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.
I started with Stargate SG-1. Before that I hadn’t even known that action figures existed, or if I have known I have not cared. I am a member of a lot of toy forums now and the guys (they are usually guys, rarely a girl) have figures that look so weird that I have no idea what they even are 😉 The kind that little boys play fights with. The weirder, the more alien, the better. There were no such figures in my childhood in East Germany, you see.
But I was a huge Stargate fan, and then Diamond Select Toys started with 6″ figures. Sadly a bit late in the game so we only got four waves and the fifth, even though it looked great, was cancelled because the show had ended and no retailer did want them anymore.
At first I only wanted a Jack as I was a Richard Dean Anderson fan. But then they added pieces of the gate and said that if you buy them all, you can build the gate, and I could not resist that. Then I kept buying the same characters in different uniforms, as again it came with more display pieces, and the bug had bitten and there was no return from it.
But if I think back, I had the love all my life. I begged my parents for the rubbery Indian and Cowboys figures that other kids played with in the sandbox. I guess you can consider those my first figures. Then later I became a Karl May fan, and as there was no such thing as merchandise, I made my own figures of the book characters:
Then the world changed in 1989 and I became a Knight Rider fan. Again I wanted a K.I.T.T. model but there was none available (or if there was I had no idea how and where to get it, I was 16 and lived a sheltered life, the days before the internet). So I built one from scratch. And I also made a Michael Knight figure because you can’t have a car without a driver:
As you can see in the pictures, I had it all figured out by myself. I wanted joints, so I added beads for elbows and knees, and I even made the fingers moveable with wire. The face sculpt is not that good and I never finished giving him clothes as I don’t know how to sew let alone in this small scale, but there you go. My first action figure, so to speak, while the others were statues.
I also learnt how to customize figures and how to set up scenes from the guys in the Gateworld forum. I took my first pictures in May 2007 so I also had a ten year anniversary last year. Looking back you can see how much I have learnt and improved over time, background wise and also photographing wise.
You only do the reviews? You don’t play just for fun, setting up scenes? Is that not something you are interested in? I love the reviews though, they give great and detailed infos about figures.
You really do amaze me with all your pictures and custom jobs. You have a real talent for it and I’m so glad to have connected with you online!
Thanks for sharing too. I’d love it if I could get more people to just share how they got into collecting toys and what it means to them.
I do set up displays and whatnot. I really love getting out a box that’s been in the closet for a month or so and rediscover the figures that are in it. I’m a bit of an order freak, so when I set up figures for displays I usually just snap pictures and take them down again.
Thank you! Obviously you don’t know many others who do that because there are so many amazing ones out there that are way better than I am, and inspire me greatly. We all learn from each other, right?
I am also happy to have connected with you, I don’t even remember what I was searching for when I found your old LJ page.
I usually don’t check the comments on your posts – do you get one once in while? It’s always nice to hear from readers if they enjoyed it.
Yes, I don’t have the space for permanent displays, so I also only set up a scene, snap pictures, check on the computer whether they can be used, and destroy the scene. It is important to check first because sometimes I had to do it all over again! So I learnt the lesson the hard way. But I also have all stored away neatly in boxes.
It’s just that I don’t remember ever seeing any of your pictures. I’d love to! And yes, rediscovering is so much fun! It’s easy to forget what you have.
Keep up the good work! I have many blogs in my reader but yours is one of my favorites. I tried starting a blog about toys a few years ago and I promptly abandoned it. Toy reviews are a lot of work.
Thanks for your kind words, and thanks so much for reading!!!
OH MY GOD!!! I just checked out your custom Galactus and I am speechless!
If you had just shown me one of the finished pictures I could never have guessed it was a Darth Vader BIG FIG!!! I am seriously in awe of that kind of talent you have there!
It always makes me sad to hear that people put effort into stuff they love, and no one looks at them… so sorry to hear about your early forays into toy review websites.
But you are here now. I am a latecomer and subscriber, but I check your site everyday! Yes everyday! I love what you are doing here and I am amazed at your dedication. Never be afraid to tell it like it is! I am a fan even if it’s weird to be a fan of someone called Figurefan.
Haha! Thanks so much for reading! I appreciate it!
Congrats! I love your blog. Keep up the great work!
Thanks, man! And thanks so much for reading! It means a lot to me!