Codename: Michael Crawford
Occupation: Pop Culture Collectible Reviewer
Base of Operations: Michael Crawford’s Review of the Week
History: Michael has been reviewing various forms of pop culture collectibles (including action figures, busts, statues, games, and various toys) for more than 12 years now. He started back in the Usenet group days of rec.toys.misc, and started his own website at the beginning of 2000. His style of review has been adopted by dozens of other reviewers, and he’s well known in the industry as a fair and honest critic. In the last eight years, he’s reviewed thousands of items, and also regularly writes a column called The Toy Box for director Kevin Smith’s entertainment website, Quick Stop Entertainment.
Your toy review site is one of the most popular on the Web. Why did you start it way back when?
I had been writing reviews on several Usenet groups, but they weren’t all that I wanted them to be. They needed to include photos, and I also wanted there to be a historical record, so folks could go back and see reviews from months–and now, years–earlier. And so was born Michael’s Review of the Week.
Why the weird name? Because that’s what it had been called when I was doing reviewers for the Usenet groups, and I wanted consistency. Since then, folks know it better by it’s url, www.mwctoys.com, or just “Michael Crawford’s site.” A few years ago, I had a friend do an updated design for me, and he labeled me “Captain Toy” at the time, which has sort of stuck as well.
How much of your daily life does managing the site take up these days?
Well, I try to keep a very regular schedule–that’s the trick to being able to get new content up consistently. I have reviews go up every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday night, and I’ve missed that schedule maybe once or twice in the last five years. I also do the Quick Stop column mid-week each week, which means I do about four reviews a week. Each one takes two to three hours, depending on the complexity. That’s the whole shebang–photos, writing and so forth. I try to spread the work out over the full week though, and get as much of the reviews done in advance. That means the Thursday night review is always half done by the time I’m posting the Tuesday review, for example. Of course, that doesn’t always work, and there are plenty of occasions where I get something new and want to get the review up ASAP, so there are some marathon writing sessions. But I’d say that I spend about fifteen hours a week specifically on the site.
What’s the coolest thing that’s happened to you as a result of running the site?
The coolest thing is getting to know the wonderful people that are involved in the hobby, both the collectors and the folks in the industry. Oh, occasionally you meet a complete moron, but that’s few and far between. The vast majority of the people I’ve come to know in the industry and the collecting community have been friendly, considerate and helpful.
Let’s talk about the Poppies. What are they, and how did you come up with them?
Last summer I started the process of thinking and planning for my own yearly best and worst picks for 2007. Every site does their own picks, but there isn’t any cross industry type awards for pop culture collectibles. I figured it was time to do something about that, and thus was born the Poppies. The inaugural year has over ninety judges from five categories–Companies, Retailers, Websites, Collectors, and Artists. They’ve come together and nominated their top picks in each of ten categories–Best Company, Best Overall Line, Best Male Figure 18″ and up, Best Male Figure 12″ – 18″, Best Male Figure under 12″, Best Female Figure (any size), Best Statue, Best Mini-Bust, Best Vinyl, and Best Misc Item. They’ll start the final vote this week, and I’ll be announcing the winners on January 15th. There’s also a contest for readers to enter. They can try to guess which items will be the winners, and I’ll draw one name from those that match the judges final choices the closest for a cool prize.
What’s your fondest toy-related holiday memory?
Hmmm–that’s a tough one. But I think it was getting Eric The Viking, the Marx figure. I was very big on the Marx stuff as a kid, but I remember that Eric was one that I really begged for, and finally got one Christmas. It was pretty exciting, and I still own that Eric with almost all his accessories.