It's 2020, we're quarantined at home during the Covid-19 crisis. When organising clothes with my fiancee at home, she insisted on folding them like Marie Kondo would. Marie's motto for making space was to remove things from your environment that do not spark joy. That very sentence brought me back to fond memories of Toyfare magazine; I had read toy magazines before, but none were as full of character, humour and intrigue as Toyfare.
I climbed into the loft and dragged out a long comic box full of treasure from my childhood and teenage years. Issues of Toyfare spanning 1998 to 2010. In the early days of the internet, before it became the news mechanism we now know, this magazine showed me toy wonders from all over the world. What figures were sought after and cool, and what I could think about having, even if I didn't have my own money to make that happen.
Each month, long before the age of social media, the Incoming! section would show us magnificent new figures due for release. There was something about seeing the new releases all in one place that felt like a comic convention's reveals, but every single month!
Toyfare was different to the other toy mags, sure, those were good, but Toyfare had more character:- more humour. Twisted Mego Theatre (later Twisted Toyfare Theatre) used toys which were photographed in diorama scenes and told a normally hilarious tale. (Sidebar, these comics would eventually inspire me to join the Articulated Comic Book Art community, which you should check out here.)
Toyfare devoted the last portion of the magazine to it's Marketplace, including a monthly Top 10 Hottest Action Figures article, that used sales data from toy stores around America to compile a most sought after list. This list had me hunting the impossible (UK distribution was woeful back then) and even buying figures I knew nothing about, just because Toyfare said it was hot! I will always remember seeing various versions of Gundam Wing's Deathscythe making the top 10 on a regular basis, but never being lucky enough to find one in this country!
The Marketplace also included a helpful price guide, which listed most of the currently popular action figure lines, what figures were in each wave, and their current going price, carded and loose. To a teenager, this section would be pretty boring, if it wasn't for more classic Toyfare humour: Big Shots, similar to Twisted Mego Theatre; were hilarious single panel joke comics, breaking up the monotony of a sea of prices.
Even the ads in Toyfare were cool to me: American toy shops showing figures that were unavailable in the UK. These were exciting and inspired me to order my first ever overseas action figure: a Final Fantasy 7 Extra Knights Cloud Stryfe.
Tragically, the internet's defeat of print came in 2011, Toyfare magazine ended with January 2011's issue #163. Many of their staff went on to help create Adult Swim's Robot Chicken and others went on to work at toy companies such as Diamond Select Toys.
If you happen to come across one of these magazines somewhere, do yourself a favour: pick it up, give it a read! A thoroughly charming time capsule of action figures of the past, stuff you may never know existed or might have forgot about! Figures like these seem lost to the flood of new figures seemingly announced daily (I'm looking at you, Hasbro), but they're immortalised here!
What do you think? Did you ever read Toyfare mag? Would you like to see some kind of reunion magazine from the team?