Interview with Scott 'Andy' Anderson (Action Figure Blues)
In the fourth of our interviews for Action Figure Month we spoke to Scott ‘Andy’ Anderson, creator of the always excellent blog Action Figure Blues, about everything from his views on current action figure lines to how his blog has connected him with collectors around the world…
1) What were the first figures you ever got your hands on as a kid?
My earliest memories are of having all of the Mego Star Trek figures (and the Enterprise!). Sadly none of them survived into adulthood - I was pretty young at the time. I moved on to Star Wars and then Super Powers - two collections I still have!
2) What is it about action figures that brought you back to them as an adult?
I travelled back to the US (where I grew up) in 2002 and decided to bring back some of my old toys to sell on eBay. Getting online to see how to list them opened up the existing world of collecting and new lines of figures to me. I've certainly spent more than I ever made!
3) Why the DC Direct line? Were you always a DC rather than a Marvel guy?
The DC Direct figures were what sucked me in to collecting as an adult, but I've branched far out from them over time. My statue collection is mainly Marvel. I'm pretty enamoured of anything that reminds of me of my favourite comic characters from "back in the day", from either imprint!
4) Which figures stand out for you over the years of DC Direct releases?
Some of the early boxed sets that DCD did, like the Hawkman & Hawkgirl and Birds of Prey sets, are still pretty special. I think the New Frontier line and the New Gods lines are two of the best lines DCD has ever produced - each captures the specific style they sought to emulate (Cooke and Kirby respectively) to great perfection.
5) Do you think manufacturers are becoming more in-tune with the ideas and opinions of collectors?
Certainly there are more companies using social media to engage collectors, but some of these companies still tend to make decisions that seem counter-intuitive to what the fans are asking for. Mattel is probably doing the best job of building their social media presence and interaction, and yet their lines, particularly the DC themed lines, seem to weave in directions that are very different from what the fans are asking for.
The best example I've seen of using fan interaction is Bowen Designs. Randy Bowen is very interactive with fans, provides lots of sneaks and ideas of upcoming product and often makes changes in response to fan feedback. I'd love to see more companies take a page out of Bowen's book in this regard.
6) Are there any other lines or figures you have a particular affection for?
I loved the Art Asylum Star Trek line. The line was never quite as strong once DST became involved, but those original figures remain quite special. I love DC Universe Classics for its character selection, despite the fact that the female buck for the line is quite weak. Statue-wise, my main squeezes are Bowen Designs and DC Direct. DCD's statue output has been consistently much more satisfying that its action figure efforts.
7) What are the weirdest figures you’ve ever come across?
I find the Tonner dolls rather disturbing. They're obviously someone's cup of tea, but they're the stuff of my nightmares.
8) Have there been any interesting figures produced solely for the Australian market?
I don't think Australia gets much product just for itself, but we do occasionally get particular toys from the ends of lines released here that never make it to retail elsewhere. A great example of this is the DC Superheroes Scarecrow, which never got a retail release in the US but was everywhere here in Oz! This often happens with Transformers and other Mattel product. It doesn't come close to making up for all of the toys that never make it to retail here, but it can make things interesting, and its' nice to be able to help out my US-based collector friends once in awhile instead of always having to rely on their generosity!
9) Why did you decide to start the blog? And has it altered the way you look at the hobby?
I think the initial idea came from a need to make some sense of this new obsession that had taken over my spare time. My focus at AFB has always been to chronicle my own personal journey rather than produce stock-standard reviews. My posts often have an element about the story behind the acquisition of the toy as well as my thoughts on it. I have always found that writing comes easily, so it is a natural day of expressing this particular interest.
It's changed the way I look at my hobby in that it has connected me with so many other collectors who share my interests and passions. I've learned about new things and ideas from them, and am fortunate to be able to call quite a few of them personal friends as well. Sometimes it influences my buying habits, because I do like to make an effort to cover a wide range of lines and items, however while I might pick up the first toy from a line I'm not sure about to review, I don't keep buying things I don't like just for the blog's sake.
10) What’s the best piece of collecting advice you’ve ever been given? And do you have any of your own tips for other collectors out there?
The best advice I've had is to collect for my own enjoyment. I don't think about resell value or "flipping" items for profit later. I started off as a MOC collector, but ultimately became an "opener" because I felt it was pointless to have these things stored away where I couldn't enjoy them. I've got no regrets about that at all.
The first piece of advice I'd pass on is much the same - buy what you like (as long as you can afford it) and don't worry about how your collection compares to those of others. The more specific about the boundaries you place around your collection, the better - I'm continually learning to be better at this myself.
The other piece of advice I'd give is to make connections with other collectors with similar interests. I've gained so much from connecting with other collectors, including having a network of people that I know I can rely on for help with new items when I need them!