Urban Vinyl Daily: Would you mind telling us a little background about yourselves for those who are not familiar with you or the show?
Ayleen: Toy Break is our weekly internet show featuring reviews and news about designer vinyl, plush, action figures, collectibles, events, how-tos, interviews, and more! Basically we cover just about anything toy related that we can. We’ve been producing Toy Break for five years now and have owned our own toy company, October Toys, for eight years.
UVD: With almost 200 episodes of Toy Break to your credit, what were things like starting out when making the first episodes and what got you in to making a show of reviewing figures and the goings on in the world of designer figures?
Ayleen: Toy Break was born out of my frustration at not being able to find any podcasts focused on toys. I figured video would be the best medium because as a viewer, I would want to not only hear about the details of new figures, but see what they look like, how they were packaged, how big they are in real life, etc. It took a lot of convincing, but George finally agreed to give it a try with me and we haven’t looked back since!
UVD: With several figures being reviewed each episode, what is the fate of most of the reviewed material? Since we have seen that some is given away on the forum and some are just as contest fodder.
George: We fill up the shelves in the Toy Break warehouse. You should see this place…it looks like the end of Indiana Jones.
UVD:With a standard episode being approximately an hour long edited, how long does it traditionally take to film an episode and edit? Since we can assume that there is occasionally a dog barking or something in the background, or people yelling outside.
George: How do you know there is a dog barking and people outside the window? Are you stalking us?
Ayleen: While we have had several long episodes lately, we try to aim for more around 40 minute mark. It’s hard to cram all that toy goodness in there! A typical episode might take anywhere from seven to ten hours to prep, film, and edit plus there are several more hours of rendering and upload time. Of course, every episode provides its own unique challenges like finding the correct product pictures, hunting for podcast safe music, or strange technically difficulties from time to time.
UVD:Being that you guys live in California, are your figures on display fastened down so that if an earthquake or someone falling on the floor doesn’t send everything leaping off of the shelves? If not, how often do you have to reset the figures?
George: I know a camera adds 10 pounds, but how heavy do you think we are that we can fall on the floor and knock our toys down?
Ayleen: Ha! No, our figures aren’t fastened down. We’ve only had one figure fall off a shelf due to an earthquake in the last eight years and that was a single CI Boy. The trick is to pack a lot of figures together tightly!
UVD: With both of you guys being avid toy collectors, how did the ideas for the creation of October Toys come about? What were some of the obstacles encountered when starting up a venture involved in making/creating figures?
George: The idea for October Toys came about when we were working in the toy industry and wanted to create our own toys combined with our love of art. Money and imagination are the only obstacles. The lack of either one will kill your business.
UVD: Would you mind telling us a little bit of background on the Gwins and what it was like collaborating with the artists in each series?
George: I kind of do mind, yes.
Ayleen: The idea for Gwins came from a present George gave me several years ago. It was a little resin version of Tux, the Linux mascot, that George had sculpted. Being the geek I am, I absolutely loved having it on my desk and figured other geeks might also appreciate it. We were huge fans of what Toy2R was doing with the artist series of Qees, so we figured it could be cool to see what some of the artists we knew at the time could do with a little sitting penguin. All of the designers we’ve worked with have been great and the project has even connected us with several artists we might not have met otherwise.
UVD:With SDCC past, NYCC on the horizon, and DCON approaching, what would your suggestions be to those that would like to attend a convention and it is their first time doing so? What would be some pointers be so that one doesn’t become overwhelmed and buy everything in sight, and still be able to take in the essence of the convention?
George: Plan ahead. Read the maps. Attend some panels to take up buying time.
Ayleen: Definitely do your research. Check the show website a couple days before the show and make a list of all the booths you want to make sure to visit and any panels you might want to attend. This can help you find any potential conflicts and work them out before you get there. As far as buying goes, it can help to give yourself a budget and only bring that much cash. It can also help to make yourself walk the show exhibit floor before going back to buy the things you actually want.
UVD:As is the case with designer clothing and products, it is on the company to tell people what is cool and popular and needs to be purchased. Do you feel the same can be said for the designer toy market/community, or is there something else that tends to make certain figures more sought after?
George: If I knew what made a figure “sought after”, we wouldn’t have any stock left. That being said, don’t forget to pick up some Gwins from your favorite toy retailer! Word on the street is they’re the next big thing.
UVD:With being as immersed in the toy community as you are, what are your thoughts on the recent trend of popular cartoon shows/video games having a vinyl series? Also, what do you see as being the next big trend in the designer figure market that is just getting ready to “break” on to the scene?
George: I think the reason that popular shows and video games are being made into figures is because they are popular and therefore they have a built in audience that will buy them. It is a lot easier to sell a pre-made property than create your own.
Ayleen: There have been toys based on popular media properties for as long as there has been popular media, so I think designer vinyl is just another medium with which to create more figures. As far as the next big trend, I have no idea, but I see a lot of modern designers utilizing more retro mediums like wood which can be fun.
UVD: With so many connections in the art community and having guests on the couch, is there anyone that you have yet to host on the couch that you haven’t yet that you eagerly want to have on the couch?
George: Seth Green. That guy is really into toys and I think he would be a fascinating guest on the show.
Ayleen: Off the top of my head I think Kozik and Matt Doughty would be great and I look forward to hopefully having them one in the future.
UVD: What would your encouragements/suggestions be for artists/designers that are either just starting out or who are trying to get themselves noticed?
George: Just keep doing it, over and over and over again. Show as many people as you can and get them to buy it.
Ayleen: Definitely keep at it. Persistence is key. Accessibility is equally important, so be sure to keep an updated website and/or blog. I would also recommend taking some art and business classes if possible. There are lots of great schools offering toy design programs now which is worth looking into. A website and/or blog