The first thing I need to tell Philip Reed, who wrote this response to my column this week, is the same thing I tell all my critics: thank you for taking the time to read my work, and especially thank you for taking the time to craft a thoughtful response.
He accuses me of approaching the article from the perspective of an adult collector rather than approaching Hasbro as a business, and that’s how I approach all of my writing for Action Figure Fury. I’m not a business, but a collector talking about the business from the outside and don’t see the problem with that. Sports writers aren’t expected to play for the teams they write about or try to write about it from the players’ perspectives. If they did, that would be a conflict of interest. The goal of this kind of writing as I see it is to further the understanding between collectors and companies, and the collector’s viewpoint is as valid as the businesses in that conversation.
He says that I’m not looking at it from a “what makes playable toys for children” and he’s got me there. It’s easy to get caught up in what I, as an adult collector, want and forget that the figure lines I love and can afford are primarily for kids. I shouldn’t say things like, “I fear these markets are primarily interested in selling to kids” because I do come off as entitled, and frankly a bit insane. What I was trying to express, and I admit I got lazy and it’s not there in the article, is that I think these brands should be reaching a bare minimum of quality so they can be enjoyed by adults and children. I know that Hasbro won’t and shouldn’t be making these lines just for adults. What I would like, and I think it’s something they would profit from because kids would like the toys more too, is for them to put in a little more effort.
He makes another good point about Hasbro not having a monopoly. I shoehorned that word in their for the sake of a bad joke, but I feel like that saying my post “is about Hasbro having a monopoly on action figures” is inaccurate. First, not having a monopoly doesn’t mean that Hasbro doesn’t have most of the mass market action figure licenses. They have G.I. Joe, Star Wars, Marvel, Transformers, and Jurassic World, which is pretty dominant set, and Hot Wheels, a non-action figure brand, has no real bearing on that. Second, while my article does start by misusing the word monopoly, that isn’t what the article is about. Moving forward it shifts to talking about Hasbro not putting out high enough quality output for the licenses that they have.
Finally Reed says that, “We cannot demand perfection in mass-produced toys because the cost and QC we demand simply don’t make sense in $10 and $20 toys” and that’s the crux of our disagreement as I see it. I don’t think we can demand “perfection” in these toys, but I believe there is a bare minimum of quality that needs to be met. I don’t think I expressed this clearly enough in my column, but I don’t believe Hasbro should be perfect at this price point. I believe its fair and reasonable to ask for $10 and $20 toys that don’t fall apart coming out of the package and have the paint generally lined up close to correctly. I think it is fair to ask that Hasbro expand in size to meet the market demand for their products with a minimum level of quality for adult and child collectors. There are higher-end adult toys, but that doesn’t excuse lower-end toys with egregiously bad paint jobs and poor designs.
At the end of the day, Reed is calling for better action figure journalism, and by pointing out my shortcomings he’s pushing me to be better, and for that I appreciate him and his efforts. It’s the same thing I was trying to do with Hasbro, to point out there shortcomings and call for them to be better.
A Call to Action (Figures) is a weekly column published on Wednesdays, chronicling my rants and raves about all things action figure. Next week I’ll be back on my regular scheduled Wednesday talking about who won San Diego Comic Con.