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View Full Version : Are we spoiled? Did they spoil it? Or am I just getting old?



Law
08-21-2012, 12:54 PM
I was comparing the new Tarkin figure to the original (1997?) figure the other day, and I realized that the original version made me so much happier than the new one. I'm not thinking about the various nits that could be picked about the new one -- soft goods, outfit color, etc. The original figure is, I think, objectively worse, and was recognizeably flawed when it first came out. And that's the whole point -- the original figure produced a happiness and satisfaction in me that was disproportionate to my objective assessment of its quality.

It got me thinking about how SW collecting has changed in the past 15 years, and I'm wondering which of the following three accounts is the most accurate. Or maybe they're all equally accurate.

1) I'm spoiled. The original bar was set very low -- the vintage line, while beloved, was far smaller in scope and ambition. Figures had less articulation, accessories had less detail, and the selection of characters was more restricted. When the first 10 new SW figures showed up in 1995, there was a lot wrong with their barrel-chested, He-Manned physiques, but there was also a lot of improvement over what we'd seen in the 80's. The lightsabers were clear plastic! Their hilts were detailed and individualized! R2 had sculpted details instead of a sticker! The stormtrooper could turn his head! Yes, the figures had room for improvement. But it was a giddy feeling to see how much awesome there was, and how far the line had come. In the next two years, progress came in leaps and bounds -- but maybe in the end it got to be too much. The simple joy of "It's awesome that they did it!" became tainted by the ability to notice something wrong with nearly every figure. At some point, after countless refinements and improvements, it got harder to appreciate what was coming out. It got easier to think "Meh, is that the best you can do? Try again." There have simply been so many figures, so well executed, that the joy of discovery has been replaced by a jaded inability to be satisified.

2) It's not me, it's Hasbro. It's hard to appreciate a figure I know they can do better, especially when I also know they're going to keep re-releasing the same character with minor improvements every year. Why should I be happy to give them my money for a flawed product? Why should I ignore the fact that they seem insistent on selling me 10 imperfect versions before finally relenting and putting out a decent one? There's no excuse not to give Hoth Luke his scarf, or to put the wrong belt buckle on Jedi Luke, or to put 3PO in a ridiculously inaccurate scale. Plus, even if I ignore all that, the distribution problems and pegwarmers and exclusives have always been annoying, and have steadily made the hobby less fun and less rewarding over time. I'm simply sick of having to hunt so much for these things, or just give up and order cases online. Either way I end up paying through the nose for the smallest things. If Hasbro can't be bothered to get the new Naboo Fighter out, when they know the box stores are ignoring it because they don't give it a new SKU, and if they can't be bothered to devise a corrective measure for the regular over-saturation of the first wave of a series that leads to a bottleneck preventing later waves from ever seeing pegspace, they're going to suck the joy out of the hobby. I mean, this has been a problem at least since the Legacy line -- how can they not have figured out how to solve it yet? How can they not have a plan in place to keep new product on the shelves? It's not rocket science. At a certain point you have to know that whatever Target or Walmart MIGHT sell of that pegwarming pile that's been sitting there untouched for months, they'd DEFINITELY sell more of something new. Nope, the figures themselves may have gotten better, but the actual prospect of finding them has been an expensive, frustrating nightmare, at least since 1999. And that's not counting the frustration of finding things clearanced out and knowing how much I've overspent! GAH!

3) I'm just getting older. I have a nostalgia for the early years of the line, so I view it with a certain rose-colored tint. The whole experience of toy collecting in 1996 was probably only slightly less frustrating than it is today, if that. There were still scalpers, exclusives, chase figures, and whatnot, only there weren't abundant resources online to track figures down, and there was a much smaller collector community to give the hobby a social dimension. It was objectively no better than it is today, it may have even been objectively worse. But memories are subjective, and if my personal memories of collecting SW in 1996 are happier than they are of collecting in 2011, that's probably a uniquely personal experience that says nothing about collecting as a whole, how the collecting community has evolved, or whether Hasbro is killing teh lien.

Thoughts?

GramdMoffLarkin
08-21-2012, 02:45 PM
I'm not spoiled but I do think other star wars figures collectors are really spoiled rotten in some ways. They want this and that for a certain figure it makes me sick at times.

DagMarus
08-22-2012, 09:23 AM
We know it does, Shutzie. We know.

bigbarada
08-22-2012, 11:01 PM
I think being spoiled is a part of it. It seems like the better the figures look, the more people complain about them. In fact, the worst figures of 2012 are still better than the best figures from 10-15 year ago. It's also because the resculpt cycle seems to be getting shorter and shorter (ridiculously short in some instances - we got all-new resculpts of Bespin Luke and the AT-AT Driver only three years after the previous all-new resculpts). So, collectors have become used to Hasbro making several attempts to perfect certain figures and they begin to feel that Hasbro should do that for every figure, until every figure is perfect. Which would be a neverending cycle. Because by the time they got around to updating all of old figures that look outdated next to the best figures from 2012, then the best figures from 2012 would start to look outdated and the cycle would start again.

I also think certain collectors nitpick new figures simply because they think they are supposed to. My philosophy on that is, if you like a figure, then why look for things to dislike? For example, Kithaba. I had wanted a Kithaba figure for almost 30 years and he was at the top of my wishlist for over a decade. We finally got the figure this year and is he perfect? Of course not, but I don't feel that I need to nitpick the flaws of the toy. Why? Because it took 29 years for a toy company to release a Kithaba figure, we are NEVER going to get another version. So, why be nitpicky about minor details? I dunno, I guess people just think that criticizing everything makes them seem smart.

The vintage figures were far from perfect.... very far. However, for a period of about 10 years there were no Star Wars toys at all and no prospects of Star Wars toys ever being made again. So collectors had over a decade to learn to love the figures, warts and all. Darth Vader was your favorite character, but you didn't like the Kenner action figure? Too bad. As far as we knew, there was never going to be another Darth Vader action figure ever again, so you had better learn to love that Kenner figure, kid.

In contrast, modern collectors take Star Wars for granted. Especially the young kids for whom Star Wars has been a constant presence in the toy aisles for their entire lives. POTF2 premiered 17 years ago, which that means that a 4-year-old boy who got his first Star Wars figure in 1995 is now 21 years old. The idea of the Star Wars line coming to an end is totally foreign to him. So, in my opinion, that simply makes it more difficult for that collector to truly appreciate what he has over what he wants.

ThallJoben
08-26-2012, 08:13 PM
Good thread & good questions.

First, IMHO SW collectors as a whole (and I very much include myself in this generalization) are somewhat spoiled now since we have 17 years worth of figures & vehicles in the modern line, with (in many cases) even the most obscure, little seen characters & vehicles having been cast in plastic. Back when POTF2 debuted in 1995 I could never have imagined that: 1) The line would last as long as it has, and 2) that Wuher, Jek Porkins, Duros, Ephant Mon, Hermi Odle, the entire Cantina Band, Mon Mothma, The Tie Bomber, etc. would come out as 3/ 3/4 toys. Granted, the OT figures/vehicles are not a huge part of the overall SW line these days, but at least there is still a toy presence.

And, I'm guessing that (per the previous post) younger SW fans take these for granted since they weren't around years ago when the OOT Vintage line was out (1977-1985). Which brings me to my second point:

It wasn't always this way. As a kid during the days of the OOT, I remember being dissapointed in the sub-par appearance of the "telescoping lightsaber" figures like Darth Vader, Tattoine Luke, ANH Obi-wan; remember, at that time they didn't resculpt figures, but just re-released these characters on subsequent cards (i.e., the ANH DV was released throughout the line, on ESB & ROTJ cards, etc.). I was also dissapointed that characters like Grand Moff Tarkin, Slave outfit Princess Leia, etc. weren't released. Then, the line went dormant for 10 years (1985-1995) and we saw no new product. So, those of us who were SW fans & grew up during this time were definitely not spoiled when it came to SW, since there was very little out then.

That all being said, there are still quite a few SW figures/vehicles that I (and I'm sure others) would like to see that have yet to come out: Tonnika sisters, Torynn Farr, Sail Barge, re-sculpted Sandcrawler, etc.

Michael_Knight
08-26-2012, 09:03 PM
Oddly I didn't even campaign for more articulation when people were demanding it. If the figures kept coming out with 6 points of articulation but with improved sculpts and likenesses I would have been fine so long as they were sculpted in neutral stances. In fact when they first started using it on figures like the POTJ Anakin and POTF2 Flashback Luke I thought they looked garish. It wasn't until they improved them to the point that they became well concealed that I started to appreciate it. Now I can't go back.

noazz
08-30-2012, 01:11 PM
Spoiled? To some degree- I think "entitled" is a much better term for the majority of the collector base. I'm so sick of reading how HasBLO screwed up this or that, how "figure x" does not have ankle articulation and thus is worse than worthless, and so on. Two points need to be understood. 1) Hasbro is a BUSINESS. 2) Toys are for KIDS. I can just about guarantee that if I get frustrated trying to twist 14 points of articulation into something that looks good and stands on its own, kids must absolutely hate it! I "get" the new vehicle design for the Class II line- they are kid-friendly, and don't look like there are little bits that will be lost 5 minutes after opened. A kid could toss Obi-Wan's starfighter across the room and the thing looks like it would bounce a few times and be fine. Fewer points of articulation? Chinese labor costs are on the rise. Remember why everything was sent to China in the first place? Everything cost pennies on the dollar over there, so a toy could be made for a few dollars and sold for huge profits. Now it's more like dimes/quarters to the dollar, and with shipping costs rising as well, cuts have to happen. It's simple math that says it takes more tooling/labor/investment to assemble a toy that has 26 individual parts versus something that has 7. So, right now Hasbro's strategy seems to be: refocus the line for kids (need to develop future collectors), and simplify design a bit to control costs. The distribution is something they seriously need to get under control, but I think they're actually thinking along the right lines so they can continue the brand until 2020. They acknowledge us with the vintage collection- the Clone Wars/Movie Heroes are kids lines, and should be loaded with toys instead of collector figures.

Is it as much fun as it used to be? Probably not, but I think a large part of that reason is the fan-base.

Waggy
09-02-2012, 03:44 PM
The contributions to this thread are excellent. They should be read by readers who come to these forums. I see things from a different perspective than what I used to/

Thanks!

bigbarada
09-04-2012, 04:20 AM
Is it as much fun as it used to be? Probably not, but I think a large part of that reason is the fan-base.

I think being jaded is a part of it also and I would put that in a different category from spoiled.

Someone who is spoiled will settle for nothing less than perfection every time. Any deviation from perfection will usually prompt a rant of some kind. These are also the collectors who expect to be able to take an action figure and place it up against a photo of the character that figure is supposed to represent and NOT be able to find any discrepancies between the two. So they want absolute, photorealistic perfection with EVERY figure and they better not have to pay more than $10 for it. (Oh yeah, and the figures better be super-articulated with at least 14-points of articulation (preferably more); but the articulation needs to be completely invisible. And don't expect those collectors to be willing to pay more for all that articulation, either. Hasbro is just going to have to work harder for less profits and their only reward will be more anger, ridicule and insults from the collectors they are busting their butts to please.)

Anyways, a jaded collector is someone who has been around a long time and they approach everything with an overwhelming sense of "been there, done that." The newness, novelty and (most importantly) fun of collecting has worn off and the collector is just going through the motions and has a hard time getting excited about anything anymore.

The most important thing to remember, though, is that it's NOT Hasbro's fault when a Star Wars collector becomes jaded. Any hobby can become "old hat" at any time. I don't blame Hasbro for the fact that I've been collecting their toys non-stop for 17 years and am running out of Star Wars characters that still hold my interest. That's not their problem.

If I went to McDonalds and ate 3 Big Macs a day, every day for 17 years, then you would expect me to eventually become sick at even the sight of a Big Mac. So why do we think we can obsess over a hobby for so long and not grow weary of it?

Usually, when a collector becomes jaded, then it just means that it might be time to take a break. This is why I think it's healthier to have multiple hobbies. When one of them ceases to be fun, then you can just focus on another hobby. And if that hobby never becomes fun again, then maybe it was just time to move on after all.

Unless you are a completist and feel compelled to buy toys you don't even want to continue feeding a hobby that brings you absolutely no enjoyment anymore. Those collectors fall into a third category, it's called the mentally ill.

noazz
09-06-2012, 12:41 PM
Someone who is spoiled will settle for nothing less than perfection every time. Any deviation from perfection will usually prompt a rant of some kind. These are also the collectors who expect to be able to take an action figure and place it up against a photo of the character that figure is supposed to represent and NOT be able to find any discrepancies between the two. So they want absolute, photorealistic perfection with EVERY figure and they better not have to pay more than $10 for it. (Oh yeah, and the figures better be super-articulated with at least 14-points of articulation (preferably more); but the articulation needs to be completely invisible. And don't expect those collectors to be willing to pay more for all that articulation, either. Hasbro is just going to have to work harder for less profits and their only reward will be more anger, ridicule and insults from the collectors they are busting their butts to please.)

QFT baby, QFT.