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It's our tenth year, and as always we have judges from 5 different categories - Companies, Websites, Collectors, Retailers, and Artists. The final list includes a total of 149 people. They come from all aspects of the industry - large companies to small, general websites to niche, online to print, contract artists to customizers, and fans of just about every major license. I'm also happy to say that there's a global influence, with judges from North America, Asia, Australia and Europe. And so without further ado, here's the folks that will be selecting the winners of the 2016 Poppies:
In this category of judges, the companies are represented by 36 different judges. The companies represented range from one guy operations to multi-billion dollar organizations, from mass market to specialty market, with headquarters around the world.
- Georg Brewer: After spending 15 years as an award-winning creative leader at DC Comics, where he spearheaded the creative growth of Design, DC Direct and the Collected Editions groups, Georg formed The Brewing Factory in 2011. A creative consulting agency, TBF has clients all over the world and is involved in everything from product design and development, to franchise and business planning to animation and even music development. After several successful video game related products Georg formalized his working relationship with a small group of industry veterans in 2014 to form Rvckvs serving as its lead creative partner. Rvckvs is a full service turn-key operation that produces highly sought after premiums, retail products and full Collectors Editions for the video/mobile game industry.
- Scott Tipton serves as design consultant and copywriter for Toynami, where he's worked on product lines like ROBOTECH, VOLTRON, THE HERCULOIDS, THUNDARR THE BARBARIAN, and FUTURAMA, as well at the company's CINEMAQUETTE line. Scott also writes a variety of comics for IDW Publishing, including such series as STAR TREK: THE BURDEN OF KNOWLEDGE, ILLYRIA:HAUNTED, KHAN: RULING IN HELL, DOCTOR WHO: PRISONERS OF TIME, and the New York Times Best-Selling STAR TREK/DOCTOR WHO: ASSIMILATION SQUARED. He is also the co-owner of BLASTOFF in North Hollywood, California, a book store specializing in vintage comics from the Golden, Silver and Bronze Ages. He has a startlingly large toy collection, but in this crowd it's probably about average.
- Scott Neitlich After spending ten years at the "big red cog" managing collector lines like DC Universe, Masters of the Universe Classics, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters and Voltron (as well as founding Mattycollector.com, a direct to collector web site) Scott "Toy Guru" Neitlich moved to JAKKS Pacific where he currently serves as Marketing Director overseeing a large portfolio of product lines including includes JAKKS' Nintendo master license as well as all of their amazing BIG FIG action figures including 20", 31" Massive and 48" Colossal scales for brands like Star Wars, DC Comics, Halo, Power Rangers, Godzilla, Minions and more. He is thrilled to be continuing in the toy industry working on some of the most iconic brands of all time and some of the biggest sizes of all time!
- Jim Wampler is the Director of Sales for Factory Entertainment, Inc. and has was previously with QMx for 9 years. Jim has been a toy collector and fan for longer than he wants to remember and has 20+ years experience working in the toy, hobby, and collectibles industries.- David Igo – Art Director for Sideshow Collectibles. Based in Los Angeles'ish he makes his work commute to the way less polluted and "this is where you live when you're done with single-life" city of Thousand Oaks. While his primary career focus over the last 8 years has been within the collectibles industry, he has branched out to do concept design for film & television, games, and a bunch of other random odds and ends. In his 5 years at Sideshow his main endeavor has been within Statue Design & Development for their licensed properties – DC , Marvel, Star Wars, Alien, Terminator, Predator, Lord of the Rings,and various other nerdlicious properties. A product of 80's cartoons, David has loved "toys" of all shapes, sizes, materials and price ranges since day 1, and now he gets to help see them materialize as a living. He hopes to one day own a real life Mach 5 and live in the world of Tron Legacy and marry Emma Stone where they would live long and prosper… but his girlfriend wont allow him to marry Emma Stone, though she supports the rest.
- Zach Oat is Marketing Supervisor at Diamond Select Toys, and before that he was the editor of ToyFare magazine for a bunch of years. He is also the co-author of Pop Sculpture: How to Create Your Own Action Figures and Collectible Statues, a book about sculpting techniques he wrote with pros Tim Bruckner and Ruben Procopio. He loves Minimates, Megos and C.O.P.S., and in his spare time he likes to draw. You can check out some of his art work on the LAW Blog.
- The Phrenologist: This anonymous judge has worked in some area of the toy industry for over a decade. He oversaw all action figures for what was once the largest toy specialty retailer in the US and Mexico. He has handled contests, press releases and public relations for several toy companies. As a writer his work has appeared in Fangoria, Baby Boomer, Omni, Psychology Today, Playboy, ASB Magazine, Time Out New York, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and numerous other publications. He is the author of two books currently available on Amazon (and at a bookstore near you!) has just finished a book on the artwork of imprisoned artist Michael Lee Ford, and is working on a new book about Halloween in New York City. He believes thatthe MAC Rescue Center (aka MAC Mountain) is one of the greatest toys that ever was, and misses old fashioned toy commercials of the 70's.
- Damien Glonek is product manager at Mezco Toyz and co-creator of Living Dead Dolls. He is a horror movie junkie and collects everything dealing with horror, please find him a bigger house to hold his collection.
- Mark Weber spent nine years running the Sports Picks line for McFarlane Toys before joining Hasbro and championing the Transformers Generations segment for them. Following the release of Age of Extinction, he received and accepted his dream job - enlisting with the G.I. Joe team and finally becoming a Real American Hero. So now you know. And knowing is half the battle...
- Randy Falk is the Director of Product Development for NECA. He manages the development and production for all of NECA's action figures. He is also an obsessive completist when it comes to his toy collection especially 3 3/4" Star Wars and the classic MEGO Super-Heroes.
- Dan Lujan is Kotobukiya's Director of Media Operations for North American markets. When not overseeing social media, hosting panels at conventions or sending out press releases he gets involved in product development recently assisting on lines like the Avengers ARTFX+ and Marvel Fine Art statues. No stranger to the hobby, Dan is a life-long collector.
- Adam Van Wickler grew up during the heyday of action figures. Star Wars, GI Joe, He-man, Thundercats,
Transformers, Super Powers, Secret Wars, Mego. You name the line and Adam had at least a few figures from it. His mother still likes to tell people that Adam was potty
trained with the promise of a new Star Wars action figure each time he went like a big boy. To this day he still expects a new action figure each time he goes like a
His younger brother certainly did not appreciate his desire to take apart their toys and swap parts around, or why he needed to “ruin”their figures by repainting them to be other characters.
Even now you can find Adam hunting for new toys during his lunch breaks and visiting his local comic book shop every Wednesday.
Adam has been involved professionally in the toy industry since 2001 and is lucky enough to have worked on many of the toy lines that he grew up playing with.
Adam is a part of the 3D Systems - Gentle Giant Studios team in Burbank. Working as the Director – Creative Services in their External Prototyping division, he collaborates with various clients throughout the prototyping process. Overseeing concept artwork, digital sculpting,rapid prototyping, molding/casting, painting, and working directly with licensors to gain approvals are among his day to day tasks.
- Bob Fulkerson: his journey into the toy/collectibles industry began as young boy with a Kenner Han Solo Blaster and has only gotten worse from there. He started as a Collector then a Collectibles Dealer and now an Account Rep/Janitor with Quantum Mechanix, Inc. Where will it end when they peel that Blaster from his cold dead hands.
- Joe Amaro has been involved in the toy industry in some way or another for over 15 years, from making custom
figures for ToyFare magazine, puppets for Robot Chicken and sculpts for various TV shows and Feature Films. Currently he is working with most major toy companies and
design studios like the Four Horsemen Toy Studio.
- Jeff Trojan is currently Vice President, Boys Brands at Playmates Toys Inc. Jeff leads one of the
teams creatively expanding the industry-leading Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brand. New product segments include TMNT Radio Control Figures and Vehicles, Z-Line
Ninjas Play sets and the newly launched Half-Shell Heroes preschool toys.
Prior to this tour of duty at Playmates Toys, Mr. Trojan served as Vice President, Business Development at DC Comics where he was responsible for the day-to-day management and marketplace expansion of DC Comics’ DC Direct business activities. Before joining DC Comics, Mr.Trojan was Vice President of Marketing at Play Along where he led the strategic direction for the LIMA award-winning Care Bears brand as well as The Lord of the Rings, The Cat in the Hat, Teletubbies and Cabbage Patch Kids. Previously with Playmates Toys, Trojan served asVice President of Boys’ Toys where he guided several award-winning action figure lines, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Trek,Tomb Raider, Skeleton Warriors, Exosquad and The Simpsons.
- Joseph Reiter, CEO of Symbiote Studios. Has worked in the toy marketing, licensing and manufacturing industry for two decades. He loves the company and the people that he works with. Will continue working to bring the best toys to market. The ultimate goal is to make the best products and merchandise in the business. If you have a video game license and would like to see merchandise made for it; contact him.
- Joe Ahearn - Co Founder - Captain Action Enterprises LLC; Product Development / Graphic Design; Joe enjoys every step of the product development process seeing things through from beginning to end whether it be roughest sketch to completed comic book or working toy or collectible. A graduate of Montclair State University, Joe has spent 20 years by day as a Commercial Insurance Professional as an underwriter and more recently as a broker negotiating terms and conditions on many Fortune 1000 accounts too numerous to list. Joe has spent time working for several of the industry leading firms including Aon Risk Services and Willis North America where he has built up his account management and negotiation skill sets.
Joe’s love for all things retro lead him to a hobby which he has turned into a successful business venture. In the mid 1990s, he began recollecting some of the original action figure sets he had as a boy from both GIJOE and Captain Action. When Hasbro began to reissue the original GIJOEs as collectibles, it lead Joe to the idea of doing the same for Captain Action.
Joe spearheaded the Captain’s return to toy shelves in 1998 after a two year battle, brokering the concept to a mid west toy and collectibles company called Playing Mantis who had recently had much success reviving the Johnny Lightning brand of die cast cars from the 60s and also reissuing all of the old monster and figural hobby kits made by Aurora in the 60s and 70s. Joe was hired as a product development consultant to the line during its run.
Subsequently, Joe partnered with a well known artist in the world of Ed “Big Daddy”Roth style monster car art John Detrich and together they brokered their monster die cast car line CREEPSTERS to Playing Mantis which was released in Toys RUs & Kmart in 2003.
There’s something to be said for being at the right place at the right time and Joe was, allowing him to acquire the rights to Captain Action in 2005, partner with Ed Catto and establish Captain Action Enterprises which continues to grow and flourish in the areas of toys, collectibles, comic books, apparel and currently in talks for an animated series.
Joe continues to work in insurance by day and Captain Action by night. He has also started some freelance graphic design, while also handling most of CA Enterprise’s graphic design needs. Joe lives in New Jersey with his own Action Boy who shares his Dad’s love for baseball and appreciates all of Dad’s vintage collectibles.- Steve Forde is the founder and principal of Go Hero where he directs, designs, and develops award-winning pop-culture collectibles and content. Since 2001 Go Hero has been a creative force at the forefront and behind-the-scenes on amazing original and licensed projects in designer vinyl, 1:6 scale, comics, web, TV, and film. Go Hero collaborates with an elite group of like-minded artists & organizations to create art objects, original properties, and iconic collectibles.
Notable properties include: Stan Lee, 2001: a space odyssey, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Boris Karloff, Harryhausen, Bela Lugosi, Doc Savage, The Shadow,
The Weekly World News/Bat Boy, Captain Action, Sheena, Steve Reeves, Space Elf, and Mechabot.
2017, Go Hero will make a big move into original content. Stay tuned to GoHero.com.
Where would our hobby and the industry be without the many websites and podcasts out there that report the news, promote the collectibles, and provide the social networks for our geek selves. The judges in this category represent websites, podcasts and print publications that cover every aspect of the industry, from niche licenses and products to general themes and news. There are 51 judges from a wide variety of outlets, some of which I'm sure you'll recognize.
- TJ Norris/Go Figure is Publisher of Go Figure News which he founded in 2014. He is an internationally regarded artist and curator. His work is held in several collections worldwide including the Vanhaerents Art Collection (Belgium), the Fuller Museum of Art, and the Museum de la Ciudad. Norris founded GOFN in 2014 and has been a journalist since the mid 1990s writing for over a dozen years for publications like: ArtNews, MIT Press/Leonardo Magazine, Willamette Week, Oregonlive.com/The Oregonian, Art Ltd, Resident Advisor and many others.
- Daniel "Julius Marx" Pickett is the co-creator/co-owner of Action Figure Insider, a toy news site with a focus on the creators and process of making pop culture collectibles. He has been writing about toys for just under 10 years and has been collecting his whole life. He also consults with many companies on projects, hosts panel discussions at conventions, and answers questions from readers all over the world. Action Figure Insider has recently been featured on Wired.com, G4's "Attack of the Show", and USA Today's "Pop Candy" blog.
- D. Martin Myatt is the lead event/photo archive photographer and editor for Rebelscum. He's been contributing to the Star Wars community through numerous media outlets since 1996 and found his online home with the Rebelscum team in 2000. In addition, he wastes his time writing about silly stuff on his own site Totally Ridiculous.
- Brian Slivka has been covering the designer toy industry for 5 years. It started with a few Happy Meal toys and a dream. But that just lead to eating thousands of unnecessary calories and waking up from the dream 30 pounds heavier. Plastic and Plush started up over 3 years ago, and it continues to deliver daily news and reviews from the designer toy and limited edition toy worlds.
- Nerdlocker was originally a blog for one guy to talk about all the nerdy things he loved. In 2010 the site made a huge change and started producing a weekly webisode to further explore all things nerdy. Since then the brand has gone international and nerds everywhere check Nerdlocker.com for news on toys, comic books, movies, video games, gadgets, etc. It truly is a place for your inner nerd. And of course everyone involved in Nerdlocker is a nerdy kid at heart so we are honored to be asked to give our opinions on the best toys.
- Mark Picirilli is the admin and webmaster of Yodasnews.com, a daily news site for Star Wars news and collectibles. He has been involved in the collecting collecting online community for over 18 years. He also owns and admins several other collectible fan sites and is a regular contributor to many online and print publications as a collectible and movie memorabilia expert. In 2015, Mark started to do work as a Topps Sketch Card Artist, he has sketched cards for Star Wars Chrome Perspectives: Jedi Vs. Sith & Journey to The Force Awakens.- Jason "Slick McFavorite" Spiller is owner of Slick McFavorite Toys, LLC and along with an amazing team of toy aficionados, hosts the action figure podcast, Open Your Toys Cast. OYTC is the official podcast of OpenYourToys.com, the site dedicated to the four greatest action figure franchises of the 80's and all time: Star Wars, Transformers, G.I. Joe and Masters of the Universe. Aside from his ridiculous 10,000+ piece collection and the standard set of geeky interests (gaming, comics, movies and tech), Slick enjoys all things Colorado. Seasonally he camps, dirt bikes and snowboards, while year round he plays basketball and practices Tae Kwon Do.
- Adam Pawlus has been writing about toys online since 1995. A former contributor to magazines, several web sites, and other Internet publications, his currently best known for his "Figure of the Day" and weekly "Q&A" columns at Galactic Hunter. He maintains a general toy news blog and a second "Figure of the Day" feature at 16bit.com, and his day job is the merchandiser/Toy Evangelist for Entertainment Earth.
- Mick Baltes collects action figures for almost 27 years now. Apart from pure collecting he works on kitbashes and dioramas.
Furthermore he published action figure comics such as Memento Mori.
In 2012 he founded the German online action figure magazine Action Figure District, bringing reviews, previews, features, interviews, videos and podcasts to German 1/6th collectors.
- Erin Snyder is a novelist, analyst, and geek. He's been collecting toys and action figures for more than a decade, and has been writing about the hobby since 2008. You can check out his most recent toy reviews on mainliningchristmas.com, a blog devoted to the nerdier side of the holidays. Or head over to erinlsnyder.com for info on his books and short stories.
- Jess C. Horsley grew up on a farm and dreamed of travel to other worlds. After serving in the US Marines, he realized this dream. Now, as a youth minister and father of two, he dreams of showing and sharing others how amazing the imagination can be - especially when action figures are involved! Jess compliments his time spent with children and teens by working as managing editor at Figures.com. There, he's free to play with toys without being judged too harshly by others.
- Jack Muramatsu - Founder and editor of Vinyl Pulse, the premiere news site providing coverage of designer vinyl toys. After opening countless toys over the past four years, he's got a strange gleam in his eye -- one too many sniffs of vinyl fumes. He's living the dream of blogging full-time about toys and loving every minute of it from sunny Pasadena, California.
- Ron Mirasol - Ron became a life-long fan of toys when he got a G.I. Joe with the Kung Fu Grip as a birthday present many years ago - thanks Mom! Today, he is the publisher of ActionFigurePics.com. He still gets upset when an action figure can't hold its accessories properly, and is completely devastated when their fingers break off.
- Jeff Saylor - Editor of www.Figures.com. artist, writer and admitted toy addict, his passion for pop culture collectibles dates back to a Micronaut/Star Wars/Shogun Warrior laced childhood. If not online, Jeff can be found playing video games, painting or rearranging his extensive toy collection. Currently trying to find more space for his growing army of robots and Aliens...
- David Yeh is a product of the 80's, raised on true gems such as G.I. Joe,Transformers, He-man, TMNT, and yes, even M.U.S.C.L.E. David has written for mwctoys.com, galactichunter.com, Geek Monthly and currently reports for Figures.com. David also contributes to EndorExpress.net, a site dedicated to Lucasfilm and Disney.
- Bradley "Crazyjaco" Jacobs is a co-founder, admin, and contributor for Powet.TV, a site dedicated to bringing high-quality web programming on pop culture subjects to a new level. Crazy is probably best known for his regular video series called PowetToys, a segment where he gets to show off the latest and greatest toys he has encountered in an information-rich format all his own. As an avid collector of many lines (Transformers, Marvel Legends, Marvel Minimates, MOTU and the Four Horsemen's Fantastic Exclusive project to name just a few), Crazy decided he wanted to give back to a fandom that he had so actively been a participant. Thus, the launch of Powet.TV and PowetToys, its first regular feature.
- Daniel Lynch, aka NoisyDvL5, is the site editor for ItsAllTrue.Net. He's a product of the 80s toy explosion and has collected toys for as long as he can remember. It's been twenty-five years and he still finds himself excited for the next DC Classic, Joe, MOTU figure, Marvel figure, or Transformer. Up until recently, he's been content to peruse various toy forums and interact with other fans. This year, he gathered up a ring of fellow collectors and started ItsAllTrue.Net, a toy blog that strives to inject some fun into the serious world of toy collecting.
- Thomas Wheeler, known to some parts of the collecting community as "GI Trekker", is a freelance writer and photographer (and definitely for hire!) who has maintained an extensive action figure collection since G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero arrived in the scene in 1982, and as a child, counted Captain Action, Major Matt Mason, and a host of very varied Megos among his prized possessions. Today his collection features everything from G.I. Joe, to Masters of the Universe Classics, to Star Trek, to DC Universe Classics, to Gundam, and much more. He has written reviews on a wide range of action figures for MasterCollector.Com, and contributed file cards to the 1997-98 run of G.I. Joe for Hasbro.
- Engineererd (John V.) has been collecting Star Wars figures since the original 12 came out. To appear to his wife that he's doing something with his varied collection, he posts reviews, action figure comics, and other related items on his website, TV and Film Toys.
- Scott Anderson launched his website, Action Figure Blues, in 2006. He now co-hosts the weekly Action Figure Blues Podcast and continues to review toys and statue from the worlds of comics and pop culture at the AFB Website. Originally from Chicago in the USA, Scott married an Australian lass and moved to Oz in 1991. Currently he resides in Melbourne and enjoys being part of the local comics and collecting community. His main collecting passions are currently focused and statues and busts and other such expensive items, much to his wife (and his wallet's) despair!
- Ayleen Gaspar has been host/producer of the weekly video show Toy Break isince 2006 featuring reviews and news about toys including designer vinyl, plush, action figures, collectibles, events, how-tos, interviews, and more! A lifelong toy collector, Ayleen has been working in the independent toy industry since 2004 and currently coordinators several toy focused events including Bricks LA and CurioCon in Pasadena, CA.
- Newton Gimmick is a longtime toy fan who was baptized in a love of GI Joe, Ninja Turtles, Pro-Wrestling and Godzilla toys as a youth. Now that he's "all grown up", Newt enjoys reviewing toys, movies and general pop culture goodness over at InfiniteHollywood.com. Newton continues to build his plastic empire, one toy at a time and hopes to continue to provide insight and analysis from a common man perspective on the plethora of toys that inhabit toy aisles today or have been forgotten into the labyrinth of time.
- Jason Devall has been involved in the world on on-line toy reviews for 7 years. Starting with the gang at figures.com, he went on to co-create the hit weekly on-line toy show, That New Toy Smell and PopCultureNetwork.com with co-creator and co-host "Pixel" Dan Eardley. He is currently an Executive Producer for ToyWorldOrder.com and is still cranking out all-new video toy reviews, including reviewsof the new Bandai Thundercats line for Thundercatslair.org!
- Justin Gammon has two defining passions: creating design work and searching out new members for his ever-growing family of not-so-normal toys. He puts his art smarts to the task to pay the bills, directing creative projects for national-level clients with WorthWhile. While off the clock, he mans the helm of WeirdoToys.com - the home for odd, ugly and neglected toys. When he has a rare break to daydream, Justin spends time plotting out his next move to combine his two loves, art and toys, into an army of original weirdo creations.- “Pixel Dan” Eardley is a reviewer, reporter, and all-around toy enthusiast. Growing up in the 1980′s and 1990′s, Dan enjoyed popular toys such as He-Man, TMNT, Thunder Cats, Voltron, and many more. His love of toys has followed him into his adult life where he continues to collect toys both new and old. Through his popular videos, he shares his enthusiasm for the collecting hobby with others. Dan is well-known for his charismatic video reviews and interviews and has been featured on prominent toy and video game web sites since 2008.
- Colin Dorman: Editor and Publisher of the "Action Figure Resource" magazine, the only digital magazine dedicated to the hobby, and owner of Mcfarlane-figures.com and Action Figure Resource. Colin has been an avid collector all his life and before moving to Thailand had a highly successful business in the UK trading in Action figures, CCGs and Trading cards as well as all forms of Sports and Movie memorabilia. He has been featured and interviewed on local and national TV and radio and has written regular articles for several magazines, including Sported, FIBA and Model Mart.
- Arnie Carvalho is the co-founder and president of the Venganza Media podcasting network and the co-host of collecting podcasts Star Wars Action News, focused on Star Wars toys and collectibles; and Marvelicious Toys, based on the figures, statues and collectibles from the pages of Marvel Comics. He is also a writer for Movie Magic magazine.
- Sohaib I. Awan is the Host of Fictional Frontiers
with Sohaib. Recognizing the dearth of serious pop culture discourse, Sohaib launched Fictional Frontiers in June of 2008. In addition to hosting
duties, Sohaib serves as Executive Producer, Talent Supervisor and Liaison, Public Relations Director, and CEO of Fictional Frontiers. Sohaib is also the founder
and CEO of international transmedia company, JabalEntertainment, LLC. He is the creator of IDW Publishing's Jinnrise. The internationally-recognized series
is Jabal's first comic book series.
Prior to Fictional Frontiers, Sohaib was the founder and managing partner of The Law Offices of Sohaib Awan. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Richmond, his Juris Doctorate from Rutgers School of Law-Camden, and Management Certification from The Wharton School of Business (University of Pennsylvania).
In addition to his efforts on Fictional Frontiers, Sohaib is an active member in good standing of the District of Columbia Bar. He is a duly qualified and admitted attorney, with mediation and conflict resolution certification from the Community Mediation Center of Harrisonburg, VA.
Each week, Sohaib records a weekly audio segment for Random House's Suvudu entitled Fifteen Minutes of Fiction...with Fictional Frontiers.
Sohaib is also a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA).
- Jed W. Harris-Keith makes squiggle-thoughts into word-thinkems on the Internet as managing editor of FreakSugar. He has the strength of ten grinches, plus two. He has two rotten but lovable bassets named Otto and Igor, whom he adores.
- Peter W. runs Electrified Porcupine out of London, Ontario, Canada. Being an action figure/toy fan all his life, he finally hunkered down after friends started pushing him to start writing and blogging about his love of a variety of toy properties, music, gaming, wrestling, beer, and more instead of just reading other people's thoughts. Starting the site in March of 2016, he's slowly started to build up a fan base trying to bring a unique perspective to all the different things he reviews and perhaps sharing a more "Canadian" experience (not everything he says is polite, though, so throw that stereotype out the window). The almost one-man-show tries to get new material from a variety of properties and entertainment styles every week while juggling a professional career, a family, and his bank account to buy the stuff he reviews.
- Mike Richardson is the owner/operator of Mike's Toy Blog.com, a website he founded in late
2010. Which is dedicated to reviewing not only mainstream collectibles and toys , but niche market ones too. The site also provides a platform to showcase his custom
work and features a very popular and helpful toy shop guide for toy hunting in Japan. He has also written guest reviews for MWC Toys and Collection DX.
Mike has experienced almost every aspect of being a toy collector, from being a customer, to seller, to wholesaler, to even working for a distributor of 1/6 scale brands in Australia.
With one foot in Australia and one in Japan, Mike divides his time between the two countries and is fortunate to experience two very different cultures when it comes to toy collecting.
A child of the late 80's and early 90's Mike has a deep-rooted love of Transformers, Dino-Riders and Kenner's various movie themed toy lines . He is also a big fan of high end 1/6 scale figures.
- Jeffrey Lyles started Lyles Movie Files in 2012 just as a movie review site, but quickly evolved to include his other interests like wrestling, comic books, TV recaps, video games and action figures. Excitedly diving into figure reviews, that section continues to expand with coverage ranging from Mattel’s WWE line, Hasbro’s Marvel Legends, McFarlane Toys’ Walking Dead, Hot Toys and The Simpsons. His newest obsession is the DC Collectibles Icons line. LMF leaves the pretentious talk at home and shares one fans love of pop culture with a growing audience as more folks drop by and share the love.
- Khai @ Kool Kollectibles grew up on a steady diet of classic 80s cartoons and movies, then moved onto 90s gaming arcade culture, all of which ingrained into his mind the love of pop culture. Fast forward through university and early work life, it was the bluray release of the Star Wars saga in 2011 that rekindled the nostalgia flame. Stumbling across the best of the 3.75" Star Wars Vintage Collection opened the door to everything that was new in the collecting world. Through the realization that Masterpiece Transformers existed, the introduction to the incredible world of 1/6th scale figures, and that YouTube was a haven for toy reviewers across the world, Khai channeled his passion to share his love of toys by founding Kool Kollectibles, a combination of website, YouTube channel, and Facebook page where anyone and everyone can chew the fat on all that is kool and kollectible!
- FLYGUY.net has been around since 2000 with as a review site focusing primarily on Star Wars collectibles. A site merge with TekSushi.com collaborators brought Marvel and more into the fold and now 17 years and 14,000 YouTube subscribers later the site runs not only reviews but several regular video podcasts covering POP!, Hot Toys, Hasbro and more.
- Barbecue17 has been reviewing action figures online for over a decade and has been collecting them for over 30 years. That first General Hawk v2 action figure he received at the age of 3 set off what has turned out to be a lifelong passion! Barbecue17 currently spends his days as an advocate, his evenings reviewing action figures and podcasting on the Confirmed Epic Podcast, and as much time as he can playing with his 3 year old daughter who, fortunately, seems to be following in his footsteps. You can find more of his reviews at Action Figure Barbecue.- Other Media Judges include Stacey Rader, Kris Waste Time, Blake Wright (Little Plastic Men), Michael Skram II, Scarecroodle and Jeremy "Emerje" Crocker (both from Tomopop), Sean Long, Pablo Lobo (The Fwoosh), John Charles, Ben Mulder (Action Figure Blues), Paul Rudolph (Toy Bender), Jess Destasio, Justin Bell (General Joes), Michael Breaux, and Paul Nichalosai, along with one Anonymous media judge.
You can't produce amazing products without designers, fabricators, sculptors, painters and other artisans. These judges come from that side of the business. Many are freelancers, but some work for specific companies. Others are well known and respected customizers, who do commission work for individuals, magazines and others. There are 27 judges in this category:
- Jerry Macaluso is a toy designer/sculptor whose love affair with the industry began (way back) as a child when
he received his first Mego Micronauts figure. That life changing event inspired him to pursue a career in the arts, first with his special makeup effects company SOTA
Effects, which supplied props, makeups and effects for films such as Spawn, A.I., Gods and Monsters, Toxic Avenger 2 and Darkman, as well as television shows including
Weird Science and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
Seeing his first Todd Toys Spawn figures in the mid-90s reignited his love for action figures and Jerry began contacting toy manufacturers to see if they would like to use his special effects company for creating toy prototypes. This quickly led to work with industry leaders like ReSaurus, Applause, Toy Biz, Palisades, Mattel and Diamond and the forming of a new company, SOTA Sculpture and Design.
In 2001, Macaluso made the jump from prototype studio to full fledged toy manufacturer by acquiring the action figure rights to Street Fighter and Tomb Raider. Both were a big success and led to the formation of SOTA Toys which enjoyed years of success creating action figures and statues from such popular licenses as World of Warcraft, Johnny Cash, Legend, The Thing, Charmed, Micronauts and Marvel, among many others. In 2006 Macaluso sold SOTA Toys to focus on his film producing career, making the films 'Night Skies' and 'The Devils Tomb'.
In 2008, Macaluso formed his new toy and collectibles company, Pop Culture Shock Toys. Currently, PCS is enjoying much success crafting high end polystone statues and busts from licenses such as Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Judge Dredd and Masters Of The Universe.
- Not satisfied with the limited options available at retail, Cason Pilliod has been crafting his own toys since he was a child. His passion for toys merges with his background as a theatrical prop designer, allowing him to find unique customizing solutions, which he shares with the ever-growing customizing community via Inanimate Objects, and its new sister site DC Animated Universe Comics.
- Jean St. Jean is a musician turned sculptor, who began his career in a small upstate NY toy sculpting studio doing mostly preschool toys and dolls. Five years later he joined McFarlane where he spent almost 7 years helping them develop their hyper realistic style, the last 4 years as Sculpting Supervisor. In 2004, he left McFarlane to start his own company, Jean St. Jean Studios offering sculpting, painting and prototyping services working on such licenses as Diamond Select’s Stargate SG-1, SG Atlantis and Battlestar Galactica, DC Direct’s Blackest Night series, Mezco’s Mega scale Thundercats line, and Mega Scale Frankenstein, Diamond Select’s Munsters, Universal Monsters, Sin City, and Kill Bill action figure lines and Diamond’s Batman’66 series of mini-busts and banks. 2015 will see Jean St. Jean Studios first original action figure line hit store shelves under his new toy brand Creatureplica, showcasing cryptozoological and mythical monsters Jean St. Jean Studios handles sculpting, fabrication, prototyping and painting and is well known for their distinctive style and versatility, creating for some of the most notable producers of fine toys and collectibles.
- Jonathan Matthews has been a professional toy geek since 1998 when he began sculpting fora small toy company out of Ohio called Resaurus. When the company dissolved a few years later, he began a freelance career with clients that included Palisades, Graphitti, and Plan B. He's been a contract employee of DC Collectibles for nine years and spends most of his time sculpting Batman and the other Justice League players. Check out some of his work at www.matthewsculptor.com.
- Currently a Project Designer on the Mattel WWE line, Derek Handy has been maintaining the collector WWE lines and making occasional appearances on WWE.com for past three years. Previously he was Senior Manager of Product Development at Gentle Giant Studios, where he worked for 8 years. There he gained a wide depth of knowledge working on thousands of projects, including development and production of everything from Pre-school toys to high end bronze. Fresh out of college, Derek worked for LEGO on the now disavowed Galidor project. Apparently it was more fun to work on than to play with.
- Matt 'Iron-Cow' Cauley, probably best known for his custom action figure work, formed Iron-Cow Prod. LLC to better serve his illustration, animation, design, and toy production clients. In addition to being a featured contributer to ToyFare Magazine, there are over 50 ICP-designed DC Direct, Battlestar Galactica and Marvel Comics Minimate action figures currently on sale. His artwork is exhibited and published worldwide and he is currently hard at work developing a line of t-shirts for Macys featuring his illustrations. Matt's illustration, broadcast, fine art, and toy design portfolios can be seen at the official Iron-Cow Prod.
- Joe Allard is an artist and designer working in the toy and collectible industries for way too long. In the beginning…there were comic books, and Joe colored them. Working for Malibu then Marvel Comics, Joe was at the forefront of the digital coloring revolution. After several years of coloring some good, but mostly terrible 90’s comics, Joe stumbled his way into the toy industry and found what would be his dream job - designing toys. Joe found himself designing toys and collectibles for all of his favorite things, Star Wars, Marvel Comics, Muppets. You name, Joe worked on it. After many years of the 9-5 grind, Joe left the full time world behind to carve his own path as an artist and designer. Based out of Southern California, Joe founded Design Devil and set the toy industry on fire. (Not really, that just sounded cool.) He did however quickly make a name for himself working with clients such as Hasbro, Mattel and Disney to design and develop innovative new toys. Now after 14 years, Joe and Design Devil are still lighting fires and having fun doing it.
- Ken Lilly - Ken Lilly had disappeared from the public side of the toy industry for quite a while, spending most of his time since 2009 focusing on the Special Needs of his youngest son, working a little as a freelance illustrator, writer, product photographer, graphic and product designer and product manager under the company name Creatus Maximus. Now he's been brought back into the fold by Jerry Macaluso to work, as he likes to call it, as a Creative Development Gunzerker, for Pop Culture Shock Collectibles, doing some product design, art direction, factory communication and 'anything else Jerry needs me to do!' He was briefly the Director of Product Development for a short-lived company called The MVP Collection, a company created in late 2008 to produce NFL Mini Busts where, much to the chagrin of the long-time Ravens fan, they released one product, based on Pittsburgh Steelers Strong Safety Troy Polamalu. But Ken is probably best known for his work as the VP/Director of Product Development for Palisades Toys, where he was the main community liaison and creative force behind many product lines including G.I. Joe & Transformers Statues &Busts, Invader Zim, Adult Swim, Resident Evil and the extremely popular figures and play sets based on Jim Henson's The Muppet Show. Prior tot hat he was part of a team of Product Managers from the long defunct toy company ReSaurus, working on classic toy lines like Duke Nukem, Quake, Street Fighter, Crash Bandicoot, Sonic the Hedgehog, and the much-anticipated but sadly canceled Badlands and Magic the Gathering action figures and play sets.
- Kat Sapene has been a prototype painter for the toy industry since 1999. Kat has painted everything from Disney characters to monsters, from action figures to statues and busts. She was head painter at SOTA toys for a number of years before deciding to try work as a freelancer. She now runs her own studio, WAK! Toys, with the help of her cat who dutifully wears a tie to work everyday.
- Eamon O’Donoghue is a freelance illustrator and designer which includes toy design andpackaging. He is mostly recognised by his fantasy and science fiction book covers for the worlds top publishers and last but not least hisluscious pinup art which has gained him some notoriety in some corners of pop culture fandom! Since the original Masters of the Universe at age eight, Eamon hasn’t really stopped collecting and his passion for action figures doesn’t seem to be slowing down with his extensive collection of Hot Toys and Masters of the Universe Classics and hosting The Hottoycast.
- Jeremy Sung is President and Head Designer of Spy Monkey Creations Inc. A long time toy collector and customizer, Jeremy founded Spy Monkey Creations in 1999 to provide collectors with hand made accessories to enhance their action figure collections. Their first original factory produced action figure series, The Weaponeers of Monkaa debuted in 2012. In 2016 Spy Monkey launched a new line, Battle Tribes: Weapons & Warriors, a 2.5" fantasy action figure line that hearkens back to the classic toys of the 1980's.
- Hugo Dourado may be better known as grungethemovie on figurerealm for his awesome custom figures and not for writing in the third person about himself. He's also worked as concept artist and 3d modeler (and 2d animator back in pixel times) in video games and animation, and would absolutely love to work in the Toy Industry. I don't believe anyone will read this, but if you happen to be reading go check my, uh, i mean his facebook page.
- Guillermo Barbiero is a sculptor and graphic designer from Argentina. He has his roots in traditional sculpture and Fine Arts. Currently he is working with the latest digital tools, without putting aside the techniques of the old school. In 2008 he joined forces with Martin Canale’s GoreGroup, designing characters and sculpting amazing figures for Sideshow Collectibles.
- John Harmon is an action figure customizer of Mint Condition Customs. He has been customizing professionally sincy 2007. His work has been featured on various sites such as io9, Geekologie, and even Bloody Disgusting. He's created custom action figures for famed comic book writer Peter David, and has created movie props and figures for independent films. John is also an avid toy collector, perhaps his favorite collection being his DC Universe Classics figures, of which is nearly complete. Customizing is his full time job, yet he still hopes to someday work in some capacity for a toy company. You can find his entire custom action figure catalog at http://www.mintconditioncustom.com
- Artist Dayton "sith_fire30" Allen suffers from habitual creativity (HB). HB is defined as “the intrinsically creative nature of customary action, reflected in the way habits adjust to dynamic contexts, the way they are used, combined and ultimately perfected.” He is a Graphic Designer for a manufacturing company by day, a fine arts enthusiast, a sci-fi movie geek and all around imaginative person. By night, he's creating toys, custom action figures and dioramas to be more precise. He began many years ago doing simple repaints and minor custom tweaks to store bought figures. Today, he builds his own - from the articulated frame, the sculpting, all the way down to the last paint stroke - what you see are original, one-of-a-kind creations. Check out his library of work on his FLICKR Photostream - sith_fire30 - or simply do a search for him on Google.
- Hauke Scheer is a 3D character designer from Germany who has worked for games, advertising and animation for over 14 years.
He is an expert in creating articulated action figures via 3D printing. The technology allows him to make figures with amazing functionality that can be used as private collectibles, prototypes for professional figure production and even for stop motion animation. Hauke offers his experience at making 3D printed prototypes to both toy companies and private collectors.
He also produces his own line of collectible figures via his company Deep Fried Figures, including the well-known Mechawhales action figures.
Without retailers to sell the stuff, there'd be a whole lot less to buy. In fact, that's one of the current issues for the industry, as fewer and fewer retailers carry the figures, statues and busts we love. These 11 judges represent some of the best known specialty and mass market retailers, from small to large.
- Marc Bowker is the owner of AlterEgoComics.com and the Alter Ego Comics retail store in Lima, Ohio. Launched in 2003, Alter Ego is an award-winning shop staffed by a small, passionate group of collectors. Marc's a longtime collector of Star Trek: TOS and Indiana Jones items.
- Russell Kay is the owner of krazykingsoftoys.com, an up-and-comer which has been around since August of 2008. Russell, also known in the majority of the toy community as KingRandor for many years, has done several reviews for action figures for mwctoys.com, and was responsible for the original Suncoast Area Report, back in the day. Russell was first introduced to the world of action figures back in 1985, receiving the MASK Jackhammer as a present for his 3rd birthday- and he's been hooked ever since.
- Lee Ward opened The Good The Bad and The Robots in November 2009 with a business partner and has enjoyed every minute of offering a personal service and chatting to collectors. Although he is based in the UK, his European wings are spreading.
He started collecting Star Wars figures in 1980 followed by Action Force, Transformers, Thundercats and He-man. (He really wishes he still had them). He took an interest in statues approx 8 years ago but is more ofa fan of 1:6th these days. He is also a semi pro magician and has a real passion for magic.- Jeff B. is co-founder of Urban Collector and a passionate collector of LOTR, Star Wars and DC collectibles.
- Michael Shah is the owner of on-line retailer, Mikes Comics N Stuff, an on-line retail store that specializes in Doctor Who, DC action figures, and whatever else catches Mike's eye. An avid and life-long comic book collector - he still has his first comic book he bought off the newsstand, Avengers #158, buried somewhere in his collection - he finally decided to take his 30 years of comic book and action figure collecting knowledge and pursue his dream of opening a comic book related collectible business.- Troy Emmi is the owner of Fanboy Collectibles. He has been collecting comic books all of his life. Like most young collectors, he started with action figures. This would eventually lead to statues and mini-busts, of which Star Wars and comic book related fill the majority of his collection. Over the past few years he has also began acquiring original pages of comic book art and commissions by a varied number or artists. Now with a retail and online store he gets to spend his days dealing with fellow collectors.
- Steven Loney is the founder and CEO of Toynk.com. Toynk is a toy, collectible and costume company specializing in licensed popculture related products. Toynk markets/distributes its product library worldwide through various online, convention and wholesale channels. Toynk is also involved in the creation, development, and manufacturing of similar licensed and non-licensed products through its subsidiary company, Locoape, LLC and Incogneato, LLC. Toynk's primary warehouse is based in Addison, IL. Toynk also has a warehouse in Adelaide, Australia.Other retailer judges include Kenny Penman (Forbidden Planet), Kit Chen, Steve Anne (Walgreens), and Wyatt Edwards (Fun.com).
In the end, it's the buyers that decide what gets made and what doesn't. They vote with the money in their wallet, and smart companies and retailers listen. I selected 24 collectors that I feel are opinionated, respected, and experienced. Some are collectors of very specific lines, while others buy just about anything, but they all know the industry well.
- Jeff Parker aka Wookster, a onetime freelance illustrator and designer whose work has graced everything from BBC television titles through to a burlesque/fetish artist’s logo. He now works for Merlin in the visitor attractions sector as an experiential designer! Though it has to be said toy collecting remains one of his main passions. He’s interested in all areas of pop culture and collects anything and everything, with a special penchant for high-end 1/6 scale. He also has a soft spot for Bettie Page memorabilia, Guinness (the drink, not the book of records!) and kicking back with a good Blu-Ray (ones worth watching to the end are increasingly hard to find you know!).
- Guy Klender - A Los Angeles based toy collector, he moved to California ten years ago and brought his love of toys to the sunny state. He lucked out with a collectors show or a major show, i.e. SDCC nearly every week so the lust for toys is easy to nourish. He started years back with the new STAR WARS line and it all grew from there. He gained recognition as a toy collector with the film STARWOIDS that made for a fun time at shows with the occasional autograph and he did receive a fan letter as well. He moved on to the higher end products and Sideshow Collectibles sees his bank statement nearly as often as he does. He loves finding the rarity or the obscure toy that he may not have known of but for some reason must have. It's a wacky life sure but he wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world….except for a 12 back vinyl caped Jawa perhaps.
- Monte Williams has photographed action figures in Northern California, in and atop the Snake River Canyon in Twin Falls, Idaho, at Stonehenge and Windsor Castle, along the shores of the uninhabited Dahret Island on the RedSea, in Istanbul, in Asmara, Eritrea and, most recently, in Lahore, Pakistan. His photostream will change your life.
- Josh Long: Computer Technology Teacher/Avid Collector. Josh has collecting something in some form for as
long as he can remember. When he was a kid, he was very big into sports cards of all the major sports but one athlete in particular. That athlete was Michael Jordan.
During his playing career he hit nearly 2,000 different cards filling multiple books and shelves so they could all be displayed. After he retired the second time, Josh
decided to take a break from collecting but he didn'tknow what he would find that he was so into.
In 2003, just about the time Return Of The King was going to be hitting the big screen, he found a little site called Sideshow Collectibles. Josh saw all the various statues from the movies and kicked himself for not having found them sooner. He didn't waste any time getting into it though going back and getting several that he had missed and getting his Pre-Orders for ones that where still to come.
At one point, Josh was very close to having all the Sideshow/Weta statues but had to sell off several of them to take care of adult responsibilities. Now, that he has taken care of those he has slowly rebuilt his Middle-earth collection. Thanks to the great products from Sideshow, Weta, The Bridge Direct, and Gentle Giant he has a collection he can truly drool over.
In April of 2011 he joined the staff of The One Ring.Net and has been writing the collecting column there called, "Collecting the Precious". Through his countless reviews he covers much of the comings and goings dealing with Middle-Earth related collectibles.
- Travis Getz has been a toy and model enthusiast since before he was born. He currently serves as the authenticity coordinator for the Tom Clancy video games and runs several side businesses, including Getz Solutions (aerospace and defense design and consulting) and Squadron Store (military support art and products).
- Jason Jerde (TCM Hitchhiker) is a professional toy photographer who has been collecting toys since 1986, 2016 being his 30th anniversary of toy collecting. He collects vintage and modern toys of all scales and styles from many different properties, as well as both loose and/or MOC/MIB, depending on the line.
- John Morey aka "Ridureyu" is a writer and editor who has been collecting toys ever since he received his first pack of M.U.S.C.L.E.s on his fourth birthday. He founded the first American site based on Kinnikuman, which became Little Rubber Guys under different ownership. He mostly collects obscure or small-scale toys, but enjoys just about anything. He currently writes Life In Plastic, a regular toy-collecting column at Nerditis.
- Brian Ashmore is an illustrator and avid toy geek. Brian has produced illustrations for many companies including Marvel and DC Comics. His "toy heart" is firmly planted in the nostalgic past with the toys of his childhood (Megos, Evel Knievel, Kenner Star Wars, Six Million Dollar Man) but he continues to collect many pieces from modern toy lines, as well. He is still struggling with the idea that a new Batman or Star Wars action figure can cost over $200. Check out his work at his website here!- Adrian Faulkner is former Editor-In-Chief and owner of Action-Figure. He has written for ToyFare, Memorabilia Magazine and Action Figure & Toy Collector. His debut Urban Fantasy novel, The Four Realms, was published in 2012 by Anarchy Books. Adrian lives in Berkshire, England and in his spare time is one of the country's leading geocachers. You can find out more details at http://www.adrianfaulkner.com
- Will Ripamonti is an Indie comic book artist/Illustrator, he's
mostly a 6" scale collector (Star Wars being the exception to the rule) with a pretty decent Batman collection he's very proud of.
Will lives in Italy, in a nice little house in the woods... where no one can hear you scream.
- Matthew Kaplowitz - Editor-in-Chief of NerdNewsToday.com since 2011, a website dedicated to all levels of nerdom ranging from comics, movies, video games, and of course, toys. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of TheFightNerd.com, an MMA (mixed-martial arts) news website, which has been in operation since 2009. Outside of his blogging efforts, Kaplowitz works in TV & Film, and has a documentary out, "Girl Fight: A Muay Thai Story", which has been a selection in seven film festivals.
- Kevin Clarkson is a collector from the UK, who much like many kids of the 80s cut their teeth on a staple diet of Hasbro, Kenner & Mattel offerings during a decade of inspired merchandise based toys such as Star Wars, MOTU, TMNT and Transformers. It wasn¹t until the early noughties in adulthood when he started collecting again, buying 6² figures that interested him and Gentle Giant mini-busts and statues. These days his collection and focus is primarily 1/6 scale articulated figures from high end companies such as Hot Toys. But being a father of two young children means his eye has recently been drawn once again to the entry level end of the market. Kevin is a well established member of many 1/6 social media groups/forums and also runs his own group specialising in assisting collectors interested in learning more about 1/6 scale toy photography.- Other Collector Judges include Kenneth Yu, Eric Stettmeier, Mark Bellomo, Markwin Chuah (OneSixthRepublic), Tyler Cvetan (Collection Stash), Greg Iacono, Joseph Dunnigan, Chris Karukas, Roberto Cucci, Chris Lawrence, Nathan Dewitt, and Mike Kelley.
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