Sponsor Showcase: Silver Screen Toys and Collectibles

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Hey, everyone! I’d like to welcome Electrified Porcupine’s newest sponsor: Silver Screen Toys and Collectibles based out of Ontario, Canada.  I know many collectors head to Ebay for certain items and Star Wars Black Series figures, but here’s a business you should be checking out instead!

I had the opportunity to shoot owner, Wes, a bunch of questions so all of you (as well as myself) could get to know about him and the company more. Read on for my interview and make sure to check out Silver Screen Toys and Collectibles!! My first batch of Star Wars figures from them will be in this week!

How long have you been in business?

We launched www.silverscreentoysandcollectibles in March of this year (2016), and opened our first (and currently only) retail location in Bobcaygeon, Ontario on October 1st, 2016.

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What made you start (or what was your inspiration) for starting not only a Canadian website selling collectibles, but actually having a retail space as well?

As an 80’s kid, I grew up in a setting where right or wrong, TV was the babysitter. I quickly developed a real love for action oriented syndicated animation and movies, especially science fiction and high fantasy!

When you’re a kid, I don’t think you can really take much credit for being a collector, especially when it’s your parents who are financing the whole thing! Still I wasn’t left for wanting very much back then.

Christmases and birthdays were filled with Star Wars, Transformers, GI-Joe, and He-Man, among others. In those days you carted them around to your friends’ houses because how else were you going to defeat Cobra or Megatron? Not with just your own meager assortment of figures that’s for sure! Of course time stops for no one and right around age thirteen or so, my parents decided that because all my plastic friends had been demoted to closet status that I was too old for them and in a swift “matter of fact manner,” everything was sold off at a yard sale.

To me it was just one more fact of life. When you grow up in a household where “children are meant to be seen and not heard.” I accepted that it was time to grow up, and that’s just what I did.

I gave 15 years of my life to the service of Canada by becoming a medic in the army (YO JOE!). It was in the fall of 2006 while I was deployed to Afghanistan that a friend of mine had received a GI-Joe collector’s guide in a care package from home. He lent it to me and as I leafed through the full colour images of all the Joe’s from 82-89 I was instantly transported back to those “simpler times.” I couldn’t believe how much these toys still resonated with me! At that point I was “bitten!” I knew that if I made it home from that deployment I was going to take up toy collecting as my new hobby.

It turns out I did make it home and I started collecting almost immediately! With Transformers being my first toy love, it was kind of ironic that, while I was away, Hasbro launched their line of “Classics” based on the original ‘84 line. I hunted every Toys R Us and Walmart within a 250km radius to get caught up on it and I never looked back.

Fast forward a few years later to where my military career was winding down. Like, I could literally see the writing on the wall. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was suddenly a very real thing for me and I got very sick. My life changed forever. But there was always toys, and I found some respite in that. I had toiled with the idea of a toy store as early as 2010. In fact the name Silver Screen Toys and Collectibles was born that year. After getting out of the Army in 2013, my priority was always to get healthy again and to be well enough to do something with my life. Heck, I was only 39! I was too young to not do something!

As my health improved so did my ability to get out of the house and do more, so that led me to the convention circuit. Between Fan Expo, the Toronto Comic Con, and the myriad of toy shows in and around the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), I could bank on at least 5 or 6 times a year that I knew I was going to be able to get items that I couldn’t physically get anywhere else!

In the meantime my personal life was taking a new turn and I met my current business partner and the absolute love of my life, Kimberley! I don’t think there’s a “nerd” out there who hasn’t trembled at the notion of exposing their collecting habits to a potential mate, and I was no exception! Turns out my fears were for nothing because not only did Kimberley accept and embrace my love of toys but she got bit, too! In our first year together, she went from zero collectibles to over 100 Funko POP Vinyl figures and bobbles!

In fact it was Kim who asked me “why the hell are we not doing this!?!?!” when she realized what toy shows were about. And again, it was Kimberley who booked our first toy show as a dealer!

I think most rural Canadian collectors would agree; the lengths we have to go to (both physically and financially) make it tough to be a collector. When you don’t readily have access to a Toys R Us, Walmart, or a comic/specialty shop what do you do? And the reality of living in cottage country is that not everyone wants to shop online. And those who do (myself included) are still left to contend with the exchange rate, duty, taxes and shipping!

So Silver Screen Toys and Collectibles was launched to try and fill that gap. Our Wholesalers are based in Canada and for the most part are very receptive to the feedback we give them, and that makes it better for all of us! We’re small, but we’re growing fast. Every time we would do a toy show we’d get asked “do you have a store?” So much so that it prompted us to take a serious look at the feasibility to open up a retail location.

So, we crunched the numbers, and came up with a plan, that has led us exactly to where we are now! Like Ferris Bueller said, “life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once and awhile you could miss it,”and at Silver Screen Toys that’s kind of been our way too. We moved pretty fast and went from a “great idea” to “open for business” in just 4 weeks and then from exclusively doing online sales to opening a retail location in our first 7 months! It’s been a great ride so far and I hope everyone that has come with us hangs on, because there’s no telling where we’ll go next!

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What are/is your favourite toy line that you sell?

I’m really torn on that question. It’s kind of like we’re living in a bit of a resurgence of all my favourite 80’s properties! I loved the Masters of the Universe Classics line from Mattel, even in spite of all the QC issues. Then there’s all the great stuff from NECA like their 7 inch Alien and Predator lines that are knock outs on just about every figure they make! Then Hasbro had to go and make a 6 inch collector friendly line of Star Wars figures and I was hooked on those immediately! But what really excites me is that we just got a source for Hot Toys 6th Scale figures from Sideshow Collectibles! For anyone who’s not familiar with them I can only describe them as THE premiere 12 inch collector figure, and we’re really stoked to be able to offer those!

What has/have been your most popular line(s)?

The Star Wars Black Series sells really well! When we went into this business we did so with the intention to not to repeat what mass market was already doing. But again, that 6-inch line is so popular we couldn’t NOT carry it. Of course Funko’s Pop Vinyl figures and bobbles are still on the upswing. Man, those things exploded in popularity and it’s like they get new licenses almost faster than we can get them in!

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What would you say to a customer that has never bought from you before? What kind of service would they expect from you?

I usually start with thank you for choosing us or saying thank you for coming in to visit our store. Even if a customer doesn’t buy from us. Being a collector before everything else usually means there’s no shortage of conversation with our customers. It’s honestly one of the things I love the most about being in this business. Every conversation is a new relationship and I want every person who comes to us to feel like they got something out of the experience because their time is valuable, too. I love being able to relate to a person’s passion about their favourite pop culture property.

Is there anything you think that makes you stand out from any competition?

Here’s the reality I face every day: there is absolutely nothing stopping anyone from doing exactly what I’m doing! Geographically speaking, I don’t have a competitor right now. But that doesn’t mean that come tomorrow there isn’t three of us all competing in the same space! It’s not lost on me that we’re the first in our area, but you know what? Being first isn’t enough anymore. That’s why we try to reach our customers, our fans, like they’re part of the Silver Screen Toys and Collectibles family because the truth is, they are!

We’re not Walmart or Toys R Us or any other big box store. So when a customer communicates with us, no matter what channel that communication comes from, they’re not getting some random person answering their email or responding to their post comment. It’s us! Like I said before, every interaction forms a relationship and each party in that relationship needs to get something out of it. It’s because of those relationships that Silver Screen Toys and Collectibles was invited to be the exclusive toy dealer of the 2016 Toronto Prop Expo, and we’re very proud of that. We do have some other exciting things in the works, and unfortunately, we’re not allowed to talk about those right now. The most I can say is if you’re a toy show attendee, you’re going to be seeing the Silver Screen Toys and Collectibles logo a lot more across Ontario in 2017 and beyond!

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What are your three favourite movies/shows that have inspired you to get into the Collector’s business?

Oh that’s an easy one! The first has to be Star Wars. Yeah, yeah say what you want about the prequels, but you all saw them too! Second would be Transformers (G1). Lastly I have to give it to the collective Superhero genre embodied by Marvel and DC Comics. While other properties faded into obscurity these three have never been out of the public consciousness. And with the length that these properties are going to stay relevant in the worlds of  ///.nd television, I don’t think any of them are going away anytime soon!

What are your top three action figures or collectibles that YOU actually own?

Wow! Talk about a tough question, but you know what? I have tons of pieces in my collection that are really amazing but my top one is definitely not something you’d expect. It’s actually a 7 inch Flash Gordon figure from Biff Bang Pow that came out in 2007. I have both versions of Flash in that line but it’s the one in the red and black spandex jumpsuit and the huge curved sword that I just love. The whole line was based on the 1982 Sam Jones film with that awesome Queen soundtrack and I love it! That movie was easily the second most watched of my childhood right after Star Wars!

I gotta give number two to Masterpiece Transformers MP 10 Optimus Prime (Convoy) from Takara. To me this one is both the essential and quintessential version of the character. You hold up an assortment of Transformers to anyone and they’d be hard pressed to identify all of them. But if you hold up an Optimus Prime and everyone knows him! This one holds an extra special place for me since I was able to meet and get the trailer signed by Peter Cullen!

And my number three is the Hot Toys Christopher Reeve Superman from Sideshow Collectibles. Superman (1978) was the first big budget Superhero film and it was my gateway into the character. Well, right after the Super Friends cartoon! But seriously, there is so much love for the man behind the shield in this figure. From the crazy accurate likeness of Chris Reeve to the dedication to him on the packaging. Everything about this figure is right!

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Is there anything coming out in the future that you’re excited to get your hands on and to have available to your customers?

Well, like I said earlier, being able to offer Hot Toys 6th Scale figures is BIG deal for us. I’ve always liked Will Smith as an action star so having his version of Deadshot in figure form is going to be pretty awesome. The other thing that’s had me going most of 2016 and is still going on is the Ghostbuster Select line from Diamond Select. In true Diamond Select form, every one of these figures comes with a “scenery piece,” (diorama part) which is really not too different from their Marvel Select line. What’s exciting about it, though, is that this line is scheduled to go to 15 figures, (nine more to go! YAY!!) and all the scenery pieces will fit together to form a huge diorama of the roof top scene from the original 1984 Ghostbusters! How cool is that!?

Do you have any holy grails of collecting, as in an item or two that you just NEED to get in your collection someday (for those reading, mine is Jabba’s Throne from Sideshow Collectibles that I missed out on, as I didn’t collect the line when it was released !)

Oh man, that’s a tough one! Every time I hear “grail” associated with toy collecting my mind automatically goes to stuff like the GI-JOE ARAH U.S.S. Flagg, or a MIB Transformers G1 Optimus Prime. But as much as I appreciate vintage toys, there’s just no way they can compete with modern stuff where my sensibilities are concerned. The articulation,  character likenesses, and sculpting is all better now. Just about every aspect of the toys that I want to collect are better now!

So with that in mind; I count myself lucky that I got in on the Masters of the Universe Classics Castle Grayskull from Mattel because I think that thing will be a “grail piece” one day down the road.

And just because, if money was no object, I would love to get my hands on a 1997 Millennium Falcon “Extraordinaire”. There was only like 700 of these things made and they were used as display pieces in Toys R Us. No one really knows exactly how many of them survived to be auctioned off back then and they “almost never” come up on the market. It’s an incredible six feet long, and is the “correct” size for what the Falcon “should be” for a 3.75” figure. If that’s not a grail piece then I don’t know what is!

Here’s the open space for you: what would you like to let everyone reading this know about Silver Screen Toys and Collectibles

At Silver Screen Toys and Collectibles, we love pop culture like you love pop culture. We embrace our “nerdiness” and welcome yours with open arms! Whether you buy something from us or not, you’re never just a potential customer, you’re “ONE OF US!” People say “it’s never been a better time to be a nerd then right now.” We say, “it’s about time everyone else caught up!” But, of course, you already knew that.

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