A few weeks back, I reviewed an Action Figure Display from JDP Design. I was so intrigued by the concept, I asked the boys at JDP to chat a bit about how the product came out and their own experiences with toy collecting.
Code Name: JDP Design
Real Name(s): Dan and Jeff Phillips, co-owners
Base of Operations: www.actionfiguredisplays.com
History: Our company creates Action Figure Displays, which are detailed, themed environments that give your toys a world to live in. We have always loved action figures and enjoy displaying our collection. We created Action Figure Displays because we wanted a way to more effectively display and photograph our figures. Years of developing our product has resulted in quality displays that include a wide variety of themes that can accommodate almost any type of action figure.
What gave you the idea to create your Action Figure Displays?
We have loved toys, especially action figures, since we were kids growing up in the 80’s. Now as adults, collecting action figures has turned into a serious hobby. We are the type of collectors who appreciate action figures more for artistic reasons rather than their value. Therefore we enjoy taking our figures out of their packages and displaying them in cool poses. We also enjoy photographing our action figures.
The idea for Action Figure Displays came about when we noticed that our figures never looked quite as cool as they did in the advertisements. In toy promo shots and in packaging, there is often a picture behind the figure, which helps the toy come to life. But when you take the figure out of it’s package and place it on your shelf, it just looks like a toy. Without the right backdrop or environment, the action figure is not as life-like. We started looking around for something to put behind our action figures, but there wasn’t much out there. There were a few displays specifically made for certain toy lines, such as Star Wars or G.I. Joe. However, none that offered several themes, which is what we were interested in. Also, there weren’t any displays that would accommodate 6-7″ figures, which have become incredibly popular and is what we mostly collect.
So we decided to make our own display. It worked so well at bringing the figure to life that we started to think of other versions we could make for our other toys. That’s when we started thinking that other collectors may also be looking for a product like this, and the idea for Action Figure Displays was born. We knew the displays needed to be durable, sturdy, and have a variety of themes. It took us years and many failed prototypes to create a quality product, but we are very proud of what Action Figure Displays has become.
Where do you get the images for the displays? (Is that Fenway Park in any of the baseball scenes?)
We mostly create the images for Action Figure Displays ourselves. We both have backgrounds in traditional art and graphic art. We create the images by merging several photographs and adding computer-generated graphics. We work very hard to make sure each image has a specific theme, but at the same time is generic enough to work well with several toy lines. We also try to create the images so they will work with different sized figures. Perspective is extremely important. We have to make sure that it places the figures “in” the image and not just in front of it. It is also important that the floor image and the background image flow into one another, making the display appear to be 3-dimensional and that the figure is actually standing in the scene.
As for the Fenway Park question, being that we are from Massachusetts, obviously Fenway Park was a source of inspiration for our baseball themed displays. This is especially apparent in our “Outfield” display. You’ll also notice many Boston athletes in our promo shots as well.
What were your favorite toy lines as kids?
Growing up in the golden age of action figures, we obviously collected the classics such as Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe, Star Wars, M.A.S.K., Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and WWF Hasbro. But we were also big fans of some more obscure figure lines, such as Food Fighters, Army Ants, Guts, and Germs. We are proud to say we still own every single one of those toys. Some are on shelves, some are in boxes, and some are totally broken…but we still have them.
Our passion for action figures started on a Christmas morning in 1982 when Dan got Ram-Man and Jeff got He-Man and we traded. We also have a classic picture of us holding the boxes for Castle Grayskull and Snake Mountain high over our heads in glorious victory. The boxes were almost bigger than we were!
What do you collect these days?
What got us into our adult toy collecting was going back and trying to complete our WWF Hasbro collection. We are proud to say that we have one of the most complete collections of WWF Hasbro toys in the country. It is our pride and joy. We have every mail-away, every variant, and every duplicate. We even have the WWF Funskool figures released only in India. The only figure we don’t have is obviously Kamala with a moon on his belly. If we ever feel like spending $6,000 on a toy, we’ll definitely buy him.
We also collect tons of McFarlane figures including Spawn, Movie Maniacs, Sports Picks, and music figures. We believe McFarlane was the pioneer in creating the modern day action figure. His detail was unparalleled back in the 90’s. We feel that NECA has taken notes from McFarlane and has created some great detailed figures as well. Their Resident Evil figures are awesome, and the Ninja Turtles they just put out are some of our favorite toys right now. We also absolutely love the retired Palisades Muppets line and we have almost the entire collection. What made that line so great was the number of characters they created and how accurately they captured the Muppets. They also included great accessories and playsets as well. However, their playsets were HUGE and we had trouble fitting them on our shelves. Those Muppet playsets were actually a factor in deciding what size to make our Action Figure Displays, because we wanted to make sure our displays easily fit on any shelf.
What are your company’s future plans? More displays, other accessories?
We obviously have many more themes in the works, some of those being Anime, Cartoon, Comic Book, and Psycho Lab. We’re currently working with artists to help us expand our line of displays. We hope to one day have a larger version of Action Figure Displays that will accommodate vehicles and larger figures. We also hope to have a smaller version that will allow for more displays to fit in a smaller space. Lastly we would like to offer accessories for our displays, such as lighting. So stay tuned, because we are always working on exciting new things for Action Figure Displays!