This is the fifth in a series of articles about the practice of toy reviewers being given free samples for review, and whether that represents a problem for readers looking for honest assessments to make purchase decisions. You can find the other articles in the series here.
Today’s Q&A is with Pixel Dan, who’s best know for his popular video reviews. His website is www.pixel-dan.com.
1.) When you receive free samples, do you find an urge to be kinder to the item than you might be? If so, do you find yourself softening a bit, do you try to simply be fair, or do you think you end up trying to be even more objective than usual?
To a certain extent, yes. You do feel the urge to be kinder. I think that’s just human nature. Someone just gave you something. You’d feel a little bad about turning right around and bashing it. You know what I mean? But at the same time, I also understand that I have a responsibility to the viewers to give them a solid, objective review. I feel like this is an area I’ve definitely grown in over time. I started to realize that the whole point of a review is to show faults as well as positives. I just always make sure to do it in as positive of a tone as possible. I won’t rant and rave and throw out curse words. I’ll just simply point out the flaws. And I have found that both the viewers and the company that sends the samples both respect and appreciate that.
2.) Do you ever worry when writing a review that being too negative will hurt your chances for more free samples?
Has that thought ever crossed my mind? Absolutely. If something is outright bad, I do have that worry sometimes. Should I have to worry about that? No. But sometimes the companies that send you these items will take it to heart, and possibly decide not to send anything else. I’ve actually received an item from a company one time where they sent along a contract with the item telling me I wasn’t allowed to say negative things about the product in the review. I thought that was just wrong, and I haven’t received anything from that company since. Bottom line is this: the review itself is more important than me getting stuff for free. So I’ll point out the negative stuff as I see it. If that company stops sending me stuff, that would suck, but I’ll just keep moving forward with reviews regardless.
3.) Do you think that, in general, reviews of free sample toys on the Web are generally fair, or do they tend to be biased? Is this a problem for the toy collecting hobby, or a tempest in a teacup?
I don’t see it as a problem. In some cases, some reviews can be considered more as a “preview” than a review. I’d even say some of my videos in the past can be classified as this. Sometimes it may just be best to look at it as an early look at the item if you’re worried about it not being fair. I understand that to some, they appear as nothing more than commercials for the product. And to an extent, that’s 100% true. That is after all the reason these companies send out early samples. They want to promote their product. So I think it’s in the eye of the beholder. It’s up to the viewer/reader to decide how they want to interpret the review.