ToyFare: In Memoriam (Updated)

I wasn’t quite sure how to memorialize the end of ToyFare. I can’t say it was a surprise; I’ve been hearing rumors of Wizard’s financial troubles for years now, and given the increasing prominence of the Internet as a source for you news, it was less a matter of if and more a matter of when. When I say that, I don’t want to diminish the hard work of the people who made the magazine, especially Justin Aclin, who poured his heart and the contents of a few other organs into every issue (I was thinking his spleen, pervs. Or maybe his liver).

Still, it’s the end of an era. I remember when ToyFare first debuted; I was in college and was just getting back into toy collecting. In those still-nascent days of the Internet, ToyFare was not only a great source for news, it was also fun and funny, as opposed to the more stolid hobby magazines like Tomart’s Action Figure Digest or Lee’s Toy Review. We all loved Twisted Mego Theater, especially back when it was actually Mego Theater and had DC characters–before WB legal asked them to stop, for whatever reason. Wet blankets I guess.

Such politicking was also responsible for the demise of one of my favorite features. As I’ve mentioned before, I loved “Castaway from the Island of Misfit Toys,” a small write-up about some awful toy. Usually it was some sort of bootleg, but after a couple toys by real companies were highlighted, TPTB decided to bring an end to the feature rather than risk future exclusive reveals.

As I’ve detailed on this site before, I applied to work at ToyFare a few times and even went to a few interviews, though I never actually got a job there. However, I did eventually start writing for them as a freelancer in 2005. I remember exactly how I got into it: I noticed an article had been written by Matt Caracappa of X-Entertainment fame, and I thought that if he could write for ToyFare, maybe I could too. I sent a letter to them offering my services and the rest is history.

I wrote about two dozen pieces over the years, from sidebars to cover articles to interviews. I’d forgotten until I was doing the research for this piece that for a stretch in 2006, I was the one writing up ToyFare‘s monthly “What’s In Store” sidebar in the price guide.

It was interesting to watch ToyFare‘s various reinventions over the years. After a while, the price guide started to shrink as the “Incoming” section grew, leading some to grumble ToyFare was becoming a glorified catalog. For a time in the early 2000s, the magazine featured a lot of geek-related articles that weren’t necessarily toy-related, blurring the line between ToyFare and its sister magazine, Wizard. Then there was the era of “The Rag,” where the magazine featured a number of fake news articles (for which I wrote one of my favorite pieces, “Orcs Attack Sims City,” wherein a rogue army of orcs from World of Warcraft wander onto a Sims Online server and conquer the inhabitants). Then there were all those fun visual price guides.

Over the last few years, ToyFare brought the focus back solidly on toys, and one of my favorite features of the last few years have been the retrospective articles highlighting toylines from the 1980s and 1990s. I wrote a few of those, and they were a ton of fun to do, especially the one about Robo Force.

ToyFare had its share of scandals, too; remember Pin Pals Burns and Pin Pals Moe? I don’t think Wizard Entertainment ever cleared the murky air around its relationship with ToyWiz.

The heyday of the action figure industry was around 1999-2004, so in some ways it’s impressive that ToyFare lasted as long as it did, and remained fairly successful for most of that time (as far as I know, anyway). But I also know that all those toy news websites, and even sites like PGPoA, were hammering in ToyFare‘s coffin nails.

It’s not at all clear to me how Wizard’s new online venture will fare, and what role ToyFare, or toys in general, will have in it. Here’s hoping the best parts of ToyFare survive, not only in whatever the new website brings, but in the continued success of its many contributors. Zach Oat is at TelevisionWithoutPity; Tom Root, Matt Seinrich and Doug Goldstein produce Robot Chicken; Rob Bricken writes Topless Robot; Justin Aclin writes the comics Hero House and S.H.O.O.T. First; and many of the freelance contributors have their own websites and blogs.

So while ToyFare may have made its last fart joke (issue #162, page 24–I checked), its spirit lives on in the creators who made it enjoyable over the years. I want to thank them for over a decade of action figure fun, and to wish all of them the best in their respective endeavors.

Update: Former ToyFare editor and DC Universe wizard Scott Beatty writes in:

Any mention of ToyFare should include Editor-in-Chief Pat McCallum, who was the comedic heart and guiding influence of the magazine. Tom Palmer Jr. too. Tom was there in the beginning and helped to make the magazine a reality. Design Manager Steve Blackwell also, who gave the magazine its distinctive look. And ace photographer Paul Schiraldi, who suffered long days (and sometimes nights) in the Wizard Entertainment warehouse shooting toys, covers, and (of course) every single frame of Twisted Mego Theater in the beginning. Sad also…


Pic of the Day


Poe Goes to Toy Fair


  1. Josh

    I'm sincerely going to miss Toyfare. I used to subscribe but once the magazine started shrinking and bringing in some bizarre sections, I canceled. The weird pseudo-tabloid sections were awful.

    Honestly, I think the magazine lost it's touch once Zach Oat left. It really never recovered once it stopped doing visual price guides (my favorite being the Lord of the Rings) and the regular price guide. Even though I thought the regular price guide was more in support of Toywiz and the secondary market, I loved gloating about the value of a few of my figures.

    Perhaps if Toyfare found a way to remain competitive with the internet. The visual price guides were a great way and I felt that offering articles on older, nostalgic properties would help. In the end, it covered comics and video games more than the topic the magazine was named for.

  2. Megatherium

    I really did love Toyfare! That magazine always brought a smile to my face, no matter how many times i re read them or the jokes! I think my fav Twisted Toyfare Theater was when the Marvel Legends tried to take over, and the two Daredevils are fighting in the "Literal Hell's Kitchen" and the one is kicking the refrigerator, and the other is beating up a bag of flower. Every time I read that comic or even think about it, it cracks me up. Thanks Toyfare, I shall miss you. 🙂

  3. I, too, recommend Justin Aclin's Hero House. A great read.

  4. CJ

    Been a toyfare reader since the very beginning and never missed an issue. Those original Twisted Toyfare Theaters got me in to collecting Charlee Flatt Megos and eventually other custom figures afterward. Thank you to the staff for all the fond memories.

  5. dayraven

    I can't help but see some similarities here between so many of the smaller companies that popped up during the rush and then languished too… the rise of Toyfare almost precisely matches the rise of Todd Toys cum McFarlane Toys. In that time, we've lost great companies like Palisades and many more. The industry itself is undergoing a strange metamorphosis. I think in many ways, a lot of us are getting cut loose in a similar manner. The era of 15 and 20 dollars figures at retail is the era that'll see me walking away too.

    That said, congrats to the Toyfare creative folk who made their own indelible stamp on the industry. Those of you no longer in the spotlight will be missed… and those who continue to create, we look forward to the evolution of your craft.

  6. Valo487

    @Dead Man Walking: I'm curious about the Resolutions article you mentioned, what did they say in it? No stores near me carry Toyfare or Wizard.

  7. Monte

    I was critical of Wizard Press at times, and I haven't regularly purchased Toyfare in years, but I'm still sad to see the magazine go. I was a huge fan, particularly for its first year or two.

    And I'm jealous of everyone who got to contribute, freelance or otherwise. I always considered it something of a dream job. Now my career fantasies will have to completely revolve around Hasbro…

  8. Billy Whack

    Thanks to all at Toyfare. I probably own the entire run. It really sucks that it won't be around anymore because it became a serious routine / habit in my life. I've never written to the mag or submitted anything, but now I wish I had written them to thank them for the good times.

  9. MummaGhostal

    I will miss grabbing a copy at Newbury Comics ( where I would shamelessly drop the " my son has an article in this issue" card), I loved paging through it, laughed at the incredibly clever cartoons, seeing figures that I considered old friends, and those I had no clue existed.

  10. Russ


    I preferred Zack Beaniemute, but I know no one else did.

  11. Izdawiz

    I recommend you read Justin Aclin’s “Hero House.” It’s pretty awesome.

  12. nerdbot

    @Zach Oat: I think most people recognized the “business stuff” for what it was, and didn’t lay any blame on the creative staff. I know the Shamus shenanigans did not affect how I looked at what the writers and editors put in the pages. It is a shame, though, to have to acknowledge that poor business practices could only have hurt the magazine into which so many people put so much of themselves. I’m sure many of us are left wondering, ‘What if?’

  13. FakeEyes22

    I enjoyed it since day one.

    In the infancy of the internet especially, ToyFare was hilarious and informative reminder that I was not alone in finding toys fun.

  14. Nice write up Poe!

    The only thing I ever had to complain about was never getting my radio-active Homer. I strongly suspect the Post Office on that one though.

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