About THE TOYS THAT MADE US on Netflix (My Impressions & Thoughts - No Spoilers!)
Since my earlier introduction post, the first four episodes of THE TOYS THAT MADE US has since launched on Netflix (Watch Here), with an entire episode dedicated each to Star Wars (Ep.1), Barbie (Ep.2), He-Man (Ep.3) and G.I.Joe (Ep.4).
Each episode chronicles the history of these licenses, providing a timeline from inception (and reasons for inception), along with "who" created "what", and "when", culminating to the current day in the marketplace. Essentially a "history lesson" in a documentary format, featuring interviews with creators and collectors, flanked with a "recreation" aspect of the history - for example re-creating the behind-the-scenes studio of "Star Wars", as they shot the film, featuring actors cast and era-accurately dressed as the folks they are depicting.
(Above: #TTTMU creator Brian Volk-Weiss from their recreated ILM set)
While neither "earth-shattering" nor "life-changing" (and neither do they claim to be, in the first place), the 4 episodes thus far proved to be decently "entertaining" and "informative" - at the very least for me, who has only a basic understanding of the history of the licenses - although I did fall asleep for a couple of episodes (Star Wars & Barbie lol), while He-Man and G.I.Joe had my undivided attention (the format was much more "fun" and emotive for the viewers, IMHO), and are my recommendations to watch, if you had to choose two out of 4. But seriously, there is no need to "choose", as you can perfectly watch all four, or simply whatever toy's story interests you.
The chance to see original concept drawings is GOLD, I have to say (especially the He-Man ep = GLORIOUS), while personnel politics and "money" proved to counter the allure of these "toys" we lord over thus much, IMHO.
If you are looking for a nice jaunt (or four trips) down your toy-loving memory lane, then these'll be perfect. If you are looking for the juicy backstories for these toys, you might not be disappointed! (*Barbie was inspired by WHO? *GASP*).
I hesitate to call these a "Must Watch", but as toy-collectors and fans of toys and these license(s), it has been a time well spent investing in watching them. But if you are a casual collector and am just curious to see what the hype is about, then watching them will not take too much of your time, IMHO.
Each episode clocks in at an average of 45 minutes. The series is rated "NC16". There might be some "boobies"... *cough*
One thing which I really appreciated about the series thus far, is that they do not dwell too much on the "value" of these by-now-vintage toys, like "how much this will be in today's market!", like so many focus are wont to hype up the $$$-aspect of toy-collecting (sorry, that's always been a pet-peeve of mine :p), so don't go looking to see how much your vintage toys are worth. It is a celebration of nostalgia, in this instance, with the toys we hold dear, and the business realities that comes along with its creation.
And another thing I liked about this series: is that there is no need to binge-watch them all at a go, as each episodes stand alone and are not necessarily connected. Netflix, Chill and play with your toys :)
Mind you, a reminder that the toys the series is focusing on, are "iconic 80s toys", of the mass market variety. Folks egging to see "Art toys / designer toys / urban vinyl" are to check out Daniel Zana's The Vinyl Frontier (purchase here for US$19.99 / circa 2011) and Brian Stillman's Toys Are Us: A Revolution in Plastic (2008) instead.
Filmmaker Brian Stillman (whom I interviewed in 2007) is also listed (on IMDb) as "Consulting Producer" on two episodes of "The Toys That Made Us": for the "Star wars" and "Hello Kitty" episodes ... well, he did do the "Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys" documentary :)
they chose the toy-lines that would be featured on the show:
"THE TOYS THAT MADE US" is a 8-part series (for Season 1), and will continue with the history of "Hello Kitty" (Ep.6), "Transformers" (Ep.7), "Star Trek" (Ep.8), "LEGO". No specific date has been revealed as yet, besides it being slated for "2018".
Meanwhile, stay updated via the TV show's dedicated Facebook page (all images and video featured here via).
(Above: Michael Bay being interviewed for the "Transformers" episode).