I’m not someone who is big on celebrations, that should be evident by me going for eight years without much acknowledgement to any of those anniversaries, but for whatever reason I thought I’d mark the occasion this year. Maybe it’s because two years is a long time, and I didn’t want to wait for The Big 10. Or maybe it’s because I’ve surprised even myself by my persistence in churning out over 2,100 reviews on a topic no sane adult should care about. Whatever the case, FigureFanZero is eight years old today and I got myself a really nice bottle of Jameson and I’m going to sit here and gas on for a bit. If you have a bottle of spirits handy, pour yourself a little something, while I reminisce.
My First Review on FFZ… The Robots of Death!
It was eight years ago that I opened the virtual doors to FigureFanZero and said come inside and partake of my wondrous madness. It seems only fitting that the first review featured some Doctor Who action figures, because Character Options’ now all but defunct 5-inch Doctor Who line was exactly the sort of thing that I longed for as a kid. It’s also oddly fitting that it’s the weekend of Toy Fair and I’ve been spending it gazing at some amazing reveals. But how did FFZ come about? What motivated me to start this nonsense, and to keep it going for so long?
Review #1,000 – Diamond Select Kirk & Khan!
For that story, we have to journey back about about 18 years ago, when I found myself reacquainted with buying toys. I was only 27, but I was in the process of shuttering a business that I started when I was 20, and I think I was going through the equivalent of a mid-life crisis. And yes, I realize that means I’ll be dead at 54. The point is, I was starting life over and to cope I had been immersing myself back into video games. So much so, that I started collecting some video game-based action figures. I can remember picking up McFarlane’s set of Metal Gear Solid figures, as well as the Quake and Duke Nukem figures from Resaurus, and displaying them proudly above my game consoles. It was toy collecting, but not really. I wasn’t really seeing them as toys, but just plastic tokens that expressed my love of a facet of pop culture at the time.
I didn’t really get the toy collecting bug until that fateful day when I took a shortcut through a toy aisle in Target one Saturday afternoon. I was on my way to pick up whatever new video game had released. It was probably a Dreamcast or PlayStation title, but I can’t remember which. I was advancing through the aisle and headed toward the Electronics Department when I literally did a double-take. There I was, face to face with with Transformers!
Review #2,000 – Cover Girls of the DC Universe Wonder Woman
The line was called Robots in Disguise and what really drew my attention was seeing all five of the Combaticons hanging on the pegs. I picked one up and pondered it. They were repaints of the exact same toys that I never owned as a kid. Alas, my only G1 combiner was Devastator. I left the store that day with a couple of video games, but I spent the rest of the night thinking about those toys. The next day I went back and bought the set and there on my kitchen table, something awakened inside me. It was the nostalgia of recaptured youth. In the coming weeks I would pick up the rest of the Transformers that were on the shelves. Eventually, I would stop finding new ones and disappointed about going home empty handed, I started to notice some of the other call-backs to my childhood that peppered the toy aisles. There were GI Joe figures and Star Wars figures and soon I was buying them all and it was making me very happy. Then one day I discovered the KayBee Toys Outlet, and all bets were off. I was buying anything that interested me, and for pennies on the dollar!
My First Stab at Toy Bloggery
Four years later and my newfound love of toys was beginning to overtake my love of video games. I had started a great new job (And I’m still there!) and my premature midlife crisis was behind me. But I was still collecting toys! At the time I was also running a floundering video game site on Geocities called TechnoCothica that nobody ever visited. I decided to shut it down and reinvent it as a toy review site. Only two things remained the same: The name and the fact that nobody ever visited it. Not a lot of it still exists, but I managed to dig up some of its remains. Eventually, I migrated to LiveJournal, where I adopted the name FigureFan. It was a moniker that I registered under at some toy forum somewhere just so I could post a reply and help someone identify an action figure accessory. If I knew it was going to stick, I probably would have picked something better.
My last post on LiveJournal.
In 2010, I landed on WordPress adding a Zero to my name, partly to identify as something new and partly because at the time I was eagerly awaiting the release of the MegaMan Zero collection on the Nintendo DS. I also thought it only fitting that the name reflect the marriage between video games and toys that got me started down this long road. The rest of the story? Well, that’s all available for anyone to peruse on these pages. Throwing together four to five reviews a week isn’t always easy, but it never feels like a chore. It consumes a lot of my free time, and while I’ve tried cutting back, it never really sticks. Still, I’m going to try to cut back again this year and we’ll see what happens. Ideally, I’d like to steady out to three reviews a week so I can get a little more creative and maybe work on some related projects that I’ve been meaning to finish.
Before I wrap up, I wanted to reprint one of the old reviews from TechnoCothica. I’ve been going through my old archive and as rough as a lot of it is, I’ve been getting some inspiration from it. I decided to go with my review of Hasbro’s Original Trilogy Millennium Falcon, mainly because I never got around to reviewing it here on FFZ. Some of the picture files don’t exist any more, which is probably for the best because back then I was shooting on a piece of plastic shelving in the corner of my bedroom with with flash lighting. Nonetheless, I’ve reconstructed what I could just for shits and giggles. I hope to eventually set up a page devoted to what I can recover from the old site.
I hope you’re still with me, because before signing off I just wanted to send out a sincerest THANK YOU to everyone who stops by now and again to partake in my love of toys and collectibles. Toy reviews are a crazy big thing on the InterWeb these days. I hear tell some people even do it now with moving picture recordings on something called “The YuuToobs,” and make big bucks at it. I never started this to turn a profit, but the time has still been priceless for me because I’ve met some wonderful people through emails, comments on here, and conversations on Twitter, and if you’re reading this that includes you! I love ya all. Here’s to another eight years… if I’ve got it in me.