Kevin Smith may have a slavishly devoted fanbase for his movies and write best-selling comics, but his newest endeavor leaves a lot to be desired.
In ToyFare #65, Smith first discussed his plans to create a line of "inaction" figures based, initially, on the sadly short-lived Clerks cartoon. Explaining just what that title meant, Smith said:
"To me, it's a basic that a lot of people don't even take this stuff out of the packaging. And people that do take it out of the packaging put sticky stuff on the feet and mount it on their computer. Nobody cares if they sit down, or if they can bend at the elbow."
As my esteemed compatriot Poe remarked, "Smith is badly out of touch with the current collector climate."
Even McFarlane Toys, kings of ill-conceived immobility, have started to grow up; the "Viking Age" figures were articulated and sold out both a regular run and an R3, and the ultra-articulate Spawn 10th is one of the most in-demand toys the company has ever produced. On other fronts, Marvel Legends sell briskly and the sculpt-free Stikfas leap off shelves despite their high pricetags.
Though surrounding himself with hardcore fanboys may be good for his films and comics, it also keeps Smith quite insulated, if his belief that MOC inarticulation will sell is any indication.
Even at their worst, McToys had at least some movement. Though the figure might look horrible, you could reposition an arm, or turn the head, or even just move the accessory to the other hand. Difference is key.
When you're spending hard-earned money on something, on anything, you want value. Whether it's a meal, a pair of shoes, or a toy, you want the most that you can get for your money. Articulation and reposeablity is the toy industry's main way of giving you your value. Without even the bare minimum that McFarlane offers, the price is that much harder to swallow.
The Clerks Inaction Figures' utter lack of movement is the very bottom of the barrel in toy production. For a toy to get the "action figure" moniker, it has to at least have the Big Five: neck, shoulders and hips. Simpsons figures don't meet this requirement, but they still provide value: you can still interact with them. The Clerks offer none of this.
For a line that is supposedly intended to remain mint on its cards, the packaging isn't very much too look at. Sure, it's bright, and has pictures of the cartoon versions, but that's about it. The edges are wavy and have the type of brackets found on the edges of film. It's decent, but really nothing special; take a look at Art Asylum to see how attractive packaging should be done.
No self-respecting Kevin Smith fan (and yeah, I am one) would pass on Jay and Silent Bob. Both styled after the cartoon designs
by animator Stephen Silver, they at least look like the cel paintings seen in those six short episodes: Jay has a child-like innocence and Bob is shaped like an eggplant. At least sculptor Jon Matthews delivered on his end of things. Bob is wearing a black coat with green trim, shorts and a light cap turned backwards. He's got a bit of a pose, with a cigarette between his fingers. Jay is staring into space from beneath his black stocking cap and white hoodie, with his blond hair curling below his shoulders. His hands are pressed against his sides, so that he really is one solid piece.
The figures are made in a 5" scale, with Bob topping off at 4½" tall. The plan is to carry this animated style over through all Smith's Jersey films, which means that everyone from Mr. Svenning to the Last Scion would one day be a tiny plastic lump. Unfortunately, only a handful of characters ever appeared on the cartoon, and early images show that later figures don't have the same nice design. Yes, they're clearly influenced by Silver's artwork, but they lack style.
Both the figures are, of course,
static. In fact, they're not even figures; they're statues, and cheap ones at that. The sculpt lacks detail (as it should) and the materials are shoddy. Unfortunately, these cheap production values don't translate to the sticker on the corner - they cost $10 apiece, which is about three times what glorified PVCs like these should cost. There are black and white versions available, as well, if you really want to relive the low-rent origins of the characters.
The Clerks InAction Figures have all the charm and playability of those toys you get out of gumball machines, except that those are more affordable. Kevin, if you're out there, I hope you listen up: I'm sure that Graphitti Designs and Big Blast Toys have been very nice to you, but maybe it's time to switch to a company that doesn't have to cut corners to stay afloat. These are overpriced and undervalued. You've said that you hope people "buy the **** out of" these so that you can eventually make a toy of your wife. Unless things change, you're not going to get much farther into your catalogue before the box office dies.