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Poe’s Point > The Buzzlords

I’ve had a theory for a while that modern adult action figure collectors of a certain age (i.e., the ones currently driving the market, between the ages of 30-50 mostly) have gone through a number of fads. I’m calling them…the Buzzlords.*

While there have been plenty of popular action figure lines throughout the years, these are the lines that seem to dominate an era.** Here’s what I see as the most important traits of these lines:

  • The line appeals to fans of the property who perhaps aren’t toy collectors
  • The line appeals to adults who were fans of the property as children
  • The line draws in collectors who weren’t fans of the property at all
  • At some point, the line becomes hot enough that the scalpers come in and start trying to make a quick buck.
  • There are multiple instances of collectors going nuts trying to find or preorder particular figures, especially variants and exclusives (the monthly Top Ten lists in ToyFare were particularly instructive for this)
  • And finally, and I’m sure most controversially, the lines have a certain “buzz” around them among collectors – they’re the line everyone is familiar with, the one you see at every booth at comic conventions, the one that gets the occasional mainstream news article written about it.

So, using these criteria, here is my list of the Buzzlords since the modern collecting era. The years are obviously a rough approximation, as lines waxed and waned and some overlapped in their popularity, and many of these lines kept going long after their initial burst of mega-popularity (such as Marvel Legends).

  • 1994-1995 Spawn (McFarlane Toys)
  • 1995-1997 Star Wars: Power of the Force 2 (Hasbro)
  • 1997-2000 Movie Maniacs (McFarlane Toys)
  • 2000-2002 The Simpsons: World of Springfield (Playmates)
  • 2002-2006 Marvel Legends (ToyBiz)
  • 2006-2010 DC Universe Classics (Mattel)
  • 2010-2015 Masters of the Universe Classics (Mattel)
  • 2015-2020 Star Wars Black (Hasbro)
  • 2020-? G.I. Joe Classified (Hasbro)

Honorable Mentions: Masters of the Universe 200X (Mattel), G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary (Hasbro), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NECA)

But this is just my list. Perhaps it’s biased, or perhaps I’m just way off-base with this theory in general. I’d love to hear your thoughts! (No, really, I would! That’s not just comment-baiting. I mean it is, but it’s not just that.)

*Why the Buzzlords, you ask? Why not, say, the Zeitgeist Lines? 1.) I don’t think there’s anything about these lines that particularly embodies the spirit of their age (except maybe Movie Maniacs). 2.) “Buzzlord” is more fun and memorable than “zeitgeist” – and potentially marketable if the idea takes off. 3.) It kind of sounds like a forgotten Sectaurs character.

**I’m going to exclude sports-themed lines like Starting Lineup and McFarlane Sports. I mean no offense, but the collectors of those lines seem somewhat different from the sort of collector who would visit PGPoA. Their love of the lines comes as much from their love of the sports and their favorite teams and players as it does the toys themselves (which tend to be more like statues than action figures). That said, there’s no question those lines were very popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s. You might think I’m being unfair, and if so, click here for a rebuttal on my behalf from an expert witness.

Pic of the Day > Superman’s Fortress of Solitude by chevy2who

Superman's Fortress of Solitude

Superman’s Fortress of Solitude by chevy2who

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Pic of the Day > Surfs Up Batman by SnowHulk

Surfs Up Batman

Surfs Up Batman by SnowHulk

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Mattel on MOTUC: Looking Ahead at 2014 & Beyond

I'll take any excuse to use this graphic again.

I’ll take any excuse to use this graphic again.

I’ll admit this is partly just traffic trolling, since any and all MOTUC Mattycollector news from Mattel’s Scott Neitlich, a.k.a. ToyGuru, seems to draw in the readers. Anyway, here’s Neitlich’s post on the state of MOTUC in 2014 – AND BEYOND.

He-Fans and She-Ravers,

Happy New Year, everyone! And welcome to the top of another exciting year collecting Masters of the Universe Classics on Mattycollector.com!

Here at the top of 2014 is a very interesting point in the line to take a moment and pause for reflection. Not only on where we have been, but on where we are going as well. We are now into our sixth year of the line (I know we had three releases in 2008, but 2009 was really the first full year). It has been a long and amazing ride. Never in my wildest imagination did I think we would get this deep into the line (almost to our 150th figure!) nor did I think I would have the privilege and honor of getting to head-up the line for this long. Truly a personal dream come true as a toy collector and MOTU fan myself!

Production to start on a new Masters of the Universe movie in 2014?

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That’s what Devon Franklin, Senior Vice President of Production for Columbia Tristar, said on Instagram (link).

Any Masters of the Universe fans out there!? Mattel just sent me this vintage Castle Grayskull! Takes me back to my childhood! I’m working on bringing the new He-Man movie to the screen. We start production this year! #mastersoftheuniverse #heman #ihavethepower

Is there any chance this movie could be good? Rob Bricken, formerly of Topless Robot and now of io9, wrote an extensive analysis of why that would be impossible – see Why There Should Never, Ever Be a He-Man Movie – and I have to agree with most of his points. I think he’s wrong that today’s kids wouldn’t like the cartoon show – my friend’s 5-year-old and 3-year-old were addicted to it for months on Netflix. But I have no idea how that would play out with a movie. Maybe it could work if done as a CGI movie in the vein of How to Train Your Dragon…but I doubt it. And that certainly doesn’t seem to be the direction Mattel/Columbia Tristar is going.

(Thanks to He-Man World and @motuclassics for the heads-up.)

Pic of the Day > Go West by Geek Creek

Go West

Go West by Geek Creek

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Odds ‘n Ends > Atari action figures, Robo Force comics, NECA stands, Bayformer Grimlock, Grayskull credit card issues

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Doc Thomas Reviews > Batros (Masters of the Universe Classics, Mattel)

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This review was sponsored by friend, editor and webmaster Poe Ghostal, who sent me a toilet and a dumpster, oddly fitting items for the review subject.

Batros is one of the worst, most ridiculous and most bewildering characters in Masters of the Universe, a place where bewilderment and ridiculousness flourishes. So it’s fitting he’s got one of the worst, most bewildering action figures in Masters of the Universe Classics – but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

To prep for this review, I watched the specific Filmation episode from which the action figure originates, “The Great Books Mystery.” In the episode Batros (a character who exhibits no bat-like traits whatsoever) decides to take over Eternia by stealing all of its books. A winning plan if there ever was one! Why swiping all of the books would immediately plunge Eternia into ruin and force the kingdom to make Batros ruler goes unexplained. I don’t know, it seemed to me like no one would have even noticed if Orko hadn’t gone looking for his book on unicorns.

Odds ‘n Ends > Mattycollector sale day, Grayskull thieves, 4H news, Star Wars 3.75″

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  • It’s another Mattycollector release day. Today’s sale includes DC Universe Classics Ra’s Al Ghul, John Constantine, and Elasti-Girl; Watchmen’s Ozymandias; MOTUC Geldor and stackable stands and a number of re-releases.
  • Castle Grayskull ships soon, but Pixel Dan won’t have an early review due to assholes who nicked bits off the display piece at NYCC.
  • In Four Horsemen news, rough cuts of the Raven arrived at 4H HQ, and they’ve also been running a feature detailing the creation of my personal favorite Power Lord, Sydot the scientist. I must say, the various exclusives they’ve done to this point are nice, but I think the Power Lords need to be fully-painted to really be appreciated. I’m hoping we get those, but I’m wondering whether funding is becoming an issue for this line. If so, why not hold another Kickstarter to make themselves more financially comfortable? I doubt they would need as high a budget target they did for the Raven. That said, I must admit I’ve noticed very few, if any Kickstarter projects for Glyos-related toys.
  • In the course of getting back into Star Wars via Star Wars Black, I’ve actually gone back and picked up a few of the 3.75″ figures – just my favorites. What’s been interesting about it is that some of the most definitive versions of these characters are nearly a decade old. For example, I picked up the Vintage Original Trilogy Collection Han Solo from 2004; it’s a great figure with great articulation and the best head sculpt I’ve ever seen in this scale. I also got the VOTC Chewbacca and Boba Fett. Each of these figures has been reissued at least once or twice and they’re not that hard to come by. I also picked up the Holiday Special repaint of Fett, because fun. The only other figure I picked up was the Vintage Collection (not “Vintage Original Trilogy Collection”) ANH Darth Vader. This was the only one I had to think about; the VOTC Vader had the better ESB design and a ball-jointed neck but cut rather than hinged elbows, and every other decent Vader Hasbro has made has cloth on the front of his outfit. The VC ANH Vader also has ball-jointed hips, which seemed novel, so I went with that. It bums me out he doesn’t have a ball-jointed neck, though. Not that Vader was constantly cocking his head in curiosity like Data, but I’d like him to be able to look up and down somewhat to add some character to his poses.
  • Another thing about Star Wars 3.75″ – the line seems to be on a sudden downhill trajectory, at least for collectors who want well-articulated, highly-detailed figures. The quality on the Star Wars Black 3.75″ appears to be pretty bad across the board, and the Saga Legends figures have only five points of articulation. It’s odd how a Star Wars figure made in 2004 is far superior to most of what’s being produced now. (Though the Vintage Collection just ended and seems to have retained that level of quality – again, this downturn seems to be recent.)

Loo-Kee here – it’s Broom!

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I deserve to be dragged out into the street and shot for that title.

Anyway, Let’s take a brief break from Star Wars Black Week to check in with Eternia – or rather, Etheria – and discuss the two Masters of the Universe Classics reveals at Stan Lee’s “Comikaze” convention this past weekend.

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