Friday, February 1, 2008

History of the Beanworld Action Figure!

Chapter Seven

In 1988, "FREE Beanworld Action Figures" were were joined by "FREE Beanworld Comics" at conventions as a give-away after a trial run at that spring's WonderCon in Oakland, CA. Eclipse had a few extra boxes of TOTB #9 gathering dust, and they suggested that I try giving away copies as free samples. The entire idea of "Hey kid, the first one's FREE!" totally appealed to my marketing sensibilities.

It was an unorthodox approach for the era. Comic collectibility at the time was based on the title being "scarce" or "rare." A comic being given away for free ran the risk of being percieved that "Gee, that comic is sooooo bad--they have to give 'em away."

A high percentage of folks took their gratis copy and came back later to say "Wow. I didn't know what to expect but I really liked that!" Well that was good enough for me, I decided to make handing out surplus issues the backbone of Beanworld's marketing efforts. I eventually settled in on TOTB #8 as the best introductory issue. Not only did I have a good supply on hand in storage, but the story was a good one for newbies.
So, I thought, "Well, FREE comics are a far better program than Beanworld Action Figures, and because of the mail-in program, every Beanworld fan on the planet must have his or her own figures by now, so I'm going to pack in the program. No one will notice."

Wrong, Larry Marder, wrong!

I can't recall which show it it might have been when I decided to curtail giving away Beanworld Action Figures--but I sure do remember the fan reaction.

It ranged from disappointment to indignation.

Fans pleaded with me to continue the program. It was now so much part of their convention experience to get new Beans at each year's show.
Who am I to fight an argument like that?

So, I not only brought them back--I added yet another face. A "happy" faced bean that I named "Tee Hee." Now I was cranking out four faces each and every morning at conventions. But I was reinvigorated by the knowledge that Beanworld fans really treasured these silly little objects.

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