It’s been a while since we’ve talked about the show here on the site and I thought it was high time we had an open discussion about it, because there really isn’t anything else out there that gets the toy collecting community buzzing every week like this show. So here are a few of my observations…
First, let me just say this and get it out of the way. I like Jordan Hembrough as the host. Yes, he had a bit of a rocky start, but he’s grown into the role and has gotten better over time. Many people in the collecting community seem to have issues with him, but, let’s face it guys, like it or not, Jordan is one of us.
STOP with the celebrities! I fear the fine folks at the Travel Channel have gotten a little starstruck by the lure of Hollywood’s C-List. Jordan’s eagerness to please the celebrities is really uncomfortable, and the Gene Simmons episode was downright painful to watch. Then we had DMC, from Run DMC, who wanted to find some toys for the foster kids at his charity’s summer camp program. No. This was another awful episode, and it was entirely because of the celebrity appearance. Danny Bonaduce? Really? Next week, we’re going to get Hulk Hogan, and I am not looking forward to it brutha. Can Mr. T be far behind?
Metallica’s Kirk Hammett was the only celebrity so far who made sense because he is a serious collector with an amazing collection of horror memorabilia. I understand that celebrities can be a draw for the audience, but I think it’s safe to say that not one of them has come across well on this show. It’s just not the right format.
The show has a built in audience of collectors, but I think they are trying too hard to draw in non-collectors with the dramatic sequences, all of which come across as the overly staged set-ups that they are. Seriously, the whole idea of Jordan having to find a specific rarity for someone by an impending date is kind of silly. I mean, does he really have to fly to Tennessee to buy that rare He-Man figure? We have the Internet. We have the ability to send photos and videos instantly. We have phones. It’s ridiculous to think he is going to spend hundreds of dollars on plane tickets and car rentals to track down an item that might score a profit of a hundred bucks on a good day. We’re smarter than this.
In future episodes, Jordan will be heading even further abroad to find those toys. Why? Just get on eBay if you want to buy something so bad. However, if they visit exotic locales to showcase certain items and collections, I’d be much better with that as the premise.
The star of the show is clearly the toys. So let’s see them! I would be perfectly happy if the focus of the show shifted to Jordan visiting collectors and showing off their prized possessions. The whole buying and selling aspect is fraught with danger — half the audience thinks he is ripping these people off, and the other half thinks he’s crazy to pay so much for an item. Get rid of the whole concept, and show us the wall of toys in the background that you normally pan across in rapid fashion. The best parts of this show are usually when a collector proudly shows off his prized object — but then things get uncomfortable when Jordan wants to buy it.
For me, the weakest part of Toy Hunter are the “actors.” Jordan is fine, he’s had experience, but the people he visits are trying so hard to come across as genuine, even though they’ve probably said the same thing in multiple shoots, that it just falls apart. These guests are not trained actors, and it shows — the set-ups and staged meetings usually come across as exactly that.
I really enjoy the numerous “infomercials” peppered throughout each episode, where they highlight a specific toy and show an old commercial or statistic. Sure, I’m already familiar with most of them, but it’s fun to learn new tidbits about items that I may not already know. Honestly, I think I’d be happy with an Antiques Roadshow approach — visit people who have boxes of old toys in their attics, and inform them that they are sitting on a gold mine, then connect them with a specialty toy auction company and everyone wins.
We’ve seen PLENTY of collector/toy shows come and go after the last few years. Toy Hunter has been the one constant, and I think those of us in the collecting community need to heavily embrace and endorse this show and others like it. Seriously, where else do you get to see Super7/Funko’s Alien Reaction figures on television? Nowhere. So, let’s stop tearing it apart every week and start cheering for more. Jordan has been very approachable on Instagram and Twitter, and like it or not, he has championed our cause more than anyone else. Like I said at the beginning of this article, I’m a big fan of the show, and I hope it sticks around for a good long time… but without the celebrities.
What do you think? Are you still watching Toy Hunter? Do you think it’s getting better? Worse? Add a comment below…