Real Name: Philip Reed
Base of Operations: Battlegrip.com
History: Philip Reed has worked professionally in the game industry since 1995 and has been a geek ever since he first encountered comics and action figures in the late seventies. He can often be found walking on the abandoned roads of America, head staring down at his BlackBerry as he answers e-mail while avoiding pot holes and spiked pits.
1.) First, the basics: what are your toy collecting credentials? What were your first toy(s), what were your favorite lines growing up, and have you been a lifelong collector or did you lose interest and get back into it at some point?
As a kid I was a fan of Star Wars, then G.I. Joe, and then Transformers. At different stages of the seventies and eighties I collected those toys, but it wasn’t until 2007 that my attention turned to designer toys. In late 2008 I had the idea of creating my own site dedicated to toys — www.battlegrip.com — and since that time my collection has exploded. I don’t really focus on any one line — or even type of toy — but instead grab whatever I think looks fun.
2.) You collect many small-run, indie vinyl toys. How did you get into collecting them, what are some of your favorites, and why?
Totally accidentally is the best way I can think of describing how I got interested in the “designer” toy scene. I ran across a book, then another, and eventually started buying vinyl toys. From there I found my way to resin toys and, eventually, started to grab Japanese vinyl toys. My absolute favorite designer toys are the entire Glyos System — because they’re great action figures that I can build and customize — as well as the Toygraph Space Trooper series (which is an amazing line of retro-style spacemen…I can’t get enough of these guys).
I’m also a fan of the RealXHead vinyl toys, but if I could only collect one series of Japanese vinyl toys it would have to be the Toygraph Space Troopers. I’ve posted various Space Trooper reviews at Battlegrip, so check there if you’re unfamiliar with the series.
3.) You also collect many of the third-party Transformers accessories and figures, which is a controversial topic among collectors. What are your thoughts on this phenomenon? Do they help or hurt the brand and/or sales?
I’m kinda torn on these. On the one hand, some of them are major copyright violations and I can’t see how Hasbro/Takara have allowed these to exist. But, on the other hand, there are some unofficial Transformers toys that are amazing works that are far superior to Hasbro’s work. I think the accessories, replacement heads, and sticker sets are all something we can think of like automotive after-market add-ons, but those complete robot toys are absolutely crossing lines every now and then.
The toys are also extremely expensive, and not always because of the quality. In fact, I’ve picked up some that were not very good, but the different companies producing these toys have rabid fans who defend the work regardless of the actual quality so there are times when my comments and reviews attract harsh attention from fans. I think in the end these help Hasbro/Takara, but I suspect that it’s only a matter of time until we see some of the companies brought down by legal action . . . some of the unofficial toys really do go too far in the “violate copyright” realm.
4.) What upcoming toy(s) were you most excited about at this year’s Toy Fair?
I’m gonna say the entire line of Square Enix Play Arts Kai toys. I shot several pics of the line at Toy Fair and love how the figures look and feel.
5.) You work for a gaming company, so this is the part where I ask: anything you’d like to plug to Poesters?
I work for Steve Jackson Games, publishers of Munchkin, Zombie Dice, GURPS, and others, and spend my days focusing on managing people and projects. I’m gonna say that my favorite new game this year is Castellan — a two-player game that we’ve been working on since 2008. We’ve also got a few new Munchkin releases for the year; that should make a lot of our fans very happy.
Bonus Question: Where’d you get the name Battlegrip from?
Swivel-arm battle grip, of course!