Back to the Future

So a few of you disagreed with my top 10 list… Fair play, boys and gals – it’s all subjective. But while this kind of diversity of opinion and tastes is cool for the toy world, there’s something I should say about the list – it was bloody hard putting it together. And not in an “I was spoilt for choice” fashion – more the fact that 2006 was a weak year for vinyl.

How I missed out the Pollards, I don’t know. I still stand by the Dunces, though. And I’m sure some Gargamel or Secret Base could have been worthy of a feature, but I’m man enough to put my hands up and say I don’t know enough about that camp. But hindsight is a beautiful thing. So let’s put it under the carpet and look to the future. Or the bleak vinyl wasteland that could be 2007.

Maybe I’m being melodramatic, but I’m not overly excited about what’s going to happen this year. After last year, you’d think things could only get better. Trouble is, I’m not so sure. 2006 was the year when quality control went out the window and colorways ruled supreme. A year of uninspiring rehashed platform crap. In 2007, do you really see that changing?

I’m not ringing the death knell for the toy world just yet. But let’s just say I think the grim reaper is chilling at home sharpening his scythe. Why? Well, the proliferation of ropey platform toys, for one thing. Where’s the experimentation? We call these art toys, but put one next to a sculpture by Henry Moore or Noguchi and there’s no comparison.

Yes, it’s a different kind of art to what those guys were doing, but there still needs to be someone pushing the boundaries in the way Joe Ledbetter did when he hit the scene. Why do you think Mr. Bunny attracts such high prices? Because it’s twenty times better than 99% of stuff that comes out. It was innovative and unique. And more importantly, it was like nothing that came before it.

I know original sculpts have big set-up costs, but with price points creeping up as it is, surely this can’t be too much of an issue? I’d even be happy to meet the toy companies half-way and champion a band of toys that are the “art” art toys: toys that cost more, but in turn deliver more; sculpts that genuinely bridge the gap between toy and art.

Trouble is, many collectors bitch and moan about prices already, so they likely won’t be keen on my viewpoint. But I think in demanding lower prices we’ve set ourselves up for a fall. You gets whuts you pay for in this life, and toys are no different. Simply put, we’re in the middle of a self-fulfilling prophecy – one we can only blame ourselves for.

That’s why 2007 will most like suck – because of us collectors. From the hype/bullshit we continually buy into, the 3000 colorways of so-so designs we keep buying and our penny-pinching ways, we’re killing the scene. Or rather, we’re actively facilitating the proliferation of crap that’s being thrust upon us.

We need to stop forking out $100 for dicey platform toys. We need to start being a bit more discerning, not buying on impulse because we don’t want to miss out. Look at the number of releases that were hyped like crazy and sold out in a flash, only to reappear down the line for less than retail. Hindsight’s a bitch when it hits your bank balance.

In essence, we all need a bit more patience. This year CAN be what we make it. Vote with your wallets. Buy what you like. And don’t accept second-rate bilge. Hitting their bottom line is the only message we can send to the manufacturers that they’ll listen to. So the revolution starts here… well, hopefully.

Drunken Master

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