Toy Hunters, Power Lords, & monster kings in this week’s Poe’s Bag

It’s time for another round of answering reader email. (Rather than sticking with “Going Postal” or switching the too-raunchy “Poe’s Sack,” I’ve decided to split the difference and rename the column “Poe’s Bag.” Make of it what you will.)

Before we go further, I wanted to mention to all contributors to Poe Ghostal’s Pic of the Day – holiday-themed pics will get special consideration right now, so submit those visions of sugarplums, whatever the hell those are.

Moving on…

Hey, Poe –

In light of Rob Bricken’s recent i09 article about collecting — how do you deal with what you have in your collection? Do you display them all? Rotate? Is your setup fairly vanilla, with the figures lined-up and organized, or more dynamic?

Cheers,
– T.

Dr. Mrs. Ghostal and I were watching Toy Hunter the other night (for the first time, actually). At one point, Jordan Hembrough walked into a collector’s room filled with shelving that were crowded floor-to-ceiling with action figures.

I remarked to DMG, “I’d love a room like that,” and she said, “No you wouldn’t. You’d set them up like that and you’d dismantle it within a week.” And I realized she was right. For while I love toys, I also have another important character trait: I hate clutter. I’m not the type of person to have papers and pens and whatnot all over my desk – my desks at both work and home are pretty spare.

Now that’s not to say I’m a neat and clean person – my desk may look spare, but that’s because everything is absolutely crammed into desk drawers. Out of sight, out of mind as far as I’m concerned.

The few times I’ve really crowded my shelves with toys, I do tend to take those displays apart soon after. I seem to be happiest when I just have a small display or two on the bookshelf above my desk. It’s part of what makes me something of an odd action figure collector, or at least odd in that I write actually write a blog about toys; I have a lot of turnover in my collection because I have so little on display at any given time. And I think part of that is attributable to the fact that I don’t like clutter, and crowded action figure shelves just look cluttered.

As for how I set my figures up, I used to keep all my DCUC and MOTUC figures on a series of clear risers. Nowadays I’ve moved toward more diorama-type situations, with figures looking like they’re interacting somehow.

Regarding Rob’s article – I still want to try and write a longer response to it, but I’ll be honest: just thinking about it depresses me a little, and frankly I’ve been happier than usual lately and don’t feel like depressing myself.

As a fellow fan of Revell’s Power Lords line, what do you think is going on with the powerlordsreturn site? Is it really an impending revival? Or is it a mean ****** toying with my action figure hopes and dreams? Power Lords was not a successful ’80’s toy line so what could be done to make it a success 30 years later? Heard any rumors? All hail Arkus!

–Lob1700

I know a little. I do think it’s a serious venture, and I have inklings of who’s involved. If those inklings turn out to be true, I think you’ll be happy…I think. I realize that’s incredibly cryptic but my honor and common courtesy prevent me from saying more.

We were discussing MattyCollector and the Voltron line on another site, and someone made an interesting comparison to the MOTUC line. While we keep getting new/obscure/fan pick figures in the classics line, The Voltron line basically boils down to “okay, how can we repackage Voltron this time?” And I love the big robot so much, I never gave this any thought. They’ve never made a King Zarkon, Haggar, or a Prince Lothor. Hell, how sweet would it be if they made robeast for him to fight? Meanwhile, they beg for preorders so they can make a Castle Grayskull playset!

What’s your take on this?

–Enigma2009

When I went looking into Voltron toys back when I was reviewing the Blazing Sword Voltron, I couldn’t believe no one had ever made a Robeast that was actually in-scale with Voltron himself. There was a line of the human-scale figures and there were lots of various Voltron figures, ranging from 6″-12″ or larger – but no monsters for him to fight! You can see this happening even today – what’s the percentage of Evangelion figures to Angels?

Anyway, I think Voltron just doesn’t have the fan base it needs to be as successful as Masters of the Universe Classics. Brands like Transformers, Star Wars, MOTU, G.I. Joe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were not only supported by popular media but lasted for years and featured dozens of collectible characters. Voltron was a fairly popular cartoon, but the characters (and thus toys) were limited and the franchise never became a true pop culture phenomenon like those other ones did. This was also the fate of Thundercats, BraveStarr, M.A.S.K., C.O.P.S. ‘N’ Crooks, Captain Power, Silverhawks – they were popular but ultimately they were all fighting to be second-best. Nowadays they each have their own devoted fanbases, but none on the same scale as, say, Transformers.

In any event, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I suspect Mattel is done with Voltron for now (despite how well the Lions sold). Hopefully they’ll let it die peacefully rather than letting it drag on like Ghostbusters.

I love your site, been reading it daily for several years now.  I was wondering if you could tell us more about yourself – I take it you are married, from the references to Dr. Mrs. Ghostal. How long have you been married? How did you meet? What do you do for a living? Any kids?

DMG and I have been together for eight years and married for four. We met through friends – we like to say we moved in together before we started dating (I took a sublet in her apartment, which she shared with three other roommates – we began dating a month later). No kids yet.

As for my job, I work at a library (technically I can’t say I’m a librarian because I don’t have the degree, but I’m working on it).

Godzilla has always been a big part of my life since I was very young. What is your first fond memory of the King of the  Monsters?

–Agent Ravage

I can’t remember the very first time I watched a Godzilla movie, but I have a few specific memories related to him. The earliest is probably from when I was about three or four: I had no Godzilla toys at all, so my mother and I drew some, cut them out and pasted them to popsicle sticks. Yes, I was that desperate for Godzilla toys.

I don’t remember receiving my first Godzilla toy, which was the now-priceless Godzilla vs. Tricephalon set, but I do remember that after I got my first Bandai Godzilla, I traded the Godzilla for a Tribots MOB-L. When I was in college, my parents later surprised me one Christmas by reacquiring that same Godzilla vs. Tricephalon set for me on eBay (presumably for a small fortune).

I remember my cousin Ed handing me down his Shogun Warriors Godzilla, which was both very cool and awfully weird (the figure, not him handing it down).

Speaking of that first Bandai Godzilla, I also remember the day I learned that vinyl, when exposed to cold New England weather, becomes brittle. I learned this while whacking my King-Goji on the side of my sandbox. I don’t remember why I was doing something so shockingly dangerous to my toy, but I do remember I was laughing maniacally with a friend while doing it. Anyway, it broke, and so did my heart. Shortly thereafter my family moved to a new town (I assure you the events were unrelated – I did not go on some sort of youthful killing spree in a broken-toy blood rage, forcing my family to change its name and flee). To ease the transition to a new home, my parents replaced that King-Goji.

There are more Godzilla stories (including how Godzilla helped me get into college, and how he played a role in the day I met my wife), but those are the earliest.

1) if you could get a toyline for a property you love that hasn’t had one or isn’t getting one that meets your standards, what would that be?

2) What country would you most want to see us exploit/empower by moving toy production there once China becomes too Westernized (read: paid) to make that profitable anymore?

–Dayraven

1.) Where to start on this one? I could write an entire post about beloved properties that don’t have toys, and what I wish existing toy lines would do. I think my dream right now would be for S.H.MonsterArts to start making Showa-era Godzilla monsters, but setting that aside, the two properties I’d choose are Doom (the videogames) and the movie The Monster Squad. And maybe a new line of H.P. Lovecraft-inspired articulated monster figures, like SOTA’s defunct Nightmares of Lovecraft. Oh, and a 6″ Marvel Legends-style Hellboy with a plastic (not cloth) coat. And for NECA to be able to finally make that second wave of TMNT figures.

2.) I tried to come up with a joke for this one, but I just couldn’t. Frankly I’m not sure American companies will ever be able to find cheap, reliable sweatshop labor like they had in the mid-to-late twentieth century. Seems like globalization is making it increasingly difficult. But I really don’t know much about this topic – I avoided Economics in college (to my detriment, as my credit card bill reminds me each month).

And that’s it for this week’s Bag. This column depends on you, dear readers, so send in those questions to poe@poeghostal.com!

Custom Poe Ghostal Minimate by The Minimate Factory

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  • Rotating collection displays are one of the best ways to keep enjoying it, honestly. When your diusplay shelf melts invisibly into the background, it takes away a lot of the fun.

  • I made paper cut out Godzillas on popsicle sticks too! I made Megalon and Gigan to fight my seven inch bootleg Godzilla after seeing Godzilla vs. Megalon when I was a kid.

  • just as a point of coversation, with all due acknowledgement that no one is asking for my opinion, if i were asked the two questions i asked you, i would respond "the tecmo-koei world of dynasty warriors and samurai warriors covers two historically significant periods of chinese and japanese history, and overtells the stories by making the characters super world beaters… the warriors orochi games not only combine those two character bases, but adds some fun original characters, and some fan favorites from other tecmo koei games like ninja gaiden and dead or alive, so that'd be the line i'd most like to see that is not in production currently. for the line i'd most like to see done differently, motuc, hands down. i would love more bucks, i would love a new and original aesthetic style, i'd love to see at least some scale variance, and i'd love to see them in stores (although i admit that's a pipe dream)

    as for where we exploit next, i think we do a greatest hits of our misadventures in southeast asia. we set up factories in laos, cambodia, vietnam, etc… and when we've kind of stabilized those economies, we look to africa. or at least, that's my funning around answer… the real answer is, i think we need to do for mexico what we did for china. improve infrastructure, improve viable jobs, improve working conditions, and get mexico into a standard of living that's at least kinda/sorta/through a thick filtered lens looks like ours. improving the QoL of our southern neighbors would help stimulate job growth here too (providing them all the fun high end stuff they can suddenly afford), it stabilizes the border enormously, and honestly, it helps stabilize our hemisphere. you are simply going to have tension when the wealithiest nation in the world shares a border w/ a country that is still, in many ways, a third world economy. we can change that with some smart moves, including legalization of marijuana and construction of factory communities like those that helped the america diaspora across appalachia and the lousiana purchase. especially, and this is where i drool over the possibilities… if WE start luring THEM up here for the world class medical care (assuming of course that in the next couple years, we dedicate the time, attention and money needed to renovate and overhaul our existing health care dispensaries into said world class healthcare… imagine all those mexicans, insured mexicans, coming up here to get care…) the mind rolls w/ money that croesus himself never laid hands on.

    • As far as our side of the border, Mexicans have no problem coming over here and spending money. There are a lot of poor people in Mexico, but there are wealthy people that are coming over here and moving their restaurants and stores from their side of the border to America. It has a lot to do with the drug cartel violence, but America also makes it pretty easy for them to come. A lot of electronic devices are assembled in Mexico and shipped over here. I wouldn't be surprised if corporations with chinese factories end up moving their production to Mexico once China's wages improve beyond Mexico's.

  • Thundercats was a pop culture phenomenon. You can't class the worldwide success Thundercats had with that of Bravestarr, M.A.S.K. and Silverhawks etc.

    • Thundercats was the most popular of those, but the revamped toy line still died a pretty quick death at retail. Though you could argue Bandai didn't even try something like MOTUC or to cater directly to collectors…but I'm still not sure it had the pop culture penetration of MOTU. And certainly not G.I. Joe, Transformers or TMNT, all of which became evergreen properties.

      • thundercats reminds me a lot of dark stalkers… huge in theory, but the sellthrough on licensed merch doesn't follow the seeming internet love. dark stalkers is to street fighter what thundercats is to motu… a really well recieved knockoff w/ a misconstrued sense of it's own importance in the consumer world. not trying to hurt anyone's feeling, nor am i implying that their fandom isn't important… that's not what i'm at here. what i am saying is, the vocal love doesn't translate into sales.

        • I don't know if its the figures — its MYP 200x Masters of the Universe all over again… If you want to re-launch a property, don't bring it to Cartoon Network!

        • It should have been on the Toonami block CN brought back, but it's too little too late. Isn't it weird that a show with talking ponies has a crazed fan base, but a show with talking cat people can't take off.

  • Thundercats had a massive fan base in the UK and was far more popular and successful than MOTU and G.I. Joe over here. The 2011 Thundercats cartoon and toys were a mess. Bandai made terrible toys then we had an awful cartoon that was very poorly written with boring stories and extremely bad character development. It was so bad it is no wonder kids didn't like it. MOTU 200X was a great update of a classic series. They had everything that made MOTU, MOTU and amplified it and improved on it. 2011 Thundercats was just another bland generic anime series with anime cat people. It lacked everything that made Thundercats awesome and loved, so much so with some slight editing it could honestly be edited and dubbed as another series. Even the character designs were pathetic instead of Lion-O being a muscled warrior with his flowing lion's mane of hair we got a spikey hair Final Fantasy emo reject. Look at the 2010 promo art work they released with Lion-O leaping forward…why couldn't the series have looked like that. The toys were bad but the bad cartoon also played a big part in its downfall.

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