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Old January 27 2013, 12:13 AM   #1
Gotham Central
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Why are toys and tie in products so much better now?

One of the things that I've noticed is that the toys and mass produced replicas from various sci-fi properties are much more accurate and better made than they were when I was a kid.

For instance the stuff that Art Asylum/Diamond Select makes for Star Trek now is WAY better than what Playmates was putting out back in the 90s and much better than any of the stuff that came out in the 80s. Hell some of the Trek Tek (the Phasers, communicators and tricorders) are all most up to the same level of detail as the high end replicas. Their stuff was so good that it ended up being used on the actual production of Enterprise.

The Star Wars stuff...depending on Hasbro's mood at any given moment is equally good.

I just makes me wonder why these things were not this will made and screen accurate when I was a kid in the 80s and 90s?

The stuff in the 80s and 90s were almost perfection compared to what they used to slap the name Star Trek on in the 60s or Star Wars in the 70s/80s.

I distinctly remember looking at picture of something that was labeled a "phaser" that looked like nothing of the sort?

Is it that scanning technology and computers have made it easier to get screen accurate reproductions? Is it that the the relatively cheap microelectronics in the toys have just made them better. After all friend pointed out that a modern DST Star Trek Phaser, Tricorder or Communicator TOY is probably more technologically advanced and capabable of more independent action than the props that were used on the Original series.

So is it just that technology makes it easier to make better toys or is it that the companies are trying harder to make better replicas?
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Old January 27 2013, 12:32 AM   #2
Flying Spaghetti Monster
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Re: Why are toys and tie in products so much better now?

Gotham Central wrote: View Post
One of the things that I've noticed is that the toys and mass produced replicas from various sci-fi properties are much more accurate and better made than they were when I was a kid.

For instance the stuff that Art Asylum/Diamond Select makes for Star Trek now is WAY better than what Playmates was putting out back in the 90s and much better than any of the stuff that came out in the 80s. Hell some of the Trek Tek (the Phasers, communicators and tricorders) are all most up to the same level of detail as the high end replicas. Their stuff was so good that it ended up being used on the actual production of Enterprise.

The Star Wars stuff...depending on Hasbro's mood at any given moment is equally good.

I just makes me wonder why these things were not this will made and screen accurate when I was a kid in the 80s and 90s?

The stuff in the 80s and 90s were almost perfection compared to what they used to slap the name Star Trek on in the 60s or Star Wars in the 70s/80s.

I distinctly remember looking at picture of something that was labeled a "phaser" that looked like nothing of the sort?

Is it that scanning technology and computers have made it easier to get screen accurate reproductions? Is it that the the relatively cheap microelectronics in the toys have just made them better. After all friend pointed out that a modern DST Star Trek Phaser, Tricorder or Communicator TOY is probably more technologically advanced and capabable of more independent action than the props that were used on the Original series.

So is it just that technology makes it easier to make better toys or is it that the companies are trying harder to make better replicas?

I actually think the Star Wars original line was the best. There was nothing like. I remember really loving seeing that stuff in the store, and they all had a unique simple charm. Now everything sucks
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Old January 27 2013, 01:09 AM   #3
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Re: Why are toys and tie in products so much better now?

There are always crappy toys to go with the good ones.
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Old January 27 2013, 01:13 AM   #4
OdoWanKenobi
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Re: Why are toys and tie in products so much better now?

It's a simple answer, really. Sculpting technology has evolved, allowing for more lifelike and accurate portraits. Also, the collector's market has risen exponentially. Adult collectors demand a higher level of quality than children.
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Old January 27 2013, 01:15 AM   #5
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Re: Why are toys and tie in products so much better now?

^^ yeah, I was just going to add that toys used to be intended for children
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Old January 27 2013, 01:40 AM   #6
C.E. Evans
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Re: Why are toys and tie in products so much better now?

Flying Spaghetti Monster wrote: View Post
I actually think the Star Wars original line was the best. There was nothing like. I remember really loving seeing that stuff in the store, and they all had a unique simple charm. Now everything sucks
I have to agree to some extent. While I think a lot of the new stuff is cool too, much of it is geared more and more towards adult collectors than kids. As a result, I think the toy industry is following the same path as the comic book industry in that its customer base is both aging and dwindling, producing what are eventually luxury items for those who can afford them (the average 3.75-inch Star Wars figure is around 10 bucks these days, with bigger-sized figures naturally costing more).
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Old January 27 2013, 02:59 AM   #7
Greg Cox
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Re: Why are toys and tie in products so much better now?

OdoWanKenobi wrote: View Post
Adult collectors demand a higher level of quality than children.
Bingo.
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Old January 27 2013, 04:24 AM   #8
TemporalFlux
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Re: Why are toys and tie in products so much better now?

Todd McFarlane is the one who kicked off the rise in quality; toys were pretty crappy until he started releasing his mini-sculptures in the Spawn line. It was after that when ToyBiz began to improve their Marvel toy sculpts; then other companies followed suit.
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Old January 27 2013, 04:58 AM   #9
Greg Cox
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Re: Why are toys and tie in products so much better now?

It's probably worth noting that scanning technology is only going to work for toys and figures based on current projects. You can't exactly scan the actors from classic films, at least not as they were back then. That's still going to require lots of old-fashioned sculpting--either physically or digitally.
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Old January 27 2013, 06:59 AM   #10
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Re: Why are toys and tie in products so much better now?

^Actually, it's not very difficult for an image of a face to be wrapped to a CGI head and then mathematically modeled. It's just a variation on the techniques used to create terrain height maps from satellite images. See Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy. From there it's an easy thing to model for a toy.
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Old January 27 2013, 07:02 AM   #11
Nick Ryder
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Re: Why are toys and tie in products so much better now?

Well I think it's a combination of things.

1. Most of the tie in toys from the 70s/80s were done quickly and cheaply with almost no real 'run up'. Up until Star Wars, toy tie in marketing was almost non-existant. I mean it was there, but not like it is now. And typically the lowest bidder would get the contract - and the quality would really show - or lack thereof. A lot of times it was simply a retool or re-label of an existing toy they had "Oh we've got a sword thingy toy, we'll just slap a star wars label on it and call it done."

2. Kids and collectors are expecting more - even a kid knows exactly what a phaser or a sonic screwdriver or a costume looks like - they have reruns (which were less common back then - even for the guys making the toys - now you can freeze frame full on HD stills and see every detail).. So simply making it look "close 'nough'" is no longer good enough.

3. Toymakers are fans. It's not just some guys who are really not 'into' what they're making.

4. They know they can ask for more and generally get it. Although I do think that if they keep jacking the prices up, they're going to price it out of their target market. The "Star Wars" scale became popular because of a simple philosophy. They were small enough hold in your hand, cheap enough for a kid to buy with allowance money and you could have a lot of them without taking up a ton of space.

5. I think the toys have a better "image" now - they're not just children's playthings, they're collectibles, they're prop replicas, they're decor.
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Old January 27 2013, 08:30 AM   #12
Samurai8472
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Re: Why are toys and tie in products so much better now?

Take the "lord of the rings" figures. Some use 3D facial mapping from the actors.

You wouldn't get that in the 90's

You'd have a gandalf with five points of articulation and a cap firing action it's back.

Boy I miss those robocop figures lol
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Old January 27 2013, 09:11 AM   #13
bigdaddy
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Re: Why are toys and tie in products so much better now?

Or because LEGO makes license sets now...

LotR
http://brickset.com/detail/?Set=9474-1
Superman / Wonder Woman
http://brickset.com/detail/?set=6862-2
Batman / Aquaman
http://brickset.com/detail/?set=76000-1
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