An introduction to POFToo!!!
These days, Star Wars toys are a ubiquitous fixture of every store's toy aisle. It doesn't matter if you go into the biggest Big Box or the weirdest "market six" outlet (right down to those seasonal game/puzzle stores that squat in empty slots in malls at Christmastime), they're going to have Star Wars. Heck, for the past few years, Hasbro has even run multiple lines at once! 30th Anniversary and Saga Legends, Clone Wars and Legacy, it all translates to a constant presence on the pegs. It may not be anything new, but you know when you go shopping, you're going to see something from the Lucasverse.
And the thing is, it's been like that for so long, it's hard to remember a time when that wasn't the case. Seeing Star Wars at this point is like seeing the actual pegs themselves: you're more likely to notice their absence than their presence. Star Wars toys have seen several different "big" kids' toys come and go: they have outlasted Pokemon, have outlasted Beyblade, and will probably outlast Bakugan. At this point, Star Wars simply is - but it didn't used to be.
The original Power of the Force line (POTF) ended in 1985. The movies were over, the Expanded Universe wasn't even a gleam in Timothy Zhan's word processor, and though the comics would hang on until 1986, the toyline took a firm "if it ain't on film, it didn't happen" stance. So for more than a decade, there were no Star Wars toys at all. None. Anywhere. Star Wars never shared shelf space with X-Men, TMNT or Power Rangers. They were effectively gone before the classic versions of GI Joe favorites like Flint and Snake-Eyes were introduced. Cabbage Patch Kids and the original Nintendo - not the Super Nintendo, the original NES - were released after the end of the SW line. For a decade, Playmates' Trek toys were the only "Star" Anything around.
All this may seem melodramatic, like we're belaboring the point, but I'm just trying to set the scene. Modern toy fans - ones who got into collecting after Star Wars started up again - have no idea what it was like back then, but we want you to: it's the only way for you to understand just why we all went so crazy when Kenner released the second Power of the Force line - or POTF2, as it's known.
The rebirth of Star Wars toys was at the center of a perfect storm of hype. Yes, it was exciting to have new toys (despite their many flaws), but it was more than that: the internet was just starting to come into its own as a viable resource for toy collectors, with fans beginning to find each other and share information; eBay rose to prominence, offering a way for collectors to "shop" on a nationwide scale, rather than being limited to whatever stock their local stores had; similarly, all this interest in Star Wars and the general swing of the nostalgia cycle meant that old POTF toys were suddenly big money; and finally, the speculator bubble had burst in the comicbook market, so all those yutzes were looking to move onto the next big thing, and that turned out to be toys. Connectivity, (perceived) marketability and an artificial demand all came together at once, with Star Wars at the eye of the storm.
Speculators looking at POTF sales assumed POTF2 would follow the same track, with mint-on-card figures fetching incredible prices, and rare variations worth more money. This is when the secondary market shifted gears: it used to be that prices started flat and rose over time; during POTF2 it switched to what you're familiar with today, where only the newest releases command a high price, with costs coming down the longer things have been available. This inverted model is similar to comicshops, who get 80% of all their sales in the first two weeks of a book's release. It's also why you can now find these early POTF2 figures selling - or not selling, as the case may be - for less than their original retail. (The sad thing is seeing people who are still trying to recoup the marked-up prices they paid 15 years ago.)
Of course, it was a very small line, at the outset: a dozen figures, a couple of vehicles, a Froot Loops mailaway... after everybody had their hands on those and had talked them to death, minor variations were all that was left. Collectors were hungry for new product, and by god, they'd find a way to invent new product if they had to. ROTJ Luke with a tan vest vs. Luke with a black vest; Obi-Wan with a long lightsaber vs. Obi-Wan with a short lightsaber vs. Obi Wan with a short saber in a long slot; Boba Fett with a full circle painted on his gloves vs. Boba Fett with a half-circle. These are the kinds of minor things people were going bananas for. That kind of collecting has mostly died out now, with fans preferring rare characters to rare changes.
And then there were the part numbers! A small number, printed unobtrusively on the back of the packaging. The first release would end in .00, the next would be .01, etc. Because a few major running changes coincided with the numbers switching, collectors got the idea that those numbers meant something. The truth is, however, that the number actually referred to changes on the packaging, not the toy: corrected typos, a label switching to a printed element, punctuation changes, that sort of thing. People snapped up multiples of the same figure just because it was the "rare" .00 version; and in many cases, there was nothing to fix, so there never was a .01 version! This sort of idiocy finally died out around the time the Episode I toys came out, and fans realized it wasn't worth keeping track of on all those toys. And that's to say nothing of changes in actual packaging style (as when the orange cards changed to green, or they switched from metallic stickers to slides featuring the characters), which were a whole different beast!
Speaking of "beast," a lot of the figures released when the line started up were really ugly. The proportions were a mess, with some figures having heads clearly the wrong size for their bodies, or physiques that didn't even come close to matching the actors. Mark Hamil does not have a chest like Arnold Schwarzenegger, no matter what the first Luke figure would have you believe. And one of the hottest (in terms of demand, not looks) figures was Princess Leia, who was bow-legged beneath her skirt and had a face like Anthony Keidis crossed with a monkey. Everybody made fun of "Monkey Leia," but everybody still snapped her up as soon as she hit the pegs. Sadly, that sort of thing continues today: "I hate it but I'm buying it anyway" might as well be the official motto of the pantloads who populate the Rebel Scum message boards. Also, the idiot idea that companies purposely make toys with errors to "force" us to buy the corrected versions.
Anyway, that's the situation in the mid-to-late '90s. Consider the scene set.
We've made no secret of the fact that one of the things that inspired our Figuretoon Quickies was ToyFare's toons, both Twisted ToyFare Theatre (known as Twisted Mego Theatre back in the day) and their Big Shots. But another source of inspiration was a webpage I found by accident one day in college, "POF Too!!!" The site featured "action figures in action," monthly(ish) pages of jokes using the new Power of the Force toys. Some of the jokes were directly about Star Wars and some were about assigning the characters new personalities, but most were about the state of SW toy fandom at the time.
I really loved POFToo, and was sad when it was gone. Every few years I'd go back and re-read them, even
stealing using some of the jokes for alt tags on OAFE reviews. Heck, when it came time to do our Toy Alphabet of Cool, we just straight-up used one of their photos to illustrate "light-piping." However, when we went to provide a courtesy link to POFToo, we found that the site was gone! It had been hosted on a third-party provider site that had, at some indeterminate point, gone the same way Geocities eventually would. Tragedy! A quick search online turned up a few people reminiscing about POFToo, but no new home. That's when I decided it was time to correct that.
Using archived versions of the pages, I set about rebuilding the site. I've done my best to make sure the pages you see today are as close as possible to the ones you would have seen back then. There have been some minor changes - changing gifs to pngs, cleaning up some ugly code, that sort of thing - but none of it changes the actual content. The jokes you're about to see are as their creator intended them.
Which leads us into our disclaimer: POFToo is the work of Paul Levesque (not that one), and he retains the copyright to all his material. It is presented here on OAFEnet only as a temporary measure, if and until Mr. Levesque chooses a new home for his page. The material is copied here not for commercial gain, but because we love the content and there's nowhere else for people to see it.
Below are links to all the POFToo pages. If this is your first time, we suggest starting with Episode 1, because the jokes build on each other. Those of you who remember POFToo from before, enjoy this flashback. And for you newer collectors, we hope the impromptu history lesson above has given you an appropriate background to appreciate the jokes.