Sites featuring action figures are a natural part of the structure in place to support a huge array of comic-book, TV and play toy offerings. With Christmas around the corner, one would expect kids to be checking the Web with an increased zest in order to bolster their wish lists. What are toy companies offering to grab the attention of action figure fans?
It would be nice to be able say that this site is amazing, but alas it is not.
The problem lies not in its content, where it has outstanding potential, but moreso in its execution. While Hasbro should be all about action-Action Man, G.I. J’e, G.I. J’e Extreme, Star Wars and Starting Lineup (the sports figures)-it simply isn’t.
Link into the Star Wars section, and the first thing you notice is lots of text and simple images, but no site dynamics. Fortunately, the figures belong to the upcoming flick Shadows of the Empire, so even with the somewhat utilitarian (read: no fancy stuff) delivery, you’ll definitely find something of interest.
Overall, the site contains many pictures, but ultimately it needs more life. Information on product availability injects a little life, helping to create some anticipation in the marketplace.
A host of downloadable movies take only a minute to get and profile a ton of the action figures Hasbro carries. Each movie offers a slow-motion, 360° detail shot-wicked, although plain white backgrounds totally drain the characters of life.
The G.I. J’e chronology is full of fun(ny) facts-’1974 During the ‘Kung Fu’ craze, some G.I. J’e figures acquire a ‘Kung Fu’ hand grip’-but has absolutely no visual support. G.I. J’e Extreme is one of Hasbro’s broadest lines and is supported by 26 episodes of animation and a comic book series, but there are only three pictures in here.
The frequently-asked-questions section addresses issues surrounding figure detail and authenticity, as well as rumors like product recalls and lead paint, so that’s cool. It could easily be expanded to answer not-so-frequent, but far more interesting questions.
A good thing about this site is that it lets you know what’s coming up in the future. Hasbro could really capitalize on this-leak info on unreleased action figures!-to keep everyone coming back. The ‘b’ in Hasbro should stand for buzz and bookmark. But for now, there are others that do a better job.
overall rating: walking speed (6.5 out of 10)
- Irwin Toy
Compared to Hasbro’s site, Irwin’s is a little more interactive.
Two of this site’s major offerings deal with Spawn, the highly enigmatic and popular comic book series, and ReBoot , the animated TV show. Both are very attractive as far as figures go (especially Spawn).
Aesthetics have more of an emphasis at this location, so with each figure, you’ll find nice backgrounds and action poses. Click the link to zoom in on the images. (Irwin, Hasbro: Why not combine these ideas and have movies with kickin’ backgrounds?)
There are lots of links to picture files and supplementary info on each figure to keep visitors up to speed. The detail in the images is pretty good, except in the case of some ReBoot figure pics, which are sometimes too small.
In the Spawn 2 Trivia Challenge, put down a handsome little sum of Spawn bucks and test your knowledge. The system knows if you try to cheat by re-entering your answers (we tried). All winners get posted (not just the highest scores), which is an excellent way of fostering interaction-everyone likes to see his or her name in lights.
In ReBoot, you can vote for your favorite episode along with grabbing images and audio from each one. The pictures enlarge to an excellent size, so enthusiasts can keep them as posters.
Irwin’s site links you to both official and non-official sites for Spawn (www.spawn.com) and ReBoot (alliance.idirect.com/television.com). Amazing! These hotlinks provide additional information and alternative takes. More corporate sites could learn a lesson from Irwin: in the youth spectrum, indie sites don’t steal corporate fire; they fuel it by creating hype in the marketplace.
Irwin d’es a not-so-bad job of keeping kids occupied with information and pictures occupied. Like Hasbro, the strength of the site should lie in offering insider information.
overall rating: altruistic (7 out of 10)
- ALSO CHECK OUT the related site by on-line magazine Action Figure Times (http://www.primenet.com/~btn/aft.html#TP). This site is bangin’, with updates every four to five days and nothing older than two to three weeks. It’s big and comprehensive-from G.I. J’e to Spawn to Barbie to Star Trek figures. Prices, pics, tips, tidbits, links and rumors are all over the place. ‘Nearly 400,000 hits,’ they claim. No wonder. It puts a lot of other sites to shame.