Monday, January 17, 2022

ToyFare Marketing 101: Singular Sensation (Spring Special Edition 1997)

While this article from ToyFare magazine revolves around the Toy Biz Spider-Man action figures from the 1990s, it can apply to any action figure toy line (especially those based on a cartoon) as it discusses how a company chooses which characters to manufacture. Any time this subject comes up I think about Kenner's Batman: The Animated Series toys which is mentioned by the Toy Biz rep. I stocked both Batman and Spider-Man toys when I worked at Toy Works from 1994-96 and Batman always stood out because customers would ask about villains and we rarely had any to sell. Being a Batman fan and collector back then I can recall that each box we received had 24 figures and the assortment was typically 20 Batman, 2 Robin, and 2 villains. There were also cases that were all Batman, namely Lightning Strike Batman which we received a lot of. As Toy Biz states in the article, the hero is what kids know best and what they want, and they are the primary customer so it's better business to make many different versions of the hero than more villains. It is surprising though that it is so skewed toward one character because kids need a bad guy for Spider-Man to fight, or many bad guys to battle, one for each of their Spider-Man variants.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Vault 1541's 5th Anniversary

It's already been five years since the blog launched on January 2, 2017. Of course, I began work on it a couple years before that but it took quite a while to scan magazine ads and put everything together. There were some ups and downs, with the early days of the YouTube channel, Flickr reducing its free storage, and the Commodore 64 breaking being the most frustrating hurdles. I'd hoped to earn some ad revenue too which hasn't happened after all this time, and time and money are the two biggest factors when it comes to the future of Vault 1541. As I've noted in the monthly updates and as is evident by looking around the blog, I have done significantly less the past two years than the first three and I don't expect that to change. In fact, I'm likely to stop with the monthly updates since there isn't a lot to say that often. I did renew the URL for another five years so at least none of the links I've posted here and anywhere else will break.

If I recall, I have posted highlights previously, perhaps in the updates, regarding my favorite or what I feel are the best posts and I'll recount some here as well and mix in some photos that haven't appeared on the blog before. Being a Sega kid I dedicated full weeks to Sonic, the Dreamcast, and Sega itself:

  • Ahead of the release of Sonic Mania I posted "Six Days of Sonic" with the first day being August 13, 2017.
  • As I posted game ads in alphabetical order by company name I reached Sega in April 2019 and put together a full week of Sega posts starting with "Sega Days" which also has individual links to each Sonic post.
  • The other big Sega week was five posts relating to the 20th anniversary of the Dreamcast's U.S. release and I still believe I had the best Dreamcast coverage on the Internet that week, certainly better than any of the big game news sites had. That kicked off with NFL 2K, followed by posts regarding the official magazine, game ads, press materials, and the Dreamcast console.

I also had fun writing "The Week Before E3 Week" three-part series in 2017 that includes predictions and a summary of the year I attended the 2003 show. There are two posts where I spent time creating toys-in-space images using photos of toys and props, plus Photoshop, and I think they look good: Millennium Falcon and Fisher-Price. Another big anniversary in games for myself was the 20th of StarSiege: Tribes so I put together a lengthy write-up for that on December 15, 2018. I wouldn't necessarily call this next one a favorite but I thought it was a nice idea and a useful post about the TurboGrafx-16 mini where I scanned as many reviews as I could find of the original games included on the device. Some other personal stories include visiting Funspot in 2018 and one in which I wrote about toy stores (primarily my time working at Toy Works) in a post relating to when Toys "R" Us was in the midst of closing a lot of stores before ultimately closing them all.

Some things I still haven't gotten around to doing are "Let's Play" videos of Golden Axe and SimCity, both of which are featured in the blog header image. Golden Axe is the game I played from start to finish the most, though it is short and rather easy. I just kept replaying it until I mastered it and while I'd like to do a "perfect" recording, I doubt I'd remember ever enemy pattern and the best spots to use magic, plus my Genesis arcade sticks have issues and I'm not too sure about playing it with a gamepad. SimCity is similar to Tetris on Commodore 64 in that it is the most basic version of a historically significant game. I'll get a video done for that this year, I must! Unfortunately, Omega Supreme, the Transformer in the header image, is another item I haven't shown. The reason I haven't is because it is broken and won't drive around the track. I took it apart -- which I don't recommend as it can be a pain to get back together -- but failed to repair it. I'll try to do more toy posts this year, likely without videos since that takes longer and I often don't know what to say/do in the videos.

As always, thanks for visiting, reading, watching, following, and commenting!


Saturday, January 1, 2022

Gaming Ads: Backfilling #15

I'm kicking off the new year by filling in some more game ads. I've not posted any new ones since last March as I've not been able to go through too many more magazines (don't have many remaining at this point) or comic books. I'm also giving American Game Cartridges (AGC) its own album now which it originally had with one ad on Flickr but then I opted to only give albums to companies with more than one ad which it now has. The Chiller ad says ShareData but AGC was a subsidiary of ShareData and the publisher of that game. For the backfilling there is a good mix, including California Dreams, Irem America, Konami of America, Nintendo of America, Sega of America, Taxan USA, and U.S. Gold. Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Year 5: December Update

It's Christmas today: Merry Christmas! I had hoped to get this month's update posted yesterday but I had a fever and couldn't get myself to do much. Lately I've mostly been playing Everybody's Golf and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The PlayStation 4 golf game is four years old and part of the Hot Shots Golf series. I did post about it in 2017 but recently got back into it. I've only had Animal Crossing a week and while there is more to it than the original on GameCube (the only one I played a lot of), it hasn't exactly changed too much. It seems like most of the fish are the same, there are still fossils to dig up and bugs to catch, all the same fruits, and Tom Nook needs to be paid back for more than one loan.

The video game awards took place earlier this month. I'm not interested in awards shows as it doesn't matter to me who wins but this show is more about trailers and unveiling new games than the awards. If you like Star Wars, Star Trek, and The Expanse sci-fi movies/shows, those all have adventure games in development. Some other announcements included a Sonic the Hedgehog "open-zone" game called Sonic Frontiers and a Wonder Woman game being developed by Monolith. There doesn't seem to be official screenshots for most of these yet so I grabbed some images from the Star Trek and Sonic trailers.

Something you may have noticed is I turned web ads back on (briefly tried them once before) but only a single one on the bottom of the sidebar so they shouldn't be obtrusive. My only concern is trying to keep off non-family friendly ads as I did notice an ad for an M-rated game appear. The reason I turned them on is that the blog is connected to my Adsense account as if it is the primary business linked and Google kept giving me warnings that I'd have to resubmit an application if I didn't have them on. If it was just this blog on the account that would be okay since it won't make any money, though I also have YouTube connected to the account and my Video Games 2020 channel does generate a little revenue. Basically, I wasn't sure if not turning on the ads here would somehow have a negative effect on the whole account so rather than risk it I turned them on.

Thanks for reading and happy holidays!


Sunday, December 19, 2021

[YouTube] The Smurfs Toys (1970s/80s)

Belgian Pierre "Peyo" Culliford created The Smurfs (Les Schtroumpfs) in 1958 for his Johann and Peewit comic strip. In 1959 The Smurfs received their own series and would later become quite popular in North America thanks to the cartoon that debuted on NBC in 1981 and aired more than 250 episodes over the course of eight seasons. The toy figurines from Schleich began production in 1969 and from what I can gather, new figures were only created through 1981 but must have been manufactured for longer to be sold in the U.S. Smurf toys returned in 1992 and have been produced every year since as The Smurfs franchise continues to thrive with new cartoons, movies, video games, etc.

I've got a variety of the standard figurines from the 1970s/80s that are typically about two inches tall. Many of the characters are performing some type of action or dressed in a unique way to indicate their role, such as a cowboy, superhero, or cook. A few are also riders/drivers of some sort and are supposed to be attached to a horse, car, or bicycle, though I've only been able to find horses in my collection. In the photos I included duplicates to show different angles of a few figures.

Not all of the characters are Smurfs either as there are a few humans and a cat but they are only slightly taller than the Smurfs when they should tower over them. Gargamel and his cat Azrael are the antagonists that are always causing trouble for Smurfs. Sadly, my Azrael hasn't made it through the decades unscathed as a family dog chewed on it, damaging the legs and tail. The Smurfs' friends Johann and Peewit also received the toy treatment.

There were a few accessories available at the time as well, of which I own the main house and a pack of items that included a bench, table, stools, and cart. There was also a small house with a green roof and a windmill, plus some smaller items like a wishing well, boat, and gate. Unfortunately, the house I have is a bit warped so I cannot get the door on and I broke the base when trying to bend it back into shape. I'm also missing the window item and a few small accessories from the aforementioned pack.

Of course, any popular cartoon in the early '80s received a multitude of branded products beyond plastic toys, such as books, stickers, school supplies, plush, board games, jigsaw puzzlesShrinky Dinks, Colorforms, and plenty of other items.

In the video I mentioned visiting the Facebook page's activity album for pages from the coloring book. You can still do that, however, I decided to post all of the same pages here too.