Today I played with an idea using Augmented Reality. Amazing tech that allows your 2D materials to offer more interactive 3D experiences.
In this example of an example, use your phone to scan the QR code on the image below. Of course that only works if you’re reading this on a pc or print the pic off. Check it out though and let your imagination run wild with the possibilities of what this type of tech could do for you…
A couple of the hardest things to do for me is to 1. Put together a demo reel and 2. Narrow down and pidgin hole my interests. That’s what led me to throw my hair down and do what I encourage everyone be they content consumer or client: Go Play!
So what do I mean? What am I saying in a silly, 1:27 video that features talking toys with a spooky ambience? How does this serve me or you in a professional manner? I discovered that there are actually a few different ways.
Process – How I made it from idea to final cut.
Software and Assets- What I used to make it.
Distribute – Getting it in front of you.
Pitch – How I monetize it.
Scalability – What all can be done from here
Before we dive into all of those, I want to back up a give a shoutout to Dan Koe and his “Creator Economy” themed content. If you haven’t checked out his stuff you should. It’s very insightful for todays content service providers. I also find it very, very true. As a lifelong “content creator” in traditional and online broadcasting, his line of thought sums up the reality of purpose for a guy like me. The trick? How does one harness it all without coming off as a know it all jerk? Just be real, or as the modern lexicon describes it: be authentic. That video coupled with this post has helped me do that.
One of the biggest secrets I’ll share with you is that in almost all my years of doing these things, it’s never been about “me” and my interests as a motivation. My pleasure and satisfaction comes from helping others see their visions coke to life for the betterment of their work or play. Sure, there have been times with certain promotions and programs I was looking to prove a point and that was all “me” in being bullheaded, not to be right as much as it was an example of dragging a horse to water or like Nada getting Frank to put the glasses on in “They Live”. Or in other words, I saw what was either to come or working now and the folks I was working with had their blinders of habit on for so long (or their fear of change) that their lack of action and innovation was hurting them.
I can of course point that spotlight right back on myself in that, for my own blinders, I set up massive mental blocks that caused me to be nervous about exposing myself and methods to the masses. This of course didn’t make any sense considering I sincerely LOVE helping people learn and equally LOVE watching their dreams come to fruition. So why the reservations? The conflict.
That’s not to say that I’m not one to go to the mat for something I believe in. Far from it. In my younger days, I’d be a bit more hot headed about it but with years and experience, I’ve learned how to better discuss and debate a perspective. However, in working for other companies time and again I would find myself conflicted with “the customers always right” (so long as they’re signing the check) philosophy. I absolutely believe in top shelf customer service no matter what industry, service or genre one may be servicing, but sometimes that means telling them “No, that’s not a good idea at all” especially when I know the desired outcome is not going to deliver the desired results.
The main instance where this occurred was in the realm of radio and television advertising. I have no idea what rates are today but I do know that the impact of that ad buy is not going to have the results it did 20 years ago (even 5 years ago the same can be said) without a clear understanding of what the desired outcome of the campaign is. That was always the case but certainly now more than ever. I can go on and on with that and give you plenty of examples but for now and not to venture too far off point, if you are buying radio and TV the best suggestions I’ll make is to either sponsor very time specific elements such as news and weather or understand that your campaign should focus on branding over one off special event unless you are doing one helluva blanket push for a special event. It’s in that where I find myself conflicted in offering services that I know I can provide but not necessarily what you need. So how does the we remedy that? Offer it all up a’la carte. And that’s where it gets really shaky in building a sustainable business. “Enough complaining, Jim!” I say to myself. “So what’s the solution?” That’s where I point back to Dan and the Creator Economy.
It’s in that where I use the video at the top of this post as Exhibit A in what I do and how I can either do it for you or teach you. Now I’m going to fight my Achilles Heel of droning exposition and just get after it. Let’s dive in…
It’s Sunday, April 23, 2023. I’m in what seems to have been a perpetual rut when it comes to career. There’s plenty of services I can perform for businesses, organizations and individuals in the content creation and education space. But what? I’ve got a laundry list of skills I’ve developed, used and sold over the past 35 years of my professional life. So why can’t I get focused and get it off the ground? Get focused? Stay consistent? Utilize the skills of persistence that have kept me moving forward my whole life. So what gives?
One thing I do know that is universal for all of us and is the benchmark for all that I show and tell as a service provider and teacher, is that everything starts with an idea. The imagination is a powerful tool, always ready for you to access it and channel it into creative expression. But what about when we get stuck? Such was the case here for me. To fight through that, I looked around me and pondered the things that entertain and inspire me the most and dedicate todays creative energy solely to playing. That was harder to do then I care to admit because, embarrassingly enough, for so long now my efforts have been super pointed towards building a new business. But now it was time to stop and play. Damn it!
Process – How I made it from idea to final cut.
All things start with an idea. Brainstorming with a pen and paper is always my method of choice regardless of tech at hand. Something about the organic and physical nature of that old school stone and chisel works for me. But you do you. Just do.
As noted in the intro, I looked around my nest and pondered. The two hobbies of mine that jumped out because, well, they always do, are action figures made by the Mego Corporation and the paranormal (we’ve been binging a lot of Haunt TV and the WB Supernatural channels in the ROKU Channel). From there I thought; “Okay, how do I combine them into something that although asinine will make some sort of sense?” The answer I came up with is the Final Cut you see at the top of the page. Now here’s how I got there…
Software and assets – What I used to make it.
Now that I had a vague and admittedly goofy idea solely for my own amusement, I needed to figure out how to go from paper to pixels. Going with the concept of mashing up my interests in the paranormal and acation figures, I thought what would be funny to see would be my army of Mego 50th anniversary action figures serving as the testimony givers for a “paranormal survivor” type of show. I’ll be honest here, none of this was outside of my “wheel well” as far as interests and tools so the speed at which I worked had a decided advantage (tip to top took about 6 hours).
For the sake of this example, I’m going to go as linear as possible to hopefully avoid any confusion.
Step 1: The script – As I noted, my brainstorming starts with a pen and paper. From there I slid over to the PC, opened up Libre Office (Great and free alternative to Microsoft Open) and typed in my notes and flushed the idea out a bit better. From there I decided to play with another favorite shiny object of the now: Artificial Intelligence.
I copy and pasted my rough outline into ChatGPT to see what it would come up with. it was quite impressive really, for a soul trapping line of code. I’m kidding, I’m kidding (maybe. The jury is still out). I’m not an AI hater but I’m also not all in either. As I’ve noted in previous posts, a tool is no more nefarious than its user but this one has no real restrictions on it compared to other potentially dangerous tools. Moving on…
With the script now copy and pasted into my Libre Office document, I began imagining what the actors and scenes should look like. I also started to “hear” the soundtrack. *The best way I can describe my soundtrack process is this: I hear it on my head and then deconstruct it element by element and then actually build it out on the timeline of my video editor. We’ll discuss that more in a bit.
I figured I’d plug some image ideas into Bing Create to see what that AI influence would look like. Honestly, I wasn’t impressed. I did use a couple images in the final but in the end, stock video and animated graphics popped better for me. *For funnsies, I put together this gallery to show you what the machine considers campfire spooky…
Now that I had a basic idea of visual elements, I then needed practical footage of my actors. For this I used the iPhone 14 Plus that’s in my hand right now. I set up a crude backdrop and lined the figures out as if they were around a campfire with the intent to always photoshop the actual background in. I made a couple changes to that idea for the final mainly because of time and I got a little flustered due to the heat in my office room. I tell you more about why the room was so hot in a few but for now, I’ll keep it linear and share this gallery of pre edited pics that ended up in the final cut.
The next round of assets that I needed to gather were the voices. In my younger days, I might have been able to handle 3/4 of them myself. But honestly, my chops are out of shape for that heavy a load. So, why not let another AI take off some of that weight? Wouldn’t be nearly as good as an organic human voice but again, this is for me and for fun. On that note I could have done the narrator part myself but there was a big obstacle to creating a solid, professional audio recording (this will also explain why the room was so warm)…. A baby chick…
Anyway, I turned to an online, cloud based platform I actually purchased months ago before the AI boom exploded onto the mainstream. It’s called Vidvoicer and it was very interesting to play with back then. Of course the works of Eleven Labs has far surpassed this dinosaur of a software but such is technology.
It’s at this point I don’t want to go too far into the weeds of describing exactly the editing process. Not that I don’t wanna share, but it’s too intricate a process and would make this article ever the longer. I will share this much though, when it comes to editing both audio and video, for me, I watch the whole thing in my head. And then deconstruct it into its elements and then put them altogether in the software. From there it’s a dance. I can show you those steps for sure but it’s a private dance 😉 . I will also note that I used the PC and the Mobile apps that I have for this. The PC for the facial animation using Crazy Talk and then Sony for the actual timeline. The mobile app, Power Director Pro, came into play for its allowance of licensed stock footage since it is a paid app. Meaning, I was able to legally and lawfully use licensed footage. *This alone shows how content creation ideas are truly endless. Wow!
Below are links to all of the software and platforms mentioned above.
Libre Open Office – a powerful tool that certainly rivals the Microsoft suite. And it’s free.
Adobe Photoshop CS4 – this is a way “outdated” version but is still a physical copy that I’ve used since it was released a decade ago. I have no idea if you can even get a copy and make it work but the Adobe Cloud services are fine if you are good with the subscription based products. There are also a mountain of photo editing apps out there both free and paid that can do everything I’ve done here.
Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD – Bought this one off the shelf many many moons ago. Sony doesn’t even offer Vegas anymore to the best of my knowledge. But like I’ve mentioned, it still does everything I need it to do. Again, there are so many video editing apps and options there really is no one better other than your budget and your commitment to the learning curves that each has.
Power Director Pro for mobile – now this one is the most modern of softwares that I have. Currently, I am using the latest version on my iPhone 14 Pro but I first discovered it years back on my old Samsung phone and it’s served me well ever since. It’s a literal full service production room in your pocket.
Vidvoicer for AI voice overs – I wouldn’t recommend this one. At the time, about 5 months ago, it seemed fresh and new but it’s limitations are massive even with the paid version I have. It has lots of paid “upgrades” you can do but frankly, don’t. The AI space is flooded with free and much lower cost tools that give you more.
Open AI Chat – I’m using the free version and all thing considered, I have no reason to upgrade to a paid account. While it is a very handy tool and I’m sure will only get more and more so, at this moment in time the free version is all I need. I will not that downloading it to your local machine may not be a great idea as it eats up a lot of ram and I honestly have no idea what all its till doing when I shut it off.
Bing Create – To me this one is nothing more than a toy but a good visualizer. And notice I said good and not great. But it’s free so go play
Crazy Talk Animator – Realillusion is the granddaddy of desktop animation software. I have another of their products (Animator, that does more full body stuff) but I don’t use it. I will recommend them however on the whole of you are wanting to get into 3D animation and all that entails nowadays. Very powerful and easy to use software for sure.
Distribute – Getting it in front of you.
Social media is pretty much the necessary evil.
Pitch – How I monetize it.
This was a matter of using my affiliate account with Amazon.
Scalability – What all can be done from here
First and foremost is this article. While it is at its core meant for my amusement more than anything. It certainly gives me opportunity to talk about everything you’ve read here in individual detail.
Conclusion and final pitch
So what’s it all mean at the end of this rather lengthy article? For me it has been incredibly fulfilling. I got to share with you what I needed to share with myself: my purpose. And what’s that? To do my part in helping you learn how to use the many avenues and tools available in this amazingly interesting time to be alive. Be they for business, Play or just because, the ability to learn and communicate are the the things that I truly believe are the bedrocks of a good, healthy and hearty society. It’s in those two truths for me that give me a reason to push on every day.
I hope you learned as much as I did in this and I hope you’ll gain something from it. As such I do hope you’ll be kind enough to like, comment and share this article to help me grow the blog and feeds. And if you have interest in learning any of my methods or would like me to provide a service for you, email me now at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up a time to chat. I truly appreciate you exploring this leg of my journey that will hopefully help you add to yours.
Now, Go Play!
P.S. I was considering doing this same type of thing with a few other videos I’ve created recently as well as some others I’ve done in the past. There is still a mountain of educational/ content worth in them. You can find a ton of them on my YouTube channel.
PSS- what did you decide to be today? That’s a like of thought I’d like to explore in the near future.
As a child of the 70s, Star Wars was an integral part of my childhood. I remember the excitement of going to the store and seeing the latest action figures from the movies. One of my favorite figures was Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight, from Return of the Jedi. Fast forward to today, and the Star Wars Retro Collection has brought back that nostalgic feeling with figures inspired by the original 1970s Kenner line. As a collector, there are pros and cons to both vintage figures produced 40 years ago and retro figures produced now.
Pros of Vintage Figures:
1. Authenticity – The vintage figures are the real deal and were produced at the time of the movie’s release. They have a unique charm and character that cannot be replicated.
2. Rarity – Some vintage figures are incredibly rare and can be difficult to find, making them valuable to collectors.
3. Historical Significance – The vintage figures are a piece of Star Wars history and have played a significant role in shaping pop culture.
4. Quality – Many collectors appreciate the quality of vintage figures, as they were built to last and were made with sturdy materials.
5. Sentimental Value – For those who grew up with the original figures, they hold a sentimental value and bring back memories of childhood.
Cons of Vintage Figures:
1. Condition – Vintage figures can be hard to find in good condition, and even those that are well-preserved can show signs of wear and tear.
2. Cost – Because of their rarity and historical significance, vintage figures can be expensive to purchase.
3. Availability – Finding vintage figures can be a challenge, especially if you are looking for a specific character or variant.
4. Uniqueness – Each vintage figure is unique, which can be a pro or a con depending on your collecting preferences.
5. Limited Articulation – Vintage figures have limited articulation, which can be a drawback for collectors who prefer more posable figures.
Pros of Retro Figures:
1. Availability – The retro figures are widely available at retailers and online, making them easy to find and purchase.
2. Affordability – Compared to vintage figures, the retro figures are generally more affordable and accessible to collectors on a budget.
3. Detail – The retro figures have the same level of detail as the vintage figures, capturing the look and feel of the original Kenner line.
4. Articulation – Retro figures typically have more articulation than vintage figures, making them more poseable and versatile for play and display.
5. Familiarity – The retro figures bring back a sense of familiarity and nostalgia for those who grew up with the original Kenner line.
Cons of Retro Figures:
1. Replicas – While the retro figures capture the look and feel of the original line, they are replicas and lack the same historical significance as the vintage figures.
2. Material Quality – Retro figures are often made with cheaper materials than vintage figures, making them less sturdy and durable.
3. Modern Design Elements – Some collectors may not appreciate the addition of modern design elements, such as extra articulation or modern packaging.
4. Limited Selection – The retro line may not include all the characters or variants that were produced in the original Kenner line.
5. Lack of Rarity – Retro figures lack the rarity of vintage figures, which can be a drawback for collectors who value rarity and uniqueness.
In conclusion, both vintage and retro figures have their pros and cons. Vintage figures have a historical significance and authenticity that cannot be replicated, but they can be expensive and difficult to find in good condition. Retro figures capture the look and feel of the original Kenner line and are more accessible and affordable for collectors, but they lack the same historical significance and rarity of vintage figures. Ultimately, the choice between vintage and retro figures comes down to personal collecting preferences
I was scrolling through YouTube and paused on a random thumbnail to which the personality on screen said the above statement. I was like “Woah! Man is that good!” So I made a meme. And then got to pondering that thought deeper. Maybe too deep.
My name is Jim Bumgardner, life long learner and storyteller. It is in that truth that I open myself up to you in this “brave new world” not for self aggrandizing but instead to allow you to get to know the person on the other side of your screen who is working diligently and with intent to share with you the skills and talents that I have acquired during my journey that I have no doubt can and will add value to both your and my life.
As of this writing, I am 49 years old and have lived in Harrison, Arkansas since 2008. I have been married to Alicia for 15 years and am the father of Kaitlynn, who is now 13. I am originally from Little Rock, Arkansas where I began my professional career in radio broadcasting in 1990 while I was still in high school. Prior to radio I had served for a time as a correspondence writer for both the Arkansas Democrat and Arkansas Gazette as part of the schools journalism program where I also served as features editor for the school paper for all three years of my time there. During that time I was also in a band with some friends playing a weird mix of covers and original songs that had a 90’s acoustic rock vibe.
Following graduation in 1992, I began taking my radio career seriously and went on to work in the industry through 1997 at radio stations in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. I served as an on air talent as well as program director during those years. I stepped away from the business in 1997 and went to work for a major movie theater chain as a General Manager through 2001. It was at that time, the broadcasting bug returned but more importantly the movie making bug had also settled in.
As it would go, the desires of making moving pictures overtook the limitations of what a changing radio broadcasting industry had become. I then set my sights on producing films and television programs up until 2006 when I felt I needed a break from it all and settled down for two years in Branson, Missouri. It was in this time that I retreated back to the “safety and security” of a regular retail job lifestyle that wasn’t really “regular’. During that period I was working two full time positions and 2 part time. The two full time were diametrically different niche’s. One being selling dishes and other table top dining accessories and the other being toys at one of the major retail toy companies. The two part time jobs involved casual clothing and shoe sales and the other , professional and formal wear for men.
The reasons for all of the work was less about the money as it was about helping out some friends I had made a long the way. There simply wasn’t enough people to fill the slots and my personality made me a great salesman and my organization skills made me very handy in the warehouse and on the floor. To note, I was also single at the time and had no desire to settle down. The work ethic that evolved during my “previous careers” made me a very reliable, go to guy. The reason for this, that those around me never could put their fingers on was that more than anything, I appreciated time and efficiency more than most. There is no industry like broadcasting (as it was back in those days especially) to really shore up one’s appreciation for every second on the clock. It was that ingrained training that kept me punctual and respectful of the commitments I would make to my fellow workers. Those principles remain my driving force and barometer to this day and surely on through to my last day.
It was in 2008 that all of that came to a halt as the time for change had been forced on me as the primary job was shuttered and the others were cutting back. Plus, an opportunity in radio threw itself at me and I was highly compelled to take the job. It was far from something I was actively pursuing but that soft voice that commands attention whispered in my ear and told me that was the direction I needed to go. I am so very grateful and thankful that I did. It was in this new chapter that Alicia and I met, married, had Kaitlynn and have shared quite a lot of awesome adventures together and as a trio.
It was in this whirlwind that I transitioned from radio to television to freelance video productions and then online content creation. Summarizing that very broad term, I began blogging, live streaming, creating targeted campaigns specifically for the online and social platforms and so on. It was a fantastic run through 2018 but then it was time to again step away, take a breath and a break and do something a little different. It wasn’t really all that different as I retreated once again to full time retail management all the while offering limited video production services to select clients. Then along came 2020.
It was during the period of 2020 thru 2023 that I stepped away from everything. Not in retreat as much as in reflection. I explored and participated in the “gig economy” for a couple of years, made a lot of observations along the way and then decided to reenter the “safety zone” that is full time retail management employment. As my cycle goes however, the need to throw caution to the wind and embrace my better nature as a content creator and service provider / consult and coach, I am now happily returning into that space with a fresh and clear understanding of where my skills, talents and abilities better suit those that I am fortunate enough to cross paths with on this journey of life. I’ll explain:
The principles, lessons, purposes and responsibilities of broadcasting will never leave me. Specifically speaking to my internal need to inform and entertain, to serve and to share. It is with that framework in mind that I make this promise to you: Rather you are a customer or highly respected audience member, I pledge the best form of myself as a creator, entertainer, and most importantly teacher. That last label is the one in which I truly strive to excel at because it is in that effort, I can add value to your and my life and in that there is no higher calling.
All around me I have surrounded myself with the plastic doppelgangers of my childhood. It’s at this moment I realize why: It was a time where we children of the children of the Baby Boom were granted an amazing opportunity to believe in something: The American Dream. From the Michael Jackson and Brooke Shields Dolls to the Super Hero action figures (celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Mego Corporation) to so many other memory triggers that I myself didn’t realize were so ingrained in my subconscious and personality thanks to these flashy totems. Each one for me serve as silent reminders of this for sure and it all came into focus after finishing up Michael Malice’s “The White Pill” audio book.
In this book Malice has weaved together an incredible telling of the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. From it’s shiny birth under Lenin to it’s gritty reality under Stalin, to it’s almost cartoon-ish evolution through Khrushchev and to it’s final demise under Gorbachev, “The White Pill” is one hell of an adventure story so full of tragedy and triumph that it is riveting from start to finish. I can not recommend it nearly enough. And not only for its impressive documentation of the for Soviet Union’s rise and fall but for me the importance of how that former “super power” shaped all of our Gen X lives. While there are plenty of things that happened that were very much sugar and candy coated for us growing up in the 70’s and 80’s and into adulthood in the 90’s, with the conclusion of the book, I can’t say I’ve ever felt as grateful to have been a child of the American Dream as I do now. We really had it incredibly good. Hell, even better than good.
It was in that decade of decadence that the 80’s are so famously recalled, that while there are some of those illusions that did bite us in the ass (hello large portions and diabetes and the belief in a retirement at 65 that would allow for a well earned break into our “golden years”, syke!) there are so many other things that we had and took for granted that the generations following us have been stripped of. Diluted and degraded with each new one. It’s in this that I do feel horrible for the Gen Y’s, Z’s, Millennial’s and whatever classification we’re up to now. From my perspective they really have been robbed. But ten again also tempered to see past a lot of the bullshit that we believed in and many still do. However. Not all of that bullshit was bad and it’s importance should be revered and remembered. I’m speaking now to that belief that while we all had responsibilities and obligations to be a good American (go to school, do your homework, get a job, and “do the right thing”) we were rewarded with some fantastic treats that I fear so many of aforementioned generations missed out on and will never get an opportunity to truly appreciate as we did.
Capitalism appeared to be working then. Not only that but winning. For the most part at least. It was certainly better than the lives lived by the communist counterparts that shared the timeline with us. Listening to Michael’s book did an amazing job of reminding me of that reality. Of course we as children were fed tons of rah rah and propaganda by the news and entertainment industries along with our sugary sweet cereals and Happy Meals which served as bookends between Saturday morning cartoons and trips to the malls, amusement parks, movie theaters, arena rock shows and of course the toy store. We really did have it good and have it all. And to think we weren’t even connected by way of a world wide web but instead prime time television, top 40 radio, movie theaters, video rental stores and “The Weekly World News”. Hell, for the first half of my childhood I didn’t even have cable television. More importantly however is that without that web, we still had a luxury that is most certainly a crime to have taken away from our children and grandchildren; a culture that kept us in real, organic communication and interactions with commonalities to talk about.
*** It’s at this point I am reflecting on how good a book “The White Pill” truly is as it has inspired these reflections and writing. For me that is the sign of a sincerely great piece of literature as it inspires critical thinking, reflection and a strong desire to collect all of those thoughts in a tangible and worthwhile manner. All the while I have a 3D model of a Mego Joker head printing behind me. Talk about taking stock in the blessings we have experienced in a mere 50 years!
Still, the main takeaway I want to emphasize in this write and recommendation, do seriously consider giving “The White Pill” a read or listen. I myself have become a big fan of audio books as they allow me to take it in and do other things since I’ve been programmed to multi task. Can’t say that’s good or bad but it is the way that works for me. Well worth the little over 9 hours time it takes to get a great recap of a truly dark and HORRIBLE system that was heartless, brutal and frankly, evil to those that its dictates and ideology was imposed upon. I will also go so far as to say that regardless of the label you ascribe to in this post pandemic world, know that the promises of socialism and communism that are being wrapped in packages of “equity and inclusion” are eerily and in some instances shockingly direct copies of the ideologies that led to that most horrific of societal systems.
The secondary takeaway is that I know for me the conclusion of that book has led to me rethinking a lot about aspects of my life as an American. While I can reflect on both the good and the bad, with the completion of that book, I can honestly say that I have never been more thankful and grateful to have been born in these 50 states. I hope and pray that you will experience the same or similar reaction and not take even one more moment for granted or be so dyed in the wool to your own perspective that may or may not be entirely your own.
Collecting nostalgia in a nostalgic way (and it’s as tough now as it was then).
Act 1 – The Challenge
If you were like me back in the golden age of going to the store with your Mom and Dad, I know you faced this challenge while standing in front of them with an armload of toys; “You have to pick one.” They delivered it in a way that made it sound so easy. Of course it wasn’t but you had to do what you had to do or be a brat about and loose the negotiation completely. Nobody wanted that.
It’s with that perspective and memory, I challenged myself as a parent now, to treat my collector habits like they did then. I could only pick one. Considering the choices it was just as tough now as it was then. Even though it was MY money! Still, it was a fun idea and would be a practice in self control. “What could warrant such a highly dramatic approach to buying a toy, Jim?” Four letters that followers of my online exploits know very well:
M E G O
Having went a little crazy on picking up the first series of 50th anniversary Worlds Greatest Superhero’s (Superman, Batman and Robin), the second series arrived at my local Walmart and I promised myself (and wife and daughter) that I would be a little more restrained in my impulses. But come on! There were now faithful reproductions of Aquaman and Shazam joined by new offerings (as if Mego made them back in the days of disco) of The Flash and Green Lantern to add to my block o’ nostalgia and collectors dream come true. It’s with that in mind that the challenge was born. And today was the day that I had to face the challenge.
Act 2 – What are the factors?
With the self imposed restrictions of my purchasing power agreed to, I walked into the Walmart here with a bunch of determining factors to consider:
So which one do I go with? What will the final decision be based on?
A. A faithful reproduction? Aquaman or Shazam
B. The new and exciting? The Flash or Green Lantern
C. The short packed? This was interesting too as it was a split between one of each classic vs new (2each Aquaman and The Flash’s and 4 each of Shazam and Green Lantern)
It was a serious dilemma I was facing but I was determined to make a logical (by my definition of logic that is) decision as to which one it was. One factor that was starting to come to the forefront of my selection process was to make it easier on myself by going chronologically. To go with which came first in the old days: Aquaman or Shazam. The newbies could wait. And as I was looking at them all and reverting back to my 6 year old self in 1979, something happened that was completely unprecedented in my neck of the woods:
John showed up.
Before I get to who John turned out to be, I must share the background and why his appearance had to be of some sort of dimensional enigma wrapped in a quagmire. You see dear reader, I am pretty much if not the only dyed in the wool, hardcore Mego fan in this neck of the world. I can prove this by point you back to earlier on this article of how I went a wee bit overboard with the series 1 assortment. I literally bought them all. Not at one time though. I spread the purchases out over several weeks as to not be one of “those guys” who hoards things. Sure it may look like it if you don’t know the story, but I don’t care. Those were fair shipping terms as far as I’m concerned. Plus, literally no one else was buying them here. Not one. To me that was a disrespectful shame and not an Afro t to the things I love to be allowed for too long. Hence my surprise when John walked up and politely asked me if I had grabbed the ones I wanted.
“What is happening here?” was the first question that popped into my head. “I’ve never seen this guy before. Is he a reseller? Is he looking to snatch away my precious plastic memories? What was this guys deal?!?” My rational journalistic mind snapped back into play and decided to just ask him. His answer was one for me that was of a serendipitous and maybe even divine intervention.
He was a fan.
Not only that but he was also a really good dude. I told him about my challenge and asked him if it was cool that I interview him for this most monumental encounter. He agreed and not at all awkward. You see, dear uninitiated to the collector world, we fanboys and fangirls share a kinship that knows no labels or limitations. It’s a wonderful thing.
Along with sharing his story of being from out of town but making it a point to pop into Walmarts along the way in search of these little prizes, he also shared so much about his connection to the toys and his hopes for kids to discover them as well. So many times his answers sounded like my own thoughts, words and deeds. I’m telling ya, gang, it was a fantastic exchange. That is until he posed the question back to me that I had started this journey off with; “So, which one are you going to pick?”
I had to pause due to this new x-factor which came in the form of John and the figures in his hands. I shared with him my points of consideration to which he completely understood. He also understood how the scale was now tipped with his selections. I’m not aging this was like a scene in a movie where the camera cuts into an extreme close up of the heroes eyes and we see the one bead of sweat appear and slide down his eyes… but it was close.
Scarcity. That would be my determining factor! But… it is MY money and this challenge is dumb and I might miss out on the one if I pick the other… damn it! So I grabbed them both. There was no shaming glance from John as it appeared my will power fell through and I put both Aquaman and The Flash into my handcart and we both headed toward the registers.
Before we made it all the way up though, I did need to touch base with my wife to see if there was anything else I did need to pick up before I left. Perhaps it was in this moment of responsibility, I made the internal judgement call to put one back. And I did.
*To note, John saw his three selections all the way to the end.
Act 3 The decision
So what did I do?
Who did I choose?
Why did I choose this one?
What is the moral of the story?
As I walked away from the collectibles section having returned The Flash to his spot amongst the remaining Shazam’s and Green Lantern’s, I looked down at the Aquaman in my hand basket and smiled. I had practiced self control and used (once again) my own form of collectors logic and justification in making this choice. I decided to proceed forward by staying chronological in my selection. Way back when, Aquaman was one of the original four including Superman, Batman and Robin so that made sense and also set the order of operations for my next pick ups in the coming days or weeks. I still want to give other fans a shot at them although, jumping ahead of the four Shazam’s to get to the now one lonely The Flash will be a chore I’m sure.
So the moral? Self control is still possible in an on demand, I want it now and not only that, it’s incredibly satisfying to know that in the most unexpected ways and at the most unexpected times, we all have opportunities to connect with like minded folks and share stories and moments so long as we’re willing to accept a challenge.
Now, Go Play!
If you liked this article, I’d truly appreciate it if you would take the couple seconds to time to like, comment, subscribe and share it far and wide. It would also be swell if you are in the market for Mego toys to stop by your local Walmart and pick one up there. I can’t speak from a position of authority in this but I do believe the more that sell at retail the longer the line will go on. But of course, supporting your favorite online retailer is a great thing to do too as they are truly committed to helping folks bring the magic literally home via the various shipping services available. Yet if all that fails or those avenues are out of stock, I would ask you to consider buying a Mego their official store on Amazon where I do get a piece of as an Amazon affiliate. And if you want to learn more about all things Mego consider joining the official Mego Ambassador group on Facebook for the latest news and informs straight from the source.
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