Saturday, 28 May 2016

10 Films That Made Men Cry

That moment when a movie has you hook line and sinker and hits you straight in the feels. I'm not merely just talking about that lump in your throat or the so called "I've got grit in my eye" excuse, I'm talking about full on blub. Here's a run down of 10 movies that make men cry.
SPOILER ALERT - Be warned there are obviously some spoilers in this list. If you haven't seen the movies, be warned this could spoil that emotional out pouring you'll experience.

1. Field of Dreams
An Iowa corn farmer, hearing voices, interprets them as a command to build a baseball diamond in his fields; he does, and the Chicago White Sox come.
Blub moment: When Ray (kevin Costner) asks the ghost of his father  to a game of catch. Despite the fact I'm a Brit and know absolutely nothing about baseball this got me where it counts and does so every time I see it.


2. Good Will Hunting
Will Hunting, a janitor at M.I.T., has a gift for mathematics, but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life. if not for the sheer dynamic brilliance of watching Robin Williams deliver an absolute showstopper performance its the feeling this great man is no longer with us.
Blub Moment: Sean Maguire (Williams) talks about his love for his wife and the Cancer which killed her. 


3. Million Dollar Baby
This film is about an underappreciated boxing trainer Frankie Dunn, the mistakes that haunt him from his past, and his quest for atonement by helping an underdog amateur boxer called Maggie achieve her dream of becoming a professional.
Blub Moment: When Frankie Dunn (Eastwood)  sneaks into the hospital one night to administer a fatal injection of adrenaline to a seriously injured Maggie who had begged Frankie to help end her suffering. In a coma Frankie finally tells Maggie the meaning of a nickname he gave her.

4. Marley & Me
A family learns important life lessons from their adorable, but naughty and neurotic dog. This one is an absolute killer if you happen to be a dog owner, particularly if you own a labrador. The movie takes you up and then drops you like a tonne weight when the inevitable end of  journey arrives.
Blub Moment: The aging Marley begins to show signs of arthritis and deafness. An attack of gastric dilation volvulus almost kills him, but he recovers. When a second attack occurs, it becomes clear surgery will not help him, and Marley is euthanized with John (Owen Wilson) at his side. 


5. Its a Wonderful Life
James Stewart's iconic role as George Bailey, a man who has given up his dreams in order to help others, and whose imminent suicide on Christmas eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel Clarence.
Blub Moment: George runs back to the bridge where he was going to commit suicide and begs for his life back. His prayer is answered, as Burt catches up to him, but only to say he was glad he found George as everyone was worried about him. George runs through the town joyously, wishing everyone he sees a merry Christmas

6.Stand By Me
Perhaps one of the greatest coming of age movies ever created, directed by Rob Reiner and written by Stephen King. After learning that a stranger has been accidentally killed near their rural homes, four Oregon boys decide to go see the body. On the way, Gordie Lachance (Wil Wheaton), Vern Tessio (Jerry O'Connell), Chris Chambers (River Phoenix) and Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman) encounter a mean junk man and a marsh full of leeches, as they also learn more about one another and their very different home lives.
Blub Moment: The narration by The present-day Gordie (Richard Dreyfuss) writes that while Gordie and Chris stayed friends, they drifted about from the other two shortly thereafter. Vern married immediately after high school, has four children, and drives a forklift at a local lumber yard. Teddy tried enlisting in the army but was turned down because of his ear injury and impaired eyesight. He had served some time in prison and now does odd jobs around Castle Rock. Chris went on to college and became a lawyer. When attempting to break up a fight in a fast-food restaurant, he was fatally stabbed in the neck 


7. Forrest Gump
Slow-witted Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) has never thought of himself as disadvantaged, and thanks to his supportive mother (Sally Field), he leads anything but a restricted life. Whether dominating on the gridiron as a college football star, fighting in Vietnam or captaining a shrimp boat he excels at every aspect of his life. The film is an adventure and one of the greatest triumph of the human spirit stories ever made. The innocence that Hanks conveys as Gump is one of the finest things you'll see on film.
Blub Moment: In present-day, Gump reveals that he is waiting at the bus stop because he received a letter from Jenny who, having seen him run on television, asks him to visit her. Once he is reunited with Jenny, she introduces him to his son, also named Forrest. Jenny tells Gump she is suffering from an unknown virus (possibly HIV, though this is never specified). Together the three move back to Greenbow, Alabama. Jenny and Forrest finally marry but she dies soon afterward.


8. Saving Private Ryan
Heart wrenching, Spielbergs WW2 film pulls no punches and rams home the sheer brutality of war in the most visceral 25 minutes you'll see in any movie. Hanks is Captain Miller, assigned to take a small squad of men to search for and bring home the last remaining son of  the Ryan family who's other siblings have all perished in combat.
Blub Moment: There are two, the moment when Miller (Hanks) dies defending the last bridge from an approaching German Tiger tank and the present day Ryan who stands at Millers grave with survivors guilt.


Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner), a 78-year-old balloon salesman, is about to fulfill a lifelong dream. Tying thousands of balloons to his house, he flies away to the South American wilderness. But curmudgeonly Carl's worst nightmare comes true when he discovers a little boy named Russell is a stowaway and their adventure together reveals some important life lessons for the both of them.
Blub moment: After suffering  a miscarriage and being told they cannot have a child, Carl and Ellie decide to realize their dream of visiting Paradise Falls. They try to save for the trip, but repeatedly end up spending the money on more pressing needs. Finally, an elderly Carl arranges for the trip, but Ellie suddenly becomes ill and dies. What makes the miscarriage scene even more impactful is that not a single line of dialogue is spoken. As a parent this will break your heart.

10.Schindlers List
Businessman Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) arrives in Krakow in 1939, ready to make his fortune from World War II, which has just started. After joining the Nazi party primarily for political expediency, he staffs his factory with Jewish workers for similarly pragmatic reasons. When the SS begins exterminating Jews in the Krakow ghetto, Schindler arranges to have his workers protected to keep his factory in operation, but soon realizes that in so doing, he is also saving innocent lives.
Blub Moment: The razing of the Jewish Ghetto and the young girl in the red dress. 

Got any movies that make you blub?, leave a comment and let me know

Friday, 27 May 2016

A $4 Batman toy Made me $109 in one click

While rescuing my beloved comic book collection from the ravages of hungry mice in my garage I happened to come across an old box I'd long since forgotten about.
When  I moved house 11 years ago I just packed up all my stuff, comics and toy crap and stored it in the loft and garage, totally forgot I had most of it.
A TV program came on the TV one night called Toy Hunter, the one with that enthusiastic American toy nut Jordan Hembrough, you know the guy, he's a walking toy encyclopedia but probably the last person you want diving through all your loft stuff just in case he finds that 1989 porn stash you have hidden under your Bionic Man figurine (yeah I had that too, the one with the roll up flesh sleeve).
Jordan Toy Hunter Man goes rooting through this guys garage and plucks out a Combat Belt Batman with this, " I just found gold" look all over his face. This particular Batman toy he found was from the animated series. 

The Batman animated series aired back in the early 90's, produced by Warner Bros the show ran for 85 episodes from 1992 to 1995, Kevin Conroy voiced Batman and Bruce Wayne and Mark Hamill (yes, Luke Skywalker himself) voiced Jack Napier and the Joker. As with most WB licences at that time toys were a big part of the shows merchandising.
Batman figurines have been around for decades, ever since Bob Kane first drafted his character and the demand for toys and merchandise grew as the evolution of comic book culture.
 Batman comes in all different guises, even if he never wore any of the different outfits licensors and toy manufacturers always look at ways to squeeze the dollar as far as it'll go - some are actually pretty cool ideas, others are, well, not so cool. (Infrared Batman came in a red suit...a red one!) Ninja Power Pack Batman came with Robin and the black and gold garb was just as weird as it probably sounds.Ground Assault Batman had a Green Goblin inspired foot glider thingy or “Motorized Turbo-Powered Ground Jet!” as its officially called.Then there was SkyDive Batman but last but not least was the little gem called "Combat Belt Batman".

Combat Belt Batman had a grappling hook, far more sensible if you ask me, I mean the man climbs all over peoples houses and places of business at night dressed as a of course he's going to need a grappling hook. Anyway, at the time this figure sold for around $4, or at least, that's the dollar equivalent of what the price label I had on mine was when I pulled it from the box in my garage.
Mr walking toy encyclopedia Toy Hunter man says "do you know how much this is worth?", garage man shrugs, adjusts his thick frame glasses and stands there mouth agape waiting for the punchline.
"This is a Combat Belt Batman and worth over $100 in this condition" says Toy Hunter  Man - two parts of that description went in an nestled their way in the back of my mind, "Combat Belt Batman" and "$100". I knew I had one and set about raiding the garage the following day.

Long story short I posted that little guy in mint condition up on Ebay for $104 and within 3 days sold him to a buyer in Devon, England. The best single click that earned me $104.

Ok so you got this far, there has to be a morale of the storty, well sort of, if like me you have no real attachment to some of the crap in your garage, primarily toys -  do yourself a massive favor and see what you have lying around, I know the Star Wars stuff has always had a collectors price tag attached to most of it, especially the 1976 Kenner stuff but I had absolutely no idea I had $104 sitting in a box in the shape of Batman with a grappling hook. no wonder for years the Chinese economy was booming these guys probably churned out thousands of these figures yet an internet search now will show you now that these as pretty rare to come by.
See, now tell your wife sitting around watching TV is a good way to earn money and don't let her touch your toys!

Collectors Resources

Toy Collectors Price Guide 2016 via Amazon

5 VR Gaming Marketing Essentials To Get Right

The Experience

Present the experience, tap into the emotions that virtual reality represents. Virtual reality is what it says on the tin, it’s a virtual reality – what reality experience can you create that will be unlike anything else. What emotional responses can you re-create, fear, sadness, happiness, joy, anger. Create something that taps into complex emotional states but not at the expense of cheap scares or short lived thrills. People share the great experiences they’ve had but they just as easily share poor experiences they’ve had too. Crafting an experience in VR means utilizing VR to break through the traditional barriers of how players interact with the virtual world. Think beyond the short sharp jump scares and think about how story and emotion can immerse your audience into an unforgettable yet entirely believable experience.

The key Feature

What is the key feature?, I’ve spoken before about the need to dial in your top most important feature (see my post – ‘How a Shark Attack Defined product Positioning’). The best feature of your game is the one that will draw your audience in. Go big when you’re talking about your key feature, make it known, share it, emphasize it and support it across all of your internal and external communications. Your feature set is the core foundation of your game, its principles and its appeal. You should further identify the best 5 features of the game when comparing your product against similar competitor products in the market. For a selling point, focus on the one core feature of the game as the beacon for it, the one shining light that will make players adopt your game over your competitor. (hint, your core feature is the one that none of your competitors have). Create your positioning from that core feature and have everyone on your team remember it and promote it.

The Reactions

Don’t be hesitant to promote the experience you are selling through video reactions - VR reaction videos are becoming ever more popular  to promote virtual reality content. Reactions videos are basically footage of people ‘reacting’ to the vr experience they have just had from wearing a vr headset. In the same way Amazon utilizes the general public to review and provide insightful feedback on its products, what better accolade is there than instant first hand reaction to your product by a member of the games playing public.
One of the best examples of recent months is Frima Studio’s FATED: The Silent Oath, an emotional story driven game set in Viking times, at PAX East the developer rigged up a cart, installed wind machines and used water spray to further enhance the player experience for the demo of their game, the reaction video they created from this became an excellent promotional tool – check it out here:

The Format
Think long and hard about this one, create the product you want to make but one thing to consider is your audience size. You should ideally be looking at the format that will reap the investment you are putting into creating it. Short term profit is not something you’ll find in the current VR market, why? – because with headsets costing $500+ and a small install base the majority of devs will need to go the distance before you see any major financial return. That’s not to say you can’t recoup investment, Unseen Diplomacy  recouped its dev cost in a single day. Traditionally  products aim towards the format with the biggest audience, and share of the market. Think long and hard about supply and demand, is the hardware adoption rate strong enough that you can reap the benefits in profitable sales, is the hardware price-point for the consumer in line with your products quality? Don’t assume that the most powerful system is the best one.  Technically it may be superior but if development costs are higher you will need to factor that in to your long game strategy. For VR right now it’s about durability while the market grows, how you sustain yourself and the chosen format you are developing for are important factors to consider.

Raise Awareness  

Employ a sharability mentality to your media – This is a tricky one, but the road to success is to keep people talking about your product. At the moment we see Virtual Reality tech embraced by a lot of early adopters but it won’t be until PlayStation VR launches later this year when we see a slightly more level playing field as accessibility to hardware increases.
High price point and low availability, particularly in Europe are nothing new for new tech hardware launches but the longevity of your product is not only measured by the quality of your offering, it’s also measured by the length of time people will continue to talk about it because of the experience. I’ve used it as an example many times before but people still talk about the ending of the 1995 film, Seven, the Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman crime thriller (“what’s in the box?”). While the brand importance for people continuing to talk about the film no longer has any impact on the movies financial success success and it’s buzz is long gone, people still talk about that movie 21 years later. Discussion and sharability are created for brands and IP when something positive, unexpected or truly  innovative  is introduced to the user. ‘Unique’ is something that your competitor doesn’t have or cannot easily emulate. Above all, something that users feel the need to share that directly increases its social presence is marketing dollars you don’t need to find in your budget.

Want to know how to fix your videogame marketing and PR? – My book Front Towards Gamer gives you all the information you need and is available on Amazon for $9.99