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Tenacious Exclusive Scott Tolleson Uncle Argh NOIR Mini Qee

Uncle Argh Noir

Tenacious Toys has taken to Kickstarter to raise money for a new exclusive toy. The 5" tall Uncle Argh Noir Mini Qee from artist Scott Tolleson would be the second colorway based on this figure. The funding limit has been set for $7,770 with an end date to procure funding being May 1st 2012 at 9:00PM EDT. Like most Kickstarter projects, there are various levels of funding that reward supporters with different items.

With all that being said, here is why I'm not always a fan of Kickstarter...

For being a $30.00 Backer, you're paying retail. (The original Tolleson Argh Qee sold in the $25.00 to $30.00 range) But you're paying retail price in March 2012 for a toy that won't be shipped to you until October 2012, so you're bankrolling production. For that level, there aren't any incentives to make you want to purchase the Argh Noir now rather than just waiting for it to be released in October (unless you think the run of 500 will sell out or it just won't be produced). Some of the other backer levels will get you exclusive items, making them much more appealing to collectors.

There is that $50.00 level that includes the Argh Noir Qee, a signed Tolleson mini print, and a sticker pack. The thing is...the $30 level would net you the Argh and the $15 level would get you the mini print and sticker pack. So why not pay for them separately and save yourself $5.00?

Finally, I'm on the fence about using Kickstarter to gauge the marketplace. I guess it's the easy way to determine what the demand for a product is. If you don't get the funding, the project doesn't go forward. And it brings the community together to get some deserving projects produced. At the same time, Backers should get a little something special if they're funding a project. They're the ones who will make the Argh Noir come to fruition...so there should be some differentiation between what a Kickstarter backer receives and what someone purchasing the production piece buys.

Comments

Benny
Reply

Brian-

First off, I’d like to thank you for the coverage of my Kickstarter.

Respectfully, however, (because you and I have done business before and we run in the same circles), you have a few facts wrong.

At $30 flat inclusive of shipping, you are NOT paying retail. Retail price of a 5-inch Mini Qee is $28. Shipping would be an additional charge: as low as $3.75 if you live close to me, all the way up to $15 if you live in, say, Australia. So even those who live close to me are getting the figure for a few bucks off retail. International buyers are effectively getting a $13 discount.

Yes, you are bankrolling production. That is the entire point of a Kickstarter campaign. People contribute in advance, and then the money is used to bankroll the production of something.
That being said, NO MONEY is charged to the backers now. The money is charged to their cards on May 1. NO ONE IS PAYING ANYTHING IN MARCH OR EVEN APRIL.
Kickstarter delivers the funds to my bank account within a week of the end of our successful campaign in May (minus their 10% fees), and I wire it to Hong Kong to begin production immediately. Once they get the money, the figures are finished 3 weeks later. Then they are loaded on the boat and shipped to CA to Apex for fulfillment to the customers. They potentially arrive at Apex in late June, at which point they’re shipped to the backers. Toy2R has been immensely supportive and I trust them to get production done fast, and right, and I can’t think of any other situation where this assured production could be executed in a more timely fashion. It is very possible that the Arghs will be in buyer’s hands way before October 1. I like to underpromise and overdeliver, so I didn’t write June. I wrote October, just to be safe.

As for incentives for buying the figure, I felt like I provided a ton of them. Those are in addition to the actual figure, which is incentive in and of itself. Scott Tolleson and many collectors are extremely excited about this colorway.

The $50 level includes two shipping charges: one for the Argh and one for the other items. I am not shipping all those Arghs; Apex is. I AM shipping the other items. Don’t like the $50 pledge? That’s OK. Not every pledge level is for everyone.

I guess I expected more support from guys like yourself that I’ve been working with for more than 6 years, but it’s not a big deal. It’s your blog, say whatever you want. That being said, I think it might have been better, for me personally, if you had at least hit me up with an email to ask me about these couple of issues, so I could privately address your concerns and correct you where you were wrong, before posting away on your blog. But hey, it’s your blog.

– your friend in toys,
Benny

slovak34
Reply

I am supporting the Kickstarter campaign by blogging about it. I think it’s great figure and hope it’s made. However, I have mixed feelings about Kickstarter in the marketplace.

Honestly, this is the first time I have seen a retailer turn to Kickstarter to raise funding to get an exclusive figure stocked. Usually, it’s artists or small toy companies trying to get their projects funded. With a retailer raising funding, you add another layer on to who needs to get payed (Apex).

As far as the $30.00 pricing, if someone purchases over $100.00 on TenaciousToys.com (including the $28.00 retail Qee when it’s released) and gets free shipping…they’re getting a better deal than a Kickstarter supporter.

So I guess the incentive for supporting at the $30.00 level is flat $2.00 shipping?

As far as the $50.00 level, I’m still not sure why someone wouldn’t want to save themselves $5.00 by supporting at the $15.00 and $30.00 levels and getting themselves the same thing…?

So I’m not sure what I was wrong about.

Benny
Reply

I guess my feeling is that if all a customer is concerned about is money- the bottom line, saving $5 – then Kickstarter is not something they should be supporting.

This is a community full of creative and driven people who enjoy helping one another. Those of us who enjoying helping and being a part of something bigger than our individual selves, enjoy contributing to Kickstarter campaigns. The “saving $5 by doing this or that, or by waiting” point you have made is valid if your only concern is saving money and getting every toy as cheap as possible.

Saving a couple bucks here or there is not my major concern, nor is it that of my contributors, who are still to this very minute purchasing the $50 pledge level you seem so very concerned about.

I think, if I may speak on behalf of these people, most of whom I do not know, that those $50 backers are happy to be a part of the funding of a cool toy, and happy that they get some extra added bonus stuff thrown in.

If that’s not your cup of tea, so be it.

And thank you for covering my Kickstarter despite your concerns.

(As an aside, I have just donated money to Plastic and Plush via your Paypal link in the sidebar. I did that for the same reason someone might opt for the $50 pledge level in my Kickstarter. I hope that helps you understand the bigger picture.)

slovak34
Reply

BTW I’d like to thank Benny for sending all of the trolls my way.

Ardabus Rubber
Reply

I’ve read the article and all the comments, and as an impartial third party i’ll chime in. It seems the author has something against Kickstarter…. which is fine, it’s not my cup of tea all the time either (i see the stupidest things up there…. and they water down the stuff that is actually good) but the author is quite hung up on the details of “what do i get”…. you get they joy of being a part of toy history and helping colleagues and friends. If there was no kickstarter and no incentives to buy, and Benny approached me about donating $30 to help with the project, i’d do it and i’m sure quite a lot of other people would as well. It’s not always about what you get. Since it’s being done this way on kickstarter, it’s like a donation with benefits.

On the other end of the coin, i feel like this is a very passionate project for Benny and he took the comments a bit personally (since he is personally involved, which makes sense) So i don’t think anyone is right or wrong, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but for a review of the Qee in question, this more feels like a review of Kickstarter and it’s faults.

Now everyone hug and play with some toys :)

slovak34
Reply

I definitely don’t have an issue with Benny or Tenacious Toys. The economist in me (yes…blogging isnt my full time job) just doesn’t like the concept of Kickstarter. While most manufacturers and retailers have to assess the marketplace to determine whether a project will succeed or not, Kickstarter takes all of the risk out of it. (which is good for those people on the supply side)

While Kickstarter touts itself as a free market, it is anything but. Prices are set in forms of backing levels. And the all or nothing funding takes all of the risk out.

I guess it does come down to whether you feel Kickstarter is community supportive funding like a “donate” button with no concern as to what you get back, or a marketplace – where people pledge money to get something they want in return. I was assuming it was the latter, although I’m sure there are a number of people in the former category.

Ardabus Rubber
Reply

And Benny made a good point, he donated money to this blog and got nothing in return. Just sayin…

Ben
Reply

I suppose in the effort to make this discussion less of a back and forth, I will interject my opinion as a supporter of several kickstarter campaigns and general consumer of urban vinyl. I will iterate only my opinion and not the ones of others, some being against the concept of pre-order and others not being a fan of KS.

My 2 cents on the matter is that Kickstarter seems to be the recent trend in raising money in the community domain. We have OMFG where they raised money in order to produce items that were produced based on public opinion. We have AOSxLL where artists from across the scene donating pieces of their own work and time in order to make the lives of kids in Asia a little more bearable and give them a once in a lifetime experience. And all other KS projects fall somewhere inbetween either supporting a humanitarian cause or producing something the general public wants.

All things aside that were said above about the shipping and 30+15 < 50 and general logistics, my thoughts are as follows: That there needs to be a few things maybe added/tweaked/considered. In order to help fund this project Scott is obviously committing a good amount of time to do the sketches, and paint the paintings, and work with the supporters that are getting custom figures. And I view this project as a team effort among its conspirators, and thus the conspirators maybe need to step up and add a little to the plate to draw in more people and not let this project come down to the last hour of funding.

Another thing I have a few opinions on is the reward tiers. When you scroll through, you see that $175 sold out, and if you look at it relative to the other tiers, it was an exact value of donating to incentive. The $100 tier and $15 tier you are getting everything plus a sign/sold-out argh V1 plus shipping of all things for $60 (not a bad deal). But if you look at the $50, $100, and $200 tiers, there is a little bit of grey area to me. The point has already been made about the $30 + 15 < 50, but at $100 you are trading in a $15 sticker+print for a 5"x7" sketch, which effectively costs $65 (not griping, just doing the math). If you look at $200, you are getting a $30 Argh Noir + a $170 2"x3" painting. This is the part that worries me, as I am a supporter of the $200 at the moment, about paying $170 for a 2×3 rectangle, when Scott has sold paintings/prints/customs that reflect a different pricing scheme. So, I would honestly like to see a few tiers added to maybe catch people that fall between tiers, and maybe in some cases add in some items to round out a tier level.

With all the psuedo-pointing out of stuff, I know at the end of the day that Kickstarter in general is meant to be a donation cause where people open their hearts and wallets a little and try to help other people out with a cause they want to promote, and receive a little something in return for their donation. That is why I am supporting this cause and will continue to support causes I see ambition in.

Cindy Lee
Reply

I don’t think the issue is with the toy per se, but more with Kickstarter. This blog should be about Kickstarter not about the toy. I don’t know why the writer had to call out TT.

As a contributer, at $30, I feel I got good value for my money. I want the toy, I don’t mind ordering now, paying in a few months, and getting the toy a few months after that. Benny’s exclusives usually sell out, so I’m happy to be on the list. I chose the $30 level because I think that price is more than fair, for the toy and shipping. I didn’t want the mini print or other perks so I didn’t fund higher. If I was richer, I probably would have.

TT is ALWAYS reasonable with charges. They allow customers to order now, pay later. Benny will save you a toy if you need a few weeks to pay.

I think nickel and diming is lame. You get what you give. TT is generous, does a lot of promo for people without asking for anything back.

It’s not like TT is some huge conglomerate with money to spare. It’s just Benny….living his dream, and helping out others. When my husband makes a toy, we will probably use kickstarter to well….get it kickstarted. Isn’t that the point?

Aurelio Voltaire
Reply

I wrote a really really long comment about this and (luckily for everyone) it got lost in the either. lol!

In short, Kickstarter is best used for projects that CAN’T be funded any other way (see: people like Benny- AND ME TOO- who don’t have huge budgets to gamble.) If affords people the opportunity to be involved on the ground floor, not to save $5 mind you, but to have the satisfaction of knowing that if the product sees the light of day, it was entirely because of people like them who donated. I really don’t feel the average contributor is sweating if they get a sticker or not.

I’ve donated to dozens of campaigns and I care very little about the perks. Not because I’m rich or selfless, mind you (I’m neither! lol!) , but because I want to see cool things come to life. If that means I pay up front and wait for months, I’m okay with that.

Go Benny! I hope it goes all the way.

Ps: what we REALLY need to be worried about is when giant companies (Toys R Us, Mattel, etc) start using this platform to collect funds up front before they decide what to release or not!!! I fear that day is coming soon!

Voltaire
http://www.voltaire.net

pss: Slovak34, I really appreciate this blog by the way. I read it often to keep in touch with what’s going on in the toy world and I believe you’ve promoted one or two of my Deady toy releases. Keep up the good work~!

Gregory Lee
Reply

If you are more worried about “what you get out of this” and your precious $5.00, then you should go get a job at a bank. This is a 100% voluntary situation. If you don’t want to support the toy or it’s backers, yet you are writing about it then maybe you are the problem here?

With people forking out $480 to fund a 3A Rex after seeing a prototype, we should all ask if using Kickstarter is even the problem. The real problem is that people who don’t want to support the ventures of artists should just not do it. Go flip your Dunnys on ebay and keep it to yourself.

I can’t wait to get my Uncle Argh Noir. That’s all I expect.

Thanks Benny & Scott,
Gregory Lee
(Greg Loves Toast)

slovak34
Reply

Go get a job at a bank? That makes sense. Aren’t most situations when you purchase something voluntary?

So if you went to a store and they said buy item A for $10.00 or buy item B for $20.00 or get A and B for $35.00. You’d be alright with that?

Cindy Lee
Reply

you know it’s really none of the bloggers business how benny and scott set up there kick starter. you seem to be more worried about what’s in it for you and not about helping out a project..as for Benny I think you did him wrong when you wrote this without approaching him first to get his perspective. there are many many kick starters that you don’t get anything for your donation of money. and i’m with Benny I think you owed him the professional courtesy of hitting him up about this before you put out this blog.

slovak34
Reply

Did you even read the original piece or are you simply responding because Benny told his Facebook friends to come over here and voice their opinions?

If you actually read the article, it’s about the project, as well as my take about what’s wrong about Kickstarter projects. It’s an opinion.

As far as doing Benny and Tenacious Toys wrong by not approaching him, sorry but if I have opinions…they’ll be expressed here. Again, read the article. And check out all of the other articles I write that send readers directly to Tenacious Toys. To be accused of not supporting Tenacious Toys is ridiculous. There are at least 100 articles on this site linking to Tenacious Toys.

Cindy Lee

I totally came to this blog because I was pointed here by Benny. Honestly, prior to today I don’t think I had even heard of you or your blog. When I read Benny’s post it was more of a “hey guys, am I reading this right…” kind of a post, not a “hey go here and tell this DB off for me”. That’s not Benny’s style.

And yes, I certainly did read the article. The entire article, and more than once actually. I wanted to be clear about what I was reading.

You claim, in the first para. to not like kickstarter, then you proceed to bust apart why you don’t like one specific kickstarter (ARGH), then at the end you say again, you don’t like kickstarter.

I dunno dude, if it was kickstarter that it was your intent to blog about, why did you single out one project in particular and in such detai? Just seems slanted to me.

igotlotsoftoys
Reply

This makes no sense.

PlasticandPlush and Tenacious Toys and you are all not members of the same family. You’re not married. No one owes anyone anything. Bloggers should post whatever they want and if you don’t like reading what they think, go spend your time elsewhere.

Cindy Lee

he should disable the comments if he doesn’t wanna hear other peoples opinions…. and as for posting and thanking analytics where all the comments come from, who cares? you should thank benny because it doesn’t seem like anybody else is reading your blog! i’m over this thread.

slovak34

Yep. After 8 years of blogging about designer toys, I’m so glad that I finally have some readers.

Gregory Lee
Reply

I’m not really interested in you telling me how to save money. I’d rather support a cause as I see fit. If you don’t care about that, then you just don’t get it.

slovak34
Reply

Then why not just give your money directly to Tenacious Toys without receiving anything back and without Kickstarter taking 10%?

Gregory Lee

That’s what I’m saying. I’m not looking for someone to tell me where to spend my money. You don’t know where my money goes. I’d give Benny money if he needed it.

igotlotsoftoys
Reply

Then don’t read this website! Are you seriously commenting on someone’s website about how you don’t value their opinion? Click the X button and spend your time elsewhere!

slovak34

Thanks to analytics, I can see where most of these comments are being referred from. :)

I think most people feel this article was a direct attack on Benny and Tenacious Toys. It’s not. I wanted to generate thoughts about funding projects like this through Kickstarter.

I’m looking at backing a Kickstarter the same as if you would pre-order an item from a retailer. You’re just helping to ensure that a product you want will be made.
Others have the opinion that Kickstarter is a donation box where people don’t really care what they get in return…they just want to make their friends’ dreams come true.

Ben
Reply

As someone who is backing at $175, I would like to say why. Besides liking the toy, I feel that everything Benny does for the toy community deserves some recognition, so if I can help him and get some cool stuff on the side, I will. I put money towards a project I like to support the community as much as buy the product.

Matt Anderson
Reply

I’m with Ben on this. I also supported this with a donation. I did not do it for what the benefits were, I did it because I support Benny. I understand where this kick starter thing could rub people the wrong way as well… Its surely not for everyone… But in this community I feel when someone like Benny, as supportive and helpful as he is, regardless of your overall feeling on a project, donation or what have you , you should want to help. I to trust, regardless of my feelings towards kick starter itself, that if Benny was this passionate about this project then that’s all I needed to commit to it. As I stated , I could care less about the incentive, mainly because I don’t collect production anything, so whether or not I get a”prize”, so to speak, for helping a friend is irrelevant.
Also, I just want to say… I haven’t seen one thing from Benny about”go here and voice a pointless opinion “and I use pointless opinion because, no matter how many bitching comments or negative feedback thats generated, that will not change what a person believes. I do however feel this probably could have been handled differently to avoid abrasion between business ventures. But to each his own

Robert Lumino
Reply

As the author of the article pointed out, what he wrote was his opinion of using KS as a way of doing a vinyl exclusive. And now, mine!
At first I was actually surprised and a bit put off. Only because it seemed to be a bit callous. Having your “customers” pay for you to have an exclusive. But the more I thought about it and the more I thought about Benny and how he is with artists and customers, it actually seemed a great way of doing it. So much so I got in on it at the $100 level. I wish Benny and Scott all the luck and I enjoyed the back and forth in the responses. It’s refreshing for someone to elicit these responses and not have an agenda but just a point of view.
Rob

slovak34
Reply

Exactly. Like I said. I think the project is great and hope that Benny and Scott get their figure made.

Joshua Malher
Reply

Man, if the OP has a problem with paying up front and then waiting until October, I’m going to assume they have no interest whatsoever in Coarsetoys, 3A, Squadts, and a number of other art toy companies which already use the Kickstarter platform, but take away the tiers and basically ship when they feel like it.
As far as the touchy-feely “you’re part of the industry” rhetoric…I don’t really buy that, unless you get to the higher tiers of most projects. And I’ve yet to see a toy project that agrees to share the profits (if any) with the highest “investors.” When that day comes, then Kickstarter will be a bit more of the VC mini-universe it seems to want to become. Until then, it’s a cool way to get some exclusive stuff if you’re interested, and something to argue about in the abstract if you aren’t.
I think the ultimate issue is that some collectors are worried about getting this exclusive or that exclusive taken off the production table because funding isn’t met…have a hard time imagining this. If, say, KR decides to Kickstart a Dunny exclusive or something like that, I’m fairly certain it will get all the funding it needs. If a more obscure and/or niche artist or company (let’s say…Argonaut Resins, for example) did it, the tiers and the ravenousness of the fans will dictate the project’s success. Honestly, KS is kind of a fascinating experiment in free market economics.
Guess I’m rambling a bit, but, who cares how Benny and crew get this thing done? Whether they put it on their credit cards or presell it through a KS project, the market will decide. KS just makes sure they can eat if the piece doesn’t sell…more power to them.

slovak34
Reply

I agree. Except Kickstarter is far from being a free-market economy. Prices are already set in the form of backer levels, so supply and demand don’t impact the final price.

Joshua Malher
Reply

Oh, I didn’t mean to imply it was a free market unto itself…only that it is an interesting experiment in free market economics. I think S and D has some bearing on KS, although it is a somewhat more cut-throat “all or nothing” kind of supply and demand. And since restarting the project if funding isn’t met with better sweeteners or lower priced tiers is an option, I don’t think I’m too far off the mark.
Regardless, my overarching point was that the “be part of something” stuff is basically puffery. I’m no more a part of art toy production when I buy something off of the shelf, in my opinion.

slovak34
Reply

I completely agree. I guess over the long run, you can find that perfect pricing point using Kickstarter.

Benny
Reply

Brian I am sorry I really didn’t mean for this to get negative. Your critique got me thinking about whether I have done this KS right. I will be the first to admit that I do screw stuff up sometimes. I guess since I feel strongly about this project, I took your critiques personally (it is my project after all). But I value your opinion and support and as Ardabus said above, I shouldn’t have taken it personally. So I am sorry about that.
I guess you & I just think in a different way about kickstarter. I never meant to be callous in starting the KS, nor combative in my responses to you blog post.
I have however covered all coverage of this kickstarter on my FB page and I did encourage people to leave comments, which is a feature you enabled on your blog and I assume you’d encourage. In fact I’d encourage you to post a similar post to your own FB page to get your people to enter the fray themselves. Spirited discussion is good, even if I find myself on the receiving end of more criticism. Much love Brian, you are a good guy and you run an excellent blog.

Benny
Reply

Oh and Joshua, I’m sorry you think my involvement in the toy industry and my corresponding feeling towards the community are puffery, as you put it. To me, feeling like I’m a part of this community is of paramount importance. Case in point: Tenacious Toys is my hobby. It does not and has never fully supported me as a person. That’s why I work so many freelance jobs. So my feelings towards the community and my love for my toy friends are very real to me- that’s all I get out of the toy scene. Tenacious Toys barely pays for itself each month, so I’m certainly not doing this stuff to make money. Not puffery. This idea is very real to me.

Joshua Malher
Reply

Benny,
Don’t misunderstand me. I fully endorse Kickstarter. I think it is a clever way for vendors to generate a little press and interest in their product. And I wasn’t suggesting your involvement in the toy industry and the associated feelings were puffery.
I feel it is puffery is to suggest that a person who donates/”contributes” to a Kickstarter project is somehow “part of the industry.” I think that mis-states the level of involvement “contributors” have. In the end, “contributors” are really just incentivized customers. This applies to all KS projects. Not just yours. I feel it is slightly disingenuous to suggest if I chose to “back” a particular project, that I am any more a part of the “industry” than I am when I buy something at my FLTS.
If you carefully read my posts, I don’t think I said anything necessarily negative about using KS for this (or any other) project, so, if you’ll forgive me, I think you might be leaning a little towards the defensive side of things. This is natural, I think, as there HAS been some criticism from within the industry and among fans. But I’m not one of the guys criticizing you. I am a pure art toy collector and consumer, and, frankly, I couldn’t care less who I have to buy from, or what process they have to use to get it made.
All that said, I wish you and Scott well. I hope you sell a gazillion of these things. But this need to so vigorously defend your choice of funding is, if you’ll excuse an outside impression (and my first bit of real criticism), turning some customers off. Said with respect, JM

Benny
Reply

JM: point taken. Over and out, and on to other things. -B

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