A Call to Action (Figures): Kickstarter

I’m going to start this week with some shop keeping. Next Wednesday marks my one-year anniversary on “A Call to Action (Figures)” and will also be my last weekly column. From there, “A Call to Action (Figures)” will become a monthly feature. I love the writing and the photography, but it takes a lot of time, and after a year of doing one post a week I’m exhausted. That energy has been lacking from my other work, and will be better used for a long-term project I’ve been gearing up to do for the last year.

The other piece of shop keeping is to thank Philip Reed for his latest response in our Hasbro debate (part 1 / part 2 / part 3). I won’t be writing another full rebuttal. I disagree with Reed about the obligations of a manufacturer to a consumer and believe that a journalist asking for a higher-quality product is fundamental to supporting an industry. I think it’s best if we agree to disagree going forward, but again, I thank Reed for his time and his wonderful perspective.

And onto the good stuff.

Kickstarter launched in April 2009 and has been securing sponsorship for movies, TV shows, books, comic books, web comics, potato salads (I sh*t you not), and, most importantly for our purposes, action figures. What makes the site so important is that it democratizes the development process.

In the past, only boardrooms got to choose what got made and what didn’t. They sat down together and talked over whether something would be a popular success (as measured by financial success, rather than quality or any other variable) in the next quarter. It was an unenviable task. They’d have a limited number of slots and funds and so they’d inevitably turn down good ideas along with the bad. Every major company producing anything still goes through this process today, but Kickstarter gives consumers the ability to save the good products that companies can’t make. It also guarantees interest, putting the consumer at the step before production and in that way mitigates the risk the manufacturer is taking on by building a new toy.

Last year, I Am Elemental started their Kickstarter campaign with a goal of better representing women in action figures. It was a great goal, and I’d be interested to know what major toy manufacturers would have said if the line had been brought to them. Instead, they turned to Kickstarter and reached their goal in 48 hours.

Boss Fight Studios, founded by action figure building veterans two and a half years ago did the same thing with their Vitruvian Legends line, as well as others.

Where big companies are afraid to take risks, small companies need to take them in order to break into the market. Kickstarter is the place to support them. To my readers, I suggest surfing through Kickstarter for action figures and throw the ones that you’d like to exist a few dollars. Kickstarter has given you unprecedented power in the production process, so exercise it! Some awesome stuff could be on there right now, waiting for you.

A Call to Action (Figures) is a weekly column published on Wednesdays, chronicling my rants and raves about all things action figure. Next week will be my one-year anniversary writing it as well as my last weekly column. I’ll be reflecting on the last year in action figures.

Did I get it right? Is Kickstarter everything I say it is and more? Did I miss something big? Let me know in the comments!

By Bryan Stewart

Bryan first discovered an appreciation for action figures at an early age, setting up elaborate GI Joe ant hill attacks, complete with firework pyrotechnics. Due to the high injury rate for the Joes, replacements were a constant necessity.

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