Nerd Confessions Podcast: We get nostalgic for all the toys of our past on the podcast this week as we speak about the informative, yet interesting Netflix exclusive documentary, The Toys That Made Us. What about the show kept our interest so much? Does the creator of the documentary, Brian Volk-Weiss lead an army of diddlers in his company, Comedy Dynamics?! Out of the 4 episodes released so far Star Wars, Barbie, He-Man and G.I. Joe which one did we like the most? Listen or follow along as we discuss.

Listener Confession this week from @manuel_hernandez_animations via Instagram along with some of our own confessions!

Now available on iTunesStitcherYoutube and below:

Show Notes

What is the Toys that Made Us?

The Toys that Made Us is a documentary about the story behind the conceptual stage all the way to the modern impact of iconic toys of our childhood. The 8-episode series was created by Brian Volk-Weiss.

There are currently only 4 episodes available which were released on December 27th 2017.

  1. Star Wars
  2. Barbie
  3. He-Man
  4. G.I. Joe

The rest of the episodes of the series will be covering LEGO, Transformers, Hello Kitty and Star Trek. No concrete release date for these episodes. Brian stated that they struggled to get the first 4 out in time for the holidays and he still has 2 episodes left to edit in an interview from Polygon. He also stated that for the Transformers episode he has Michael Bay in the interview line-up.

Each episode begins with a reenactment of a notable moment during the story of the toy being covered and from there they will cut to interviews, old footage and commercials telling the whole timeline of that toy.

Development

Brian Volk-Weiss, creator of the series is the President of Comedy Dynamics. At the company he is running its production, development, management and distribution departments. Dynamics is currently the largest producer and distributor of one-hour comedy specials in the US featuring comedians such as Kevin Hart, Aziz Ansari (diddler), Jim Gaffigan, Katt Williams and Louis C.K.

The Toys that Made Us was directed by Tom Stern, who in his early career directed shows with Jimmy Kimmel such as the Man Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live. He was also director and writer for Saul of the Molemen which aired on Adult Swim. Most recently he directed 2 Broke Girls. Tom Stern worked with Brian Volk-Weiss on Stevie TV and the choice of him as director for The Toys that Made Us may have stemmed from there.

The narrator of the documentary is Donald Ian Black who is a writer/actor for Goodbye Neenaw (2017) and Ruins (2013).

How was it received?

On IMDB The Toys that Made Us is currently rated 8.1 out of 10 from 838 user reviews.

Overall thoughts.

  • Episode 1, Star Wars: In 1977, after being rejected by Mattel and Hasbro, Lucasfilm signed with Kenner Products to have toys produced for their sci-fi film, Star Wars. This was a huge gamble, as Kenner was a small toy company at the time and the negotiation process started late due to George Lucas’ secrecy over the ship designs. Since then, toy sales of the Star Wars franchise have totaled to $14 billion worldwide.
  • Episode 2, Barbie: In a toy industry dominated by the male demographic, Mattel co-founder Ruth Handler broke new ground in 1959 when she took a concept based on the German Bild Lilli doll (who was a very promiscuous character) and introduced the world to Barbie. The toy line has since become the largest selling doll and one of the most influential toys in modern history, selling over a billion dolls globally.
  • Episode 3, He-Man: Searching for a new toy line for boys, designers at Mattel saw inspiration from Frank Frazetta’s artworks, as well as their creative imagination, and launched the Masters of the Universe action figures. The toy line dominated in sales from $38.2 million to $400 million in 1986 before its demise in 1987 as a result of sales dropping to $7 million and financial failure of the live-action film adaptation.
  • Episode 4, G.I. Joe: Introduced in 1964, Hasbro’s G.I. Joe: America’s Movable Fighting Man was the first action figure in toy history, but an oil crisis and declining sales led to the line’s demise in 1978. Desperate to hold their own against Kenner’s Star Wars line, Hasbro took inspiration from the Reagan-era Cold War to revive the line as Gi.I. Joe: A Real American Hero in 1982, making over $51 million that year and becoming one of the most influential boys’ toys of all time.

What we would like to see covered in the future:

  • Ninja Turtles
  • Ghostbusters
  • Stretch Armstrong
  • WWF toys
  • Army Men (cowboys and indians)
  • Board games show.
  • Playdough

What do we rate the series?

Great for the documentary series genre. Not high budget and could be cut a little better, but the content is extremely interesting. 8 out of 10.

That’s it for this week!

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