Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How Randy Falk and NECA Toys Keep Collecting Fresh and Fun

NECA Toys and Randy Falk

NECA Toys is the best toy company in the market today.  Is this our opinion? Yes, but it's also an opinion that is growing strong with a lot of other collectors.  I have been collecting for the majority of my life and until just a few years ago I was only collecting vintage items.  The newer collectibles being made just didn't match up to all of the great things I had as a kid.  I have worked hard to build and complete so many vintage collections over the past 10 years, but I wasn't giving the new stuff a chance.  I made a trip to TRU one day and came across a few NECA predators that I had never seen before.  I generally wasn't picking up these items because the crappy company McFarlane was ruining all of them with these toilet squatting poses that I just didn't want (that's besides the fact that Todd McFarlane is kind of a dick, but that's a story for another day). So, on that day I picked up my first ever Predator figure from NECA which happened to be the V1 Elder. 

Why did it take so long for me to realize there were better items being made?  Maybe I was so focused on hoarding as much GI JOE items as I could that didn't focus on much else.  At this point, I didn't really know anyone else that was into collecting like I am, and I wasn't getting many other opinions.  Shortly after, I started buying every single Predator being made by NECA, and then it was the Aliens, Terminator, etc. NECA's products literally brought me out of the vintage age and suddenly gave me something new to look forward to.  At the same time, one of my closest friends, Jon, (who co-runs our site and Twitter page) had a strong, growing interest in collectibles.  He pulled all of his old toys out of his attic and I helped organize all of these wonderful hidden treasures he had stored away. 

Fast forward a year, Jon and I build our website and start using Twitter every day to talk toys with all of these amazing people.  At the same time we were literally buying everything NECA was putting out because we loved it so much (I have 5 ED-209's).  So the perfect storm happens where we are in love with a company's products and also have the opportunity to talk to the product developer of NECA, Randy Falk, through Twitter.  We were able to ask this incredibly polite stranger about the products they were developing and what his opinions were on vintage toys as well.  I many of you reading this have the same chance to talk to him… but isn't that a great thing?  Think about your daily work day...and all the stress and time management, etc that goes into it just to make it through the day and actually try to enjoy it as well.  The majority of us use Twitter, and we also know how crazy/active that can be at times. It can hard to try to keep up with all the great conversations going's really tough. Now, think about Randy. He is working 'round the clock, but still makes time to connect with all of us.  Kudos to Randy! You are a true Road Warrior when it comes to this. 

Randy is extremely busy working so many angles as Product Developer for a major toy company.  That being said, here he is responding to our questions, Tweeting out sneak peeks that we all want to see, and even doing great contests and giveaways (which encourages us to play with our toys)!  Now, yes, we love NECA's amazing lines and the great things to come (and when I say great, I mean GREAT), but Randy's added connection to it really builds to the love Jon and I (and many others) have for the company.  He is a very laid back and intelligent person who once was a school teacher but followed his true passion that many of us have...the love of toys and collectibles. 

Since then we have had the chance to hang out with Randy and the NECA Toys crew a few times. That has allowed us to get a real up close and personal look at the business and how decisions are made.  Once you get the chance to see the NECA crew in action you really get to see how all of the amazing things they create get done.  Randy is extremely busy, but he always finds a way to make the time to connect with his fans.  We recently drove up to NY to see a screening of the original Predator at the Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers. Randy was there with an awesome setup of Predators and was giving away figures that weren't even released yet!  Now, Jon and I went because we were never lucky enough to see Predator on the big screen (we were only young bucks at the time), but it was an added bonus for all of the people there to have a chance to talk to Randy himself.  It was very cool to watch this little kid bring his own NECA Predator figure and take a picture with Randy. He won't admit it, but we all think he is the best in the business, and we are extremely lucky to have him. He takes that extra step and relates to people. He isn't just some corporate stiff giving a bunch of non-answers.

I guess after reading a few paragraphs of this you are wondering what is the point of all of this?  My point is to continue to share the stories we have with the huge community of collectors we are all a part of. We are regular guys with regular jobs who love toys...just like many of you. Our goal is to be real and authentic...that's why we just like to be ourselves. We value the personal interaction with all of you. It's fun to share stories and have conversations with other like-minded people. We like to joke around and have fun at the same time. You won't see us using over the top, fake, obnoxious voices when doing reviews. There is no need for us to put on a front and come up with a fake persona when reviewing toys. What you see is what you get when it comes to us. Thankfully, you guys seem to like us and accept us as we are which is awesome!

Randy has been able to take all that love we have and add to it with all the information and feedback he shares with us fans.  Name another company that gives you the same personal interaction and covers social media the way he does…. good luck.  Now, with Randy opening himself up like this there is a small amount of vocal of haters and complainers about things NECA does.  I guess there will always be a percentage of people that feel this way. Nothing is ever  good enough for them, but that's just the Internet in general. With that said, sit back for a minute and think about everything NECA has done.  Randy is spearheading all of this, and not only that, he is making things bigger and better every single day.  Other toys companies should take notice to what he does. If they don't then NECA is going to keep moving right past them.  Yes, Hasbro, Mattel, and the major toy companies give us rehashed vintage figures that we most likely want...but damn, a lot of them suck! 

Listen, a lot of us collect a lot of different things and will continue to do so.  Yes, NECA will most likely not be able to make a lot of the figures we want for one reason or another...mostly because of licensing issues and profitability among other things.  This is not the fault of Randy or NECA. It's just the name of the game.  People are so quick to forget that they are running a business. If you can't sell anything then you can't bring in the revenue to take risks on new, cool things. Without sales, there is no NECA Toys. So, give them a break and use your brain the next time you complain about not having a Johnny 5 figure! 

Randy has mentioned many ideas to us, and what he has planned for the future. His vision and what he has in store for all of us is amazing!  We are not homers here. We are just genuine NECA fans that realize the quickly growing potential of what NECA is doing in the collectible world.  Bottom line is be thankful we have a bright mind like Randy. He has to make a lot of tough decisions to give us what we want.  Remember, they can only make a certain amount of figures a year and only have so much funds allowed for new tooling each year. That doesn't stop Randy from sticking to his vision and planning out all their awesome lines for years to come.

Thank you NECA Toys and Randy Falk for truly making collecting exciting and giving us that feeling of anticipation of what is coming next.  

If you don't already, follow @neca_toys and check out all of the awesome things that they do every day.  

And as always, feel free to chat with us any time on Twitter: @cobrashadowjoes

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