At RetroGameGeeks we don't simply bang on about the games themselves because there's already a million sites out there treading that worn ground.
We like to find all those lovely people out there who take their love of the scene but apply that little extra piece of magic to create something that's fun, unique but utterly awesome!
So what if we told you there was this one dude, and he lived in America and not only is he one of the greatest toy collectors ever but he even makes his own... Based on something amazing and of course very retro.
An Introduction, Olly023 style....
Wait, what!? This feature isn't a gamedev!? No, silly cakes! But he has worked in games...
Welcome to RGG's exclusive talk with Dan Polydoris, a Chicago-based toy collector who has had buzz throughout the internet for certain things he does with old action figures.
No, it aint rude. Get your mind out of the gutter!
Ever wanted a Pitfall Harry figure mint in box? Perhaps you'd like maybe some Mario-related madness formed from Star Wars toys? Well, this man has you covered... And in turn? This feature covers...him! So, get ready and enjoy!!
In a Toy collector's den far, far away...
RGG: Hey Dan! Fancy introducing yourself to the retrobates here at RetroGameGeeks?
Dan: My name is Dan (as you just mentioned) Polydoris. I live in Chicago, IL with my wife, my son and a bunch of toys.
RGG: Now we may be a retro (and indie) gaming site first and foremost, but obviously we love anything that pounds us in the face with a nostalgia kick of awesomeness. So what is it you collect?
Dan: In short: Vintage toys. In long: 70’s and 80’s action figures, vintage arcade memorabilia, Batman anything, metal lunchboxes, horror memorabilia, Pez dispensers, plus some other stuff.
RGG: You’ve been covered by the likes of Kotaku, Game Informer and the like for your beyond uber-cool custom figurines inspired by retro video games. What’s the process in creating these mini-masterpieces and what inspired you to start doing it?
Dan: As a kid, I’d modify my action figures with things like new limbs or different heads, so I guess I’m just still doing that. The only difference is I don’t play with them anymore (despite what my wife says). My working process is pretty simple:
1. Think of an idea for a toy line.
2. Research and make sure it hasn’t already been done.
3. Repeat Step 1 and Step 2 a thousand times.
4. Begin assembling using other action figure parts.
5. Paint, repaint, re-repaint, re-re-repaint.
6. Create box art using Photoshop.
7. Print out the cardbacks and spray mount them to cardstock.
8. Cut out the cardbacks with an Xacto knife.
9. Take crappy pictures of them with my iPhone.
10. Post them online and make sure my family is still alive.
Toy crusaders, working overtime...
RGG: Being an Atari-addict myself and obviously a lover of old-school Activision, your custom figurines (with packaging no less) gave me a huge geekgasm…Do you ever wonder why folk hadn’t properly done this? Would you sell them at all? And I want a Pitfall Harry, jus’ sayin’…
Dan: I’m not sure why these had never been made before. They were fun to make, but I don’t think I’ll ever get around to selling them. Usually, by the time I’ve finished some figures, I’m so sick of looking at them that the thought of making another one makes we want to vomit.
RGG: It’s fair to say you’re a geek like the rest of us, with somewhat a retro persuasion and an appreciator of video games. What was your first video games console as a young Dan?
Dan: I first played games on the Atari 7800 that was at my grandma’s house when we’d spend the night there. Then my parents bought an original NES when it came out and that was the big one for me and my brother. They both live on as favourites for me.
RGG: What would you say is your favourite old school game franchise?
Dan: Probably Mega Man. My brother and I loved playing those as kids, and the music is something that I enjoy to this day. In fact, when my son was born, my brother Mark recorded an entire album of Mega Man 2 lullabies for him on the piano. They’re unreal, and we posted them at MegaMan2Lullabies.com (I’m not above a shameless plug).
RGG: Is there any retro game that you’d love to see a line of figures of that doesn’t currently exist? And would you prefer it to be along the lines of what you (re)create or something like the McFarlane lot would produce? Perhaps Turrican…or Transbot?
Dan: I would love to see some badass, vintage-style Castlevania figures. I almost imagine them being Thundercat size for some reason, complete with the big black cardbacks. The lever-controlled swinging arms that the old Thundercats had would’ve been perfect for Simon’s whip. Great question by the way.
RGG: I just gotta know, as I collect them myself; how much do you love the Super Mario Bros The Movie figures!?
Dan: I don’t have any of those, but I do kind of love them. I have such a soft spot for 90’s movie action figures. They had such a great, ridiculous (somewhat crappy) aesthetic. Waterworld, Last Action Hero, Stargate, T2, Congo, Independence Day, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves… It was such a great time for cheesy action movies, and such a great time for mass-produced, mediocre (in a good way) figures.
More than meets the eye, what else makes you tick we wonder...
RGG: You worked as the lead writer on the reboot of You Don’t Know Jack, fancy letting us in on how that all went down and what it was like?
Dan: Jellyvision put out a call for humour writers a few years ago for the new YDKJ version. I was freelance editing, writing, and doing stand-up at the time, so I almost didn’t apply. I was starting to burn out on performing and had totally burnt out on editing, so my wife encouraged me to apply. Surprisingly enough, I got hired along with two other guys to work on the game from start to finish. It was super fun, and still can’t believe people actually paid me to write fart humour. From the first day to the last, it was a blast. My voice is even in the game a few times, but you’d have to really know me to recognize it.
RGG: Being a fan of slasher movies, which was your favourite ‘bad’ game adaptation? We’re talking Texas Chainsaw Massacre on the 2600, Elm Street on the NES and all that good stuff!?
Dan: Friday the 13th for the NES and Halloween for the Atari. Both are great and bad in their own ways.
RGG: What’s some of the coolest arcade memorabilia in your current collection? Is there any arcade stuff that you’re dying to add that has so far alluded you like some sort of speedy hedgehog?
Dan: My Coleco tabletop arcade games are probably my favourites. They look awesome on display, and they’re surprisingly fun to play. I’m usually banished to the basement to play because my wife can only take so much incessant beeping. I’d love to get the old school Tron tabletop arcade. I passed one up at a vintage toy store and I haven’t slept since. And that was eight years ago.
RGG: Who’s your favourite feline in video games? And how would the Cat Report weigh-in on the situation?
Dan: Not a lot come to mind, but my brother and I loved Koban Cat from Legend of the Mystical Ninja. The cats from Cat Reports would probably call you a loser for talking about video games. They’d probably call me something far worse for being into action figures. They’re vicious, disagreeable animals.
RGG: I love cats. Would it be plausible for me to ask you to make me a Yars’ Revenge board game? Because, personally, I think the world is waiting on such thing to come into existence and it’s a travesty of injustice that it hasn’t.
Dan: I’m pretty sure the Bible refers to the creation of a Yars’ Revenge board game as a signal of the coming of the Apocalypse, so I don’t think I can meddle in that.
Now we know, and knowing is half the battle...
RGG: Saying you just never stopped as a response to you starting as a collector, what has kept you going over the years? We here at RGG think hobbies are important (d’uh) and Megatrons_Fury at least has a ridiculous games collection. Fancy spilling the beans on the appeal for you? Why do you continue? What do you say to those boring people who deride such things?
Dan: I suppose it’s one of those things that I can’t not do (if that makes sense). When I was six, I saw a guy in a magazine who had a huge collection of toys in his basement. I thought, “That’s what I want to do.” And I did. And I really never stopped. I’m always researching some toy line, reading about it online, scoping it out on eBay or in flea markets, buying a few pieces here and there… The whole process of collecting is just fun to me.
Also, I wouldn’t call people who don’t dabble in ridiculous collections as “boring.” I’d say they’re “normal” or “sane” or “concerned with regular human problems” or “paying attention to their spouses” or “living life to the fullest” etc…
RGG: If you were ordered to choose five retro games from any system by aliens as a means for them to feel the magic we all feel with them, what would they be and why?
Dan: Pitfall for Atari – It’s such a classic and so iconic to videogame culture.
Super Mario Bros 3 for NES – One of the best instalments of one of the most classic franchises.
Mega Man 2 for NES – The music alone is worth it.
The original Donkey Kong arcade game (Not really a system, so sue me.) – I would just like to see aliens get frustrated by how hard this game actually is.
The original Ms. Pac man arcade game (Also not a system, so sue me again.) – By far, the simplest concept for a game: Eat the dots.
RGG: Lots of suing indeed, but I’ll let it slide! Typically with interviews it’s the likes of gamedevs and such and we’d ask what developer they love the most. Alas, with you, I’ma change it up. Which retro toy maker is your favourite and why? Chattin’ Kenner, etc.
Dan: Kenner during the 80’s in their heyday was, hands down, my favourite. Star Wars. The Real Ghostbusters, DC Super Powers, M.A.S.K. just to name a few.
Dan has the..... POWER!!!
RGG: What would you say to someone thinking about making their own custom figures but have no idea of where to start? Any recommendations you could give and/or advice?
Dan: I hate giving advice, but I guess I have to answer this question. One thing I would say is don’t be afraid to admit that something you’re making is crap. As frustrating as it is when something I’m making turns out to look like garbage, it’s usually the first step to making it look that much better.
RGG: Thank you very much for taking time out to talk to us here at RetroGameGeeks. Is there anything you’d like to add for folk, or maybe lay some shout-outs?
Dan: I guess I would just say visit my blog, Chicago Toy Collector. And listen to my brother’s Mega Man 2 lullabies at MegaMan2Lullabies.com. Thanks for the chat.
RetroGameGeeks Final Thoughts...
He may have chosen Mario and he may fear the apocalypse in relation to a Yars' Revenge boardgame...But I love him because lets be fair, his geekiness is on a level of awesome how could you not!?
Do make sure you check out his blog as there's some truly remarkable work with his custom figures and a bunch of other awesome little posts. For a shameless plug of our own, the good man has just signed up on our forum, too! (SO GO JOIN NOW!)
Dan is the man, it's pretty simple. Plus, it rhymes. Don't forget to check the contact box and hit him up on social media and the like for your own first hand accounts of his dorky goodness!
Megatron's_Fury was also quoted as saying he would swap his collection for the 5 Activision boxed figures because he is officially in love with them..... And Dan!