Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What's a Greedo? That's a Greedo!

I met one of my best friends in second grade when I brought a Greedo action figure to school. He asked "What's a Greedo?"

I showed him Greedo. We've been friends ever since. That was 33? years ago. So when Gentle Giant came out with their 12 inch retro Kenner replica,...Hell Yeah! I got a Greedo.

What's a Greedo? That's a Greedo!!!!

I have an update to this coming soon. Big surprise...stay tuned!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Weekend Find - November 17-18, 2012

I have pre-ordered plenty of toys over the last few years, because, quite frankly, I never see them on the toy shelves. I can't remember the last time I purchased a McFarlane NFL football figure at a store. They are usually picked through, or arrive months after release.

However, I still go to Toys R Us and Target at least once a week, just to look around, see what might be out there. And every once in awhile, you find something completely unexpected. Even with everything on the web these days months in advance, you can still get surprised. That happened this weekend. And because of that, I am going to try and start a new segment on GI Jigsaw to go out and find the unexpected.

In this case, I had already been collecting S.L.U.G. Zombies. SLUG stands for Scary Little Ugly Guys. They are 2 inch, hard rubber/plastic zombie figures with silly names like Grave Lincoln, instead of Abe Lincoln. Find out more at www.slugzombies.com. Made by JAKKS Pacific, they are reminiscent of MUSCLE Men, the wrestling figures of the 80s. The zombies are green. The zombie hunters are tan.

So far, 4 series of SLUG Zombies have been released. I accidentally stumbled on Series 4 at Target a few weeks ago. Series 4 has not made it to online retailers, like Entertainment Earth or CMD Store yet, so finding that was a great surprise. This weekend, as I was perusing Target, I noticed something odd that hadn't been shown on any website....a zombie that looked like Santa Claus, and a snowman. I quickly picked through the packs hanging from the pegs. CHristmas themed SLUG Zombies!!! Where did those come from? Retailing at $3.99 a pack, I grabbed two complete sets. There were four packs of Holiday SLUG Zombies. Altogether, there are 8 individual Christmas zombie figures. The tan Zombie hunter in each pack is a re-release of a figure already made.


Back of the pack, showing the checklist of all the figures.

Frozen Fright (Snowman) and Johnny Hammer-Stix (Little Drummer Boy).

Hungry Humbug (Ebeneezer Scrooge) and Nutty Nate (Nut Cracker).

Santa Claws and Eli the Expired Elf.

Ralph Reindeer and Surprise Demise.

These were fun to find. Once again, totally unexpected. I will catch you all up on the first four series of SLUG Zombies soon.

With that, I am curious to see what I can find in the next weekend or two.

Happy Hunting...good luck on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The End of Action Figures???

OK – maybe not the end, but….a significant market correction…and a lack of variety to boot. Will we ever see the richness we saw in the 1990s, 2000s? While I love Marvel characters, I don’t think I can choke down seeing another Iron Man, Captain America, or Spider Man. Love McFarlane Sports Picks as well, but how many Tony Romo’s, Ben Roethlisbergers, and Brett Favre’s do we really need. I am surprised there hasn’t been a fantasy line put out there, putting Brett Favre into every NFL uniform since he retired.

As a collector and diorama builder, I am very frustrated by the lack of action figures in today’s market and the oversaturation of some character lines. I am also a business manager and operations leader, well versed in Profit and Loss (P&L) so I get it…I get it why we see the same crap stuff in the big box stores and see so many prototypes hyped at San Diego Comic Con and Toy Fair never make it to the market.

Over the years I have seen so many fans/collectors lament the lack of figures and prognosticate that if Company A would just make Figure B, it would sell out in a heartbeat. Sadly, I was like that once, and now I pass by stuff warming the pegs I would have killed for two decades ago, and my disposable income is better these days as well.

Let’s talk about profit and loss. As much as collectors state on forums that there is a big market for little known characters, it’s mom that buys the most action figures. Moms know Batman and Spiderman. They don’t know Prometheus. Collectors want variety; the market of moms won’t support it. It’s why we see so many Tony Romo and Iron Man figures. They sell. Packer and Cowboys fans are everywhere and they are rabid and maniacal…sorry Jacksonville Jaguars fans…you’re not getting a Blaine Gabbert because you can’t even fill your stadium, much less purchase enough figures to warrant their manufacturing. Companies actually do test marketing and keep metrics on what sells. They are going to make and sell what has proven to make them a profit before.

Licensing. NECA has a fantastic line of Predators. As a kid, I would have “killed” to get those. Today, I gag when I see another Predator. So many great characters in the original movie Predator from 1986 and the movie “Predators” from 2011, I would have loved to see. But why pay the big bucks to those actors and studios for the rights, when you can use the same mold over and over again with a different paint job.

If a license does go through, usually not enough for the enemy. Clash of the Titans? Yay – got my Perseus.

Aliens – Hudson and Hicks. We’ll never see it. They were originally slated for early 2012. Now expected 2013.

Success is still tied to media. The release of a toy line right before or during a movie is what generates the most interest from…kids….and their moms. The collectors will be there, but not enough to turn inventory. NECA showcased the Prometheus prototypes at the San Diego Comic Con at the same time the movie came out. The figures aren’t expected to arrive until late 2012/early 2013. [I had prognosticated that the Prometheus Engineer and Flight Suit figure would never make it to market – they did]. Let’s see if David, Holloway, and Fifeld make it. Saw the prototypes. An why no Shaw or Vickers?

Enemy Combatants – Too politically incorrect. Back in the 50s, when Marx first released its playsets, it was green on tan. They eventually got to having actual German and Japanese combatants in their playsets. Today, the 1:18 scale military figures and the McFarlane Military figures have no one to fight. While the McFarlane Military figures are great for display, a diorama lacks for enemy combatants. Can you imagine the outcry of “enemy” Iraqi, Somali, Taliban fighters in a toy set? Hardly. 21st Century toys released some “Eastern Warriors” in the mid-2000s to fight modern day 1:18 scale soldiers. I never saw them in retail.

Price – Prices keep going up. Makes me think twice about dropping $18 for a figure I used to be able to buy for $8 less than 7 years ago. Hello Marvel Legends.

Scale – Part 1 – I can’t keep up with the different scales. There are benefits to all of them, I get that. Try mixing some sets to build a diorama and it gets trickier. Was hoping to put some soldiers (McFarlane Military) in with some Walking Dead figures (McFarlane) and it doesn’t work. Put the Walking Dead figures in with 1:18 military – doesn’t work either.

Scale – Part 2 – Marvel Legends were are great. They have some bulk behind them. Compare them with their 3 ¾ inch brethren which cost the same as the original Marvel Legends lines, and you see these stick like, gangly figures. Same with Star Wars. The Vintage Star Wars line had mass. They could stand on their own two feet…except maybe EV9D9 and 8D8. These days, I can’t stand a Star Wars figure or Marvel Universe figure on their own two feet.

Series – Manufacturers don’t release all the most popular figures in the first series, or two, or three. They generally add in some obscure figures so that the line can keep going infinitely…potentially. As long as there are more popular figures still to be made, the market for them will last. Unfortunately, many lines die out before more popular figures ever get made, yet we are left with 10 versions of Iron Man and Wolverine.

Also, kids don’t play with figures anymore. They are on their X-Boxes and Nintendo DS. That’s why you don’t have to make the whole lot. They only get displayed by collectors.

Business Model Change – Make the decision to blast a Single or Two Series set line. The original Predator movie had 8 characters, 10 if you count Arnold’s uniform changes. The original Aliens had 20 characters.  Release them and be done with them. If they sell well, there is always a way to make more, but then collectors won’t be bummed that Mac from Predators and Newt from Aliens were never made.

What’s it Take to make an action figure?

Design, Sculpting, Articulation, Molding, Painting, Market Research, Big Box Buy In, Packaging, Shipping, Retail

Maybe we need a business model change. Maybe NECA, Hasbro, Mattel, and McFarlane should try a KickStarter type business model: Toystarter. Looks fans, you want obscure figure X made. We need 10,000 buyers to pledge their resources behind it…with credit cards, thank you much. 25% immediately, 25% later, and 50% as manufacturing kicks in. Or 100% all the way. Back it up with your wallets. I used to think I would do that, maybe not with the prices I see today.

My 2 Cents!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

World War Z - Battle of Yonkers

For those of you who are fans of the Zombie genre and haven't read Max Brooks' World War Z, you are missing out. A fantastic book dealing with the zombie apocolypse on a global level. One key part is the Battle of Yonkers, the first organized military defense in the US.

It of course, ends disastrously. In this diorama, I stacked up the military vehicles side by side, as told in the book. Then had the beginning of the 10 million zombie trail coming up against the troops. Take a close look at some of the zombies, and you'll see some familiar figures. So hard to get a consistent scale these days for a large diorama.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Death Star Playset - Jumbo Kenner Prototype

With Gentle Giant releasing the 12 inch retro jumbo "Kenner" style action figures, I had this evil idea of building a scale Death Star Playset, just like the vintage set for the smaller figures. This is the prototype. After getting this far, I need to shift and use the foam board shapes to trace onto wood, and cut the wood.

Also, I figured the large cardboard tube used for concrete shaping isn't tall enough...will have to figure out a way to get the tractor beam machine and the top floor/cannon added.

Materials so far:

Three pieces of 36 x 26 foam board from art and craft store: $15
Cardboard tube for concrete pouring: Loew's: $11
Thick styrofoam blocks...1.5 inch by 20 inch by 12 inch: $27

The styrofoam blocks were used for the base walls and the columns. They weren't as strong as I though they would be. I used a box temporarily for the trash compactor.

Photo 1: Materials with Blue Snags and old death star for reference.

Photo 2: Build first "floor".

Photo 3: First level cut including garbage chute.

Photo 4: Drawing second floor.

Photo 5: Second floor cut.

All three floors cut.

Starting the elevator shaft.

Ground floor entry way cut.

Side by side: Elevator, trash compactor, first floor next to original.

Connecting first floor to elevator shaft door.


Ground floor panels made of thick styrofoam. Box used as trash compactor for now.

Second floor columns and floor added. Not as sturdy as I hoped it would be.

R2, C3PO and Death Squad Commander.

Luke Skywalker and the Princess prepare to swing across the chasm - OK, will need to build that. I have ideas on how I would do that.

Once again, side by side with the original.

The prototype took about two hours. Not sure when I willhave time to cut this in wood yet. May at least paint the elevator and second floor in their darker colors.

To be continued...

Gentle Giant Blue Snaggletooth

Gentle Giant Ltd (www.gentlegiantltd.com) has been releasing Jumbo 12 inch reproductions of the vintage Star Wars figures. Their latest exclusive from San Diego Comic Con 2012 was the repro of the rare Sears Blue Snaggletooth. The Blue Snags could only be found in the Sears Cantina set exclusive. Because the toy designers only saw a few photos of snaggletooth (from the chest up), they designed him with a blue outfit and full height. Later on, the shorter Red Snaggletooth was released on a card.

GG celebrates the legendary Blue Snaggletooth with this great 12 inch reproduction. The figure came in a blue bag. Inside, the package was protected with a white slip cover box. Finally, the packaging was reduced in size (the figure never came carded).  On the back, the Celebration VI exclusive Lando Calrissian is previewed.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Walking Dead Diorama - Dale's RV

Who knew that a Tonka Indian Camper from the 1950s/1960s? would fit in so nicely with McFarlane's Walking Dead figures. Just like Dale's camper in the AMC TV show. Scales nicely. Here, Rick and Daryl hold off a hoard of zombies (figures from TV Series 1 and Comic Book Series 1).

Korean War Artillery

I had made a large scale diorama of an epic Korean War battle. In late November 1950, hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops infiltrated North Korean as the Allied forces pushed north to end the war. The entrance of the Chinese took the Allies by surprise. The bitter cold weather in the mountains of North Korea was also an enemy to all sides. In this diorama, I used the awesome 1/6 scale 155mm Howitzer from Hasbro along with some of the Korean war troops.

Kenner Indiana Jones - Raiders of the Lost Ark

I used the great Kenner Well of the Souls playset, along with the vintage Sallah and Indiana Jones for these shots. Also used the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con Marion Ravenwood figure from the Well of the Souls to finish it off.

Too bad both Indiana Jones lines (Kenner 1983 and Hasbro 2008) didn't do as well as they could have.

If you look closely, on the "stone" cover that was over the Ark, the engravings of C3PO and R2D2 appear, just like in the movie.

First X-Men Marvel Legends Collection

When I first started thinking of the jigsaw puzzle business, this is one of the first test shots I took. I simply grabbed all the Marvel Legends X-Men figures and shot some photos. Storm, Colossus, Phoenix, Cyclops, Wolverine, Marvel Select Dark Phoenix, Nightcrawler, Beast, Rogue and Iceman.

Galactic Heroes on Tatooine

Took several of the Dewback Cinema Scenes from Hasbro's Galactic Heroes line. A few Dewbacks, Sandtroopers, and Jawas, chase poor R2D2 and C3PO through the deserts of Tatooine.

M1 Abrams

21st Century Toys released several great 1/6th scale Sherman Tanks back int he heyday of the 1/6 military craze. The tanks were Radio Controlled. Very late in the game, they released a 1/8th scale (close enough) M1 Abrams tank, also Radio Controlled. My tank's RC capability never worked. Oh well.

It was still fun to put that thing up with infantry running alongside it.

Indiana Jones - Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indy grabs the crystal skull and races out of one temple to the next, chased by the Ughu Warriors. All the figures were from Hasbro's Indiana Jones Crystal Skull line. Unfortunately, there were more characters in this scene, but none were made into figures...except Mutt...and I really couldn't stand his character anyway.

Marvel Legends Thing versus Juggernaut

Close up photo of a backyard battle I did many moons ago. The Thing versus the Juggernaut. Marvel Legends nailed it with their sculpting.


I have always been a fan of animated movies - and Disney makes some great ones. Tangled was hysterical. I grabbed my daughters set of Tangled figurines and snapped this photo for her. Will make this into a puzzle for her next birthday/holiday. Very fun movie. Recommend it to anyone.

Geonosis Arena Battle

Did this diorama in my backyard right after Attack of the Clones came out. Grabbed a few of the new 12 inch figures from Hasbro - Obi-Wan, Mace Windu, Clone Troopers, along with some classics, like Yoda and R2.

The funny thing about the back yard. When I bought the house, it was grass....this is out in the southwest. Unfortunately, my dogs destroyed the sprinkler system and within months, it was all sand. Oh well, makes for a good Geonosis, Tatooine, Middle East environment.

Damned Engineers

Just a quick diroama of some 54mm green army men. In this case, the classic Timmee army truck and armored car are crossing a great Hasbro Combat Engineer Playset Bailey Bridge from the 50s or 60s. More on this set later. A BMC Sherman tank crosses in the rear. Along the side march soldiers on their way to the front.

The Hovitos are Near

One of the best parts of the Indiana Jones movies and a great opening for the original Raiders of the Lost Ark. After Indy retrieves the idol, he is chased by the Hovitos natives through the South American jungle. I used the 2 inch Hasbro Indiana Jones Adventure Heroes figures. The Heroes figures from Hasbro for Marvel, GI Joe, Indiana Jones and Star Wars were great. Too bad they ended...though there seem to be some Marvel 3 figure sets coming out for the Avengers and Spider Man.

McFarlane NFL Baltimore Ravens

Another team consolidation photo of these great McFarlane NFL figures. In this case, the Baltimore Ravens...the set includes Jamal Lewis, Ed Reed, Jonathon Ogden, Ray Lewis, Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin, Steve McNair, Joe Flacco, and Deion Sanders.

Lord of the Rings - Last March of the Ents

One of my favorite scenes in the Lord of the Rings trilogy is when the Ents (Trees) march to Saruman's tower. I took a bunch of the 18 inch Treebeard figures from ToyBiz and marched them against a bunch of orcs, goblins and Uruk-hai. May redo this later. I think of this more as a prototype diorama.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lion King + Schleich

Grabbed the Lion King toys for my daughter a long time ago. Been collecting Schleich animals from TOys R Us, Target and Walmart. They get better and better.