But beyond the cliched hyperbole and manufactured-assumptions, is it really that hard to choose your favorite?
I have just stepped off voting in the Designer Toy Awards one Sunday morning, as part of my duties as one of the numerous Judges on the Board of DTAs (the non-existent glamor is ever fleeting - where's me "bribe-toys", innit? lol) and I gotta tell ya, it was not exactly a breeze of an effort to go thru - well, mentally anyways. (And I am not known for my metal capabilities, mind you ~ *snort*).
But then again, if the voting aspect was easy, it could have been easily abused. Even when I held/hold blog-contests, there would be folks who utilize multiple email accounts to enter, even tho I have said "no multiple entries per person", but hey, that's the nature of things in this online wild west town, and
VOTING & YOU.
I only just posted an article about Public Voting on the DTAs yesterday [Click HERE if you have not read it yet] which essentially gives an overall guide to who's up for voting in what category. What you are reading here instead is a personal observation of the event unfolding as we speak, in reaction to my own misgivings, and the reactions to the "general public" since the announcement of the awards to the now (the inverrted-commas are there for a reason). Alongside there are quotes from select general public (who responded kindly to my Twitter and Facebook query for impressions).
RULES ARE MEAN TO BE SUBVERTED?
The "rule" about DTAs is that you can vote only once a day. The "thing" about voting for DTAs is, you can vote as many categories as you want, with that one-vote-per-day, and you can come back again and again, day after day, to vote or your favorite/s!
This practice favors "dedication/diligence" (to voting) moreso than the merit of the item/person being voted on - but given the possible apathy of the voting public, how else could this be taken another route?
Regardless if that is ultimately fair or not, remains to be seen. The non-winners might shrug off the awards or be up-in-arms about the loss, and the winners?
"Thank you for your votes and the award, but I do not believe in the award"? - that kind of retort is just not going to cut it, is it? Winners suck it up, and "losers", well, they do what it is to do to disparage the happenstance, or the classy few dusts it off their shoulders and move on with their lives. (I would if I lost, cursing under my breath muahahahahaha j/k).
Now, I'm not about to tell you how to vote, when to vote or who to vote for (*cough-TOYSREVIL-for-Best-Blog-cough*), but it seems there is quite a number of resistance to vote, and the DTAs in general, in the first place. But those are what I have garnered on my online-outings anyways, while the quotes sent in to me have instead been pretty balanced, and decent. We'll get to them soon enough.
WISHES & UNREQUITED DREAMS..
I have always wanted to do a public toy-awards since I've started blogging not too long ago, although folks like Plastic-and-Plush and MWC Toys have been doing their own toy awards for a while (granted one is art toy-based, while the other is action figure-focused), so what would make any other toy awards different? Two-Words: "Public Exposure" - and although being online IS public, they dwell within folks already in the toy-culture. But being in the eye of folks who do not live and smell toys everyday, that is an exposure that is untapped 'gold'.
And having an awards-concept to reward the folks in the culture, has more aspirational value that folks give it credit for (which to me personally, is a "given", but then again I might be dreaming it all…) … "but is it all that it's cracked up to be?" - Are the DTAs a viable notion for this age?
"I think its an awesome idea, and I think this could be the beginning of legitimizing the designer toy industry as another form of art to collect just like paintings or prints." ~ Sal Rodriguez
THE ELUSIVE SUCCESS.
If an awards event is only the sum of it's nominees, then it seems the inaugural DTAs have still quite a journey ahead of them. Anonymous#1 said: "they kinda suck. Lots of nominations/people missing. I feel they're DTA beta."
In all honesty, I cannot fully disagree with that statement, and at the same time I am flexible to give it a little leeway, to develop in time into something we can all embrace, warts and all. And no, I am not saying this because my blog is nominated, nor because I had been invited to be on the Judging Board. It is a simple and frank statement of the inevitable fact, which folks refuse to acknowledge and choose instead to not help nurture it to it's potential. All I can do is blog about it anyways, so I am not here to chuck stones at anyone's glass huts, ya know? LOL
"I think it's a good idea, as it honors the best in the industry, but because it's the first one, there are way too many good nominees in each category. Plus, I think there should be more artist categories; it's not fair that there's just one "Best Artist" and 38 non-winners." ~Chris Inoue
I don't know about you folks, but I had my panties-in-a-bunch when the Academy started to have 10 finalists-films in the Best Films category LOL
AN ACCURATE DEPICTION OF THE CULTURE?
It depends on who got nominated and who voted for who, isn't it? This so far looks to be an industry-focused award moreso than a mass-public-themed award (as with the exclusivity of "art toys" perhaps?) and we end up preaching to the masses of collective folks who have already sold our souls to toys, isn't it? Hard uphill-climb too, I reckon LOL
"Participation" aside, there are also what "other" folks see in this endeavor, and how it will impact the culture and industry in general, in time to come.
Aside: The one thing I have gleamed from my stay in hospital for Stroke last year,
The thing with DTAs I have noticed thus far (correct me if I am wrong, there no need to string me up and lynch me in public about it too), are that the nominees are nominated by the public, and not listed for the the public to vote on, instead. So if you're bitching you are not on the list, then tis either you have fans who are ignorant or apathetic, or you are simply not vote-worthy enough, isn't it?
"Unfair assumption"? Of course it might be. All this is "speculation based on personal observation", and I am not able to trumpet the truth, because there are too many layers involved in each and every person's perception to the public, and I am not the person living other people's lives for them, in the first place.
APATHY FOR YOU AND ME.
The level of "apathy" seems to be pretty devastating in this regard, and is the plain simple sad truth in this day and age. If one might argue that folks "did not know about the existence of the awards", then the sum of the folks nominated for the BEST BLOG category, has not done their/our job in promoting it's existence, especially since we all promote news within this industry for which these awards are focused on about.
"I think there's a lot of evidence of elements within the designer toy industry not supporting other elements of the industry and if this continues to happen there won't BE a designer industry...this apathy you talk about is why so many designers and their toys come and go completely unknown, unseen and unsupported while others get afforded rockstar status." ~ Matty Boombatty of Smash Tokyo Toys. [Quote added after post-published]
GOOD OLD DAYS ARE OVER?
I remember a day and age when toy-forums like Ningyoushi's provided a legion of like-minded folks (even tho everyone had differing opinions and tastes) who enriched the culture with their opinions and toy-collecting-spirit (because frankly, collecting toys back then is not as easy as it is these days). But now we have the vocal minority who bitchwhineslam folks because they need to vent their frustrations and share their opinions (which to be fair - in some extreme cases - needed to be slammed! And HARD! lol).
Folks have "learnt" not to need explaining beyond exclamations like "it sucks" and whine on about things they did not, and could not own. And "hate" and negativity is perpetuated thinly disguised as an "opinion" across the board, while a very few minority might provide the reasons "why" to the negativity - the majority of naysayers choose not to.
How that will benefit the toy-culture - and it's evolution and development beyond the 'now' - is beyond me.
BUT MY FAVOURITE IS NOT NOMINATED!
It's like looking at your favorite American Idol contestant being voted off the show, simply because you thought someone else was going to do it instead?
Being "nominated" IS and CAN be an achievement (even when you nominated yourselves in the first place, let us not lie to each other about this loophole), ah but "winning" it? Is not exactly out of your hands, as you can tout the nomination and even scream it to the skies! But what do most folks do? They clam up and move on, or they bitch buckets about how unfair the awards are in the first place.
I have since (as I am writing this) received two online emailers from folks promoting their nominations for the DTAs and encouraging folks to vote for them. That to me is cool beans.
PLAYING WITH FLAWED LOGIC.
Come on, the sheer concept of public voting to choose the best - unlike say the Olympics; when your diligence and physical-skills award you your position above others - is flawed in the first instance. It is a "popularity-contest" for the most part, isn't it?
So the adage of "Vote for what you know" or "Vote for your homie" rules supreme in this instance? Then again, I might be clear of my position (as a "Judge") and ability to ascertain without too much biaseness, but does the public agree with me?
I remember days when Talentimes ("Singing contests") were the rage in Singapore's past, and folks lined up to participate in them - folks ended up blaming the judges for not choosing their favorites. And eventually, public voting became the new rage (like Voting for members of Parliament and Presidents of a country was never a consideration of such an occurrence) and folks end up griping about "that dude who deserved to be voted in", but was never nominated in the first place?
You favorite movie did not get nominated, or even won the coveted Oscar? Tough noogie! They were voted on by a fixed number of members in the The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) - numbering "5,835 as of 2007" [wiki] and they nominated their favorites, to be shortlisted into the finalists.
VOTING FOR THAT PRETTY PICTURE.
And the same token, how can I vote for something I have never held in my hands before (to ascertain their quality or functionality)? Or even stepped into establishments ever before in my life?
As much as I can easily vote for what I see online in a computer-monitor - in all fairness, it is also about how well you take studio-pics of your toys? (Some images posted in the nomination categories are also suspect, truth be told).
Hey, there is never an exact science to these things, as much as we celebrate instances like the recent Munnyworld Megaccontest, there are undoubtably folks who did not score the top-three placing, and is still as inspired by the scene and hobby, to continue forth with their craft - not necessarily in the hopes of winning that coveted title the next time round (of course I "assume" lol), but because there is a level of "aspiration" to be had, beyond selling your one-of-one wares for $$$, and the continuation to ply your trade and skills in this arena?
Push comes to shove, then it'll be down to how the nominated folks have interacted with you, isn't it? One man's opinions and impressions, is not as valued a commodity as it was years ago, when blogs started out - Now? Everyone's got an opinion. everyone's an armchair critic. And everyone that is vocal, wants to be heard, and heard clearly. And voting (or not voting) seems to be the alternative action, to writing a post like this, isn't it?
VOTING FOR A PIECE OF PLASTIC?
And behind every toy, is the designer who created it, or the brand who produced it, isn't it? You can argue the validity of a toy, but the vibe of who did it and who manufactured it, also plays a part (huge or small).
But of course we will all remember the times when folks treat us well, and the times when folks treat us like dirt - hell, everything comes to roost, and frankly you reap what you sow, and sometimes, just sometimes, it is not about how you produce your toys, but how you conduct yourselves in front of others (and yes, "behind" them as well). What? Vote unbiasedly on the merits of the toy alone? C'mon, whose kidding who here?
Ultimately, if the product being nominated was good enough in it's own merit, none of all this would even be in consideration, much less contention, regardless of personal experiences.
MANDATORY vs FREE WILL.
Funnily, my fav joke around the time of the Singapore Elections (which happened not too long ago), was that there were over four thousand rejected votes in the Pasir Ris district alone! The folks in the East were so chilled they did not care to vote for either parties? In reality, perhaps they were unhappy with either and choose instead to sully their vote. Imagine that; over 4K votes rejected. Why hasn't anyone in power addressed this situation thus far, instead of griping over the life of TPL? (Sorry, local politics in play here, move along if it escapes you, no worries).
But then again, that vote is government-mandatory, unlike the DTAs, which frankly, if you do not believe in, you can join in the spirit of my Eastern-brothers and sisters, and comparatively not bother with voting at all LOL
YOU ARE WHAT YOU ARE BEING VOTED ON?
Are the nominees being nominated in the accurate categories? Some are no doubt spot on, but some are just outright ridiculous. Some names in the "Lifetime Achievement Awards" had me stumped for words, while certain categories did not field the "usual suspects". But as mentioned before, the finalists have been nominated by the public (aka "YOU") and not by the organizers themselves - so we reap what we sow, don't we?
Locally in Singapore, we have an annual "Star Awards" - which essentially awards television actors in the sole broadcasting station we have in this island-state (sounds ridiculous yes, but please do bear with me) - and one of the awards is likened to a "Lifetime Achievement" award, for which the chosen winner is lauded for his/her efforts, and will henceforth not be nominated in future awards! I wonder how that plays off in the DTAs...
WE ARE ALL BUT FARMERS PLOWING THE LAND … MAYBE.
We are all but farmers in a certain fashion. We plow our lands, harvest our goods, and folks purchase our goods because they like our goods, not necessarily because of how we plow our land, or if we were errant farmers in the first place, isn't it? But it sure as heck doesn't mean you have a right to be a bad farmer, and folks not care about it. Actually, I am less of a farmer than the dude who hawks the goods at the nearby market, so who am I to say? hahahaha
I had a severe issue when the name of the person nominating was removed from the awards. Then we would not be able to see who actually nominated for themselves, isn't it? The promo-savy few would be able to latch unto this loophole and score themselves a nomination. But then again, this gives a chance for folks to nominate their own names / brand / toys whatever into the awards, when the general public may not be aware of it's existence - and be able to give some semblance of exposure for their name/brand/toys/event, isn't it? And that to me, is a positive aspect of such a happenstance, even if it means its not on the up-n-up.
"I think DTA is good to have as (hopefully) it will raise the standard of the industry. This is also good for exposing the underground designers with awesome toys but haven't got the chance to compete or get to know with with the giants." ~Johanes Djauhari (aka Saltnpaper / Bismarck Toy Lab)
"AWARDS OF THE DECADENT WEST"
There is no need to gloss over this, but the awards is very Western-based in the first instance. In the realm of English-speaking online happenings, a whole lot of Eastern (predominantly Chinese) creators are lost in the mix. With the lone exception of Michael Lau (who is very deservingly nominated for "Lifetime Achievement"), most other Hong Kong or Taiwan designers, are near non-represented. Seeing a few of my Indonesia-peeps and friends from Thailand and their product/event being nominated, brings a smile to my toy-lurving-heart. That was a nice tipping of scales and representation, IMHO.
And am I the only representative for Singapore worth being nominated? (Heck, if only I could get my fellow countrymen to vote for me, I'll be a happy camper indeed).
Hell, when I first read the testimonial / reason for my vote, I was lost for words! "I nominate ToysRevil for best blog. For Christ sake he had a stroke and still continued to post. That is hardcore." - it wasn't about how entertaining or efficient my blog was, it was a "pity vote"? (Please do bare with my post-Stroke aggression - kind person who voted for me - I have since seen my erred-thoughts ;p)
But you know what? I have since learnt pretty quick to chill (like my fellow 4K-Voters in the East of Singapore), and am game to play along and pimp my blog (because I really really want that Pete Fowler-designed trophy hahahaha seriously!). Will I get voted on, after this post is published? Will I get voted on in subsequent awards? Should I have kept quiet so I could get nominated later?
These are the questions that needn't be questioned, or need answering, as it is beside the point of the awards, IMHO - besides me entertaining you folks with this read, that is :p
Truth be told, choosing my opinion of the winning vote on each category was not difficult. Yes, there may be multiple favorites (quite a few actually), and there may even be friends being listed in the nominees, but having a good toy to be voted for, is a relative obvious decision to be made. When it is time to vote, it is about the best of the lot being nominated - simple, really.
A very select few should not be a part of the DTAs at all, while a whole chunk of names and brands are not at all represented. But you know what? They were nominated by YOU. No one else to blame but apathy? Hell, there's plenty of that to go around these days. Power to this who ARE being nominated, I reckon! "Hate the Game" but "Don't Hate the Player"? Looks to be what's happening across the board, isn't it?
Has this culture descended to be just about dollars and cents? You lord what you can afford, and covert what you cannot, and bitch about everything else in between? You don't like it? Don't buy it! Don't vote it! You like it? Work to own it. Or simply vote to have it receive the praise you think it/he/her deserves. And frankly the jaded will have intense opinions, while more eager and "fresher minded" folks see a silver-lining, and frankly there's nothing like "positivity" to keep it all flowing, and possibly even "evolving"...
"I (am) often surprised to see the new toy / event submission on DTA as the quality and originality made me drool, it kind of restarting the convention of designer toys. As one of the nominee, I got to admit I am quite nervous with the good competition. I would say DTA judging board did the job well in filtering the nominees. May the coolest toy win!" ~Johanes Djauhari (aka Saltnpaper / Bismarck Toy Lab)
DOES IT MATTER?
Frankly, in all sincerity, it is not about the awards that matter (besides the Toy King which I really really want muahahaha yes i've said this three times now), but tis about the inspirations your skills and work evoke, and the aspirations it may exlude, which perhaps can be recognized by the masses, that helps you move along to evolution and further down the path to development.
But then again I may yet be naive to the "real world" at large? Hey, I just want to hold on to and embrace this hobby and toy-culture for what "it can be", and not "what it really is". But you know what, that is just my opinion in this matter. I have done my part in voting, and as well casually rant on in this post. I am not responsible for you voting in the first place, isn't it? Funnily tho, in a community of toys we dwell in, seems there's a whole lot of individuality going on as well - and a award is as well presented to the individual, isn't it?
Hell, thinking back, even if I had a TOYSREVIL Toy Award, would YOU have even bothered to vote for them?
Here's the Pete Fowler-design trophy I have been drooling-on about [previously featured here], and in the end, it's all about the toys, isn't it? Let's end this tripe with something forward-looking instead:
"DTA? It's awesome! Hope they add a new category next year: Best Toy photography!" ~Alice Alienchrome