On this playable episode of the Popzara Podcast our own action figure Nathan Evans talks with the acclaimed producer of some of the biggest names in stand-up comedy, Brian Volk-Weiss, who’s now turned his comic timing to perhaps the funniest thing of all: toys! Specifically The Toys That Made Us, a Netflix Original documentary series that examines not only the creation and creators behind some of the most successful brands in toy history, but also their continuing impact on the culture and lives of the fans who love them.
Season One tackled some of the industry’s heaviest hitters – Star Wars, Barbie, He-Man, and G.I. Joe – and Season Two promises even more inside-level facts and trivia on iconic brands LEGO, Transformers, Hello Kitty, and Star Trek. Equal parts hilarious and informative, it’s a nostalgic trip down memory lane showcasing a genuine love for the toys that helped make us who we are.
It’s a chat full of surprises, like how Star Wars rise to the top was anything but a sure thing. Learn how Hello Kitty founder Shintaro “Papa” Tsuji’s philosophy (“Small gift, big smile”) led to Sanrio offering true fans everything from box-cutters, motor oil, adult diapers, and even ‘shoulder massagers’. Did you know that He-Man’s villainous Skeletor was inspired by a real human corpse ‘employed’ at a carnival ride? Or that Barbie’s roots lay in European erotica? Or how Star Trek toys went from embarrassments to so authentically accurate one was used in a Star Trek episode?
Was it the quest for gender diversity that finally brought down The Masters of the Universe? Is it possible for aging pop idols to be too kawaii? Is there any difference between toy, doll, action figure, or collectible? Does Nintendo’s crazy/cool experiments with plastic amiibos or cardboard Labo count as actual ‘toys’ in the traditional sense?
Also, stay tuned as Nate and Brian talk not just the future of toys, but the possibilities of future seasons of The Toys That Made Us, which may (or may not) include other industry titans like Peanuts, Cabbage Patch Kids, Hot Wheels, My Little Pony, Voltron and so much more.