I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about how I can generate more reviews for the site, and I’ve struck upon what I think is both a novel and old-fashioned solution.
Taking photos has become the hardest part of working on this blog. There was a time I enjoyed it. But eventually I reached a point where I wasn’t quite happy with the photos I was taking. To take better ones, I’d have to invest in better equipment, and I simply don’t like taking photos enough to do that. I’d rather spend that money on toys to review for you. Beyond that, taking good photos can be almost as time-consuming as writing a good review, and often the process of taking the photos is so enervating my creativity in the review suffers.
This is the untold story of the Great Poe Ennui of 2011. Starting early that year, I began putting off opening toys because I needed to take packaged photos first. Then I started putting off taking packaged photos because I didn’t want to take photos at all. The result is an unprecedented pile of unopened toys, which depressed me, and many unwritten reviews, which dragged on my love for the hobby like a legless zombie. And each new toy made the urge to procrastinate that much worse.
So here’s my solution: I want you to take the photos!
I’ve come up with three methods that could work in tandem:
Method #1: Recruiting photographers who collect certain toy lines for reviews of that line. For example, I’ve already enlisted a photographer for my MOTUC photos (you’ll find out who soon). Right now, the only lines I would love to find photographers for are S.H.MonsterArts and Ultra-Act, as I have a lot of those to review (in a relatively short amount of time, too – again, you’ll find out why soon enough).
Method #2: Making use of the PGPoA Flickr Group contributors and Poesters at large to “crowdsource” photos for reviews. Here’s how it will work: each week, I’ll post the name of an action figure I want photos of for a review, and members can submit their photos of said toy to the group or, if they’re not a Flickr fan, email them to me directly. The following week (or maybe two weeks, if it turns out to be necessary), I’ll choose the best shots and use them in the review, with full credit back to the photographer. Any submitted photos I don’t use will be linked to at the bottom of the review. [Update: On second thought, I think what I'll do is just maintain a page with a list of all the items I need photos of, and then people can submit photos and once I have enough, I'll write the review.]
There will be some guidelines, i.e., I’d like to get at least one standard full body shot, one face shot, etc., but I’m also going to encourage more stylish shots, with backgrounds and so forth to show off the figure (think Ed Speir IV and MatthewK).
I can’t possibly afford to offer money or toys in compensation right now, but I’m hoping eventually I can come up with some sort of reward system. I’m open to suggestions!
Method #3: If I can’t get enough pics via Method #2, I’ll just trawl Flickr for cool photos of the toy I want to review and use those (as long as they have the right permissions, of course).
I really like this idea, because it does a lot of things at once. It immediately removes the one obstacle that has made it so easy for me to procrastinate on toy reviews. It also allows me to focus on the actual writing, which is what I really enjoy. It makes the site more interactive and allows readers to participate in more ways than just commenting. It will allow for much more interesting photos in addition to the usual standard shots (I’ll be sure to include those too, though, because I know everyone likes to see them). And if this works, I’m thinking I may be able to bring back features like Figure It Out and perhaps even taking another shot at a Poe-themed webcomic.
However, one thing that concerns me is whether this will be perceived as – or forget perceiving, whether it is – extreme laziness and/or exploitation of other people’s work on my part. I mean, I suppose part of it is laziness, but really it’s a question of how much time I want to invest in taking photos versus, well, doing everything else I have to do in life (including writing reviews).
And the truth is, if I can’t find a solution for this problem, I’m worried it will eventually end in PGPoA going into “indefinite hiatus.” That’s not meant to be a threat, it’s just a statement of fact, as some of the Power Pals who have heard me talk about this before can attest.
So, what do you all think? Are you game?
If so, and in case anyone wants to get a head start, here are some of the figures I want to review in the near future:
Fall of Cybertron Shockwave
FANtastic Exclusive Scarabus (standard, dormant, or Anubis version)
Square Enix Play Arts Art Asylum Batman
Square Enix Play Arts Halo Master Chief
Square Enix Play Arts Jack Skellington
NECA SDCC Exclusive Evil Dead II Hero from the Sky Ash
NECA Brain Gremlin
G.I. Joe: Sci-Fi, Hazard Viper, Low Light
McFarlane Monsters Sea Creature (the small version, and the big one)
Diamond Select Creature from the Black Lagoon
DC All Stars Red Robin
Ben 10 vinyl Vilgax
Sci-Fi Revoltech: Gamera ’95, Gamera ’67, Gyaos ’95, Gyaos ’67, Gigan, Anguirus, Rodan, Baragon
Godzilla Tokyo Vinyl Godzilla, Mechagodzilla