Hello Silent Hill fans,
And thanks for stopping by once again to read the first post in my new fancy blog! To start, let me get the drawn-out, official-sounding mission statement for this blog out of the way. It’s good for me to say so you can better decide if visiting the blog section of my site will be worth your time in the future:
The mission of this blog will be for me to share my thoughts about Silent Hill collecting, expertise on Silent Hill-related merchandise, and to help spread awareness on items/groups of interest that may need our support for the greater good of Silent Hill collecting.
Now that we have the formalities out of the way, I’d like to start this blog off talking about being a North American Silent Hill collector and the trials and hardships that coincide being one.
As mentioned in my About Me page, I’ve been collecting Silent Hill merch since 2004. But “collecting” might be too generous of a word. You see, we Silent Hill collectors have it harsh, especially the ones living in North America. Harsh because collectible SH items are stupid-rare (that’s a real word, I’m calling it) to find and once found, the price mark-up by sellers borders the insane threshold. Or, if not bought directly from a seller and instead discovered on an auction site, find yourself losing sleep, hair and nerves as you feverishly wait for the auction’s time to end so you can “bid snipe” which still doesn’t guarantee you winning a new item for your display cabinet.
But what’s a guy to do? As I said: Silent Hill collectors have it harsh. Asia gets the most swag among the continents–no question there–but the frequency in which worthwhile collectibles show up even for the Far East is still rare enough to be considered a wives’ tale. Believe me, as a self-proclaimed “Veteran Silent Hill Collector” (Editor’s Note: Work on making title sound cooler; maybe add “Captain” to the front?), I can assuredly say a person could master an instrument or take on a second language before awesome Silent Hill merch would come stateside. It’s just fact. As guaranteed as the sun rises or Minecraft being a viable cocaine substitution, Konami just doesn’t release cool Silent Hill merch to North Americans.
At least, I used to be able to assuredly tell you that. Times have changed.
Let’s set the stage: In mid-2012 a new toy distribution company entered the scene. At the San Diego Comic Con last year, this new company, ToyMunkey Studios, set up its booth and burnt the stage down with guns a’blazing. How so? By doing the impossible:
A meticulously-sculpted Bubble Head Nurse and Red Pyramid Thing. For the first time since I started collecting in 2004, there was high quality, collectible-worthy Silent Hill merchandise on display and soon to be sold retail. In. America. My good friend Whitney, whom I rightfully moniker “Queen of Silent Hill” (Editor’s Note: “Captain Queen”? Nah.) for all she does for our fandom, was at the Con and had a chance to interview Scott Sohn, head of ToyMunkey Studios. Scott was passionate about the items nestled underneath the glass display at his booth. He expressed his concerns for bringing on quality artists (one of them being master sculptor HEADLONG, who sculpted the Red Pyramid Thing seen above, and whose work I happen to love dearly) and keeping the quality-train going all the way to the paint job. And wouldn’t you know? Several months later they delivered, releasing the first batch of promotional images:
My little Silent Hill collecting heart couldn’t stand it. “This is too good to be true,” I said as I was making sure it wasn’t April 1st (it wasn’t). “After all these years, us Western folks are finally getting some love. But what’s the catch?” Looking back now, I feel ashamed that I thought there’d be a “catch” in having Silent Hill items sold nationally. To put it blunt, I was skeptical of having any stateside help after so many years of “being on my own” when it came to collecting. But Whitney, perhaps feeling the skepticism radiating out of my body, was able to get me in contact with Scott for more information about all of this. (And just one more reason she has earned her moniker.)
I briefly chatted with Scott the other day and discussed things you’d expect two nerds to discuss; how cool statues and figures are; how he got started; why he’s doing what he does; showing off my collection; showing off his previous work; comparing our TI-83 calculators (maybe not that last one). Throughout the conversation Scott talked more about his background and his overall passion for all things toy-related.
It was humbling, really.
Here I was, being this frowny-faced, battle-hardened “every-man-for-himself” collector, expecting to talk with a “corporate image” (you know, the people who speak on behalf of a company with infamous lines such as “We do not discuss or speculate rumors” or “no comment” that get you no where) but instead was greeted to a man who genuinely loves art, cartoons, anime and comics. A man who geeked on about Masahiro Ito’s work and even swapped a few lol‘s and omg‘s my way. It was everything I didn’t expect. And I liked it.
While Scott and I enjoyed talking about pop-culture collectibles and such, I had to wonder about ToyMunkey’s relationship with Silent Hill collectors as time goes on. Are these two statues a one-off production, then they’re done distributing for Silent Hill IP? Are they going to keep the momentum going and release more stuff down the line? While he can’t disclose any specific details for what’s in store for us Silent Hill collectors, he did assure me–with great enthusiasm–that much more will be coming down the pipeline. We can only ponder on what these things may be, but if Scott’s enthusiasm is anything to go by, us collectors are about to have everything we know about Silent Hill collecting turned upside-down. No more feverishly scouring eBay. No more high shipping/duty fees from Japan. Things should be good.
As we continued chatting I remembered an ancient relic of my past; something both embarrassing and endearing of myself. Back in 2004, when I first created my Silent Hill 2 fansite Letter From Silent Heaven, I originally wrote a letter for Team Silent, tucked at the end of my site, which you can read here. It’s embarrassing, full of typos, and my naivety of thinking that I could ever meet Team Silent is through the roof. What can I say? I was a starry-eyed, young teenager whose aspiration was to go to college and make games just like Silent Hill 2. (Side note: I did go to college for game development and, yes, Silent Hill 2 was the primary reason for me majoring in what I did! My nerd level is over 9,000, son.) But put aside me wanting to meet the team who made my favorite game and you’ll see that the rest of my letter is asking them to help bring Silent Hill merchandise to the United States.
So it dawned on me, as I was chatting with Scott, that this man is the man I’ve been waiting for since nine years ago. Everything I talked about in my open letter to Team Silent, aside from meeting them, has now become addressed thanks to ToyMunkey Studios and my brief chat with Scott. This is why this blog post is titled the way it is. His studio isn’t going to sell these statues and disappear. He isn’t a snuffy, suit-wearing corporate man who has no interest in his own consumers. No, his passion tells me that he’s in it for the long haul–to deliver many collectible Silent Hill items in the future. This was a revelation for me… this is what I wanted for nine bloody years. “Finally!” I think, “Us fans outside of Asia and Europe can have a chance in the spotlight.” And the spotlight has never looked brighter.
If you haven’t already, you can order the Red Pyramid Thing and pre-order the Bubble Head Nurse statues shown at the beginning of this post by visiting the sites below:
Red Pyramid Thing: http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/product.aspx?product=TMK10000&mode=retail
Bubble Head Nurse: http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/product.aspx?product=TMK10001&mode=retail
Aside: As I was typing this blog post, I received an e-mail from the company I ordered the Red Pyramid Thing statue from that they have received the product and will be shipping out soon. Coincidence? You be the judge.