Brian Volk-Weiss has seen his share of documentaries. Heck, he’s even finished a few, including a two-hour documentary going where no one has left before (specifically, the History Channel’s 50 Years of Star Trek). But when the longtime TV writer first approached Netflix with an thought nearby and dear to his heart, it didn’t accurately cut by the clutter.
Previously, the only work Volk-Weiss had finished for the streaming company were comedy specials centered on everybody from Jim Gaffigan to Tiffany Haddish. But he’d been sitting on a representation about an even older passion—his 30+ years of collecting toys.
“For a prolonged time, we kept irritating [Netflix] about what they kept calling, ‘Brian’s Toy Show,’” he tells Ars. “Eventually, we was propitious adequate to get someone to listen and take me seriously.”
If the History Channel tie didn’t give it away, Volk-Weiss loves a good backstory. “Brian’s Toy Show” started from a few Internet low dives when he came divided discontented with the miss of start story information on iconic toys from Barbie to He-Man. But Netflix—contrary to the hands-off repute the “network” has gained with its high-profile originals—gave Volk-Weiss a bit of honest feedback. That feedback finished up saving “Brian’s Toy Show” and eventually moulding it into the delightful, recently expelled docu-series The Toys That Made Us.
“They said, ‘We trust that you’re a nerd about toys, but if you make a show only for people like you, you’re going to have 30 people examination it,’” Volk-Weiss recalls. “‘We don’t greenlight shows for 30 people.’”
So, instead of a critical chronological plan Ken Burns could love, Volk-Weiss embraced what he knew: comedy. And now that we have finally held up on the 4 episodes that debuted this winter, we can announce that this tweak honestly creates the whole thing.
A doc for those lifted on Saturday morning cartoons
To be clear, The Toys That Made Us has no necessity of information. Volk-Weiss and his group get many every engineer and exec you could ask for on camera, despite traffic with major brands like Hasbro, Kenner, and Mattel. The first 4 episodes cover Barbie, He-Man, and G.I. Joe, while George Lucas ends up being the only “so-and-so declined to appear” slip throughout. Even if that unhappy Volk-Weiss, he’s discerning to note how singular his entrance was and how engaging all the minds behind these toys incited out to be.
“Listen, sitting there assembly the dude who sculpted the strange Tie-Fighter indication was way some-more sparkling brazen of time than it was to meet the lady who figured out what Barbie’s hands would demeanour like,” Volk-Weiss says per entrance (and divulgence Star Wars as his elite code of fondle obsession). “But after we accepted what Barbie was, I’m now some-more meddlesome in Barbie than many things—but zero will ever unseat Star Wars.’
With that trove of information, however, Volk-Weiss leaves room for his documentary to have a clarity of humor. The He-Man part does not bashful divided from how many of the side characters—like knave Stinkor or favourite Ram Man—seem like split-second ideas and fixing decisions. A G.I. Joe creator’s insistence on his fondle being “an movement figure, not a doll” gets incited into a using soundbite fun via that hour. And almost inconceivable ideas in retrospect—from the Heinz Burger Blaster to the puberty-themed Growing Up Skipper—get correct acknowledgment and roasting. You’ll grin regardless of fandom, but even diehards of a certain fondle line seem to walk divided with new revelations.
“The biggest warn for me—because the law was the accurate conflicting of what we spent my life believing, and it felt like 98 percent of people my age felt the same way—we all grew up meditative George Lucas finished 99 cents out of every dollar from the toys,” Volk-Weiss says. “And we remember reading the transcripts from the margin producers and conference George Lucas only got 2.5 percent. we said, ‘No, no, that’s wrong. That’s not true, you misheard him. That’s wrong.’”
(#NoSpoilers, but let’s contend Lucas didn’t make as remunerative of a understanding as Star Wars fans assumed. This find really finished Internet headlines for the documentary.)
The Toys That Made Us also (inadvertently, it turns out) does a smart thing and borrows its format from the TV spinoffs compared with the very toys being analyzed. Each part includes an charcterised pretension method with a Saturday morning cartoons-ish chime nearby the start. All the toys have genuine moments of dispute involved—He-Man execs trying to sell what’s radically selling investigate by earnest comics or TV on the spot; Barbie’s on-point care being cruel and fast-tracking concepts to marketplace to adopt things like Jem or Bratz; etc.—throughout the middle. And all the episodes finish with those signature life lessons-ish post-scripts you’d see on G.I. Joe or He-Man. This is when The Toys That Made Us encapsulates a given toy’s durability impact in the face of any do-or-die moments overcome.
“Actually, we schooled the significance of a good finale from early Jackie Chan movies,” Volk-Weiss admits, citing how Chan would play humorous outtakes over his films’ credits. “Even if you sat there for an hour and a half kinda bored, you watch these shining outtakes and leave the museum shouting and smiling about how good the film was.”
(To drive home this storytelling philosophy: Volk-Weiss says hundreds and hundreds of hours went into any episode, but he knows he spent at slightest 11 hours in the modifying brook on just the last 5 mins of the Barbie episode, for instance.)
The Toys That Made Us docu-series has 4 some-more episodes in the works focusing on Hello Kitty, Transformers, LEGO, and Star Trek. They’ll be accessible on Netflix someday in the first half of 2018 (Volk-Weiss was still in prolongation and didn’t have a organisation recover date to share when speaking with Ars).
While no second deteriorate has been announced yet, Volk-Weiss is assured he has oodles of additional element if Netflix wants to pierce forward. He says the greeting has been intensely certain from both collectors and non-collectors, and plenty of fans have been reaching out to him about copiousness of other toys—Hot Wheels, Power Rangers, WWF figures.
“If I’m ever found passed in a embankment at some con, ask the boss of the My Little Pony fan bar for an alibi,” he jokes. But if things do pierce forward, there’s a transparent first part for any suppositious deteriorate two.
“Turtles [as in Teenage Mutant Ninja], but a doubt, is what people asked about the most,” Volk-Weiss says. “People were regularly asking me, ‘Why would you do a Star Trek part and not a Turtles? I’m flattering certain if we was examination the show I’d be wondering that, but we did Star Trek since we adore Star Trek. we didn’t know if I’d get some-more episodes, and we wanted to do Star Trek.”
Listing picture by Netflix / The Toys That Made Us