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Points of Articulation

Shocka
Shocka
The Toy Alphabet of Suck

Hello hello everyone, your old pal Shocka here! Here and not standing behind you in your room, standing silently there right now, almost daring you to turn around and look. To see what's coming. To see what I've got in my hands, hands hovering so close behind your head now. Out of the corner of your eye you spot me - but surely it was just your imagination, yes? I couldn't possibly be standing behind you at this very moment.

Remember a full and literal decade ago, when we posted The Toy Alphabet of Cool and The Toy Alphabet of Women? I was meant to follow that up with the Toy Alphabet of Suck, but... didn't. Like I always say, if you're going to do something right, you might as well drag your feet for 10 years and then have to re-do half the work you did already because it's now so outdated. That's what we call "the Duke Nukem Forever effect"! (Soon to be known as the We Happy Few effect, but nobody's going to remember that game in a year.)

WORDS!

A is for...
...action features. Can anyone think of an action feature that doesn't suck? Most just get in the way of the toy, turning what could have been a five-star figure into a big letdown. Look at the original movie Iron Monger, which lost half his joints to an action feature no one wanted. Worse is when an action feature requires a battery, one that is forgotten about when the toy is put on the shelf or put into storage, slowly degrading and leaking its caustic juices into the toy, making everything miserable.
B is for...
...blindpacks. Is there anything worse than a hot new series of toys that makes it impossible to directly buy the individual figures you want? In what way is it "fun" to inadvertantly buy the same toy you've already got multiple times and didn't want in the first place? Lego's fantastic minifigures originally sidestepped this having fairly obvious labels on their packaging, but unfortunately fell back on bad habits, making it hard to collect only the ones you want.
C is for...
...creeps. There's nothing that gives collectors a worse name than the different creepy types who help fulfill the stereotypes that should have been stamped out years ago. Most of us are leading worthwhile and active lives while some choose to give this hobby (and others) a bad, stinky name.
D is for...
...dust. Invariably any toys exposed to the elements, on a shelf or desk or otherwise, are going to get dusty, and what might be a simple spring-clean becomes a mammoth task as one's collection increases in size, with no easy solution but to take everything off, dust it carefully, only to repeat it again later! Compressed air is great in concept, but there's no better way to topple an entire collection from the top shelf than trying to give it a quick dust.
E is for...
...exclusives. Look at the the worst SDCC exclusive nonsense. In what way is it "fun" to collect when you are unable to get the freaking toy you want because a) you can't travel halfway across the world to get them, and b) limited supply as well as c) price, which is not just the recommended price, but the scalper's price? Exclusives are great in concept, but in general as a consumer you should be able to get the toys you want, and exclusives undermine that, unless they're easily available, which doesn't happen all that often.
F is for...
...finger articulation. In theory, there's no much thing as too much articulation, provided it doesn't get in the way of sculpt or make a top heavy toy unable to stand, but there's one place where articulation almost always suffers, and that's at the fingers. The upcoming Hellboy figure is the perfect case example: his fantastic glove sculpt ruined with big blocky obtrusive unwanted points of articulation in the knuckles of the fingers. Occasionally it makes sense - like having Spider-Man's fingers individually jointed, but most of the time it sucks: accessories are quickly rendered unholdable, hand poses look silly, it rarely works!
G is for...
...gravity. There's nothing more annoying than when a favorite toy takes a dive, whether it be from the top of your shelf onto the ground or just on your desk knocking down several of his kin with him. Sometimes this can be purely by accident - a puff of breeze knocking your plastic friend off his feet - or it can be a more frustrating situation of companies not ensuring their figures can stand. (NECA, I'm looking at you.) Either way, it's annoying and, at worst result, can result in breakages. Not fun!
H is for...
...head sculpts. Or, more aptly, bad ones. Up until the McFarlane era it was rare (or, more correctly, impossible) to purchase an action figure with a recognisable face. Things have changed, fortunately, and now our toys feature high-end facial sculpts that look superbly like the actors and characters they represent - unless things go wrong. And indeed they do! Is that actually Bruce Campbell, or some deranged old man? THAT is supposed to be Princess Leia? And what the heck is going on with Emma Frost's face?
I is for...
...internet. Has any online community been as simultaneously positive and negative for something as the toy collecting community? On the one hand, so much good has been done towards better sculpts and articulation and franchises and overall better toys because of collectors online, but on the other hand, little ruins the joy of collecting as much as angry, snarky, entitled, cynical, overly-critical douchebags who make up a large portion of the online collecting community. These are the people who are never ever happy, and feel the need to bring us all down with their opinions.
J is for...
...Japanese toys. Today Japanese toys frequently represent the very best action figures on the market, with amazing sculpts and perfect articulation and ingenius accessories, but at a significant markup to everything else we buy, with the good stuff scattered inamongst the overpriced idiotic statues (look at all of the crappy Figuarts Zero as terrific examples) and the incredibly creepy versions of all those underage female characters, scantilently clad at best. Yeesh!
K is for...
...kiddie. These are toys after all, so with the exception of the clearly "adult collectible" crowd it isn't a problem when an action figure is designed more for kids than adults (How many children are going to play with a Walter White anyway, or a Jason Voorhees?) but when companies choose to cheap out on their wares because aiming at children means they can get away with it, what might have been amazing additions to your collection quickly become subpar. For a terrific example of correcting this, compare any NECA Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle with the cheap fare Playmates has been putting out.
L is for...
...loose joints. Nothing ruins a wonderfully articulated action figure like its joint's loosening to unusability, especially joints that you can't take to with the superglue method like balljoints. The recent Sauron Build-a-Figure matches a terrific sculpt with lousy loose joints, making what would be a great toy a major disappointment.
M is for...
...MattyCollector. Way to go, Mattel, introducing an online club designed to make collecting easier and more fun for the global community that would, over time, make even the most easygoing collector cynical and angry, with horrible server errors, unmanageable customer service and speedy sell-out times that ensured the only ones happy with the club were the jerks jacking up prices on eBay. Oh, and the buckaneers at Mattel making record profits from lines that "can barely survive without expensive subscriptions." Thanks, jerks! Even long after their demise, their hive of scum and villainy lives on in the extreme and unnerving Masters of the Universe fanbase, who have decided that Super7 is now Enemy #1 while longing for the "good old days" of MattyCollector, because not only are they insane, but they have no recollection of real life events either.
N is for...
...nude censorship. Well, any kind of action figure censorship, really. This ranges from the relatively innocuous, like those stupid painted-on bikinis you get on racy figures (usually McFarlane ones) when they've bowed to pressure to make them child-friendly, to the absurd, like the resculpt of McFarlane's Ghost in the Shell figure to ensure ADULT collectors wouldn't be exposed to an ADULT character from an ADULT anime.
O is for...
...OAFE. Yes, we're the worst. Oh, sure, you might come for the well-written and researched reviews, with commentary not just on the action figures themselves but also a quick background and related info, but then what? Vicious and unwarranted snark, an unmatched superiority complex, and, worst of all, POLITICS! How dare these assholes inject their "politics" into our pop culture!! Those pesky SJWs, at it again!!
P is for...
...paint apps. Specifically, bad ones, and they come in all ranges and sizes, from terrific paint jobs ruined with an unnecessary smear or overspray, or amazing sculpts ruined by poor and lacklustre paint, or even prototypes that show off amazing toys that never deliver because the companies decide to cut back on the paint at the last minute. (Playmates TMNT, we're onto you!) Bad paint can make a must-have action figure into something not even worth considering.
Q is for...
...quality control. You finally have your latest, most desired action figure home, and you carefully open its packaging and breathe in the new toy smell, only to have the damn thing break apart in your hands. For all the wonderful, perfectly infallible toys we buy, occasionally QA will fail us and you'll end up with something that breaks in your hands. Occasionally it'll even be worse, like the back end of SOTA's Street Fighter figures, which broke in their package if you dared to look at them.
R is for...
...rare toys. Like, impossibly rare. Like, did they even make more than a handful of these? These usually exist because companies are run by douchebags who pump out something in insanely limited quantities, or occur when a property is launched to limited interest and eventually blossums into popularity. How about a Filmation He-Man? Fancy a Gleek? Bloody good luck to you!
S is for...
...scale. Most of us collect in only a couple of scales, usually sticking to the 3 3/4" scale that comprises most Star Wars and G.I. Joe figures, then the larger 6" scale toys. Problem is, what happens when NECA goes up an inch or two from that scale for their horror figures and Predators, while Mattel bumps back an inch for their Movie Masters and Ghostbusters? A whole lotta toys who look ridiculous together, threatening the look of your collection to all work alongside each other. Even worse is when a company ignores scale within a single line, like Mattel's frustrating Metal Men.
T is for...
...thieves. Yes, jerks around the nation have found a way to help ruin the hobby even more, taking a knife to action figures in stores to steal the figures or accessories they want and leaving the package opened on the shelf. These people are criminals, no two ways about it. Likewise the assholes who buy toys then return them to the store with a different toy in the package. This is scum matched only by the worst Masters of the Universe fans.
U is for...
...unmovable. When is an action figure not an action figure? When it has no ACTION at all. Yes, wonderfully sculpted pieces like Mezco's Breaking Bad figures aren't really action figures at all, with not a bit of articulation to speak of. While they may be cheaper than most mass market statues, they still struggle to fit into our collections without a bit of movement.
V is for...
...variants. For every clever, interesting action figure variant (some examples?) are several that make absolutely no sense, that add nothing to a collection, that are left on the shelf to rot while the "normal" versions of a character end up being nothing but scalper-bait.
W is for...
...wet paint. Sometimes the paint on our action figures just never seems to dry, emitting an obnoxious smell on opening, then remaining sticky until, well, basically forever. Every collector has at least one action figure who's just never seemed to have their paint set, and is always sticky to the touch. This only gets worse when dust enters the situation.
X is for...
...X-Double-Minus. This is 1960s slang for something really, really terrible, and when it comes to collecting there is nothing worse than potentially great toys done terribly. When a company as cheap and shitty as Jazwares lands an amazing property and screws the pooch, just like Adventure Time (and nigh every other property they've landed), it is the pits. Even popular franchises sometimes only get one shot at toys, so when Mattel makes inferior Avatar: The Last Airbender figures with no female characters and they do poorly, the odds of seeing another line of those toys done right borders on impossible.
Y is for...
...yellowing. When it comes to collecting toys, yellowing suuuuucks. What's worse than owning a beloved toy mint in its box, only to find the plastic yellowing over time, making a wonderful display piece into something you're forced to open? While we're mostly openers over at OAFE, here we unite in solidarity with our MOC brethren.
Z is for...
...zero distribution. If you're a collector hotly following the scene online, what's worse than finding out there's amazing toys out there with no hope of ever seeing them in stores, or sometimes even being able to buy them online? When an active audience exists, companies are simply denying themselves Collecting toys should never involve forking out high prices to eBayers because the new stuff we all want isn't broadly distributed to stores.

Now, was that worth the wait, or was that worth the wait! Just whisper your answer, I'll hear you.


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