnag! Dude, you know how rare this is? I'm surprised I found one"), the stores would sell out, and suddenly Shmi goes for $50 on eBay. Then Hasbro would announce it's a hoax and everyone would feel stupid.

SPIDER-MAN figures

Way too many variations, and remember the two rules of superhero figures:

(1) Superhero figures sit there collecting dust

(2) This is especially true of Marvel Comics superhero figures.

Also:

(1A) The only halfway in-demand superhero figures are shortpacked DC Comics chick figures like Harley Quinn

(2A) Marvel rarely even makes friggin' chick figures, and when they do, they're like She-Hulk or Spider-Woman and ridiculously easy to find

(2B) 12" figures or superhero statues might as well just be sent to Stan Lee's house, because nobody outside the most rabid Marvel fanboy will buy them.

Whether the Superhero Rules apply to the upcoming X-MEN movie figures remains to be seen. From what I've seen, they look kind of bland.

AUSTIN POWERS SERIES I figures

Last year everyone clamored for these, especially the rarer ones like Felicity, Fat Man, and Mini-Me. Today you can buy them directly from the source: www.spawn.com, and I've seen most of the set at places like Kmart. Point: The collectors grabbed them while they were hot. Nobody wants the Series I any more, so now of course they're available to anyone who wants them, but of course no one does. Bear that in mind when you're bidding on Vanessa or the Fembot from Series II on eBay. Don't succumb to FKOTB Syndrome. (first kid on the block) Aside from your friends who collect the same shit, NOBODY CARES THAT YOU WERE THE FIRST PERSON TO GET A PARTICULAR FIGURE. And those who do care, hate you for getting it before they did.


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