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

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Hillary Clinton - The Future Lady President Americans Love to Hate

Poster Available at Zazzle

Friday, 11 March 2016

Star Wars Diorama Display Bases For Black Series Figurines

Latest Project


I took the plunge this year to get another hobby going, creating bespoke custom bases for displaying the awesome Black Series Hasbro Star Wars Sandtrooper figures for private collectors.

I've only really started using silicone and polyurethane resin so its been a great learning experience to see how you can create something from scratch and actually produce something in fast cast resin.I first created the base which is the same circumference or close to a Heinz baked bean tin.The first base was more of a test but came out 10 times better than I expected, once base coated and painted it held the Sandtrooper figure perfectly.

The second project was a bit larger, I decided that a two man display base might be a good idea with added battle scarring, scorched earth effects. ( yeah, I'm aware it looks a bit like a puddle of vomit) Adding the detail of the base I used a mixture of plaster fragments, old plastic model kit bits and stones to simulate natural strata and texture to the base. The base is a Tatooine concept so a good contrasting design is needed for the detailing that the silicone mold would pick up when I cast them in resin.

Two foot pegs were added to the base, one on each side so that when the resin is cast collectors can use the foot hole in the base of the figure.

Each base is custom painted with a dry brushing effect to further accentuate the natural look and the finished result is a cool two man patrol diorama on Tatooine

if you're interested in acquiring a custom base for your Hasbro Black Series Sandtrooper figure click the link below.

Sandtrooper Tatooine Custom Display Base 

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

WATCH: Rebel Scum - Star Wars Fan Film

Perhaps one of the better examples of the Star Wars Fan Film community courtesy of the team at Blood Brothers Cinema - well worth a look for the authentic setting alone!

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Now I'm a Toymaker!

I'm 46 next month, the ol silver fox is up against the stigma of 'boring dad' and clinging on to whatever childhood I can muster the strength to admit to publicly before being making a nuisance of myself. I've been experimenting with silicone moulding and cold cast resins (yawn) - hang on, before you click over to Buzzfeed check this out, clever ol me just gave my Black Series Sandtrooper a home -he has a custom resin base created by yours truly.
I used a mix of decorators filler, natural shale,slate and modelling sand for the main casting original then made a silicone mould I can pour cold cast resin into. Overall its about 10 hours work. The small droid wreckage part comes from a Warhammer model kit and its painted with standard acrylic paints.

To say I'm chuffed to bits is an understatement - and guess what else, you can buy these, you know, if you really wanted to :)