Oct 14, 2012

Testing and Such

Trying out a new interface with hopes of a return to regular blogging.    Also, exciting news coming soon!

Jun 15, 2012

Heroes Con Coming Up! June 22 - 24

You know how it is when there is something you have been looking forward to and working towards for a very long time....the culmination of work and determination....the end point of your quest.  The anticipation can be cut with your favorite sharp edged implement.
Well, here at New World central, we are reaching one of those points as we are less than a week from HeroesCon in Charlotte, NC.   After doing a number of one day and "dealer only" style shows, this is going to be our first huge CON with thousands upon thousands of attendees.   Getting through this huge show successfully and profitably will be a huge accomplishment for us in our ongoing business development.  We've been honing our convention procedures leading up to this, and very soon now, it will be showtime.

So, come out and see us at booth 105 - first booth on the wall directly in front of you as you enter the convention hall.   Make that first corner, and there we are - nearly 800 figures, busts, art prints, custom crochet hats, and a whole lot of cool bound up in a 10x10 spot.

Of course, if you came to the show just to see us, we are impressed and grateful.   However, there are a lot more reasons to come out to the show.  It's Heroes 30th Anniversary, and they have pulled out all the stops with the guest list including -

  • Adam Hughes
  • Mark Bagley
  • Neal Adams
  • Bob Layton
  • Ron Marz
  • Ed McGuinness
  • Mike Mignola
  • George Perez
  • Dos Simonsons - Walt and Louise
  • Mike Zeck
  • oh...and some guy named Stan Lee.   

Get more details at www.heroesonline.com

So....come this time next week, we will be hard at work setting up the booth, hanging the figures with care, and Mike endlessly rearranging in a search for plastic feng shui.    Wish us luck and hope to see you there!

May 7, 2012

Thoughts on Free Comic Book Day 2012

Another Free Comic Book Day has passed with much jubilation for those of us in the hobby and amused notice by the rest of the "normals".   I personally spent mine over at the Ultimate Comics event in Durham, NC.  Alan and company put on a nice presentation with LOTS of books, bunches of artists, some nice sales, and some unique twists such as a live band.

Ultimate Comics and other NC comic stores such as Acme Comics in Greensboro and Heroes Aren't Hard to Find in Charlotte understand that there is a large measure of enlightened self interest in staging not just another promotion, but a true "event".   The regular customers can be counted upon to come out, but it is the greater targets of lapsed fans, casual observers, parents and young kids, and similar that are the true targets.  Comics still have the stigma of being a male and geek dominated area symbolized by the "Comic Book Guy" on the Simpsons or the crew on Kevin Smith's Comic Book Men (that show does us no favors).  Ask a casual fan what they think a comic shop looks like, and the usual visual is a poorly lit "paper dungeon", or worse yet, surprise that comic shops still exist.

These stores break those stereotypes with nice open and, most importantly, accessible environments.   Accessible not only in terms of space and lighting, but also in terms of atmosphere and attitude.  Potential new customers should feel welcome no matter age, gender, or demographic.   They should not feel like an outsider intruding upon some four color high security area protecting the secrets of Batman's utility belt.   This is not just a matter of courtesy, it is no a fundamental for survival.  For a shop dependent upon a print based product source in an internet based world, each and every potential customer is vital.  Even with comic book based properties riding high in mainstream culture, gathering and maintaining new customers is still a difficult process and cannot be taken for granted just because "The Avengers" is the number one movie in the world.

Unfortunately, there are still a number of stores who do not understand this.  Stores that do not participate in Free Comic Book day or just stack the books on a table near the entrance with a sign stating "Limit X titles per customer".   In my area, three stores of this type have gone under in the past four years, despite the popular successes of Marvel Studios, the Dark Knight, and a lot of cartoons.  This style of shop is extinct.  They just don't know it yet.

In the past year, Marvel and DC, have begun the processes that will gradually lead to the evolution of our hobby.   Both have begun significant digital initiatives (Marvel Digital Universe Unlimited is a WONDERFUL thing.  You owe it to yourself to try it).  DC rebooted their entire universe to get out of 70 years of continuity.  They have also begun placing advertising with their movies and other media promoting local comic shops.  Marvel needs to follow a similar path, especially given the range and size of the Disney media machine.  A perfect example would have been some sort of comic shop promotional message placed BEFORE the after credits scene.   (Have Pepper Potts pick up Tony's subscriptions from the local shop!)  Despite this criticism, it does appear that the Big Two are increasing their support levels for shops and will hopefully continue and expand upon these programs as the medium shifts more towards digital.

So, if you picked up one of the FCBD books on a lark, make a note to go back to that shop and see what other wonders they can offer you.   Additionally, share the fun by passing the book(s) onto a friend or a child (age appropriate please!).   If you are a regular comic shop customer, do the same.   These books are not meant to be stored in plastic and cardboard.  They should be set loose and have as wide a dispersion as possible.   This is the true legacy of Free Comic Book Day, and it is up to us, comic book fans and shops alike, to fulfill this.

Apr 1, 2012

Heroes Con and New Arrivals!

It's been quite a busy past month of March here with some big news!

First off, we are confirmed for our first ever Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC.  If you are a comic or pop culture fan located within a day's drive from Charlotte, you owe it to yourself to go to this Con.  Scheduled for June 22 - 24, this huge show features some of the biggest names in comics along with twelve to fifteen thousand fans.  The Saturday evening art auction is the stuff of legends.

We will be located in spot 105 on the far left wall.  Look for the Batman and Superman balloons along with lots of great figures!   We will have more info as we get closer to the show, but click here to find out how to attend.

We have also added some new lines to our Amazon storefront including:

  • Marvel Super Hero Squad
  • DC Universe Superman/Batman Public Enemies (Target Exclusive).  We only have one of the rare Major Force figures!
  • Nearly 75 Undertaker figures from various Jakks Pacific series.  This includes some of the rare Collector Series packs and the Ring Giants!  We also have some of the ring sets that included Undertaker figures, but those have not been listed yet.
  • A selection of San Diego Exclusives including the Captain America, Thor, Spider-Man, Cobra Commander, and Kilowog exclusives of the past few years.  The Avatar, Skeletor, Franken-Berry, and similar exclusives will be added over the next few months.
See you soon in the New World!

WWE Jakks Pacific Wrestling Action Figure Ring Giants Series 9 UndertakerMattel DC Superman Batman Public Enemies Action Figure Major Force Build Brimstone Piece!
Marvel Super Hero Squad ? Iron Man and ThorHasbro 2010 SDCC San Diego ComicCon Exclusive Marvel Universe 3 3/4 Inch Action Figure Ultimate Captain America

Feb 20, 2012

A Beginner's Guide For Packing

I see the UPS truck stopping outside, and my interest jumps as my latest eBay purchase has arrived.   Or, I hand in my USPS call tag and am eagerly awaiting the post office employee's return with boxes in hand (or on cart).  Either way, I can usually tell within the first minute of seeing the box if I am in for a good or bad experience.   

Having been involved in the buying and selling of collectible action figures for the past twelve years, there have been a variety of best and worst practices that I have seen employed on eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, and other online venues in that time.  By my personal count, in my first five to six years on eBay, I averaged one poorly packaged transaction a year (meaning that the items were damaged as a direct result of poor packaging).  In the last three years, that rate has increased to a staggering one in five transactions with an expected "casualty" rate of 10% damages in bulk purchases.   One wonders why I prefer Craigslist!   

And the problem is not just limited to new sellers.  Blame the drive towards "free shipping", the incentive of using shipping costs as a secondary revenue stream, lack of respect towards the items, or any of a variety of other reasons - the bottom line is that shipping practices have notably declined in the past few years.  

This is an area that should not be overlooked by any sellers.  Just like the outfit you wear to a job interview, the packaging sets the immediate tone and attitude for your customer before they open your package.  When I see an obviously reused box, I am going to be checking things out fairly closely.  When I see a new box with a printed label, I am not going to be as hawkish.   Plus, if there is an issue with one of the items, I am more likely to give the seller the benefit of the doubt if I can tell care went into the packing process.

Here are some DOs and DON'Ts - 

  • Have a box already available for packing your item(s).  I know of four instances in the past six months where the seller took a heavy loss on shipping costs because they did not know what size box they were going to need.   And, if the seller is already taking a loss on shipping, they are more likely to cut corners on packing, resulting in damaged items.
  • Have some space between the sides of the box and the item(s), usually one inch on all sides.  If the items are flush against the sides of the box, they are very vulnerable to any impacts as well as sliding if the box is tipped.  Center the items in the box and fill in all the space with packing materials
  • Use packing materials and enough of it!    There is a phrase in shipping - "If it shakes, it breaks."   Paper, peanuts, air pillows, stuffed animals - use something in there and make sure to use enough of it.  I once received an shipment of 12 action figures with three pieces of looseleaf paper as packing.  My first reaction is that the seller was a moron.  Lack of packing materials shows a lack of professionalism and respect for your customer.  
  • Use standardized boxes.  As much as possible, use the same size boxes for all of your shipments.  It helps with storage, packing, and even carrying the prepared shipments around.  
  • Bag the items inside the box.   It looks good, keeps the items clean, and adds protection from scuffs and scratches.  A win-win.
  • Reuse used boxes.  I know this one can be tough for smaller sellers, but if you are going to reuse boxes, make sure they are in good condition, no punctures, sharp corners, and no writing.  When I see a reused box, I don't think "Wow, they are doing good for the environment."   I think "Someone is trying to make some money on me" quickly followed by "Something is going to be messed up." 
  • Use shredded newspaper.   Unless it is the only resort, shredded newspaper is a horrible choice for packing material.  It's dirty, it gets everywhere, and it may be the most annoying form of packing material out there (other than no packing material at all).
  • Pack to the top of the box.   Just like the above tip about leaving space, that includes the top of the box.  If your items are going to the top of the box, something is going to be at best case bent and at worst case broken.
  • Assume it will be "good enough" or the shipping distance is "short enough".  If you have any doubts about a pack job, redo it.  The one you don't will the be the one that comes back to bite you.
I know these items will require some extra effort and expense on the front end of your business.  However, attention and planning in these areas will reap benefits by increased positive feedback and reduced defect rates.  In addition, streamlined processes will decrease your time and labor costs. Ultimately, these expenses will be offset by new business influenced by positive feedback and repeat business from satisfied customers. In the end, it's more than just cardboard and paper.  It's attitude, perception, and professionalism all wrapped up with packing tape.

Feb 5, 2012

Some Thoughts on the Super Bowl Ads - 2012

With my beloved Saints not in the game, I found myself lacking any vested interest in the game (although I really do not like the Patriots).  So, since several more qualified authorities and non-authorities have pontificated about the game itself for the past two weeks and up to the current second, let's talk about the commercials!

I am not going to bore you with the standard winners and losers or Top 10 list.  Instead, this will be some random thoughts from one geek's perspective on the quickest multi-million dollar investments in history.  And, given that it is a geek's perspective, this will be fairly pop culture heavy.

  • The Avengers - Marvel rolled out a teaser for an actual commercial that came off as just more teaser.   Far more impressive is the extended trailer that was simultaneously loaded up on the Avengers Facebook page.  The "We have a Hulk" line is an instant classic.   However, the question lingers....why not air the full trailer during the Super Bowl?   Was there not enough money in the marketing budget or were there no spaces available?
  • GI Joe: Retribution - Nothing really new here other than the brief glimpse of the fully helmeted Cobra Commander along with more of The Rock's pecs and Snake Eyes kicking tail.   However, the overall look and tone of the film appears to be far more appropriate for the property than the overly cartoony first one.  With some of the moves that the de-lipped Snake Eyes has been showing in the previews, I hope Larry Hama is smiling.
  • General Motors - I didn't place Clint Eastwood's voice until about halfway through the ad, but once I did, it was all goosebumps.  Tokyo, you feel lucky punk?
  • MetLife - Ok, we have characters from Warner Bros, Hanna Barbera, the Bullwinkle stable, and Voltron (?!?!?!).  Which of these things is not like the other?  Also, how much is the deductible on those lions and does it increase when they form the robot?
  • Honda CRV - Man, that Matthew Broderick just does not age!  Otherwise, this felt very forced.  I wanted to like it, but instead, I was let down at the end.  Some things should not be given the commercial treatment.
  • The Voice - Yeah, there were several ads for the show, but the Tarantino-esque action spot was clearly the best.  Cee Lo Green in the Uma Thurman track suit has to be the geek out spot of the night.
  • VW - Missed it.  Will have to catch it online later tonight.  The Force was not with me, but I hear the dog spot released in advance was better.
  • Geico - Will someone make bacon out of the damn pig already?   It was funny the first 20 times, but the amount of commercial spots that Geico is purchasing has to be causing my rates to rise.
And finally, the Coke ad with the football fan polar bears.  As the one bear goes out and vents his frustration to the heavens ("Arrrrgh!"), the only thought from this black and gold fan is "I feel your pain."

Now, time to start planning out the trip to New Orleans for next year's Super Bowl.......Who Dat!

Jan 3, 2012

A Quick Change

Mike made a few changes and linked www.newworldtoysandcollectibles.com to our Amazon website.  One URL and no extra clicking!  Check it out today.