Action figure dogma

In this month's ToyFare (#65), film maker and comic shop mogul Kevin Smith announced his plans to create a line of "inaction figures" based on the characters in his View Askew films (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back). Oddly, the figures will all be done in the style of the short-lived Clerks cartoon, from Randall and Dante all the way, presumably, to Ben Affleck's Bartleby in Dogma. Smith's model is the Simpsons line, but unlike that line his figures won't even have the infamous "Springfield four" in terms of articulation. His reasoning is as follows:

"To me, it's a basic that a lot of people don't even take this stuff out of the packaging. And people that do take it out of the packaging put sticky stuff on the feet and mount it on their computer. Nobody cares if they sit down, or if they can bend at the elbow."

First off, what is a "basic"? An odd figure of speech. Perhaps it's one of those Jersey things, like standing "on line" for a ticket to the movies.

More importantly, the quote makes it clear that Smith is badly out of touch with the current collector climate. Lack of articulation is so '90s. Both McFarlane Toys and Stan Winston have gone that route and been burned, and now they work to incorporate lots of articulation into their toys.

Part of Smith's problem is not recognizing the psychological significance of articulation. Technically, it may not be a big deal to collectors whether the figure can bend at the elbow. But without any point of articulation, it's just not a "figure" - it's a statue. Smith wants collectors to "buy the fuck out of" the new toys so he can make a lot of obscure characters, including his wife. But history shows collectors are notoriously wary of collecting non-articulated figures. Even the aforementioned Simpsons sport a minimum of four points, and McFarlane has never created a figure without at least a few points of articulation. McToys doesn't add the articulation because they expect people to play with the figure, or even change the pose - they add it to cross that psychological barrier between "figure" and "statue." Just crossing that barrier will add thousands of dollars in sales.

I'm sure Smith's figures will find a strong niche market of diehard Smith-and-toy fans, and it will probably cross over to a few Smith fans who aren't toy collectors. But with a complete inability to move (not to mention a $10 SRP), I doubt the line will ever be more than that. As it stands now, it's little more than a glorified PVC line. While such lines have their market, "Clerks Inaction Figures" will have to overcome the lack of articulation to be a success.

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