Above and Beyond

Some people go that extra step that makes all the difference.

Recently I have had three amazing experiences of generous, selfless and kind acts above and beyond the call of duty. They’ve all been from Toy people too.

I just won something. I think for possibly the first time in my life I won a tangible, take it away with you, prize. And it was completely unexpected. So big thanks and toy love goes out to Keegan and the folks at Trampt.com who pulled me out as one of a bunch of lucky winners over their NYCC weekend prize draws. Aww shucks guys, prizes for following you and using your excellent database – it’s like I’d already had the prize, then you go above and beyond and tell me I’ve won a Sket One Relish Dunny. You. Guys. Rock.

Support Keegan and the gang at http://www.trampt.com
Follow @Trampt on Twitter for all the news and hey prize give-away’s even.

Both of the other experiences relate in particular to something that affects all the toy collectors out there. Great artists live all over the world, they produce their cool designs and make their toys on different continents. We hear about these desirable items, we see pictures on blogs, we want them. Then we realise that they are shipping from a continent that is not our own. We discover that even a small toy like a 3-inch Dunny is not cheap to fly across an ocean. Once these critters get bigger or are made from heavier materials, they become like excess baggage charges at check-in, or checkout in this case. I cannot be alone in finding that international shipping on a toy is occasionally half as much again as the cost of the toy – sometimes shipping costs are more than the cost of the toy!

This in particular offends me. I am happy to pay artists for their toys. I want them to be able to carry on making toys, I want it to be affordable and worth their while. How insulting though to discover that the carriers are going to earn more money than the artists, and for doing nothing creative or original, just moving a box around. I know this is about the cost of fuel, and the manpower involved is all people out there earning a living to feed their families (and maybe to feed their own hobbies too). Nonetheless some part of my moral sense gets outraged that the lions-share of my expenditure might not go to the creative force behind a toy, but just get lost moving it from A to B.
(And don’t get me started on customs charges).

This all seems like a digression, but it is relevant to all three of my generous benefactors.

First because although they generously declined, I felt I had to offer to pay the postage for Trampt to send me my prize, because, when they picked me as a winner I’m sure they didn’t anticipate the ocean between me and them.

Secondly, because I am the beneficiary of a great act of kindness over this very issue, postage costs stopping me buying a toy I would love to have.

I tend to tweet about things that make me mad. Not all the time, but like a lot of tweet-ranters out there I see an opportunity to voice my frustration to a pretty large and public audience and I rarely hesitate. Sometimes maybe I should just keep my peace. But on a very rare occasion this has an unexpected bonus.

So there I am with the toy-lust. I’ve seen the piece I want. I’ve waited for release date. I’ve worked out what the dollar price converts to in English pounds. I added the toy to my cart. then it happens, the shipping calculator says, in effect, “pay more than 50% of the cost of this piece, again to ship from the US to UK”. My budget just got blown. My frustration goes out in an “international postage sucks” tweet. Before I know it something extraordinary has happened. The artist has tweeted me, he wants to know where I’m at and in a couple of short exchanges of 140 characters or less he has found a way to get me the piece I want, shipped, within my budget.

I am excited, I am a bit silly, like a fan-boy. I am not talking to the store here, I am not talking to a distributor. The artist has approached me, directly, himself, and is helping me out. And let me be clear I am not talking about an artist no one has heard of trying to build a fanbase, I’m talking about an established name with a recognisable toy line and a dedicated international following.

Why has he done this, I mean obviously he is a nice guy. I’m not second guessing his motives, but I am seriously impressed by someone of his standing involving himself in one transaction, a modestly small transaction at that, to help out a fan and collector on a different continent. He has nothing to gain, he gets my respect, of course. I already love and collect his toys so his gain is not material. He has done this because he is a good person, a man who understands that people all over the world love his creativity and he wants to share it with us, even when that means he has to personally go the extra mile to make that possible.
Lamour Supreme. You. Rock.

Follow Lamour Supreme on Twitter @LamourSupreme

Finally I want to thank Angie Wang for persevering with the whole international postage wrestling match in order to get toys from her side of the pond to mine. It’s one of those situations where one thing after another creates a difficulty or plain goes wrong, real life gets in the way of toys. But Angie just keeps smiling and emailing you and letting you know what is going on and where stuff is at. And despite the struggle to get toys from one side of the Atlantic to the other, she makes you feel like she’s your neighbour and she’ll pop round to help with the kids or the weekly shop or anything she can do to make stuff easy for you.
Way to go. Angie. You. Rock.

Follow Angie on Twitter @Babyvtec

I only hope that from time to time I can do half as much as these people to help out another toy fan.

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