Saturday, March 31, 2012

March 2012 Recap



Below is a recap of all the post we've covered in March 2012. If you missed any, or simply want to see them again, click on each "title" to be taken directly to that post. As always, thanks for reading.

Corpse Bride
Sillof's Workshop
Kingdom Come
CHiPs
Video Game Super Stars - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Video Game Super Stars - The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time (Toy Biz)



The Legend of Zelda has been an iconic staple in the world since the first game joined the ranks of original Nintendo cartridges in the 80's as one of the top sellers of all time. Since then, the series has had several successful titles on various consoles, including some not so great ones (3DO).


In 1998, Nintendo released Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64. With it came a whole new generation of Zelda fans, and a whole new decade of next generation console games.

In 2001, Toy Biz tipped its hat to the game by releasing a small set of figures. Each figure came packed with their respective trusted steed, and the Zelda figure included both her forms as well as the horse.

These sculpts were fairly accurate to their video game counterparts, yet at the same time still had a sense of lacking something. The series failed to find a foothold in the toy isle, and overstock was quickly moved to the clearance isle.

What is particularly baffling about this series is how kind the secondary market has been to them. For a set of figures which could once be found on clearance for $4.00, they now garner so much more. Link can sell for as much as $150.00, while Zelda and Ganandorf fetch as much as forty to sixty dollars a piece. Not bad for a series which people didn't seem interested in.

With over fifteen games in its catalog, it's a safe bet that Zelda games aren't going anywhere any time soon. But, for toy collectors, grabbing a series of figures based on the game(s) comes only once in a blue moon.

Join us next Monday for our look at The Muppets!

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Monday, March 19, 2012

"CHiPs" (Mego)



ChiPs - California Highway Patrols. The series starred Erik Estrada (as Ponch), and Larry Wilcox (as Jon), which ran from 1977 to 1983 for a total of 139 episodes over six seasons.

In 1979 Mego produced two lines of toys based on the TV series. One was their 8 inch series of dolls (which coincided with much of what Mego was famous for during this time period), and the 3 3/4 line (which we'll take a look at today).

Mego was relatively new to the 3 3/4 line of action figures, but following the huge success of Kenner's Star Wars line, the company was eager to find a staple in the toy isle with their own toys - Which while successful, never saw the sales that companies such as Kenner (Star Wars) or Hasbro (G.I. Joe) had.


Five figures were produced for the line, which consisted of the three main characters, Ponch, Jon, and the Sarge. Two villians were also produced, but interesting enough were never part of the series itself. Wheels Willy, and Jimmy Squeaks were actually just recycled CB McHaul villians which Mego threw into the line.

The front of the packaging was fantastic for its time. Beautifully painted art of the characters dominated most of the front of the packaging. The back of the packaging wasn't as exciting. Consisting of all white, with three small boxes which showed the officers from the toy line, but oddly enough as the actual cast photos, and not the toys themselves. The back also advertised other Mego 3 3/4 lines such as Buck Rogers, and Star Trek - Though only in text blurbs.

A motorcycle was produced for the toys. Since it was a rather generic looking cycle, Mego hoped that children would buy multiple pieces, one for each officer. Canadian fans were treated to a two pack of cycles which also came with Ponch and Jon figures. No other vehicles were produced for the line.

***UPDATE***

Thanks to the anonymous reader below, we've found and updated this post with the Freewheeling Highway Patrol Police Chase Car with Sarge!

Much is the case with the secondary market, dealers price each individual figure at twenty-five to fifty dollars each, which is more than most people are willing to pay. Entire lots of the five figures (minus the cycle) can be found for as little as seventy-five dollars, which averages out each figure to a more reasonable price of about fifteen dollars each.

The motorcycle is much rarer, and incredibly difficult to come by. As a reult, the cycle can fetch as much as fifty dollars for a mint on card toy. Though one must be careful when buying a loose version to ensure it is authentic to the series. Due to the generic nature of the bike, it's easy to be duped into buying a motorcycle that was not produced specifically for the line.

Join us next Monday for our look at Video Game Superstars - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time!

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Kingdom Come (DC Direct)




In 1996 DC Comics under the guise of Elseworlds released a four issue mini series called Kingdom Come. Like wildfire, the series spread across the country, and became one of the highest selling miniseries of all time.


While the series made its plastic debut in 2000 as part of the Elseworlds line up, in 2003 Kingdom Come was garnered its own series of figures. Much like Alex Ross's artwork for the comic book themselves, the figures were amazing looking, right down to the finest detail.

The packaging itself left little to desire, though it fit accordingly with the comics. Black everywhere, with a logo at the top. Towards the bottom, the figures name.

DC Direct released three series in total, which in this humble writer's opinion was not enough. The books left so much more room for more figures that could have been produced. But, DC (it seemed) was on some kind of kick during this time to produce and release as many figure lines as possible (based on the hottest titles in their libraries), and while series often times got a strong push onto the market, they seemed quickly abandoned for the next best thing in the DC world.

The three series included the following figures;

SERIES 1

Wonder Woman
Superman
Green Lantern
Hawkman

SERIES 2

Kid Flash
Shazam!
Batman
Red Robin

SERIES 3

Deadman
The Flash
Magog
Armored Wonder Woman

Two exclusive figures and one "special" set were released to coincide with the line. The two exclusive figures were both Toyfare exclusives. The first, Red Arrow, and the second, Wonder Woman (which was the same as the one from series one, but displayed the all new series 2 figures on the back). Both also sported the Toyfare logo at the top of the package.

Released as a special set was the "Alex Ross's Superman". The three pack was produced in very low quantities, and right from the start was priced much higher than it should have been. We are personally not a fan of toys (or anything for that matter) being produced for the sole sake of being valuable. So when we see high priced items like this, we immediately pass. We call them, "Expensive for the sole sake of being expensive," or "Forced rarity." This particular item fits into both of those categories.

The set includes three variations of the same Superman figure. The first represents the original sculpture. The second represents the test shot prototype, and the third and final is the completed figure as released to the mass market.

As mentioned above, the figures actually debuted in 2000 as part of the Elseworld series of figures, which happen to be these here. As you can see, the packaging is no different from the one released with the actual series related figures. This was generally the case with the Elseworld figures. None of them (regardless of which series they were from) ever fell under the banner of Elseworlds. Instead, each figure was always packaged in unique packaging to the books they represented.

Series two and three contained a total of five figures, one of which was a two pack;

ELSEWORLDS SERIES 2

The Spectre and Norman McCay
Jade

ELSEWORLDS SERIES 3

Nightstar
Aquaman
Blue Beetle

Of course, none of these figures would be around if it weren't for these amazing books below.

The four part mini series took the comic world by storm when it hit shelves in 1996. At the time, the books were some of the most expensive "off the rack" books at $5.99. This however was nothing compared to what the secondary market would see them sky rocket up to. While those prices have since dropped considerably, collecting all four books can still cost you two to three times more than purchasing one of the many collected trade paperbacks of the series which have been released in the past 10+ years.

If you haven't read this series, we highly recommend it.

Join us next Monday for our look at CHiPs!

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sillof's Workshop



Toys come in all shapes and sizes. For boys. For girls. Heck, even for moms and dads. But, not all toys come in stores. Some of them out there are one of a kind, hand made treasures that are a labor of love, and a visual gift to the world. Spawned from the minds and creative talents of individuals who do it for the sole purpose of "fun."

Some of the best custom figure we've ever seen in our lifetime come from the man known to the internet world simply as Sillof's Workshop - Jamie to his friends. For over a decade, Sillof's Workshop (previously known as The Wook's Workshop) has been producing one of a kind custom figures, dioramas, and props that you won't find anywhere else. Not for financial gain, but rather for the pure love and enjoyment of the hobby.

We recently had the opportunity and privilege to speak with Jamie about his creations, his website, and his future plans.


THE TOY BOX: Thank you for taking the time to “sit down” with us. It’s a real pleasure to help spread the word of your amazing work. We’ve been fans since your earlier works on the website, The Wook’s Workshop.

SILLOF: Thanks for talking to me I am glad you like my stuff. I can’t believe it has been 13 years since that Compuserve hosted website.

THE TOY BOX: First and foremost, where did the name Sillof’s Workshop come from? What is a Sillof?

SILLOF: Sillof is me, it is just a name that one of my students created in a game in my class. It is an play on words of my last name. So I used it as my alter ego online so when my students Google my real last name they don’t find thousands of pictures of action figures. That used to happen until I switched the names.

THE TOY BOX: How long have you been designing your own toys? Is this something that began in your childhood as you mixed and matched pieces of your favorite toys?

SILLOF: Definitely. I had very creative and supporting parents. My mom was kind of crafty and my father was an amazing wood worker. So we made toy weapons and playsets. Eventually I started swapping things around. I guess the first thing would have been when I was a kid in the 80’s and I chopped off Bespin Luke’s hand drilled a hole in his arm and made it re-attachable. I also swapped a regular Luke head onto the X-wing Luke body. Although I really did not realize the potential of the hobby until I met Alex “Plovo241” Newborn whose wife was my wife’s cousin at the time.



THE TOY BOX: What was Mr. Newborn’s role that you didn’t realize the potential in the hobby until meeting him?

SILOFF: Alex’s influence was huge, it was like opening a door in the hobby for me. I had made a few figures but he had made hundreds. Characters from the background, characters from books and comics, vehicles, animals, and completely original stuff that just looked Star Wars-y. It may sound silly now in the internet age with thousands of sites for the hobby but this was a long time ago and after seeing his collection in person it was just such a logical direction. It was like I had always wanted to do that but had not really thought about it in that way or seen the possibilities.



THE TOY BOX: Do you favor any specific brand of tools or other products to create your works?


SILLOF: My paints are a closely guarded secret but I used to use super Sculpey until I upgraded about 6 years ago to Aves Apoxie. I can do more with Sculpey but Apoxie is so much more durable and I have gotten better with it as time has passed.

THE TOY BOX: If we may ask, what is the average cost for each project?

SILLOF: That really varies and is almost impossible to tell. I have two huge Ikea toy organizers full of parts and pieces. So I may use parts of a figure on ten other projects. Also some figures are one hundred percent original sculpting and one time a figure had parts from forty different figures.

THE TOY BOX: You have an amazing craft for designing toys. But, how does each project begin?

SILLOF: I have a lot of hobbies so I bounce from filmmaking, to writing, to props, to toys. I will have some weird idea after I see a movie, read a book or whatever and then I just get this initial idea. Like what would a cowboy Boba Fett look like? Then I just think about it for while. Many projects don’t make it out of that phase. I usually only do a line if it all really makes sense and clicks on all levels -themes, colors, names, and for 10 or more characters that really work. I like to do whole lines.



THE TOY BOX: What is the average length of time a project takes?

SILLOF: From initial idea to finish it can take months but that includes planning, prepping, collecting a few base figures, sculpting, painting etc. When I really get going though, I can do a figure in a day or two. It used to takes weeks for just 1.


THE TOY BOX: Take us through an average project from concept to final design. Where and how do you start/approach each project, and what steps does each one entail?

SILLOF: I kind of answered that already. But other than that I usually don’t sketch it is all just in my head. I am a history and film teacher so I have a wide range of reference images in my head. I just try to find similar elements that make logical transitions from original character to my design. The process is hard to nail down because it is so disjointed. I may be sculpting one figure and as the material hardens I am painting another and as that paint dries I am weathering a third.

THE TOY BOX: We see a lot of Star Wars based projects on your site, is it a safe assumption to say that Star Wars has been a major influence in your life, and work?


SILLOF: For sure. I used to have other stuff on my site but had to remove when certain companies told me I had to, even though I was not selling it or making any money. But, yes Star Wars has been a huge influence on my interests, hobbies, and life. It dominated my childhood, I wrote papers on it in college, I have been lucky enough to travel and work at the Star Wars celebrations and meet so many great people, it was even my wife and I’s first date after she told me and a group of friends she had never seen it I asked her over to watch it on a date. So I guess it has changed my life multiple times.

THE TOY BOX: What other influences carry over to your work?

SILLOF: Definitely film - I am influenced my numerous directors. I love comics - my favorite character has always been Daredevil. Books – I love science fiction, Dune is my favorite book of all time.



THE TOY BOX: Not only do you design great figures, but you also have produced a fair amount of incredibly detailed dioramas, and fantastic props. Which type would you say you enjoy working on the most?

SILLOF: Props are fun they were really born out of some great memories with my dad who was a tool and die maker and helped me make many of them when I was younger. Dioramas are great fun and have presented me with some great opportunities namely having my work displayed at all the Star Wars celebrations and helping Frank D’Iorio run the Diorama Workshop at CII-CV. But they are so time consuming and so large and I have no real place to display them. Figures are by far my bread and butter. They are a great creative outlet, not too large to display, don’t take months to do, and I really enjoy making them.



THE TOY BOX: In the past you have sold some of your one of a kind works. Do you ever miss not having those pieces?

SILLOF: I usually only sell things as I need to make room in my collection. I currently have a few pieces up for sale. I have always kept my favorite pieces and there are some I would never sell. At one point I would have never imagined selling anything. It is just something I like to do for my own enjoyment not to get rich and famous. But a friend of mine, Bill McKenna, who is an artist, sells everything he makes. After talking to him I sold a few things and I kind of liked it. I like that I have pieces all over the world - I have shipped my stuff to 32 countries. Those pieces end up being very valued and cherished possessions to those who buy them. So I don’t really miss them, I mean how cool is it that some guy has a figure of mine in Indonesia in a glass case or that they are in a museum in Poland?


THE TOY BOX: Have you ever approached a toy manufacturer with your own designs?

SILLOF: I have been approached by a few companies to do sculpts and I have talked to a few about my designs. Basically even though the designs are my own and I use my own names it is a tricky area. I was also told that companies like Lucasfilm don’t like alternate versions of trademarked characters as it dilutes the brand and makes controlling the intellectual property tougher.

THE TOY BOX: What would your ultimate dream project be?

SILLOF: Working a movie, any movie at all - period. But the big dream would be that I would love to work for Pixar, Lucasfilm, or Disney. I would love to design characters costumes, and props for films. Working for Guilermo Del Toro, Lucas, Burton, Gilliam, Spielberg or on the new Dune movie would be awesome. But really anything creative - TV, comics, and especially films.

THE TOY BOX: You seem to have a strong following of loyal fans, some who even contribute artwork which has been inspired by your work to your website. Have you ever participated in toy/comic book conventions and actually met some of these folks?

SILLOF: I have met a few of them at cons, I have made a lot of really great people online and would love to meet them at Star Wars Celebration 6, I also might be at San Diego next year and would love to connect with fans and peers. I really love the artwork. I have a wall in my studio where I proudly display some of the pieces people have done.


THE TOY BOX: What does the future hold for Sillof’s Workshop? What special projects do you have planned for 2012?

SILLOF: More figures on my site, I may do sequels to old lines and I have a lot of original creations and more dioramas as Celebration six. But two new cool and totally different things are coming down the pike. First I created an original character and wrote a comic a year ago. The original plan was that Bruce “Glorbes” Ross and “Gentleman” Josh Izzo, my two favorite fellow customizers, were going to draw and ink it. Bruce could not finish so I am in the market for an artist who could draw the three initial issues. I am going to be doing a few more of the stop motion TOY WARS movies with my daughter this summer. Also I was contacted by a TV director about making some original figures for a new TV show. I can’t say too much contractually but basically a professional pilot is being shot in LA as we speak. I was also contacted by a major motion picture to make some figures for the film, but they are 1 of kinds and won’t be available for purchase.

THE TOY BOX: Thank you once again for taking the time to talk to us. We look forward to seeing all the amazing work you produce in the future.

SILLOF: Great, thanks for the opportunity to talk about my work I am just thrilled that people like what I do, I hope you enjoy what I have coming down the pike.



There you have it. The man, they myth, the legend. To see more of Jamie's amazing work, and to stay up to date on future projects, visit his website, Siloff's Workshop.

http://sillof.com/




All photographs and logos used in this article are the property of Sillof's Workshop. Used with permission.

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Corpse Bride (McFarlane Toys)



In 2005 the film Corpse Bride hit movie theaters nation wide. While it saw major box office success, it remains one of the weaker projects that Mr. Burton was associated with. It would also mark the beginning of the four main names Burton would push forward with on future films - Himself, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and music genius Danny Elfman. While this group had worked together before in various mix matches of films, it would seem that all future movies by Burton will contain this group exclusively.


To coincide with the film's release, McFarlane Toys produced a handful of figures. True to the standards of McFarlane Toys, the figures were spot on to their film counterparts. Great attention was given to all the toys, including the accessories.

The packaging however was lacking. While typical for all McFarlane Toys, it seemed to be lacking in eye grabbing vibrancy. Dull black and grays were used to match the overall design of the film, but as a toy left many toy isle dwellers walking past them.

Series two hit shelves in 2006, and would be the last six figures in the series. The series simply didn't sell well enough to garner any new figures, and overstock was quickly moved to the clearance isles of most retail stores.

It's always a gamble when producing a toy line based on a film. Unfortunately, the majority of movie going people don't collect toys, and let's face it, the majority of movies out there aren't memorable enough to the general public that toys are sought after. Sadly, The Corpse Bride was not exempt from this fate.

One final set of figures were released in 2006, but were nothing more than a two pack of prior released figures to commemorate the DVD release of the film. Considered overpriced, and unpopular, the two packs found less success than the individually packed figures.

Today the figures see little success on the secondary market. The two lead characters, Victor and The Corpse Bride have been known to sell for twenty-five dollars each, but the remaining figures don't seem to sell at all, even with a six dollar price tag, which is less than half of what the figures were originally priced at in retail stores.

If you're looking for a cheap set of toys to collect, then this is surely a series to track down. It's cheap, relatively small, and pretty readily available. If you search hard enough, you may even find some down your local clearance isle.

Join us next Monday for our look at Kingdom Come!

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