Poe’s Point > Seriously

In my original plans for this blog, I hoped to be able to offer insight into the action figure industry. I had dreams of insiders dropping me juicy tidbits, behind-the-scenes information, gossip–sort of a Bleeding Cool for the toy industry.

So far, that hasn’t happened. Frankly, I don’t have the contacts for it to happen, plus I have a day job, so I don’t have time to be going to conventions and making contacts and so forth. And apparently I’m not likeable or famous enough for people to just start emailing me tips randomly. Which is fine; I’m OK with me.

Nonetheless, once in a while something industry-related does pop up that seems worth highlighting. In this case, it’s a blog post on Action Figure Insider by Jason Lenzi, a self-described “seasoned television producer” and owner of the Bif Bang Pow toy company.

His post is essentially a lengthy complaint/critique about Michael Crawford’s review of the Tron Legacy Sam Deluxe Sam Flynn figure. Before we go any further, note that MWC gave the toy three out of four stars.

Full disclosure: I did something like this myself, years ago. Obviously my opinion has changed over time, and now I could spend hours writing a lengthy retort, but yo go re of OAFE has already done a better job of that than I could.

But I will pick out a few choice lines. Here’s one:

The online community of nitpickers has harshed my mellow on so much over the years, that half the time I avoid delving too deep on any geek subject, lest some anonymous ‘expert’ take the fun out of what little there is left to get excited about any more.

If you can’t stand the heat of geeky discussion and criticism, then by all means, stay out of the kitchen. (If that’s the case, stay away from these. Better just to avoid the stressors.)

Here’s what I think is the silliest part of the blog post:

What’s my point? I don’t know, maybe that we’re all taking this shit WAY TOO SERIOUSLY?? I think we can all agree when someone gets it horribly wrong in the genre world, whether it’s toys, TV, or film. But when did we start picking on the guys who get it right? Or just not notice when it’s done well? Are those souls ever going to be happy?

Saying anything to the effect of “aren’t you taking this too seriously?” to geeks should have some sort of rule, along the lines of Godwin’s Law, that states the speaker immediately loses whatever credibility he might have had with his audience. Anyone who makes geek-related stuff for a living and makes a statement like that needs to realize they’re making the toy industry equivalent of William Shatner’s infamous SNL appearance (which he has long since redeemed himself for).

Later in the comments, Lenzi backs off a bit:

Like I said, this is just my opinion about too-detailed reviews, not about reviews or review sites across the board. I know how popular MWCtoys is, so they’re obviously doing something right to get such a following. Hope you continue to enjoy what they do, and I’ll continue to pop over for info too!

MWC’s reviews serve as much as advertising for toys as anything else. I guarantee you Bif Bang Pow sells more Venture Bros. toys thanks to the publicity and pretty photos from MWC’s review. If I were MWC, I’d consider deliberately skipping reviewing toys from BBP in the future. Clearly they don’t want the publicity. (I fear MWC is too professional to do that, though–I think he does consider himself as having a certain obligation to the collecting community.)

To be clear, I do understand Lenzi’s consternation (although again, MWC’s review was actually fairly positive, which makes Lenzi’s post seem like a bizarre overreaction). It’s always tough to be someone who creates and sends something out there, only to have it criticized in excruciating detail–or simply dismissed as crap. But it’s an inevitable part of being a creator, and it’s especially part of creating geek-oriented merchandise.


Pic of the Day


Pic of the Day


  1. Motorthing

    who the heck would actually need to justify and feel in any way bad about sticking it to BBP after the dreck they served up on multiple licenses?

    There is personal taste, which can be debated legitimately, and there is losing it over someone (who was actually pretty mild) not thinking you are the gold plated center of the Universe.

    All Pointless – rather like attempting any superior snark about adults interested in toys around here.

  2. PrfktTear

    I can only speak for myself here, and I know this cannot hold true for everyone, but I think reviews are just one small part of the whole aspect that makes us a community which these sites create. Whether it’s the forums over at Fwoosh or blogs like IAT and PGPoA, they're places for us all to converge and have thoughtful discussion. I know this is not always the case, but that is just the nature of things.

    Personally, I read reviews for a variety of reasons, and usually deciding whether or not I want to buy a toy is the last thing that will bring me to read something. I've known of Poe since his days at OAFE, and I've been following along with his blog pretty much since the beginning (side note: PGPoA is going to be celebrating its 3rd Anniversary this December!). It’s safe to say that if Poe writes something, I'm going to read it. Even if it’s a toy I'm not I'm really interested in, I'm still going to read it. I'll take that point further; there are a couple reviewers who for whatever reason get on my nerves. I think they're full of ego and just like to toot their own horn whenever possible, yet I still keep going back and reading their stuff.

    In a couple cases reading reviews has actually given me information about the product I couldn’t find out by looking at the package and ultimately influenced my decision to buy it. Most recently example I can site is the Transformers War for Cybertron Soundwave. I had seen his PR pics and thought he was cool, but decided I did not need yet another Soundwave. It wasn’t until I read a review (or maybe it was a video I saw) that showed me that I could partially transform him to make him look like some sort of a futuristic, alien boombox. That was enough for me to pick it up, but had I not known about it, I most likely would not have bought him.

    At any rate, the reviews do their part to foster a sense of community by everyone getting together, reading the same thing, and then commenting. I think offering up your opinion is one of the great things about the internet; everyone can have a voice. Whether or not they choose to talk about food, film, toys, cars, camera, stamps, politics, sports, is their choice to do so. I think the act of the consumer voicing their opinion is almost an institution in this country. It has itself become a form of entertainment; why else do we have people like Leonard Maltin or Gene Siskel who have made their careers on offering up their opinions?

    On a personal note, I've seen those TRON figures a few times now, and I looked 'em over once more after having read that longwinded diatribe. Maybe I'm just a tad too young to remember Tron back in the '80s, I'm not even sure if I've seen the entire film, I haven’t, at least with adult eyes. I'm looking forward to the new film though, but we don't even know if its any good. The 3.75" figures look awful, no better than the Avatar: The Last Airbender figures. The light-up face gimmick is kinda lame as well. Honestly, I don't think they're all that great, I don’t know what there is to get so excited about. If that’s how he feels great, I feel the same way about “just another Mer-Man”. TRON holds absolutely ZERO nostalgic value for me, but even if I was a kid I don't even know if I could get excited for them.

  3. RM

    The only thing I can think of is this:

    If you can't stand the heat, then don't throw grease on the goddamned fire.


  4. Mark

    I like reviews, it lets people give their opinions and customers info on the product.

    Personally though I can't stand reviewers who are 'FAN BOYS' that give biased reviews and will not say or let a bad thing be said against toys based on the company or scultors who made them.

  5. Lenzi is a hack. Check his profile on IMDB. His toys are as bad as his TV shows.

  6. Valo487

    I just think it’s hilarious reading the responses over on AFI, almost universal praise for his opinion when a great deal of the posters on AFI’s boards are some of the most whiny, nitpicking people I’ve ever seen. The best part is on one post when someone takes him to task for attacking an impartial review due to his obvious bias, numerous people, including one troll I had issues with when I posted there, jump all over that guy, tell him to “screw himself” in less polite terms and attack him for not speaking for the collecting community. Umm…..this clown who wrote the post attacked this positive review and acted like his opinion was somehow more correct and the one other people should believe, and these twits on AFI are so fanboy indignant they don’t even realize they’re supporting someone who is doing the same thing they’re railing against. It’s moronic personalities that led me to give up posting there, it’s full of the Simpsons’ Comic Book Guys.

  7. FakeEyes22


    Excellent points made in your opening, and the rest is all very intelligent and sensible without being harsh at all. Nice one.

    I think the MCW review is positive enough to be a glowing rave if you're a die hard TRON fan who was on the fence.

  8. Monkey boy

    Trust me there are far more inane and stupid things to review than toys. And not only do I not get paid for reviews, I don't get free products to review either (I know yo go re sometimes does, but that lucky SOB Michael gets hot toy figures for free from the company)…my point is I write reviews for OAFE because i enjoy sharing my opinions. If you don't appreciate that, don't visit OAFE. And if you're on a website called action figure insider and you consider toy reviewing to be insipid and super duper serial, I don't know what to tell you. In any industry you have product reviewers, many of whom get paid to complain the way toy reviewers do for free. My friend works for a company that sells nothing but cable organizing equipment, and they have paid employees with the title of product reviewer. Toys are luxury items, but so is art, so is film, and those things are reviewed endlessly. Your mileage may vary as to how important they are to you, but surely the act of reviewing a product is understandable in the general scheme of things.

  9. dayraven

    there are a couple details about this affair i find laughable:

    he critiques MW for not knowing the industry, then critiques him for breaking down the review into categories that acknowledge the different teams and different qualities of work that go into the production process

    he cites reviewers for being overly negative while criticizing a positive review.

    he embraces how cool HE thinks the toy is while thus rejecting the opinion of MWC… he is himself offering a counter-review. but remember, reviewers aren't to be trusted.

    what i find pitiful though is his lack of perspective. he likes primitive toys, which goes a long way towards explaining his own commercial woes. he doesn't like reviewers but the offers a review himself, one devoid of almost every salient detail one could ask for. lenzi has a right to his opinion, as does everyone else, but his opinion in no way solicits my dollar, so in essence, he's talking to the wind.

    i have argued many times over the virtue of whimsy, that toy should inspire that imagination and that that is the limit of its functionality, so expecting it to make you "happy" is a farcical pursuit. if this tron thing makes lenzi happy, fine. but what he missed was that others might not be so enamored with the feature that is the toys sole redeeming characteristic for it's price point… evidently, lenzi has more money to blow on toys then i do. good for him. i'm a grind buyer, iu have minimal scratch and want it to count. so MWC does me a service… they look at details that i look at when i buy a figure, and discuss those. i've been vocally critical of MWC's reviews before, and mike, kind hearted soul that his is, has even engaged me, a lowly toygeek, in conversation about the toy and his review criteria… that's cool. it didn't change my opinion of the toy, but it certainly spoke volumes as to the character of the reviewer.

    as end consumers, we can speak however we like about the products we're being asked to buy, that's our side of the consumer contract. if you sell me shit, i'm allowed to tank your business by telling other people you sold me shit. if i bought a hotdog at a place and it gave me food poisoning, wouldn't it actually fall under a civic ethical DUTY to tell people i got sick there, even if that was a one-time incident that occurred completely accidently? the answer is YES! it's all well and good to embrace the good, when there's good to be had, and i'm all for being positive, but not at the expense of honesty or objectivity. we as a community, speak and are allowed to speak, freely on our hobby. mr lenzi should consider it an asset to his business that he has such an engaged and educated consumer base to play do… big companies spend MILLIONS of dollars on the kind of market research the various toy communities are GIVING AWAY!

  10. Dlia

    You're still good Poe. Remember: Roboto-gate and Prince Adam's sheath-gate. Like Bleeding Cool, the stories write themselves. Rich uses more tabloid-esque and blunt headlines in the stories. Makes them funnier.

    Lenzi's hands are in the Hollywood pot. Then he can go on G4 with all those losers like Kevin Perria (sp?) and Olivia the Munn. Teh Munn I think has left for teh Daily Show. Another fine American institution…

  11. I can't imagine someone reacting to customer criticism the way this guy did. Any company that is trying to make something that others are meant to buy should be WELCOMING offered comments that would potentially make their product better. Especially if the product is something like toys, which are non-essentials any way you cut it.

    If I'm going to spend my hard-earned money on some luxury item, I am damned well going to check that item out first and determine if it's worth the money. There's a certain amount of things you can determine from looking at a toy on the shelf, but I'm a sucker for articulation and playability, which isn't as apparent in the package. That's where reviews come in.

    As a salesman, I understand the need to BELIEVE in your product like Mr. Lenzi obviously does, but it needs to be backed by some concrete evidence that it is worth that belief. If someone as passionate about toys as Mr. Crawford says it's not 100%, than you got to believe it's not 100%. Even if us collectors aren't making these toys, the sheer number of products we've seen and played with over the years lends us some credibility. As yo go re says, Lenzi is seems to be basing his assessment of the Tron line on the toys from the 80's, with no experience of where other toy companies have brought the art in the interim. It's like comparing a G1 Optimus Prime toy with the one released during the last movie. While the classic one has it's charm, and I'm sure most of us would be nostalgic over the original, you have to admit that the level of engineering and the effort in the detail of recent toys is far beyond anything released during our childhood.

    If Lenzi really wants to continue making toys and building his market share, then he ought to be thinking about taking some of the comments of that review to heart. Looking at Hasbro and the improvement of some of their lines (Marvel Universe comes to mind), it really does make the product better.

  12. Being clueless to these goings on until today, I've read around at all the links Poe provided and I just have to laugh at the whole thing.

    First, MWC’s review was far, far nicer than I would’ve been to that toy. I don’t usually do negative reviews because I only have so much money and it’s reserved for toys I like. Right now that’s a lot of Four Horsemen sculpts and a few other things here and there if they’re cool. Thus, those crappy Tron toys (with their admittedly cool light up features!) are safely ensconced at Target where they’ll like stay until Target clearances them after Christmas.

    Second, Mr. Lenzi’s reaction was really overblown. Yes, toys are toys, but they’re also products. I think my biggest problem with Lenzi’s blog entry was putting the word review in quotes. That was rather asinine and insulting. At its core, MWCToys is a product review site and it was most definitely a review (probably more so than any other toy review site). It’s no different than if I needed advice on picking a Phillips over a Hitachi TV or what brand of vacuum cleaner to buy. His supposition that reviewers don’t understand is also insulting, but there was something mocking about those quotes even though they weren’t directed at me.

    Ultimately, I think Poe summed it up best about staying out of the kitchen if you can’t take the heat. Mr. Lenzi can’t do much about Tron Legacy, but if he wants better reviews for BBP merchandise, then he can make better product. That’s the solution, not complaining about not getting a fair shake.

    As for the rest of it, there are some fantastic toy review sites out there (certainly more than just two) and I think it’s great that we have so many voices out there with a wide variety of opinions.

  13. FakeEyes22

    Even if the MCW review had been more negative, I don't know why it would cause so much anger in the scope of internet geekery. Isn't every comment section full of so much more bitching and anger?

    The TRON stuff looks kinda cool, but it's true appeal will have to wait until the film is released. If the film is crap, nobody's going to be in love with the toys. I think the review was fair in that it judged it on its own, as a product, with no media or nostalgic influence.

    The TRON figures are probably very cool to some kids, but these reviews are not meant for kids and parents. They're meant for collectors in this day where this hobby has gotten quite expensive and figures don't seemingly appear in our hands by magic every holiday.

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