Monday, April 16, 2012

Sculptor Randy Bowen Explains Why Release Dates Are Not Carved In Polystone

A little background, when a collectible statue or bust is given a release date, if all goes according to plan, the item hits the shops on or about that date, pre-orders are fulfilled and everyone is happy. Often though, the stated release date gets pushed back and then promised shipping dates are broken. I then contact those that have bought these items to let them know their item will not only be late, but I don’t know why it was delayed or when it will be released. Understandably the customer is upset. When I’m asked, "why the item is delayed" and I don’t have an answer other than “I don’t know,” I usually am met with an uneasy okay and the customer agrees to wait. Some cancel their order and I have been accused of attempting to pull a “bait and switch” or holding the product to sell it for more to someone else. For the record, I do not do business that way. 

Last week, I posted a message on the Past Generation Toys Facebook page, asking for the public’s thoughts on why delivery dates for newly released statues and busts change. Several answers were given and now I wanted to know how close we were.  I deal with this problem across the board, with all the companies that make high-end collectibles. This got me to thinking that their must be a reason why statues and busts get delayed, so often.  I wanted to speak with someone who does know.  Then in hit me.  Why not go to the source?  I carry Bowen Designs products; why not try to contact the man who turns imagination into art?  I’ll contact Mr. Randy Bowen, I thought!  So I did and he was happy to answer a few questions about this dilemma. In case you don't already know, Randy Bowen is a very well respected statue and bust sculptor and the CEO and Owner of Bowen Designs.  I boiled down my concerns to two simple questions.  Below is the exchange held with Randy:



Why do shipping delays happen with Bowen Designs Products?


Shipping delays happen for several reasons:

Here's the process-

Once we have an approved and painted prototype, we show it to the factories to get a price quote, and an estimate for completion.

Most factories will quote 4-5 months from the time we send them the master copies to make molds from.  We then pad the schedule by adding 3-4 months for unforeseen delays.

Then 4-5 months go by, and we the factories samples don't match what we send them.  Then the piece needs to be revised.  Before you know it, another 4-5 months go by.  Thus, making the project late.

Sometimes we'll get a final production sample, only to find that the production looks nothing like the last sample they've sent.  The factory will then need to open every package to make the changes to the entire run, adding more weeks.

Add to that, the fact that sometimes our shipments are pulled for intensive inspection by U.S. or Chinese Customs Departments. This alone can add weeks.

Other times we'll post picture of a piece, showing what the actual production looks like.  Only then to find out that someone spots a mistake on the shape of Spider-Man’s eye, Hulk having nipples or any number of "mistakes".  We'll stop production, and need to get the item back to make changes before production commences again.

Recently we've had to take projects away from factories that had them in their possession for several months with nothing to show for progress.  That means starting over completely, with a different statue factory.


Why don't you just pad-in even more time to your release schedule?


We always try to give it our best guess as to when a project will actually ship, but it keeps getting harder and harder because of skilled labor shortages in China.  It's a constantly changing scenario.

There simply aren't as many people willing to do a job where they are sitting for 8 hours a day painting eyeballs on a Black Cat statue.

Sometimes we're surprised when something does ship on time.  Our goal is to not be late.  If we're late delivering products to Diamond Comics, it becomes marked as "returnable".  Meaning- our orders are cancelled.

The sooner we get a statue in someones hands, the sooner we get paid.  We're not intentionally late to vex our customers. We figure they'd rather have us do the best job we can then be a little bit faster.

I understand it can be very frustrating to statue collectors.  I only know that I get frustrated with the system as well.


I want to give a big “Thank You” to Randy Bowen for his time and insights into the business.  Now that I have a better grasp of the facts and a better answer for customers when release dates change.  For me, understanding why something occurs tends to lessen the pain.  Hopefully, customers will feel the same way. 
You really should see the products Bowen Designs creates.  Check out and the Bowen Designs Facebook page.  Randy does a lot of his own pieces, but he isn’t the only one at Bowen with this magical touch.  Several gifted and well-known artists like Joseph Menna, Jason Smith, Mike Cusanelli, and The Kucharek Brothers also fill out the talent roster at Bowen Designs, just to name a few.

I am also a member of the site which focuses on statue and bust collecting.  They have tons of information and the site members really get involved in the conversations.  I have also seen Randy Bowen posts on the StateMarvels boards to get feedback on current projects. Seriously, how cool is that Randy includes his fans in the creative process via this collector site?!   You will defiantly want to check out this site.

I am excited I had the opportunity to work with Randy.  Giveaways are not new to PGT but this week I am going to do something I have never done before!  I am going to GIVEAWAY a Red Hulk Bust that was sculpted by Randy Bowen himself!  If you are not a collector you will be if you win!  To enter, follow the link below (it takes less than 30 seconds).

If you an experienced collector or just breaking-in, we have a lot of pre-order and in-stock Bowen Designs products on the site. Please join in this conversation by posting questions/comments below or on our facebook page.

I hope you all enjoyed the write up and hope to see you around the cyber store!  Joshua

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Transformers Bot Shots, just for kids? I think not!

What do you get when you combine Battle Beasts with Transformers?  Yeah, I know, you get Transforming Battle Beasts.  OR, smart-alec, if you read the title of this post, you get Transformers Bot Shots.

To give you some background, Bot Shots are tiny vehicles that jump and transform into a little robot figure when their front end hits another object.  Now, if slamming a toy car into something and seeing it transform isn't enough fun for ya, let's add the dimension of rock, paper, scissors.  When the cars spring into their robot mode, a spinning chest piece stops on either a fist, blaster, or sword symbol.  How this code plays out is that: 1) blaster beats fist 2) fist beats sword; and 3) sword beats blaster.  I can wrap my head around why fist beats sword since the hand wields the sword, but following that logic, why wouldn't fist beat blaster too?  Do you agree?  They should have had robot fist, sword, and computer.  Fist holds sword, sword smashes computer, computer hacks into the electronic components of the robot hand programming it to destroy itself!  Alright, so I guess it's not that easy to come up with something as easy to understand as the fire, water, and wood combination used by the Battle Beasts heat activated stickers.  But what happens when both chest plates show the same symbol?  Luckily, next to the symbol is your strength score.  The larger number wins.  You also win if you transform, but the other guy doesn't after your head-on collusion.

I like the stubby features of all the character designs, but my favorite is the police car, Barricade.  The black paint scheme and the face sculpt come together in a way that's really appealing to my eye.  I know there are endless repaints and recycled molds to come, so I'll enjoy this incarnation while I can.  I also recommend the Optimus Prime with launcher.  This Optimus not only has a darker, more accurate paint job than the single figure, but the semi trailer/launcher completes the look.  Of course, you can't fire Decepticons from Prime's trailer -- that's just wrong.  You've got to snatch up the Megatron launcher too.  This version of Megatron is the military tank.  Megatron's launcher doubles as a cargo/weapons trailer and looks pretty cool. 

The only thing I can think of that these guys are missing is an accessory for each hand.  How about a little sword and blaster for their tiny little fists?  It would be poetic, and add to the playability, but it would also knock up the minimum age recommendation.  Thank goodness there isn't a maximum age recommendation as I might exceed it by about 30 years.  Just goes to show you that these Bot Shot appeal to various ages on primary level.

Build your own convoy of vehicles to crash or collect at the PGT ebsite.  Wave 2 just hit our shelves.  That's the blue Mirage, clear Bumble-Bee, Ratchet, and more!  Get yours right here from

Do you think you will get one or a few for youself?  Maybe for your kids or family/friends?  Leave a comment below and let me know what you think of the Transformers Bot Shots.

Until next time, I'll be seeing you in the toy aisles. Steve R. Ticulation