TOYFARE WEEK > 5 Questions with: Justin Aclin

tttspidey2.jpgCodename: Justin Aclin, a.k.a. Willy Wampa on the Wizard Universe Message Board
Specialty: Senior Editor (Note – this title has absolutely nothing to do with seniority)
Base of Operations: ToyFare magazine
History: Justin Aclin is:
1. The youngest member of the ToyFare staff
2. The first one to get married
3. The only one with a kid
4. The one with the most prodigious facial hair

PG: Please describe what you do at ToyFare. Is this the culmination of a lifelong desire to work with toys or the inevitable result of a misspent youth?

I’ve always loved toys (there’s a great picture of three-year-old me proudly holding up a Skeletor figure), but I’m not a guy who lives and breathes toys 24/7. I’m a mega-comic fan and I’ve been reading Wizard since issue #10, so I immediately started reading ToyFare when it started up slightly over 10 years ago. I immediately became a big fan. I would always make my non-comic fan college friends read Twisted ToyFare Theatre, and they always thought it was hysterical. I remember entering a “Make your own Big Shots” contest way back in the day. So I guess you could say my dream was to work with ToyFare more than it was to work with toys. Of course, working with toys is really awesome, too.

As for what I do at ToyFare, Editor Zach Oat and I do most of the nitty-gritty editorial stuff for the magazine-editing features, writing word balloons, keeping in touch with toy companies to find out what they’ve got coming up, etc. Additionally, I’m one of the head writers of Twisted ToyFare Theatre, which is far and away the most fun part of the job. If I can just plug for a second, hardcore ToyFare fans should definitely pick up the Twisted ToyFare Theatre 10th Anniversary Collection. It’s got some great old strips in there, but we worked our asses off on the new material, too.

PG: Please list the toys in your work area.

Oh, man…that’s a mouthful. I’ll give some highlights, from right to left on my desk. There’s our custom Naked Jonathan Frakes figure, the star of several back-page strips that we’ve inflicted on our readers, as customized by Mr. Joe Amaro. Then there’s the crown jewel of my collection – my custom Justin Aclin MiniMate by Matt “Iron-Cow” Cauley. Now that Matt designs MiniMates professionally, I choose to think of this as an official MiniMate (several of which litter my desk).

I’ve got a bunch of DC Direct and Marvel figures (comic fan, as I mentioned), and the Hyper Guardian from Xevoz, the toy line I wish existed today more than any other toy line. Then there are some new Toynami Futurama figures (including our exclusive Blue Zoidberg), a couple of Final Fantasy Figures and a Hordak mini-statue by the Four Horsemen.

Bringing up the rear isn’t a toy at all – it’s a cool demonic axe, as designed by an old family friend, Paul Ehlers. Check it out here.

PG: What’s the most interesting thing going on in the toy industry today?

I think the coolest thing happening in the industry is the new trend that there is no cult movie too small to become action figures. Three years ago, who would have thought we’d be seeing toys for The Big Lebowski, Goonies and The Princess Bride.

Of course there’s a cost to that kind of coolness, and for me it’s the lack of really compelling original concepts on the toy shelves. I mentioned Xevoz before – for me they really captured the spirit and inventiveness of those ’80s original properties. He-Man, when you think about it, is really crazy. You’ve got barbarians and robots and cowboys and bird people, all mixed up together. Xevoz captured that same spirit for me, and the customizability just kicked it up to the next level. I’d love to see somebody else step up to the plate like that and create a property that could become a cartoon or a comic, instead of the other way around. The Four Horsemen have a lot of great ideas they’ve been exploring through their FANtastic Exclusive, and part of me wishes they were mass-market lines instead of the very limited exclusives they are.

PG: What’s the best thing about working at ToyFare?

It’s got to be a tie between the extremely nice and funny guys I work with every day, and the insane knowledge that it’s my job to check out the coolest new toys, then write jokes about them. It still feels surreal. Tied into that is doing Twisted ToyFare, of course. That really has been a dream come true.

It also gives me a great platform to plug my very first real comic book, Hero House, set to be published next year by Arcana Comics. Keep an eye out for it and get ready to bug your local retailer.

Man, I’m the king of plugs.

PG: What’s your fondest toy-related holiday memory?

I’ve got a terrible memory, so there’s nothing that sticks out especially in my mind from my childhood. Just in general, there being eight nights of Chanukah, the best nights were always the ones where my mom handed me a gift-wrapped present that clearly had a blister bubble. That was the tell-tale sign it was going to be awesome.


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  1. Esbat

    You Maniac! Damn you! Damn you to heck… *weeps* Frakes is so damn naked, with a hula hoop! *weeps uncontrollably*

  2. Man, you're getting all the major league hitters. I can't wait to see your questions with the Lee's Toy Review staff! Or not…

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