Category: Poe’s Point Page 1 of 11

Poe’s Point > Guns, Blasters, and NERF

I came across this intriguing photo on a forum (it apparently originated at the Fwoosh, but since they recently some problems with their forums I’ve been unable locate the original post – so if this is your image, please feel free to contact me for credit/cease and desist/etc.)

Marvel Legends figures have had sci-fi-looking guns for years and no one has made much of a fuss, but many G.I. Joe fans were disappointed to see the same guns in the 6″ G.I. Joe Classified line.

One reason for this is that the 1980s Joe line was heavy on the real-life weapons, which were often listed by name right on the packaging. And the original G.I Joe of the 1960s was essentially just a U.S. soldier. On the other hand, the 1980s Joe cartoon is famous for its use of “laser guns” that never actually hurt anyone.

In any event, times have changed, and Hasbro is changing with them. Many fans have noted Hasbro’s careful use of the word “blaster” instead of “guns” in their marketing, with staff even correcting themselves during the Hasbro Pulse live presentations on Facebook. So far, only the Hasbro Pulse-exclusive Snake Eyes has included an actual real-life weapon (an Uzi submachine gun, his signature firearm from the 1980s toys and comics).

But it turns out there’s more than meets the eye (sorry, wrong brand) to the weapons these G.I. Joe Classified figures have. Many of them are apparently based directly on some of Hasbro’s NERF guns.

Now that is some corporate synergy!

And it turns out at least one Marvel Legend figure had already come with a couple of NERF guns – the Liefeld-style Cable:

In terms of the actual designs themselves, I think they look fine. But that’s not really the issue here.

The issue–for some collectors at least, particularly diehard Joe fans–is Hasbro’s move away from real-life weapons to laser guns and plasma railguns, plus the slightly Orwellian switch to “blasters” (a term that in my mind has always been associated with Star Wars).

My personal feelings on guns are a bit complicated. I find guns interesting and I often peruse the Internet Movie Firearm Database to see which specific guns are used in a given film. I love the names, reading about the history, and especially reading about which real-life weapons were used to make science fiction guns (such as the Mauser that became Han Solo’s DL-44).

But I don’t own a gun, don’t plan to own a gun, I favor strict gun control and I find the cult-like worship of guns in some quarters and the sheer number of guns in the country, to say nothing of the culture of mass shootings, to be one of the biggest societal problems in America. I don’t think this is as strange as it may initially seem; Japanese fans of anime, manga and videogames love guns, but basically no one there has one.

So here are my thoughts on what Hasbro is doing with G.I. Joe.

First off, as mentioned above, there’s already a long history of G.I. Joe (particularly the “Real American Hero” incarnation GIJC is based on) using sci-fi weaponry. Moreover, an Uzi submachine gun, while culturally iconic, is woefully out-of-date as an actual weapon, as are most of the real-life weapons used by the Joes back in the 1980s. Many modern guns, particularly the state-of-the-art ones, don’t look all that different from many of Hasbro’s NERF designs. Sure, Roadblock’s big gun is obviously some sort of railgun, but railguns are something the U.S. military has actually looked into.

It so happens I saw both the original The Fast and the Furious and last year’s Hobbes and Shaw in the theater. In the original, the characters were car enthusiasts who stole DVD players. In Hobbes and Shaw, Idris Elba was a cyborg with a transforming motorcycle. I feel like the current state of the Fast and the Furious franchise is a good model for what the modern G.I. Joe could be, but we’ll see where they go with it in Snake Eyes.

And then there’s the Winter Soldier’s modified FN Mk 13 that fires magnetic exploding discs.

So here’s what I think: I think the sci-fi/NERF guns are fine for retail, but for the sake of nostalgic fans, Hasbro should continue to try to find ways to create Web-exclusive versions that contain the classic weapons.

I also think Hasbro should just call them guns, because the blasters thing seems silly. People understand that G.I. Joe is a military/paramilitary organization and that guns are part of that.

Poe’s Point > Target Destroyed

So, what to make of today’s fiasco with this morning’s Target exclusive G.I. Joe Classified preorders?

The four figures (three individual figures, including a Cobra Trooper, and the Baroness with a motorcycle) were sold out in less than a minute. Collectors are predictably upset.

Full disclosure: two weeks ago, when the NECA Raphael/Casey Jones two-pack was supposed to go up on Walmart.com, I had a Chrome browser open with Auto Refresh Plus, an app I’ve used for years to automatically refresh pages to watch for changes – so for example, when the words “In Stock” appeared, I’d know instantly and could make my order. On that day, I succeeded and got my order in. It seems very few other collectors were so successful.

Today, despite not only having Auto Refresh going but actually refreshing in-person myself, I failed. And now I ask, why?

The current go-to for blame appears to be bots. These shopping bots are scripts that more or less instantly login and make the purchases for you. Many collectors believe that this is the new way scalpers are making their money – ordering the maximum number of items almost instantly and then throwing them all up on eBay before they even arrive, preying on many collectors’ (including, at times, this writer’s) desperate need for instant gratification with a huge markup for a toy they may very well see in stores before they even receive their eBay purchase.

Now, today I was aware the instant the G.I. Joe Classified auctions went live. I took maybe 45 seconds at most to get everything in my cart and try to put the purchase through. I was logged in and I have a Red Card, so there was nothing to slow me down. And yet, before I even could check out, three of the four items were gone from my cart.

A few observations.

  • Target and Walmart both need to add Captcha and other methods of slowing down bots. This is a no-brainer. Hasbro Pulse recently added Captcha and it seems to be working pretty well.
  • Online ticket sellers figured out how to secure items in shopper’s carts years and years ago. There is no excuse for this – if you manage to get something in your cart, you should get at least 5-10 minutes to purchase it before the stock is released.
  • I’m not entirely sure the real problem wasn’t the number of items available.

This last part is important. I think a lot of collectors have become so accustomed to preordering toys online, they forget what exclusives mean to big-box retailers. Again, I don’t mean smaller stores like BigBadToyStore or DorksideToys–an exclusive toy for them is entirely based on online sales.

But big box retailers like Target and Walmart want to bring people into the store. That’s the appeal of exclusives for them. There’s no real added value if a bunch of collectors who otherwise would never set foot in their store order a figure online.

So, I suspect the online numbers of these allocated to these initial preorders were very small. I particularly suspect this in the case of the Target preorder. This preorder wasn’t announced publicly by Hasbro, it just made the rounds on a few G.I. Joe fansites. The G.I. Joe Classified line is fairly new, and the exclusive’s individual pages (required for bots to work) weren’t even posted until late last night or early this morning. If there was a decent amount of stock allocated for the presale, I’d be a bit surprised if enough scalpers with a lot of bots were able to buy up all the stock in less than sixty seconds.

Basically, the point of the preorders is publicity. By the time the items are actually in stores (the street date for the G.I. Joe items is August 14), most collectors will have forgotten their frustration and will be haunting their local Targets for these figures. And while they’re there, they might pick up some other figure they’ve been looking for, and maybe some toilet paper and laundry detergent, or a soda, or a candy bar.

Of course, I can already see the objections from angry collectors who are swearing off [insert retailer and/or toy line here] forever due to this incident. And maybe some will, but we all know most of them won’t. If they can find these, they will buy them.

Now I could be wrong. Perhaps an army of bots did spam Target, or perhaps two or three were able to order hundreds of figures. But while these may turn up to be plentiful in stores come August, there’s no question that this backfired on Hasbro (if not Target) in terms of PR.

The same goes for NECA and Walmart. It’s true that action figures have become a niche collectors’ market, like baseball/trading cards, comics, Magic: the Gathering, and–oddly–sneakers. It’s true that in many cases, if not for these exclusives, these items might not be available at all. But it’s still frustrating, disheartening, and annoying to have to deal with these instant sell-outs. And a few small steps, such as Captcha and strict purchase limits, could stem the tide and make everything a bit more fair.

Poe’s Point > Frequent QC issues with Legacy Collection Game of Thrones?

Logo_Game_of_Thrones

Quality control issues are nothing new in the action figure hobby over the last ten years. The reasons for this are obvious. The most significant problems are rising production costs. The cost of almost everything involved in producing action figures is on a continual and precipitous rise – the petroleum for the plastic, the petroleum for transportation, tooling costs, the labor costs for the factory. Thanks to a few high-profile toy safety crises, safety testing has become more expensive. Moreover, the most successful action figure lines today are licensed from large media properties which are increasingly expensive to obtain.

Poe’s Point > Anecdotal evidence proves Star Wars Black 6″ is doing great!

greedo2

Phil Reed of Battlegrip has another post about how he’s seeing Leia and Greedo pegwarming – based on store visits – and therefore Hasbro needs to “save this line before the mass retailers grow tired of your peg warmers and ditch the entire line.” This topic has become one of friendly argument between us, so I felt compelled to respond.

First off, allow me to counteract his anecdotal evidence with the lone Greedo I found at a Toys R Us. Clearly this proves the line is doing great!

Poe’s Point > Thoughts on the state of Star Wars Black 6″

darth-maul-star-wars-black-poe-ghostal-review-15

So, at the beginning of 2014, where are we on Star Wars Black 6″?

Before I begin, let me state something: I’m not that worried about the line. I think sometimes collectors overthink this kind of thing. Star Wars is a big, recognizable brand with a new movie coming out in less than two years. The hype will be unimaginable eighteen months from now. Captain America 2 and the Amazing Spider-man 2 will probably not be as successful as the new Star Wars movie (the first one, at least), and both of those films just received a great wave of 6″ figures. Hasbro has not abandoned the format for Marvel, and I see no reason why they’d turn around and drop it for Star Wars when we’re not even a year in.

But that doesn’t mean I think they’re handling the line perfectly.

Poe’s Point > Third-party Star Wars Black 6″ suggestions

Hasbro 2013 Star Wars Black Series logo

I’ve expressed my doubts about third-party toys in the form of licensed characters, but I have far fewer qualms  about third-party add-ons. There are some really cool third party projects going on for MOTUC right now, such as Kevin Kosse’s Horde Trooper helmets or the upcoming conversion kits by Mat Vige O’Toole, a.k.a. Zombihamma (who’s also a special effects make-up, prosthetics and storyboard artist with a pretty badass resume) – plus of course Joe Amaro‘s great stuff.

Poe’s Point > Poe Ghostal’s Super-Articulation Manifesto

tick-shocker-toys-articulation

In some of my more recent reviews, I’ve noted that a number of purported “super-articulated” figures tend to have one or two disappointing aspects to their articulation that detract from an otherwise great figure. For some figures, the articulation decisions are flat-out bizarre, with some joints too limited and others unnecessarily included. So I decided the time had come to issue this, Poe Ghostal’s Super-Articulation Manifesto.

Poe’s Point > Thoughts on Funko ReAction

AlienSetCarded

This post is largely reworked from comments I wrote for Firefly confirmed for “Funko Legacy 6″ line (and ReAction as well).” It got me thinking about Funko’s ReAction as a style and brand, not just a set of remolded Kenner protoypes (speaking of, here’s CollectionDX’s review of the Alien ReAction figures). Super7 originally developed the toys, but then Funko bought both the Alien figures and the “ReAction” style and brand from Super7.

Poe’s Point > Why I hate MatthewK

I used to love taking photos for my reviews. It was exciting. I started out just taking them on my desk, then started to get concerned about things like lighting, so I made a custom light tent out of a cardboard box and some tissue paper. Eventually I got a real light tent and a nicer camera. And yet, for whatever reason, somewhere along the way I stopped enjoying taking photos. I tend to find the process tedious nowadays.

I have a few different ideas why this might be the case, but the main one is: what is the point, tell me, WHAT IS THE POINT when TheFwoosh.com‘s MatthewK is doing crap like THIS?

Or this?

Poe’s Point > Lou Scheimer, 1928-2013

LouScheimer

(Image from Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation by Andy Mangels)

A few years ago, I sat down to watch The Secret of the Sword. For whatever reason, my wife was feeling indulgent that day and sat down to watch it with me. I never really watched She-Ra as a kid and had no memories of the show, so I didn’t know what I was in for. But both my wife and I found ourselves endlessly amused by the voice of Swift Wind, a beautiful pegasus with the voice of a five-pack-a-day smoker.

I don’t know if Lou Scheimer actually smoked, but he certainly gave Swift Wind a voice that sounded like it. Mr. Scheimer, the founder of Filmation Studios, passed away last week at the age of 84. I was never as partial to Filmation as many He-Fans, but there’s no question his shows gave me hours of entertainment. And Mr. Scheimer was certainly very open to and embracing of the MOTU and She-Ra community over the last decade as its fandom has come into its own.

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