Thoughts on the show Toy Hunters
Just when I thought I was going to scream if I saw another one of those "hunter" or "wars" shows, along comes one what I might actually be interested in. It's called "Toy Hunters" and it chronicles toy dealer Jordan Hembrough as he tries to acquire items to sell at the New York Comic-Con.
If you have never heard of this show, I am not suprised. The show got little promotion and I only caught wind of it through a few blogs I follow. It aired on the History Channel, but there is no mention of it on the site. Apparently this is just a pilot, and if it is well received it might continue.
Toy Hunters first aired Sunday night 1/15/12 at 10pm on the History Channel.
Jordan begins his quest in the land of Kenner, searching out people who used to work for the legendary toy maker. He has meetings with a few, and makes lowball offers on toys from these people's private collections. I found it odd how he simultaneously got very excited about "how much he can get for this", and then turn around and offer an insulting price. This sets the tone for the show and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Rather than Toy Hunters, perhaps they could have called it Toy Scalpers.
While most "finds" were average, a few unique items did come up like a rare Thundercats prototype and a Rocket Firing Boba Fett. Unfortunately most of these scenes seemed so scripted that any genuine excitement was sucked right out. You mean to tell me that the guy who has the oldest collectible shop in Cincinnati has a box full of unpunched 12-back Star Wars figures, and a prototype Boba Fett, and he has no idea about the value? And when Jordan "Has to call a buddy down to make sure it is real" not only is it staged, but it is pretty much line for line what happens in Pawn Stars.
And that brings me to my next point - the reason why I and millions of Americans love shows like Pawn Stars, American Pickers and Storage Wars. Sure, part of it is the lure of making bucks, but the real interest for me is the people. To see other collectors obsess and share their passion with others makes us feel less alone. The people who hunt, and those who are interviewed are genuine characters in their own right. When you focus so much on the money, it makes us feel dirty.
So in the end, when Jordan is lamenting that he was not make enough money to make the Con worth it, I just didn't care. As a rule, dealers don't bring 20k toys to conventions, nor do convention goers spend that kind of cash. Items like that change hands through private collectors or through auctions. The guy who showed up at the last minute and bought the Boba Fett seemed so unenthusiastic, and all too eager to drop 17k on a whim. All too convienent for me.
That's not to say I don't think the show has potential. I think with some tweaks the show could be great. Here are 5 ways I think they could improve the show:
1. Expand to other kinds of toys, from all years. This episode was heavily focused on Action Figures. For the show to grow, it would need to cover toy cars, games, comics, dolls, tin toys and more. Cast the widest net and you will get more viewers.
2. Focus more on the people. Show the passion of the collector, with all their eccentricities on display. Talk about their life, and why they are selling. In the pilot, he basically had to browbeat collectors into parting with their items. Instead, find collectors getting out or moving on.
3. Grow the cast. Find different experts on different genres of collecting, and follow them around. Jordan was OK for action figures, but him every week? Nope.
4. If you are going to script the show, do research. I can accept mistakes with facts off the cuff, but if you aren't sure, just don't say anything. Don't talk to fill space. Make the audience learn with you instead of being talked to.
5. Be original. If you are going to push the buying and selling angle, at least do it differently. Don't call in experts. Don't ask a buddy to come by. Don't do addition on the screen.
In one sense, if the show were successful I would welcome the new audience to the collecting world. More collectors means more visitors to CollectionDX. On the other hand, show the wrong collectors, and it could reinforce negative stereotypes.
Did you watch Toy Hunters? What did you think?
|Posted 19 January, 2012 - 14:49 by JoshB|