Kickstart This Shizz: Mario Warfare

Mario Warfare is a fan-made YouTube series set in the Mushroom Kingdom by Beat Down Boogie for the Call of Duty generation of gamers. They’ve already surpassed their $20,000 goal and made $27,750, but there’s still six days left to support them even more. Each episode involves enormous amounts of time and money, so they need all the help they can get. Here’s the official Kickstarter page.

And if you need a better reason to donate, check out the first two episodes of Mario Warfare below.

Mario Warfare Part 1.

Mario Warfare Part 2.

About The Author

Founder/Editor-At-Large
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Robby "brownkidd" Weiss is a video marketing producer in real life who likes drawing and making stupid songs for his own pleasure in addition to indulging in the wide variety of interests featured on this very site. He has four cats (not by choice) and is an enormous fan of the female anatomy.

  • johnstokes

    Good read, no hard feelings at all.. one thing to point out about your “one particular website” is that I do use press releases alot, and I do quote alot of press release… but I always either give them credit in the post or at the end stating the source, and if I did not do that on certain posts, it’s not on purpose at all, just sometimes slips the mind. One of the reasons I use what they write is simple… if it is their product they want certain things mentioned, I tend to realize that, and I also throw in my two cents as well… why fix something or try to write about it if it is already written about so well?

    • http://albotas.com/ brownkidd

      I feel you. That’s why I sometimes feel like I’m looking at things from too much of a journalist’s perspective. I was always taught that it’s the press’s job to translate press releases to people. Sure, some news outlets (I’m talking REAL news, like news on TV) just read press releases from prompters and even some big gaming blogs do it. Maybe most people just want facts without any sort of opinion or rewording at all.

      As Lee Lovelace points out in the comment below, you’re site is a wealth of information since you cover everything. While I enjoy it as a reader of your site, I feel like I’m ripping my readers off if I just copy/paste lines from a press release to get a huge post count at the end of the day, but I’m sure most readers wouldn’t really care even know the difference.

      I do like your blog though and you do a really good job with interviews and and con coverage. Keep it up.

      • johnstokes

        Thanks man, I try my best to be original… working a day job of 10 hours a day, going to the gym after that for 2 hours, finding time for my GF and this blog thing… ya know the rest :-)

        • http://albotas.com/ brownkidd

          Yeah, I feel you. I honestly think the biggest problem with the way news is delivered in the industry lies with the companies themselves. They’re taking it up on themselves to deliver the news and they need to realize that that’s what WE’RE here for. Sure, anyone can visit the site for each and every toy company and sign up for their newsletter, but there needs to be more exclusivity where news outlets can share more than just the same ol’ stuff that everyone else is getting in their inbox. That’s why I love Vinyl Pulse’s Proto Mondays. It’s awesome to get an early look at stuff like that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sodevlish Lee Lovelace

    Its an interesting trend that I noticed awhile back. I’m a bit blog obsessed so I used to follow a ton of art blogs, video game blogs, and vinyl blogs, but all the vinyl blogs were all the same, aside from the occasional custom that would pop up, they were all reprocessing the same information in one variant or another, and a ton of the time it was the same information that hit my inbox. I ended up unsubscribing from most of my vinyl blogs and just following SpankyStokes, primarily because he does get pretty much everything. Its super rare that I stumble across something on the interwebs involving urban vinyl that hasn’t hit his site, so why not.

    • johnstokes

      Thanks Lee :-)

  • aspohn

    Well said.

  • maton

    “I don’t really collect vinyl toys any more. Not because I don’t want to, but mainly because I can’t afford it.”

    Preach on, preach on.

  • http://twitter.com/MeSmithyman MeSmithy

    Good show! I agree with you that many of the toy sites all cover the same stuff. In fact, I don’t even read a lot of them anymore (though I do look at pictures). I think an opinion or an honest critique of a toy would better serve the community. I went to art school, I LIKE being critiqued. You don’t like my newest piece? Tell me why! Give some feedback! Let me know if you feel something could be improved. Thats how you learn and get better. Many people are really just showing off their work, but not really looking for an honest critique. I think you could offer that and it would make you stand apart.

    • http://albotas.com/ brownkidd

      Thanks, this is something I’ve been thinking about doing in some form or another. I usually avoid posting about toys that look crappy, but maybe it’d be more beneficial if I at least gave critiques instead of doing nothing.

      • http://www.jeremyriad.com/ Jeremy Brautman

        Hey! Great post. I was trying to do “real toy journalism” with ToyCyte, and though it’s been a while, I remember you and I talking about it. You are spot on in your assessment. One company, who will remain nameless, (*cough* MINDSTYLE!) actually told me that I can’t possibly be a fan of the scene if I write anything critical, it’s best to only write positive reviews and, well if I didn’t catch that drift, they have a choice of what news resources to dialogue with instead. You’re also right that so many artists don’t know how to manage themselves. I see the Twitter situation you mention. There is definitely a vacuum in the toy blogosphere for a site with honest commentary. These days, I do it within the 140 character limit, myself. Nice to reconnect. I’m about to go find you on Twitter now!

        • http://twitter.com/MeSmithyman MeSmithy

          ToyCyte was may fav! sad its gone…

  • AustinD

    Beef, its whats for dinner

    • http://albotas.com/ brownkidd

      I actually published this post, then unpublished it when I decided I wanted to take a picture of a wad of beef with different toys jammed in along with wads of money, but as soon as it was published, it already went out to everyone who subscribes to the RSS feed. Ah well.

  • Bucky Wheats

    I’m glad my boy is aiways looking out for me and is constantly sending me articles that pertain to my interest.
    Not only do I have a beef with the information out there available for artist like myself who are only three years into this scene and only read coverage of the same group of artist time after time.
    I got a beef with the whole damn game because there ain’t no Brothers represented but I see plenty of Urban Culture being incorporated into just about everything.
    As if they are the kings of creativity and nobody else deserves any coverage or gets their chance to go to production.
    The whole thing seem elitist to a large degree and really mimics the the “Art Worlds” true sentiment about what to promote or not. Were’re living in a time where we have elected a President of color to represent us as a whole why can’t there be the same representation in all markets?
    I know there’s a four hundred year head start as far as contemporary art is concerned but nobody even looks at that point at all.Lets be honest shall we…

    • http://www.facebook.com/sodevlish Lee Lovelace

      Seriously considering half the toys out there aren’t even human beings, let alone general colour scales who cares about representation. Honestly if you want to make a toy you can make a toy, with sites like Patch Together and all of the contests out there, you really want something out there you’ll be out there. Any lack of ethnic representation is due to the ethnicities themselves. I hate people pulling that color crap, its the most ignorant and nonsensical statement in this day and age and in this genre. Do some research before spouting that self-segregating crap and trying to pull racism into every minute issue. If people like you and you promote yourself properly, you get out there. If they don’t, you don’t. I’d say more than 80% of the people involved in the vinyl world have no idea the ethnicity of the people who produce/design/distribute etc their vinyl. Oh, and I’m black, so don’t even try and pull the whole, “if you aren’t colored you wouldn’t understand” line.

  • Rsinart

    Wow just sat down to read, I agree with whats been said. And seeing as myself was included in this beef, let me explain.
    Up until a few days ago when I spoke with John from Spankystokes, I had no idea that blogs, sites wanted pics of work that’s been sold. A lot of what I get to complete now days is commission work. I don’t have much time for my own projects. So those pieces I usually keep to a twitter or message board post. But John asked me why I had not been emailing pics. I asked him if it was ok to send stuff that’s sold. Before that I just assumed most places wanted to post stuf that was new and available. It also has to deal with there are a few sites like Vinylpulse, that I have emailed in the past, and never got a response. I have sent stuff out an it seems there are some people that either dislike me or my work and want nothing to do with me. I know yourself Robbie, and John from SS have always supported me, posted my work, ect. And I appreciate it more then you guys know. Guess I just need to take the time for now on and send stuff out, if its posted great, if not owell. Either way thanks for those blogs out there that will cover work from us artist. For me I have no place locally to show work. The people around here don’t get it. So given the chance to show work online is great. So thanks Albotas for the support.

    And Robbie, I will be sure to message you soon.

    • http://albotas.com/ brownkidd

      Thanks, dude! I can see how it’s easy to get discouraged when sites don’t post your stuff whether they’re just not feeling it, too busy to post, or whatever reason, but never give up!

      I always feel bad when an artist or gallery sends me a flier and info for an upcoming show and I don’t post it. Realistically, most people scroll right past a flier unless they’ve heard of the artist or if they see that it’s in their area. UNLESS there’s pics of some fresh customs accompanying the show. I strongly think it’s a good idea for all artists to send a few preview pics with any fliers and info so that it gives people something to get hyped for and from a press standpoint, it makes for a more attractive “eye candy” type article. Hopefully other artists take note.

    • http://www.facebook.com/tenacioustoys Benny Kline

      Rsin- Coupla things: #1 even though my little blog most definitely comes second to my store, I would be OVERJOYED to post up images/ descriptions/interviews with you/videos or anything you send me. I love your customs and I have a ton of respect for your work. More PR for the artists is good!
      #2 Regarding sold pieces, I’d still love to post images. A custom toy only ever has one buyer, so (hopefully) most customs will be sold at some point anyway. The sale in NO WAY makes that custom any less valid for coverage. Seeing sold pieces actually helps the consumer/customer/aficionado learn that much more about what you are capable of.

  • pogue

    Reading this made me feel like an outsider looking in. It’s true most of the blogs post press releases but so do Boing Boing, Wired and Mashable. I’m not sure what wrong with this practice, please explain.

    We have a pretty open policy with blogs and try to support them when asked. I don’t think we have ever heard from you. If you just want to cover KRap then don’t be suprised when you end up with crap for content.

    A quick look at your blog leads me to believe you spend as much time covering customs as regular releases. Why would a toy maker take the time to work with you when some unknown artist gets the same amount of coverage as a new toy design.

    I would love to see some proper journalism in the toy industry. Toycyte had some notable moments but alas they shut down. If you want to cover a story do it! It seems more like you want to editorialize and get special access for doing it.

    There are lots of stories that go uncovered. I would love to know what Paul and Gary have to say about the 1st KRblack release taking so long to sell out. I doubt anyone has even asked them. I do no everyone in the industry took notice of this and probably has an opinion on it.

    Aside from KR most people working in this business are very easy to get on the phone. Over the last 2 years I have never gotten a call from a blogger working on a story. I wonder why that is?

    There is a need for aggregators too but most companies would welcome some real journalism. Regardless I don’t think toy makers should be blamed for the state of toy journalism.

    • http://www.jeremyriad.com/ Jeremy Brautman

      Three quick responses to Glenn:

      1. What’s wrong with posting press releases: It’s lazy, boring and irritating (particularly if the exact same press release is posted across the board without any commentary).”Independent” blogs aren’t meant to exist as PR vehicles. You post the press release on the Super7 blog, and then the toy blogs are supposed to interpret it, praise it, criticize it, and open up a dialogue on it. In an ideal world, bloggers should have their own voices.

      2. See this link for insight on where some of those KRblack releases went when they took so long to sell out: http://www.twitpic.com/123sig I feel badly for Gary, who seems like a bystander in a case of world’s worst timing.

      3. Thanks for the nod to ToyCyte. Catch up with you more at Arbito’s show on Saturday???

    • http://albotas.com/ brownkidd

      Hi Pogue, thanks for joining in on the conversation!

      I don’t think there’s anything at all wrong with the practice of posting press releases. I just believe that bloggers should take the effort to do more than just copy/paste a press release from an email. Anyone can sign up for a newsletter or press list and copy/paste words and pictures. They should at least paste the releases in blockquotes or tell their readers that they’re reading a press release and not the words of the blogger.

      As for the toy coverage on the site, this site’s actually been around for about 3 years, but I relaunched it last April and lost all the old posts. I used to post any old press release that I found in my email even if I thought the toys were kind of sucky and I came to a crossroads where I felt I had to either feature great artwork that I could actually support, or post about stuff I liked AND didn’t like.

      I made the decision to only post things that I personally thought were “awesome” since the site’s name is “a little bit on the awesome side” and not “a little bit on the ‘meh’, but I’ll post it anyway side.”

      In retrospect, I think this was the wrong choice and I should know better. It’s not up to news outlets to pick and choose what news to report. There may be something that I hate, but the majority of readers might love it.

      Because of this, I made it part of my New Years resolution to focus more on designer toy news on the site. Sharing toy news was one of the first reasons I wanted to start blogging in the first place and I sort of turned my back on it.

      MeSmithy left a good comment about news outlets critiquing toys and I think I’ll start doing this. Sort of how gaming and movie sites do previews.

      As for never contacting you guys, you guys are actually on a list of companies I’ve been meaning to get ahold of. Personally, there’s always this hurdle of intimidation when it comes to contacting other companies because of what I’ve dealt with in the past as far as companies blowing me off, similar to what Jeremy Brautman said in his post with the MindSTYLE thing.

      Now I’m not sure what you’re getting at when you say “Why would a toy maker take the time to work with you when some unknown artist gets the same amount of coverage as a new toy design.” I don’t really think it’s fair to assume news about production pieces is worth any more than news about new work from an artist.

      As for wanting special access for editorials, it really only annoys me when the umpteenth artist or company won’t give exclusives because they’re saving them for other sites. From a business perspective, I can’t understand why they’d want to waste a great opportunity to get their brand noticed on a small site. For example, since I cover more than just toys on my site, I constantly get linked by some of the top gaming and gadget sites out there. This brings in lots of visitors who have never heard of the designer toy scene.

      Example: Former webcomic artist for a series called Staccato, owner of Halolz.com, and owner of the geek apparel brand Ninja Bot, a dude named Shawn Handyside. Awesome dude. I met up with him at NY Comic Con a few years back and he told me he’d never heard of vinyl toys before finding Albotas, and now he loves them. He told me how in love he is with Erick Scarecrow’s stuff and he’s bought countless ESC toys for himself and his sister.

      After hearing something like that, I find it odd that a company would decline my request for contest sponsorships, review products, or the chance to exclusively reveal their next product… even if I only reveal it a day or two before the official word goes out. I wouldn’t say it’s a major problem in toy journalism, it’s just one of my personal beefs, and admittedly a selfish one.

      At the end of the day, it’s the job of the toy bloggers out there to FIND the stories if they want to set themselves apart and that’s something that I’m setting out to do, but it’s pretty hard living in a small town with no toy scene. Seems like I need to live in the hip part of New York or Cali or have the money to take time off work and hit up every major toy show that comes around to score any decent news to set myself apart. I can write all the heady, industry-analyzing posts I want, but I think it’s safe to say most people just want to see pictures of cool toys so they can see what they want to buy next. It’s tough to stand out when everyone’s posting the same news and pictures every day. That’s why I plan on doing a lot more non-newsy pieces like this one.

      Thanks again for the comment and I’ll be emailing you.

  • pogue

    I’m not so sure it is lazy in all cases. Check out http://kaijuchronicle.blogspot.com finding all this info takes loads of work. As a collector having one place I can count on to have all the info is invaluable to me. Aggregators are great so long as they don’t pass themselves off as journalism and I don’t think VP or ST really claim to be doing hard reporting. I value this service much more than toy reviews by a blogger, if I want peoples opinions I will read the toy boards.

    • johnstokes

      I totally agree with you Glenn, I don’t feel as though I am lazy at all for posting press releases, in fact I spend hours online a night researching, and getting all my ducks in a row for the following day, HOURS… and Kaiju Chronicle is my new favorite site they always have such fresh content… even if it is translated press releases :-) Also I did say on twitter just a little bit ago, but I will say it here as well… I have never claimed to be a journalist or a writer for that matter, I do what I do because I love, absolutely love, helping spreading the word about art and artists. The toy community has been an awesome place to hang my hat, I can honestly say I had no intention in my wildest dreams to do what I do as a hobby… and that is what it is, sure I make some money from it, but really at the end of the day I can honestly say that if I did not make any I would still do what I do because I love doing it. Oh yeah, and the way I figure it, if a company makes a product, or an artist for that matter makes a custom and they want a post on my site, I know that they poured their heart and soul into it to get it made, and who am I to say it’s crap… there is enough negativity going around these days… sure I can find something wrong with everything, and I too believe in constructive criticism (being a Senior Graphic Designer for over 5 years now, and having a degree in Graphic Design, I have been raked over the coals :-) ) but that is not what my site is there for. You can always find something good in a product, and that is what I choose to report on. I will throw in my two cents every once in a while exe. “haha, def not my cup of tea either, but some peeps out there are really diggin it!”, but I choose to lift up and not put down… blah blah blah, sorry for the rant, and I don’t even know if what I wrote makes sense or even came out the way i wanted it to, but thanks for opening this up for discussion once again Robbie. :-)

      • http://albotas.com/ brownkidd

        I’m really glad other bloggers and industry vets are taking part in this conversation. I thought it would mostly be people telling me I’m a self-righteous prick (which I’m sure some of you are thinking), but everyone’s been pretty civilized and respectful towards each others’ opinions for the most part.

        I totally see the need for sites that post press releases, but I just think there should at least be some sort of disclaimer on the site or in the post so that readers know they aren’t reading original content. Sometimes I get press releases that I honestly can’t think of any better way to reword, so I just say, “from the company x newsletter:” and then post the press release in blockquotes. But I’m looking at everything from a more journalistic perspective. Maybe that’s because I post other types of news on the site. If I ever copy pasted a press release from an anime or game company, all the other credible anime and gaming companies would totally call me out on it and I wouldn’t get as many bloggers and readers checking out my site and spreading my links around.

        Oh, and Spanky, I totally like where you’re coming from when it comes to reporting toys that don’t appeal to you. On one hand, the blogger in me likes to let his personality shine through by posting only toys that I like, but the journalist in me knows that news should be fair and balanced so I should be posting about everything i get in my inbox.

        • johnstokes

          Yes… and I do post EVERYTHING in my inbox, sometimes I do have reservations about doing it, as somethings are “not my cup of tea” but like I said who am I to decide that, maybe someone that goes to my site sees it and thinks that is the most beautiful, awesome, badicle toy/figure/piece of art they have ever seen… and in the end I know that it does help spread the word for that particular artist, and it makes them feel good, in turn making me feel good as well, knowing that I helped someone out, what a great feeling!

    • http://albotas.com/ brownkidd

      “if I want peoples opinions I will read the toy boards.”

      Definitely an eye opening statement. I’d always felt that most people felt this way, but it’s good to hear somebody admit it.

      I personally don’t agree with the copy/paste practice because it seems like it’s just too easy to do. All you have to do is sign up for newsletters, press lists, and the best tool of all: the mighty RSS feed. I don’t think it’s fair that a site gets pageviews and earns advertising dollars for copy/pasting. Anyone could do it. But like you said, this is a valuable service to a lot of people

      • http://www.jeremyriad.com/ Jeremy Brautman

        I think reviews, opinions and curated content are being confused here. I, personally, don’t get a lot of use out of toy reviews, but I respect the people who take the time to do all that work. I do, however, enjoy opinion and context, as long as it is accompanied by ACTUAL CONTENT. Curating content is another path, and it’s beneficial for readers and the blogger. SpankyStokes is NOT a lazy man! Do you know how full his inbox is? It would probably be a service to both John and Glenn if John found a way to curate the content so that a zipper-pull doesn’t bump a Super7 toy off the front page.

        Finally, folks get their news in different ways. I reluctantly came around to Twitter, and really actually like it. RSS works well for me too. I can’t imagine trolling through all the “+1’s” on the toy message boards to get at an actual opinion.

        • kylo76

          +1

          • http://www.jeremyriad.com/ Jeremy Brautman

            +1

          • johnstokes

            +1

          • http://albotas.com/ brownkidd

            -infinity

            NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • kylo76

    Great article. I tend to think this is a trend in journalism in general(including blogs). It’s always been about who you know not what you know. I likeSpankystokes and tend to think he does a pretty good job crediting the press releases but it does get old seeing the same canned ham on every site.

    I am not into toy boards at all for the past year or so, I would rather just post a snarky comment here or there and not get into a pissing match with every keyboard warrior out there. But it seems some sites won’t post a comment that is even remotely critical of anyone, VP I’m looking in your general direction. I remember calling out Huck Gee on Toycyte(RIP) and he was totally cool about it even quite funny, to the point where I felt like a bit of a douche. But alas it’s almost impossible to find stories without some kind of in with the artist or company.

  • Hugh

    “It’s because of the PR-controlled state of toy news and the fact that the scene is a closely knit group where everyone knows everyone that there’s absolutely no criticism. The bloggers want hookups for free stuff to review and give away, but they don’t wanna’ piss anybody off by giving their two cents once in a while.”

    Stuff like this is the reason we don’t give things away for review. It’s not like we have a budget like Hasbro’s or something. Giving exclusive news to Toysrevil and Vinylpulse is going to be the status quo for sure after reading your article.

    • http://albotas.com/ brownkidd

      Sorry to hear that you feel that way, Hugh. I hope you didn’t misinterperit that statement as me saying that I personally want free stuff to review and give away, because that’s not the case. When companies send me free things to review or give away, I’m very gracious, but I’m always honest with my readers. I’d never lie to them just to satisfy a company.

      It’s just a shame that there are some sites out there who give things rave reviews just because they’re getting it for free. I once received a free review copy of a game called “X-Blades” for a small little company called SouthPeak Games. It was one of the worst games I’d ever played, and that’s what I told my readers. I was honest about it and critiqued the game fairly so that the development studio could learn from their mistakes, and hopefully they did.

      It’s sad to know that there are toy companies out there who are afraid to risk hearing someone else’s point of view, but I guess it’s harder for the toy companies to make money when journalists decide to be honest.

    • kylo76

      “Giving exclusive news to Toysrevil and Vinylpulse is going to be the status quo for sure after reading your article.”

      Just keep it safe then, nice and fluffy.

  • pogue

    I encourage all of the bloggers to ask their readers what kind of stories they want you to cover. I have no clue what the answer will be, toy collectors are hard to predict. When the toy press just covers toys and not the people making and collecting them we all feel they are missing the story.

    I ended up President of Super7 by way of collecting; through my fan boyishness. The one undeniable truth I discovered along the way is meeting other collectors is more rewarding than acquiring toys. The friends I have made collecting are more valuable than my collection.

    If you want to try your hand at journalism (non-business journalism) you might want to focus on people not products. If you want to cover the business of toys then its time to get tough on all toy makers and stop taking free shit and asking for special access. I welcome both approaches; one will get you an interview with Brian and the other means you get stuck talking to me.

    • krakit

      Concerning blogs I’m looking mainly for toy news (new toy
      releases, store sales, contests/giveaways) but I enjoy a
      blogger’s opinion/review on toys, artists, the industry, etc.
      but I’m primarily following the blog to get the latest toy
      news so I don’t miss buying a cool toy.

      When it comes to relationships with other toy collectors I
      see toy forums as the best place to start and build these up.
      It’s harder to do this on a blog, but some blogs have those
      little chat boxes that can move things in that direction.

  • pogue

    and Jeremy is totally right about this:

    “It would probably be a service to both John and Glenn if John found a way to curate the content so that a zipper-pull doesn’t bump a Super7 toy off the front page.”

    If you figure this out please call me so we can talk about ad dollars.

    • johnstokes

      I hear ya… and this is something that I have been working on very diligently as Jeremy knows… hopefully the new site design will allow for featured articles!

  • http://barngamerz.com/ BGZ-Durel

    Good read.

    It actually expresses a lot of my thoughts everyday. Especially the video game industry. My site has a whole ONE exclusive that a company contacted me about – Local game company wanted me to doa studio tour in Atlanta (where I live). I was so thrilled. I began to look further into getting companies to discuss their games and development news with me. All of them refused.

    Kotaku and IGN are the king of it and I just cannot compare to this. This may be out of your subject.. OF COURSE those sites get millions of people a month. But, what makes them so special? Why can’t news be journalized freely? These sites get their millions because news companies go to them only.. and no one else.

    Every other site out there just links back to the kings.

    Just my 2 cents.

  • cluttergeoff

    I 99% percentage agree with your post. First of all it’s clear you can write, which sadly many other sites cannot or will not. Also thanks for the name check for the magazine which is a massive labour of love for us and yet absolutely no money!

    Our blog has definitely suffered too because we get sent the same poorly written press releases as everyone else. Also, we made the decision to only feature stuff that interested us, call it an interal “tasteometer” so we refused to just blog every single release. One reason was because as you say, a lot of release are really, really bad. Almost as bad as the blurb that gets emailed with the pictures!

    Also, yes it is who you know….it’s like that for every industry/genre you care to name. At Clutter we worked hard to fly to the US to attend Comic Cons and events to meet people face-to-face and to use that horrific phrase ‘network’. That led directly to the exlcusive toys that were produced.

    So in summary I agree…there’s too many people who will simply state “this is awesome” then post most of a press release withoput adding any real value. That’s a shame. Espeecially when they claim to be doing the exact opposite and making a big deal of it.

    But hey, they’re just lumps of plastic in the end :D

    • http://albotas.com/ brownkidd

      Thanks for taking the time to comment! Kind of honor since I started reading Clutter way before I was reading any of the blogs. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who curates content to weed out the ugly stuff, but I’m starting to wonder if this is bad in the long run. I mean, the guys who write for the local newspaper may HATE a story, but news is news. News is about delivering the facts, not just delivering the facts that you personally care about. This is something I really struggle with, but I think (at least as far as the toy news goes) I’m going to try to be more open to posting everything that hits my inbox. But if i think a toy is wonky or lame, I’m not going to be afraid to call it out (in a civil manner) and give an honest critique so that the artist can grow. Hopefully this will also benefit other artists reading the article.

      Compared to most other geeky hobbies, the designer toy scene is still just a baby and so is toy journalism/blogging, so I think we’re all still learning.

      • http://www.facebook.com/tenacioustoys Benny Kline

        This is a really interesting thread of comments. Reading your paragraph above, it occurred to me that maybe there are 2 types of toy coverage… You say that news is “not just delivering the fact that you personally care about”. Well that’s right, if your goal is to give everyone equal coverage, you are simply presenting facts, as in “OK here’s everything that hit my inbox today”. That has it’s place to be sure- we all need to keep our finger on the pulse of what’s going on in our little community.
        But the OTHER type of coverage is sorta like the opinion columns you see in the paper (journalist types, what are those called? Op/Ed or something?) Anyway, I think there is a DEFINITE place for that in the coverage as well. One dude that stands out for me right away is George from ToyBreak. He’s super opinionated and frequently tells the viewers “Ah, I think this toy sucks and here’s why…”
        While the artist/company that supplied that toy may not feel so great about that, George is calling it like he sees it. He DID cover the toy he doesn’t like, and gave an honest opinion.
        If you are looking for that in your coverage, reading a blog that just covers press release types of news may not be what you’re looking for.
        I just think that the 2 different types of coverage are both valid, and it’s really up to the person putting together the blog to decide which type of coverage they want to present to the world.

  • http://www.stevebrownismyhero.com/ Steve Brown

    1. As a former writer for ToyCyte, as a former writer for Destroy All Monthly (LA music mag), I had a strong abhorrence to free anything if I was supposed to give an impartial review. If I’m reviewing an album, send me a burned copy of the CD, not a sellable copy. If I’m reviewing a toy, ship it with return postage so I can send it back. The nature of getting something for free leaves even the most staunch and honest writers feeling at least a tiny bit “in debt” and ever-so-slightly more hesitant to say “the neck joint sucks” or “this thing looks like the artists’ kid sculpted it out of mashed potatoes”. And sometimes, those things are the truth. We always hope they aren’t, but being indebted to any company for even the slightest amount is a slippery slope.

    2. Press releases should be quoted. Always. And very very clearly noted to be press releases. Sometimes slip-ups happen when you’re jamming out 15 posts in a day, but go back and fix ‘em. Most blogs do, and that’s cool. I personally would love to see far more opinion instead of everything being a few dry facts and ending with “So what do YOU think?”. It’s not a form, it’s a blog. I don’t want dry news reporting, I want 10 new op-ed pieces a day. I want blood and fire and hearts and unicorns and laughter and tears and phone calls from other people in the industry sobbing with misery or dancing with glee. I want to get the feeling that everyone cares as much about all of this as I do. Maybe I’m naive.

    3. I’m greatly looking forward to a better format for the blogs themselves, where things are displayed and maybe even “ranked” a little better. Look at The Onion, with full articles and then “news in brief” where it’s just an image and a headline. I think all the toy blogs could benefit from a format where things that are just the actual release day of a product that everyone has already known about just gets a bump and a thumbnail in the sidebar, rather than a keychain release bumping down a post about the 24″ giant death robot limited to 50 pieces and smeared with actual dried blood from a virgin goat.

    —-

    And to address all of this as the marketing dude for Bigshot Toyworks instead of just another toy nerd:

    We at Bigshot Toyworks believe 100% in the quality of what we release. And we’re confident that everyone else will understand and appreciate the quality of our releases. We always welcome criticism that is intelligent and well-reasoned, and we’re always happy to discuss our output. The only thing we do expect is that if an opinion is given (good or bad), there are facts and knowledge to back it up. If you like it, we want to know why and we want that to be a good, informed reason. If you hate it, we want to know why and we want a good, informed reason. Negative feedback that is accompanied with hard facts and insight is a boon to any company lucky enough to received it.

    Great conversation, here. Really excited to see so much thought being put into this, and seeing so many people genuinely interested in the current and future well-being of this industry.

    Much love.

  • http://www.rosstamicah.com/ Rosston Meyer

    My 2 cents on this: While this blog post thread and the comments are all valid, please people keep in mind that there is no standard amore nywhen it comes to blogs and posting news, regardless of industry.

    Take the graphic/web design space. SmashingMagazine.com is one of the highest trafficked blogs in the design space and even they don’t always have consistency in their articles. Every so often they will publish a post that contains incorrect or out of date information. The author usually gets called out in the comments section, but life goes on. Sometimes Smashing (or another good example would be MakeUseOf.com) will make a post that is basically a press release. Same goes for the toy blogs. Saying “I cant wait for there to be a standard for the toy news blogs” is like saying “I cant wait for there to be a standard for toys.” Its never going to happen. Surely there are TONS of new toys, previews, and press releases to be covered on the 5 blogs that provide news about the toy scene. Nobody’s ever going to get it 100% right.

    Also, nobody seems to have mentioned that in the past 6 months or so, a higher percentage of posts have very little to do with toys. Maybe it’s an art show or an artist who is in the scene that came out with a new print, but still it is relevant to the designer art/toy culture. Is anybody really going to say “I dont like that toy blog anymore because they dont post about just toys, they throw posts about animation and flat artwork too?” Nope.

    I commend the people who run these sites because its ALOT of work they’re putting in to provide all of us with ALOT news. Look, I dont like the boatloads of Kaiju toys that come out and are plastered all over all of these sites. Does this mean im going to stop reading them just because I dont like kaiju? Do I even care if the kaiju post is a copied press release or an original paragraph? Nope. I’ll just scroll down to the next post.

  • http://twitter.com/TheSpectral Identity Uknown

    some people on here are just biting their tounge and not saying what they really wanna say in fear of sounding “uncool”

    in reference,and in no direct coloration to the discussion above. from spankystokes twitter feed “Ugggg those De La Soul figures are horrrrrrible, deff not my cup of tea.”

    now in coincidence… both trystan, mad, and sket all commented on these in previous tweets.

  • http://AW177.com/ AW177

    I enjoyed the article, great read – I am a customizer/artist and have been losing rapid interest in the vinyl toy industry due to horrible toys coming out and it always appears the only way to ‘break in’ is to know the right people. It doesn’t even seem to be great art anymore, it’s definitely who you know. Sad since most talented artists are thrown to the wayside due to them not knowing the right people, and the ones already in the ‘in’ constantly get toys produced no matter how ridiculous, boring or tired it is *Kozik*. Also appears that so many people are scared to criticize artists who are big for fear of backlash – how can there be no criticism in art? Just my 2 cents.

  • Chauskoskis

    Agree with a lot of these, not everything, im pretty new on the show so i do the best i can to promote my stuff, my blog, flickr and lastly the twitter, but i do use to send personal mail to differents Blog magazines, Such Spankys who was the very first to support my stuff, Tenacious toys, toysrevil, vinylpulse, vinylabuse, etc to all and every one i like to send personal mails, cos they deserve a little of my time , i mean they take their time to post my stuff, so i must ask individually to each one…

    Some blog magazine recently told me about how they do like my work but since my stuff appear on other blogs they dont use it, cos they want to be unique, thats so cool, but in the other hand i dont see nothing wrong about see same stuff in many places… but heres the “trick” i do like to read different reviews of the same stuff…

    Now here my only real concern about the main point Brownkidd put on the table: “Quality” is not common (never happen) read a serious critic to some of the stuff posted on many blogs, i mean, when i reach the guys asking about if they would post my stuff (they can confirm this) i send it over and first ask for their critic or if my stuff i good enough to win a spot will be a pleasure for me.. if they believe my stuff not good enough it ok to me if they dont publish me, in fact many of my work i just dont send it cos i think is not good enough too get a space on their sites, but its really a shame when i see lots of bad works on some of this sites, what i dislike is that there is not a filter! any stuff appear no matter what if it is bad or worst, always good reviews… i know the art is subjective, and there are so many tastes in art speaking, but cmon, make your blog the best posting the best… no matter if it appear a dozen times in other places, but i beg, please be more selective. im ok if im not there, that only make me do better stuff to win a spot.

    Hope my english wasnt to crappy to understand LOL

  • trinlayk1

    As an artist, with an actual arts education, (not making vinyl toys, but currently having a great time making plushies and doll stuff) art school teaches a lot about form, color, design, composition, (etc) but absolutely NOTHING about marketing your work. Certainly, not how to tag your work effectively or how to reach out to where the fans/potential fans are going to find you on line. We’re often pretty much out there feeling our way in the dark by ourselves…

    You graduate from Art School, maybe been in a few student shows, or juried things you were invited too… but unless you get discovered by the galleries, you are just On Your Own. There is no “Marketing for Artists 101″ course.

    When you contact an artist, or even a company that produces their art toys, TELL them your reach, describe your audience. If I had THAT information, I’d make up something exclusive JUST for you… (IF my work was your thing obvy.) even if it was something that started out with “So what are you looking for?”

    Just some chick, crocheting monsters.

  • robocadaver

    an agency people told me, it doesn’t really matter that you have a lot of traffic, but what is matter it should be your positioning in the industry.

    and yes, it’s important to know ‘who’s who’ in the industry, :)