Toy Collectors Unite to help Japan.
April 2011 - As a community, toy collectors are known for being a particularly vocal bunch. When images of Michael Bay's Transformers movie first surfaced a few years ago, outrage at one Transformers news site was so fierce regarding the signature look of the main Villian Megatron, that ultimately Bay was convinced to change the iconic character to a more traditional likeness. Fan input from Hasbro's quarterly Q&A sessions and Mattel's Fan Polls have been helping to shape the product lines of these manufacturers for the past few years. So it's no wonder that when the tragic news came out of Japan regarding the Sendai Earthquake and aftermath, they would be vocal about that as well.
Now, this outspoken group is digging deep to put not only their collective voices, but their money and talents to good use. As part of the "Heroes Give Hope" charity auction, collectors and fans of action figures, superheroes and comic art are joining together to raise funds for ConvoyofHope.org, a not-for-profit organization providing food, disaster relief and community outreach to areas affected by disaster. Since their founding in 1994, Convoy of Hope has served more than 42 million people in over 100 countries through their international children's feeding initiatives, and by providing support both at home and in communities throughout the world.
Convoy of Hope is working with TheBigToyAuction.com, and using their expertise in streaming Live-Auctions of action figures to create this charity event. Their "Heroes Give Hope" Benefit auction event will feature collector donated and created toys, artwork, and other services from a wide range of Toy Lines to be auctioned off in a Live-Auction event. The online catalog will allow for absentee bidding up to the day of the event, and the unique streaming technology provided by the Proxibid.com platform will allow bidders to bid in real-time on the day of the auction from the comfort of their own computer screens. One Hundred Percent of the final hammer price of each item sold will go directly to Convoy of Hope for their efforts on the ground in distributing much needed food and supplies to those affected by the disasters in Japan.
"I think it's great that we're able to bring the Collecting community together to do this," says Christopher Noon, Professional Auctioneer and founder of TheBigToyAuction. "You don't have to be a Giant Robot or have superpowers to be a hero. You can be a hero to the people of Japan Just by bidding on some great toys and art that you would have wanted anyway." Interested donors, artists, or small business can also help by donating their collectible toys and related artwork to TheBigToyAuction for inclusion in the catalog. "It's a great way to share your items with other collector's willing to bid," says Noon, "not to mention great exposure for your business or talent." As a fully accredited 501c(3) organization, donations to the Convoy of Hope may be eligible for federal tax deductions.
Japan has had a long history of influencing American toys, comic art and pop culture. Many popular toy brands today, like Gundam, Pokemon, and Yu-Gi-Oh were developed in Japan before becoming American favorites. Director George Lucas gives credit to director Akira Kurosawa's 1958 Japanese film "The Hidden Fortress" as inspiration for his own "Star Wars" series of films and the over 30 years worth of toys it has subsequently spawned. The Micronauts of the late '70's and early '80's originally began as the Japanese Microman Line. Similarly, before being sold in America, most of the early Transformers were sold throughout Japan as "Diaclones".
To this day in Japan, the most recognizable of all transformers, the Autobot leader Optimus Prime, is known by his original Japanese name - Convoy. And so, after years of seemingly endless contributions to American toy culture, it seems only fitting that an organization named Convoy of Hope is able to give back in Japan's time of need. After the 7.0 earthquake that devastated Haiti last year, Convoy was one of the first humanitarian aid groups to distribute food and supplies to victims. Now, volunteers from Convoy of Hope are delivering more than 50,000 meals, dried fruit, powdered milk, water, and sanitary and cooking supplies to those in need in Japan. Considered a "first responder" organization in disaster relief, with a fleet of tractor-trailers, a 300,000-square-foot warehouse, a high-tech Mobile Command Center and a scalable distribution model, Convoy of Hope has become a model organization for quickly providing resources and help to victims of disasters worldwide. With one of the highest rankings on independent charity review sites such as CharityNavigator.org, they have become known as leaders in getting disaster aid to those that need it most. "This is a desperate situation and because of our on-going feeding initiatives in the Philippines we are able to ship food and resources to the people of Japan much faster," says Nick Wiersma, disaster response community service director for Convoy of Hope, "This is our first shipment, but it won't be our last."
Generosity is nothing new to this group of toy collectors,though. Recently, One of the major Transformers news websites managed to easily surpass their $5,000.00 goal for the Hasbro Children's Hospital donation drive in just one month. Many members sold off figures they had or put aside the money they would have spent on toys that week to give to the cause. A smaller toy manufacturer that makes after-market components for Hasbro's Transformers toys recently gave away 1500 exclusive toys as an incentive to anyone who made a donation of $15.00 or more directly to the Red Cross. The figures were given away in just three days, raising over $20,000 to help the people of Japan. Additionally, many generous fans, creators, and artists have been creating pieces and selling toys on sites like eBay to raise money to donate individually to the cause.
Says Dana Stow, a long time auction-goer and toy-show attendee, "The Great thing about a Live-Auction like this, though, is that it takes all those small efforts and combines them into one big one. It eliminates all the mess of multiple sellers fees that eat into the charity money and it gives everybody one big effort to rally around. It builds community, and for the people of Japan, I think that's important right now." Additionally, for Customizers and artists, their work will be on display in TheBigToyAuction's heavily advertised catalog, generating much more exposure for their talents and products. Giving them more exposture and allowing pre-bids to rise as word gets out and collectors have time to save up for their favorite items.
The Live Auction event kicks off Sunday, July 10th, starting at 3:00 PM EDT. Registration and Pre-Bidding are already open online at http://TheBigToyAuction.com. Interested Donors can contact TheBigToyAuction.com via their website to donate items for the event.
Convoy of hope is also accepting donations directly through its website at ConvoyofHope.org, or by texting TSUNAMI to 50555 to automatically donate $10.00 to relief efforts.