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Thread: The Death (or is that Dearth?) of Imagination

  1. #1
    #1 Extendar Fan! JonWes's Avatar
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    The Death (or is that Dearth?) of Imagination

    I'm not one for starting topics. And perhaps the title of this one is overly dramatic. But here's the thing - the plethora of complaints about the bios really gets me down. There are even people who claim they won't buy this or that figure because of their bio. Gygor is a prime example of that. I guess why it saddens me SO much is that, to me, one of the hallmarks of He-man and the Masters of the Universe is that it was all about imagination gone wild.

    Not only did the toys themselves display a great deal of imagination in both character design and execution, but they were also a fertile ground in which to sow the seeds of imagination in a child's mind. To me the greatest strength of MOTU is that it is resolutely BOUNDLESS when it comes to characters. Want a space cowboy? Why not? Cosmic Magician? Sure! Elephant-headed Fireman! Of course!

    That's why it really, truly makes me sad that people can't see past the bios. Or the real names. Or whatever else might be annoying you about figure X. In the past, bios and mini-comics were only there to help spur the imagination of children. The narrative helped to sell the toys. It certainly has kept us all hooked! Visuals will only get you so far. Look at the many toy lines that had a great visual hook but ultimately failed. I think part of this was a lack of narrative excitement.

    Now we're older. We're all collecting these figures for various reasons. Nostalgia. Because they look cool. A mixture of both. Nostalgia in and of itself is a complex, tricky thing. It's warm, fuzzy memories and regret hand in hand. It's wanting and love and needing and good and bad all rolled into one. That's why when you connect nostalgia to a product it can be a dangerous thing. People can get so passionate about their memories. I think so far MOTUC has walked a fine line between making something that we will be nostalgic about but also that looks amazing. I truly think these are some of the best figures being made right now. Put aside the annoying ordering process or the quality control issues. The figures themselves are brilliant.

    And just because we are older and have a connection to this or that character or this or that canon or this or that story, we shouldn't let that blind us to the fun that is to be had with these characters. Even if the bios zig when we think they should zag - that doesn't negate how cool the character does. Or at least, it doesn't HAVE to. If you want Gygor to be good, have him be good! Maybe he had a change of heart in your story and came over to He-man's side just in the nick of time.

    One of the great things about He-man.org and He-man fandom is that they've never been afraid to embrace fan fiction and imagery and their thoughts about figures. I think Mattel is really trying to carry this forward. We got a Goddess figure for goodness sakes! If that's not a triumph of fan support I'm not sure what is. Sure, Mattel and the 4H have their own thoughts about the storyline, and they are the custodians of that story now. But they are listening. And even though not everyone will like everything, remember that there will be some people who DO like it. And they have just a valid a reasoning for liking it as you might for disliking it. But all that aside, that affects nothing of what you can do with the story!

    I know people complain about the lack of an ongoing narrative besides the bios. I wish we had a comic. Or TV show. Or something. But in a way the bios are actually very nice for the fans. That way there are a ton of details we can fill in for ourselves. Whatever the bio starts out as, all it is - in the end- is a START. From there we can take the story ANYWHERE. So in a sense it might be good to extricate ourselves from the nostalgia at times and look at the MOTUC characters with fresh eyes and see how great they are on their own, too.

    Anyway, that's my view of it. I know people interacted differently with their figures than I did. So maybe it didn't ignite as much of a fire in their imagination as it did mine. Maybe you didn't wage epic battles between good and evil in the living room. Maybe to you it actually mattered that She-Ra was riding a swan instead of Swift Wind as you were never able to find Swift Wind as a kid. Maybe you didn't regularly have characters using the wrong weapons and armor (and didn't care!) because most of your figures were purchased at Garage sales and you didn't know better. Maybe you just re-enacted the stories you saw on TV or in the comics again and again (and I'm not saying that's bad - I must have re-enacted the Roboto attacking Teela with his axe in front of Grayskull scene a million times.) BUT, I suspect many of you did. And those of you who didn't... care to join us? It's pretty fun.

    In the end, it was always US who were the Masters of this little universe. And no matter what some bio tells you... you still are.
    Last edited by JonWes; June 19, 2010 at 04:54pm.

  2. #2
    Collector of Toys 4 Life
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    he speaks the truth.

    i like the bios for what they are... entertaining reading material & sort of a suppliment to the figures. Any parts i dislike, I choose to ignore, but overall i like them.
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    Awesome Warrior Alexx's Avatar
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    I think, though I agree about the lack of imagination, that one of the big problems is a lack of action figure fans. People want representations of characters, not toys. What I'm looking for is cool toys; it helps that these are recreations of my old favorites, but I REALLY want to see new stuff, too. I like toys. I alway have. I used toys as toys. So many different figures were just whatever characters I made up at the time. Sure, I played He-Man, G.I. Joe, TMNT...but that was mostly with friends. When I was on my own, every single toy was open for casting. This guy will be this, that guy will be that. Imagine all the women 'cause no one bought me any girls.

    So while I'm excited for these figures 'cause they're He-Man, I'm also excited for some of them because they have parts I used for someone else, or because the particular character was someone that I erased and built up on my own. Nostalgia for my own crazy characters that I made up. Most people, I think, are in this line to have certain representations of the characters they grew up with, and a story to go along with it. I understand the whole thing about a cartoon helping the line, but folks like us are in the minority. I watched 'em, but I didn't really get much from them. I think one of the few I watched regularly was TMNT. I saw G.I. Joe and I remember snipits from He-Man (mostly the Secret of the Sword movie) but those figures were usually regulated as actors. When I needed someone to play a part, there they were.

    So in the end, they can make up whatever story they want. It's cool, I like it, and if I don't I'm already making up my own stuff like I always have. It's part of the toy buying.
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    Impin' Ain't Easy! DreamTripper's Avatar
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    HEAR HEAR! I've said this since the beginning. Having a starting point is all good and well, but to me, as a kid, MOTU was all about imagination! Most of us have created our own canons and mythologies for MOTU over the years, and many, like myself, have even created entire new sections of history for MOTU. I LOVE the toys, and even love most of the bios, but if it doesn't fit with my stories, I can change it. If you're giving up on the line because of the bios, you're missing out on some great action figures that could be anything you want them to be. Also, if you don't like a figure/character because it doesn't seem to fit in with MOTU, then it must be a pretty dull, normal looking figure. As JonWes said, the line was full of space cowboys, cosmic magicians, and elephant-headed firemen. Futuristic barbarians and medieval robots. What doesn't fit in? I love that they're incorporating PoP and NA and MYP into it. I was never a fan of NA, mainly because the original figures were not in scale with MOTU, but I did like the character designs. I never had any PoP toys as a kid, but loved the ideas. I still use my imagination to determine the character bios if I don't care for them. If you have forgotten how to do that, then why are you collecting MOTUC in the first place?

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  5. #5
    No Rio? We Riot! TheFallen's Avatar
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    I am a huge fan of these bios. I am regularly reading the bio threads by Patrick and Uki and I seem to be regularly discussing certain things in the bio over MSN with the other Aussies on sale day.

    I do look at MOTUC with "fresh eyes". I guess that is why I can easily take Mo-Larr and would be willing to take new characters or have Blackstar/Bravestarr characters incorporated into the mythos. If I wanted this to be just like the vintage line then that is what I would stick with and I would leave MOTUC well enough alone.

    The bio is supposed to be planned out, that can be argued to death, but it is still incomplete. I am sure the story will unfold more, but it may not. That could be why Toyguru constantly says the true canon is what we make of it.

    For the most part, I am enjoying the story as it comes and I constantly look forward to more additions

  6. #6
    Heroic Master of 200X MegaGearMax's Avatar
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    Wes, some fans just don't like NEW stuff. Pure and simple.

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    No more OT Dice's Avatar
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    I don't think I ever played any toyline as a kid with its "suggested" storyline. I always modified or even completely redid stories to suit my own preferences.

    Isn't that, in the end, what toys are all about? Opening our imaginations?

  8. #8
    Heroic Warrior victoryleo19's Avatar
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    i agree with this topic 100%. bios shmios. sometimes i feel like people forget what it was like NOT to have MOTUC. hell, if these figures came wrapped in trash i'd still be salivating.

  9. #9
    Loves MOTUC canon! PaTrIcKfOgArTy's Avatar
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    I agree JonWes and find your sentiment very well said, nice job.

    I love the bios because for me MOTU is about the characters. Each new canon presents a new angle to the characters. Sometimes I find I like a character more then I ever have, i.e., I loved 200x Clawful vs Filmation depiction and sometimes I don't care as much for a characters portrayal, i.e., 200x Sorceress (pass please) compared to the fantastic Filmation one.

    BUT

    Either way, what I'm loving about MOTUC and the bios, are that my favorite characters are accounted for as well as characters I never knew existed. It took MOTUC to introduce Optikk (a character from a canon I skipped entirely), He-Ro, The Goddess, Tytus, and Gygor to my "MOTU universe" and for that I'm truly excited. Just as It took 200x canon to introduce "Zodak, Odiphus, and King Grayskull".

  10. #10
    Heroic Warrior Bulkhide's Avatar
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    Rock on dude. I agree with ya.
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  11. #11
    Heroic Warrior Eternian Poet's Avatar
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    Anything MOTU usually perks me up & the bios can contain some good ideas. I've been really enjoying most of what the line has to offer (& appreciating what I don't want for myself) & though the bios don't replace the mini comics, they are a fun frill & remind me of the "files" on the back of GI Joe/Action Force cards.

    Hell, there's so much MOTU "lore" the writers probably have a hard job choosing the best bits & weaving it together into a coherent, interesting & suspenseful multi-narrative. (Plus, Mattel won't want to pay a top-writer to put it all together...)

    And I also love to ***** about the bios.

    Good value for money then
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    Heroic Warrior sephron13's Avatar
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    I 110%, whole-heartedly agree with the OP. Very well stated!
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  13. #13
    Master of Mix & Match Charlie Brown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonWes View Post
    In the end, it was always US who were the Masters of this little universe. And no matter what some bio tells you... you still are.
    i do agree with your point of view and appreciate the tone of your exposition.
    in my opinion, bios are just ideas, patterns or suggestions anyone may agree or disagree with: they're only bricks in the building of a myth.

  14. #14
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    Good points, but don't forget the biographies have been pushed to the forefront of this line and obviously form the 'official' viewpoint. There was more room for imagination with the original line in that respect.

    My observation is that the bios seem uninspired, and lacking the imagination that the Masters are all about. So yes, I agree entirely with the point that we make the line what it is - always have and always will - but it doesn't stop me being disappointed with badly written biographies that could be so much more creative.
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    #1 Extendar Fan! JonWes's Avatar
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    First of all thanks to all who actually read that long ramble and responded! It's good to know I'm not alone, although I suspected I was far from it, actually.

    Quote Originally Posted by VaultsofGrayskull View Post
    My observation is that the bios seem uninspired, and lacking the imagination that the Masters are all about. So yes, I agree entirely with the point that we make the line what it is - always have and always will - but it doesn't stop me being disappointed with badly written biographies that could be so much more creative.
    Although I like the bios for the most part I agree that you should definitely feel free to not like them, of course! My only sadness is when people let the bio effect their enjoyment of a figure.

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    Huge custard eating power flaming_knob's Avatar
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    JonWes... Cheers mate. Well said.
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  17. #17
    Heroic Daddy to Hermione! Uki's Avatar
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    Great thread and well-stated! I am a HUGE fan of everything in the Bios and I have no problem "fitting" any of it into how I have alsways seen MOTU and all related properties. This stuff is kitschy, oddball, and completely wild: the sort of thing a four-year-old would create. That's where MOTUC takes me, and I am happier for it. If it's not your bag, that's fine and your perrogative. Enjoy the parts you do like!
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  18. #18
    Heroic Warrior Bulkhide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uki View Post
    Great thread and well-stated! I am a HUGE fan of everything in the Bios and I have no problem "fitting" any of it into how I have alsways seen MOTU and all related properties. This stuff is kitschy, oddball, and completely wild: the sort of thing a four-year-old would create. That's where MOTUC takes me, and I am happier for it. If it's not your bag, that's fine and your perrogative. Enjoy the parts you do like!
    Great post! Here-here!
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  19. #19
    Eternian Arashikage King Kahn's Avatar
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    I agree with what is said but i would also add this:

    As a fanbase, really pick any fanbase i.e transformers, g i joe, comics, we can not overcome nostalgia. We SAY we want great new things but tend to gravitate towards the stuff we grew up with but regurgitated over and over.

    for example, comics are notorious for this. every few years a character is brought back to life, a team line up is brought back that is "classic" or storylines are rehashes or sequels to silver age/golden age stories.

    it is our unwillingness to let in new ideas or elements that can sometimes stagnate or kill any new fan interest in a property.

    it is this sort of unwillingness that sometimes hinders MOTUC specifically since, even though this is a nostalgia based line, many people can not overcome either a bias for or a bias against something.

    The embracing of certain elements does not go over as well and uniformly as everyone thinks(and i am guilty about this as well). Overall i think we are a fairly good set of fans but also this line really hasn't strayed THAT FAR from our expectations, IMHO, concerning the bios and figures.
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  20. #20
    Heroic Warrior DO4M's Avatar
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    I will admit that most of the MOTUC I've got have been because of nostalgia. (some of them I had as a kid, some I did not.) Some characters I've bought because they're simply plain cool (Optikk). The bios or "The Official MOTUC Canon" is important to me because it's the thread that binds them together Officially. The problem is that some of the bios/names/etc. SEEM uninspired for a story that is being weaved together through these snippets of info.
    Most of the complaining stems from the multiple (and sometimes) conflicting canons being merged together in a pseudo coherent story. (until we're able to see the big picture.)

    There are some characters that I plainly don't like (sculpt, Articulation, or something else) and the Bio is my second to last chance to be swayed to get the character. Like Gygor, for example. I'm not a fan of the lemon lime ape. It's an awesome looking Gorilla, but something in him doesn't scream "BUY ME!" like Tytus did (before the disappointment in articulation hit me.) The bio didn't sway me. (It's now up to Dan's review to see if the caped ape will fill my evil ranks.)

    While I COULD make a brand new canon for my personal use (I've been working on that for a while... and trying to figure out how to use Mo-Larr. Assuming I can get him); I still like to keep the "official canon" (Even if it's a convoluted mess of multi colored Power Swords). around for continuity issues... (I blame me being a former Marvel Zombie...)
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  21. #21
    Heroic Master of 200X MegaGearMax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by King Kahn View Post
    I agree with what is said but i would also add this:

    As a fanbase, really pick any fanbase i.e transformers, g i joe, comics, we can not overcome nostalgia. We SAY we want great new things but tend to gravitate towards the stuff we grew up with but regurgitated over and over.

    for example, comics are notorious for this. every few years a character is brought back to life, a team line up is brought back that is "classic" or storylines are rehashes or sequels to silver age/golden age stories.

    it is our unwillingness to let in new ideas or elements that can sometimes stagnate or kill any new fan interest in a property.

    it is this sort of unwillingness that sometimes hinders MOTUC specifically since, even though this is a nostalgia based line, many people can not overcome either a bias for or a bias against something.

    The embracing of certain elements does not go over as well and uniformly as everyone thinks(and i am guilty about this as well). Overall i think we are a fairly good set of fans but also this line really hasn't strayed THAT FAR from our expectations, IMHO, concerning the bios and figures.
    QFT.
    Not everything new is good, but damn...it's almost as if some fans are automatically against any new concepts or characters.

    Y'know...I wonder if the less fortunate eras such as the POP or NA fans would be so against new POP or NA characters as the vintage fans are?

    The Blonde Teela (Battleground and Alcala Teela) Thread
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  22. #22
    Eternian Arashikage King Kahn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MegaGearMax View Post
    QFT.
    Not everything new is good, but damn...it's almost as if some fans are automatically against any new concepts or characters.

    Y'know...I wonder if the less fortunate eras such as the POP or NA fans would be so against new POP or NA characters as the vintage fans are?
    Well I am a HUGE NA fan(along with all the other eras) and I would LOVE a Darius, Master Sebrian, Mara, etc. I say bring on the new blood!!!!
    I want NA Skeletor and Rio Blast and I want them now!

  23. #23
    Heroic Master of 200X MegaGearMax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by King Kahn View Post
    Well I am a HUGE NA fan(along with all the other eras) and I would LOVE a Darius, Master Sebrian, Mara, etc. I say bring on the new blood!!!!
    I didn't mean those guys (although they would be cool!).

    I meant I wondered if the POP or NA fans are more open to BRAND NEW characters. NEW POP females. NEW Galactic Protectors. NEW Mutants. NEW female Horde.

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  24. #24
    #1 Extendar Fan! JonWes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DO4M View Post

    There are some characters that I plainly don't like (sculpt, Articulation, or something else) and the Bio is my second to last chance to be swayed to get the character. Like Gygor, for example. I'm not a fan of the lemon lime ape. It's an awesome looking Gorilla, but something in him doesn't scream "BUY ME!" like Tytus did (before the disappointment in articulation hit me.) The bio didn't sway me. (It's now up to Dan's review to see if the caped ape will fill my evil ranks.)
    That's an interesting take, I'll admit. I suppose if you don't like the sculpt/concept the bio could sway you one way or the other. I guess I was just assuming everyone would like all the characters because they are all so cool looking so far! LOL

  25. #25
    Heroic Warrior Ivan's Avatar
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    I agree with a lot of the things you said, and I fully appreciate and support your attitude towards MOTU(C). But there is one fundamental thing I feel I need to say -

    I think it's the bios themselves that stifle imagination. In the 80's they only put some basic info on the box. You could only see the character's affiliation, their powers and abilities, and maybe some very basic background. Yes, there was the mini-comic, but there were also other comics, books, cartoon, later movie, so the mini-comic would get diluted and didn't feel like it's more official than anything else. It encouraged you to think whatever you want, and make stuff up.

    With MOTUC we have these intricate, complicated bios which, to put it bluntly, often sound like bad fanfic. My problem is not nostalgia, I don't care if they invent new stuff - the problem is how they do it. If it were a movie, you could introduce new stuff in a more natural way. You could depict a new character in a way that lets the audience understand them, suffer and rejoice with them, and ultimately accept them. Same goes for cartoons, or comics or short stories. You just can't do that in a bio. It's the wrong medium. It is too short, and too informative. The problem with new stuff in a bio is that it has no space to breathe and to come alive. It's just dry information. It's just plain boring.

    Another thing that stifles imagination is that they are trying to connect it all together. Why is that?! MOTU was always awesome BECAUSE it has so many different canons and great ideas. Why are they putting Optikk in the same world with the Goddess?! Why is Wun-Dar a separate character in the same universe? What's wrong with him being a different version of He-Man? A re-imagination of He-Man? I know that anyone can chose to ignore or accept anything they want, but it looks like Mattel doesn't get it.

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