Ten Good and Bad Action Figure-related Things from SDCC 2013 (by Nemo Eight)

Please welcome a new PoeGhostal.com contributor, the eldritch Nemo Eight!

As a long time attendee of the San Diego Comic Con, Poe has asked me to share my thoughts on some of the major news from the show. Since this is primarily (at least to date) an action figure blog that’s where I’ll focus my attention, and fortunately that won’t be too hard.

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Continue reading “Ten Good and Bad Action Figure-related Things from SDCC 2013 (by Nemo Eight)”

A Brief Introduction to the Glyos Universe

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Pheyden

Introduction

The Glyos System is a series of toys produced by Matt Doughty and Michelle Doughty of Onell Design and sold exclusively on their website, www.onelldesign.com. These three-inch-tall figures feature a simple peg and socket joint system known as the “Fit Function” that makes them completely interchangeable with one another, allowing for limitless build options.

The back story for the series is fleshed out in blog posts, comics, and a series of animations and mini-games in the website’s Passcode section. Alongside Onell Design is Jesse Moore’s Callgrim, a mercenary character from the Glyos System story, and a compatible toy series that also uses the standard peg and socket construction. Continue reading “A Brief Introduction to the Glyos Universe”

Free your MOTUC figures

An increasing number of male MOTUC figures are coming with armor that covers their entire chest, thereby limiting the armor movement to “weightlifter arms” practically sticking out horizontally due to the armor increasingly the amount of plastic beneath the armpits. Other figures have restrictive plastic tunics, skirts, or loincloths. Some have both (I’m looking at you, Dekker.) What’s an articulation lover to do?

Well, it all depends on how much you love articulation and whether you’re comfortable with taking a razor to your figures. If you are, however, then Poester Dayraven has passed along a few pointers for freeing up your MOTUC figures. He sliced up his Castle Grayskullman to give the figure a greater range of arm and leg movement. He doesn’t have any before pictures (though anyone with a CGM has that), but here are some “after” pics, and a description of what he did. Continue reading “Free your MOTUC figures”

Reviewing Samples Addendum > Thoughts from a Toy Company Rep

You’ll recall my Reviewing Samples series from a few months back, where I interviewed various toy reviewers about the practice of reviewing samples sent by toy companies (apologies for that terrible repetitive sentence). In the process of that series, I contacted a few toy company press reps to see if they were interested in answering some questions from the other side of things. One recently got back to me with the following answers.

For obvious professional reasons, the subject of the interview wishes to remain anonymous. Suffice to say, this person works for a major toy company and has been responsible for distributing free samples to reviewers in the past. –PG

1.) When your company provides samples to a toy reviewer, what are your expectations regarding the review (i.e., positive, objective, fair, etc.)?

I certainly want the review to be fair, but you need to focus on  the positive as well as the negative — you can’t just run down every single thing you think is wrong with it without ever mentioning a a good point. (And no, wrapping up a list of negatives with “It’s still a good purchase” does not make everything okay — it makes me wonder what in the hell you liked about it, because you certainly never mentioned it.) If you can’t say anything nice about the product at all, let me know, and we’ll kill the review. You can complain as much as you like about a toy you buy, but to utterly eviscerate a toy I sent you for free is not cool. Just say “I can’t review this. It sucks.” Done. Continue reading “Reviewing Samples Addendum > Thoughts from a Toy Company Rep”

Club Eternia 2013: What Would It Take For You to Subscribe?

Tyrantisaurus Lomography
Tyrantisaurus Lomography by geekyvixen, on Flickr

In just a few days – this Friday at 3pm ET, to be exact – we’ll find out the first three to five figures in the 2013 Club Eternia subscription. (Assuming it doesn’t get leaked ahead of time…)

It seems to me that MOTUC’s status as one of the premiere toy lines has been fading, and I suspect 2013 may represent the lowest subscriber numbers yet. My question to you is: what would it take you to re-subscribe? What characters do you want to see? What characters don’t you want to see? Continue reading “Club Eternia 2013: What Would It Take For You to Subscribe?”

Reviewing Samples > Poe’s Review Sample…Reviews

As I read through the reader responses, I got the impression people seemed to think I got a lot more complimentary samples than I did. So, here’s a rundown of everything I’ve ever reviewed that was provided to me for free (found via my awesome new review archive). Continue reading “Reviewing Samples > Poe’s Review Sample…Reviews”

Poe Probes > Reviewing Samples, Part 9: Reader Responses

This is the ninth 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.

In addition to interviewing toy reviewers, I also asked readers what they thought of the practice of reviewing samples. Here’s a sampling of some of their responses. (I tried to get as many quotes as I could; some readers wrote thoughtful but very long pieces that simply couldn’t be broken down into bite-size chunks. If there’s enough interest I’d consider posting them as editorials.)

In reading over all the responses (and I got over thirty of them), I noticed some common themes. On the whole, readers said they did think that reviewers who received samples softened their reviews. However, for the last question, most said this was not a concern for them, because either they were aware of the bias and altered their assessment of the review accordingly; or  because they only cared about the pictures/videos of the toys anyway.

Continue reading “Poe Probes > Reviewing Samples, Part 9: Reader Responses”

Reviewing Samples, Part 8: Josh Bernard of CollectionDX.com

This is the eighth 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 Josh Bernard of CollectionDX.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?

The first thing to realize is there are different kinds of samples with different objectives. Manufacturers send out samples to create hype and generate interest, often before product hits the shelves. Retailers on the other hand send samples purely to drive sales to their store, and to sell that specific product. The difference is that manufacturers often send random things, without little regard to what our site actually covers. Retailers know what sells for them, what good product is, and therefore rarely send items that are not of good quality. After all, their objective is to sell more of that unit.

I think when we were starting out there were some cases where we held back some negative opinions on some items. We’ve struck a nice balance now where if you are constructive with your criticism people tend to respect your opinion. If we just went out and started raging I think we would lose credibility. I tell each of my writers to always write an honest review – but be constructive. Point out both good and bad of each toy, and let the reader decide if it is for them.

We do encourage our writers to pick sample items that they are interested in, so the toy is reviewed through the eyes of proper perspective. With so many “staff” reviewers now, and so many samples coming in, it can be hard to keep track of them and maintain a consistent editorial voice, but we try our best. Continue reading “Reviewing Samples, Part 8: Josh Bernard of CollectionDX.com”

Reviewing Samples, Part 7: Q&A with GeneralsJoes.com

This is the seventh 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 Justin of GeneralsJoes.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?

Well, I don’t receive free samples often…generally what a mainstream event happens as the G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra film did in 2009, Hasbro will send out a healthy “care package” to fan sites, and I choose to review those items. They’re not necessarily items specifically for review, but that is generally what I do with them. I also have sponsorship deals and BigBadToyStore pretty much sponsors my review page by offering free product for those reviews. I have also done reviews for smaller companies like Marauder, Inc., Yetibrew Design, and other places that specialize in much smaller, more focused product lines.

I really don’t have an urge to be kinder to the item, no. I strongly believe that posting reviews of product is almost an obligation to be as objective as possible. Granted I’m a pretty big fan of the G.I. Joe product line, and that generally shines through in my reviews, but the source of the items I’m reviewing does not even come into mind. I try extremely hard to simply play it fair. But that is an interesting point…I wouldn’t be surprised if subconsciously I was trying hard to be a little too objective, keeping in mind that I don’t want to come across as soft just because I’m being given product, but I don’t that comes through in the reviews. Continue reading “Reviewing Samples, Part 7: Q&A with GeneralsJoes.com”

Poe Probes > Reviewing Samples, Part 6: Q&A with Michael Crawford

This is the sixth 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 Michael Crawford, one of the best-known toy reviewers. His website is www.mwctoys.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?

Michael Crawford: I do my best to be fair. Whether you pay for something or you get it for free, there can be bias. For example, I have found over the years that when someone pays a lot of their own hard-earned cash for a collectible, there is a natural bias toward wanting it to be good – if it isn’t, it implies you just spent a lot of money for crap, and people hate to admit that. I wrote an article on the general subject awhile back, since I find this sort of opinion bias interesting.

Since reviews are opinion, there’s always some bias working in one direction or the other, and I think the best the reviewer can do is to be aware of it. Awareness means you can look for it and understand it, and should make your reviews more fair.

That being said, it’s not just the fairness of the writer that can be effected by the sample, but the perception of that fairness by the readers. Ideally, a reviewer would never take free samples to avoid any perception that the reviews might not be fair, but the reality is that’s simply not feasible. There’s no one bankrolling toy reviews to allow them to afford $200 collectibles on a regular basis, which means that if they go with only the figures they can afford to buy, it will only be figures they like and want to begin with. What you’ve done is simply trade one bias for another. It also means there will be less variety in that reviewers subjects, limiting them to only the items they would buy for themselves.

I try to never ask for anything from anyone – if someone offers, I generally accept, but I don’t go looking. I also tell them up front that they should only be sending something that they really feel strongly about, because I will do my very best to be fair, and they might not like the results. At times I’ve even had the conversation telling them not to send me something in particular because I already am buying it – but that if there’s something else I would normally not pick up that they’re releasing, they should consider that instead. Continue reading “Poe Probes > Reviewing Samples, Part 6: Q&A with Michael Crawford”