Is Star Wars toy collecting really in trouble?

The other day I was watching a YouTube video depicting the scarcity of Star Wars action figures. But the video didn’t focus on how hard items are to find, but how many where sitting in clearance bins. I was at a loss for words at first thinking this must be wrong. Then I decided to check out a few of my local toy shops. needless to say I didn’t find much at all in the way of Star Wars product on shelves, clearance or otherwise.

I have always attributed Star Wars action figure scarcity to the massive number of collectors in the world seeking a limited supply of product. At first, my explanation was simple, most other people are like me not interested in the spin off or animated stuff so naturally those toys aren’t selling. But then it occurred to me, when I was shopping for Phantom Menace stuff it was everywhere and retro stuff was hard to find. The collectors were very vocal about how they just wanted OT toys nothing from the new movie. I have felt this way myself about the Clone Wars, Rebels and other animated programs. Frankly I refuse to buy any product branded with the name Star Wars that features those designs and characters. For me, it’s obvious that is not my Star Wars.

But the animated shows remained popular as do the new Disney movies. Since the individual making the toy video I saw made really negative comments about the Disney Star Wars as a whole, indicating to me there was some bias, I decided to dismiss it as such and move on. My instinct was kids today will see this as their Star Wars and buy the toys accordingly. But I did notice something unusual. If the trend is for collectors to snatch up retro stuff and young kids to snatch up the new stuff, it would stand to reason the retro stuff would also be scarce. If, on the other hand, nobody was buying Star Wars stuff, or if the retro collectors were as they say burned out, then it would stand to reason the new stuff would be hard to get and the retro stuff would be in the clearance bins.

That was it. I decided to investigate. I didn’t come to the same conclusion as the person making the obviously biased, entirely negative video, but I did notice a trend. The stores I went to had an equal number of PT, OT, and Disney Trilogy toys for sale. The characters from the animated shows were nowhere to be found with only a few side characters from the new films available. My initial conclusion, based on this being the first day the toyline was refreshed and there was new stock in store made me question a few things.

I was shopping early in the morning. I headed to Walmart around 7:30 a.m. If the new toys were put out around say Midnight then the collectors must have camped out and picked them bone dry. All that was left were a few of the side characters I am sure nobody cared about. The one thing that stood out was the Return of the Jedi Skiff vehicle retailing for just under $40. That seemed excessive for me considering what it was. Especially since I recently picked up a decked out Rise of the TMNT Turtle Tank for about that and even a Scooby Doo 50th Birthday Mystery Van with Fred for half that price. This told me that the OT stuff still fetches a premium price tag and that the collectors were on the ball.

If there was a shortage of toys the first day it came out that doesn’t indicate to me a lack of interest, on the contrary it tells me the collectors, or at the very least scalpers, are out in full force. I will be keeping an eye on this trend now that it’s been brought to my attention. Of course, keep in mind I am only now getting back into toy collecting so my knowledge of the current landscape is fairly limited. Stay Cool.

The Spiders Lair Podcast Episode 6

In this episode I talk about Star Wars Rogue One, the prequels and special editions, Nirvana and the 90’s grunge rock scene, the underappreciated film Ghost World, and some other stuff.

 

The untouchable remake?

Hollywood loves remakes. Video game companies and musicians do covers, remakes, remasters, or remixes all the time. But there is one movie that appears to be remake proof, Star Wars. But is that really the right call?

I love Star Wars as much as the next guy, maybe more than the average guy for that matter, but I think it is a terribly dated, and considerably flawed film in many respects. I know I just pissed off half the internet, but honestly it’s not like enough people in the world read this blog to make that statement so let’s move forward.

I have given this a lot of thought and with Disney now in charge of Star Wars, I think a true remake of the classic trilogy is not only in order, but something they desperately need to get in motion. The plan appears to keep moving forward in the new universe while dabbling in the old with spin off films. They have to recast Han Solo to make a young Han Solo film, this is obvious. Now they just did the highly successful Rogue One, so here is what I think needs to happen. They absolutely need to consider the possibility of casting a new Han Solo, Luke, and Princess Leia for these spin offs, while they are at it why not do the unthinkable and actually REMAKE the classic trilogy? This would end some of the who shot first debate, UOT vs. Special Edition Debate, and it would give fans young and old, an brand new way to experience one of the most iconic film stories in history.

Of course the originals will still exist, and Disney should still find a way to get on top of releasing the ORIGINAL unaltered trilogy onto Blu Ray for the fans that want that, the thing with Star Wars is the franchise is so big and so massive it appeals to so many fans with so many different tastes. I would love it if they could then go back and REMAKE the Prequels also, some would argue that needs to happen before a remake of the classic but I don’t think so. The reason is they ARE moving forward with a Han Solo movie, they HAVE to cast a young Han, why not take this opportunity to remake/reboot the franchise NOW while the getting is good and the new fans will fully embrace it while the stick in the mud fans won’t even matter because they haven’t bought a NEW Star Wars item since 1997 if you believe the internet.

Is Star Wars so untouchable that remaking it would spell absolute disaster? No I don’t think so, in fact I think it not only is the RIGHT thing for Disney to do, I fully expect it will happen sooner, rather than later, as Disney themselves LOVE remaking and re-telling their own stories. Now Star Wars didn’t start out as a Disney story, but hey guess what neither did Peter Pan, Marry Poppins, the Jungle Book, hardly anything they create is original anyways so what’s the difference?

Disney if you ever get a chance to ignore the sticklers and decide to remake the classic trilogy, I will be behind it 100 percent. Just as long as you don’t break the golden rule and do some gender/race swapping because well that’s not necessary but updating the franchise for a new generation, IS.

Summer movie challenge:60 movies in 60 days

Here is the challenge, to watch 60 movies during the month of May and June. I will have considerable downtime beginning with the end of school so I will try to make use of all the dvd’s I have been buying lately. This is not a one movie a day challenge, that would be impossible as I have no time to watch movies on certain days of the week. Instead I will rely on weekends to make up for lost time, possibly fitting in 3 or 4 on each Saturday and Sunday.

The goal is to get through as many of the films in my DVD collection that I have never seen, or have not seen in a very long time, or have only seen once and have forgotten the majority of. I am going to only count the movies I watch on DVD, including Blu Ray, but not streaming so even if I watch a film on Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, Amazon, etc, it will not count towards my goal. Only feature length, live action films count so if I end up watching a Shrek or Pixar film it won’t count towards the challenge. Exception to this is the TMNT film from 2007 as it is part of the live action set, even though it is animated.

I will keep track of the movies I watch and log them in a note book. I will write a brief summary of the film, my impressions of it from the perspective of this challenge weather it was a waste of time or worthy of my viewing. I am planning on getting through all of, or as many of, the films in my collection that I have never seen. Mostly I have movies in those 4 packs or other boxed sets where I have only seen certain movies in the collection but want to get through the ones I have missed, or a few rare instances where I picked up a movie I was told was good but haven’t gotten around to watching it yet. I will avoid things like Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Pirates of the Caribbean, as much as I can considering I watch them so frequently as it is. Also movies I see in the theater will not count towards this challenge, although I do have quite a few I intend to see this summer.

There are a couple exceptions. First as is tradition I will be watching the Friday the 13th films in the month of June as I do every year. Since I finally have a complete Jason collection now I am hoping to view all 12 Jason films including Jason X and the remake. Hopefully between now and then I can come across a decent copy of Sleepaway camp on DVD to add to the collection as I really want to squeeze that into my summer camp slasher collection this year if I can.

What inspired this challenge? Well partially as a film lover I enjoy watching movies. I collect movies on DVD, VHS, LaserDisc, 8mm (film and tape), CED, Beta Max, iTunes, UltraViolet, Blu Ray, HD-DVD, and I subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime all for the film catalogs. With work and school these last couple of years keeping me busier than ever I haven’t had the time to do much of anything. Well I have shuffled things around, finished with school for now, and am in a job that is very flexible on the hours. So this is the best time for me to pull something like this off. It won’t be easy as many of my Saturday nights are going to be devoted to school functions for the newspaper, but I am okay with that. Inspiration also comes from being a member of the Blu Ray forum community on the film-fan devoted website Blu-Ray.com where the various users there do these sorts of challenges all the time. But I am also doing this because I want to see how many films I haven’t seen I can get through.

It will not be a literal 60 days, I will begin May 1st and end June 30th. But I will keep track of the films I view for the challenge and write my impressions of them and make a report on my progress as I go along. This is also something for me to do to get inspires to write some stuff for the very neglected blog here. Be sure to check back once in a while to keep up with the progress as I go.

So what happens if I complete the challenge? Aside from getting to watch 60, hopefully good movies, I will also be forcing myself to write content for the blog. This aspect is to get me inspiration so I can start doing more with this thing. Also if I do complete the challenge then I also will have written several movie reviews for the site. If I fail to complete the challenge then it isn’t a big deal to me, I might not have the time to make it work so this is more for fun not that I have anything to prove. Especially if I get busy with living then I won’t have the time to waste watching so many movies.

 

The Nerd Rising- or Return of the Geek?

A couple of semesters ago I wrote a paper for English called the nerd rising, where I chronicled how the geeks and nerds were taking over the world. It was a lame assignment that naturally I didn’t take too seriously, but still I did get an A so I must have done something right. Anyways I wanted to re-evaluate some of my conclusions not from the paper itself, it was a home work assignment I really didn’t bother to save. But mostly my own observations that I have noticed since the time I wrote the paper, which was a time I happened to do a lot of research. So here are some of my conclusions.

First Geeks are not Nerds.

I sort of addressed this in my paper and I am one who is generally offended by the intermixing of the terms, they both began as insults to different classes of people so there is an understandable amount of apprehension when a term is used incorrectly. I feel it is no different than when you call a Korean a Chinaman or an immigrant from South America a Mexican, it is offensive to mix up the cultures. Now everybody knows nerds, jocks, geeks, rednecks, hillbillies, etc are stereotypes and they all have their own cultures.

So before I get any further let me just end this with saying I distinguish between nerds and geeks as follows, a nerd is more into math and science, they may or may not be into technology as an extension of that and they are probably attracted to video games, maybe even comic books and the like but they are mostly into science and knowledge. Geeks are often considered wannabe nerds, or they are seen as nerds who are not smart. WRONG, geeks are into technology first and foremost, not so much the knowledge behind the technology but more the applications of it.

They are more likely to be into video games as those are technology driven and they tend to be geared towards the tech more than the games themselves. (Gamers are a subset which I will tackle latter) Geeks also are more likely to be into comic books than nerds because geeks are into the superficial sciences and comic books are not very scientifically accurate. They like stories that involve super heroes and giant robots more than anything else but are flexible. There are also comic book fans, they do not have their own word as far as I am concerned but they are not nerds or geeks they are just people who read comic books, a nerd, geek, or gamer may also be into comic books but that again is no different than a redneck who lives for hunting and fishing also being into Football, sports fans are an entirely different breed all their own.

So with that said, the paper I wrote focused on how Nerds are taking over the world, and that the power shift has gone from the strongest of society to the smartest, how politicians are now in control where historically it was Lords and Kings (who usually started out as knights or warriors) who ruled. The world has changed so I wanted to highlight that. But then I realized that to the mass society we are all people who enjoy different freedoms at different levels and some of us have interests that are not as widely appreciated as others.

Anyways I never identified as a nerd I am just not smart enough and I hate being called a geek because although I am into technology it is not what I live for. I always preferred the term techie but even that is stretching it. My interests lie mainly in politics to some extend, Astronomy and Space exploration mostly Mars and NASA but not too much, computers but more so as video games than as tools or whatever, and of course video games. I have on occasion dabbled into comic books but to be honest they tend to lose my interest rather quickly. So I don’t mind being called a gamer because I do at least from a percentage stand point, game more than anything else. But I also watch a lot of television, mostly sitcoms but some science fiction from time to time, and some dramas if they are good, I like the Walking Dead currently, I used to watch Buffy from time to time, and Bones before it turned into a soap.

Recent trends in Hollywood have been to shift their big budget special effects films away from generic save the world blockbusters and more towards the real of comic books and video games, Marvel has especially been successful at turning their comic book characters into a media empire. Still to me this is no different than Star Wars which to many is just a film, or a series of films depending on where you stand on the quality of the series. But it is also a media empire, there are books, comic books, video games, toys, everything else you can think of. At its core Star Wars is still a story, not tied to just a movie. And yes I am a Star WARS fan not so much a Star TREK fan, so there is that.

Why am I bringing any of this up? Because there is a new Robocop movie out that I will be watching either tonight or tomorrow depending on how things go, and I am actually looking forward to it even considering how much I really enjoyed the, clearly outdated original despite what some long time fans might tell you. The original does not hold up well at all, it is supposed to take place in the future but is blatantly stuck in the 80’s, so there is that. Hey I was a kid in the 80s too but guess what, that does not automatically make everything from that decade suddenly good just because.

Robocop was a violent movie about a robot who killed bad guys, I call BS on all the social commentary because first none of what was predicted to occur did occur, second the movies director might have had that in mind but the AVERAGE move goer never picks up on that crap anyways to the average consumer Night of the Living Dead is a Zombie movie it is NOT making fun or American consumerism, To most American viewers, Robocop is an action movie about a dead guy put into a robot body who goes on a shooting spree splattering bad guys all over the wall nothing more.

As long as there is an indestructible robot pretending to be a copy shooting up bad guys then I am okay with this new movie, I do not care if they altered or removed the supposedly social commentary that was NOT blatantly obvious because NOBODY figured it out until years latter on the DVD commentary in the first place. So where do I stand on this issue? For me it is JUST a movie, if you try to make it more than that well you are a nerd, geek, whatever, but if you are just a regular person who just happens to enjoy a mindless action flick with maybe some good special effects to help keep you entertained, they good for you. Like what you like and do not worry about what others think.

I have a part two for this that I will write up latter but I also have other topics I want to get to first so I will also talk more about my thoughts on the movie AFTER I actually watch it. Stay Cool.

Michael Bay thoughts

I hear a lot of people on internet discussion forums blame George Lucas for ruining their childhoods because of the things he did to Star Wars over the years. People who had a specific view of what they in their minds thought Star Wars was supposed to be, and along the way they forgot that they were not the creators of the series but only the patrons of the company who was selling them a product.

I know for some people it is difficult to remember Star Wars is just a product, it is not a religion, or even a way of life, it is a media franchise that is designed to sell the brand to consumers who are willing to pay money for the products available. I never had that view, to me George Lucas could always do whatever he wanted with Star Wars, after all he created it who was I to tell him he was wrong?

The reasons I mention Star Wars up front is important because I will come back to that as I go through this. When I was a kid like most members of my generation, I grew up watching Star Wars. When I was a kid it was my all time favorite movie. What did I like most about it? Well let me be honest here that was a long time ago, it could have been any number of things. But what I do remember standing out in my mind quite prominently was it had robots in it and I really liked robots. I watched Space Camp because it had a robot in it for a brief moment. I liked Short Circuit because Johnny Five was a robot. And yes my favorite media franchise of all time, second only to of course Star Wars, is Transformers.

When I was a kid I loved the Transformers they were the best cartoon on TV, the best toys in toy stores, and they even had comic books that I found out about years latter. Growing up I will admit some of my best friends were either Autobots or Decepticons. Sure I would eventually discover other things like video games, comic books, D&D, and somewhere along the lines I started to get into girls too. But I never stopped admiring and appreciating what the Transformers were and represented to me. When I was about 18 I had gotten out of toys and been mostly devoted to trying to get my hip-hop career off the ground, hey it was the 90’s everyone was trying to get their rap careers started. Well one day I walked into a comic book shop that I often frequented looking for some X-Men comics and I decided to check out the other side of the store, the side I never went to and the dealer had a whole glass case filled with classic Transformers action figures. Out of nostalgia I grabbed a couple of the cheaper ones just to take home and re-connect with something from my childhood and from there it all came flooding back. One by one I built up a huge collection of these things, and I didn’t stop with the vintage ones either I even got into the new ones as they were just making a come back. Now this might be contentious but I don’t care, some people argue Beast Wars kept the franchise going, but I disagree mainly because for one Beast Wars wasn’t made by Hasbro is was Kenner, and two, when Hasbro brought Robots In Disguise out the headlines hailed it as a return of the Transformers, nerds could keep any fringe cult franchise going but if it isn’t mainstream then nobody cares and for me their come back was when they returned to the mainstream.

After a couple of years of dedicated collecting the toys became more popular than ever thanks to new cartoons, new comic books, and over all a revived interest in all things 80’s. But after a couple of years Hasbro took on this new practice of going overboard, pretty soon instead of launching one toyline, backing it up with a cartoon and comic and then moving on once it ran it’s course, they were running not two not three but FIVE toylines simultaneously. Each one had to be backed up by it’s own media, mostly comics as you can’t get kids to tune into too many cartoons at once their short attention spans don’t have room. But comics it is easier because they only come once a month and you flip through them much faster and more casually than a television program anyways. Then in 2007 Michael Bay came along and did to Transformers what George Lucas had done to Star Wars, he recreated it for a newer generation. Like Star Wars this caused a split in the fanbase and pretty soon Hasbro was having to launch even more toy lines, comic books, and promotions to try and keep everyone happy.

By about 2005 I had already given up on collecting as it became overwhelming, costly, and frankly I was getting more into video games so I sold my entire collection to this dealer and said good bye to my past. Sure every once in a while I might have an urge to want to go back and start collecting again, but as much material as there was in 2001 things are far out of hand now, I wouldn’t even know where to start anymore! So I realized something, I wasn’t going to do to Michael Bay what the Star Wars fans had done to Lucas, instead I was going to accept that I had *my* Transformers when I was a kid, and today’s youth have *their* Transformers. Thanks to good old Netflix I can go back and watch and old episode of the cartoon, laugh at how bad it is, and move on. But the desire will always be in me to return to collecting at least the vintage toys that I grew up with. As of right now I don’t have neither the time nor the money to even begin investing in a new hobby, or returning to an old one. But as least I can look back on it as a fond time and instead of hating Michael Bay for “ruining” my childhood I will just be thankful that Star Wars was popular enough to force Hasbro to launch a robot themed action figure line in the first place. Stay Cool.