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In the early 1990s, we found some musty boxes of Jabba the Hutts on the third floor of an open air parking garage in downtown Chicago. The guy offering them for sale also had all of the ex-Shah of Iran's stained glass collection, but we weren't big enough customers that he would even let us see that. He had just been released from the Illinois State Prison where he had been held for burning down a warehouse full of unsellable merchandise for the insurance money. When asked about it, he would reply with a more than a hint of pride in his voice, "Guilty as charged!"
We haggled him down to ten cents each for the Jabba heads and slightly more for the whole Jabbas. We had greedy visions of rabid Star Wars fans beating down our door for this rarity. Once we offered them up for sale, the whole Jabbas sold quickly, but the pieces didn't move at all. What were we supposed to do with thousands of Jabba heads and arms?
This is when the pure Capitalist impulse took over. We decided to match them with plastic fruit slices that didn't sell and turn them into jam! This was back in the days when anyone with Print Shop considered themselves a graphic designer, so it took no time at all to print out the labels and bottle Jabba.
Of course, we never sold a single one. Like Boba Fett in the belly of the almighty Sarlacc, they sat on the store shelves and in our warehouse gathering dust for years. No one is entirely sure what happened to them. Some think they went in Surprise Bags, others think they were sold to the Science Fiction Museum at vastly inflated prices. The only thing we know for sure is that we wish they were in that warehouse fire and we had never seen them at all.
When we were looking for a model for our Marketing Guru Action Figure, one name came up again and again: Seth Godin. In addition to his career as a world famous marketer and founder of websites, Seth also writes an extremely popular blog. He preaches the end of marketers as media buyers and instead pushes them as agents of change. In his book Purple Cow, he writes that products sell and ideas spread not because of marketing done in their name, but because they are remarkable. He mentioned us in this book, which makes it one of the greatest works of non-fiction ever written.
His latest book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, talks about the power of having a strong following that look forward to your products. We are not mentioned in this book, but it's still a darn good read.
To get a good feeling for the power of his ideas, we recommend you watch one of his TED talks.
He agreed to let us ask him a few questions about having his own action figure, the state of the world and exactly how awesome Archie McPhee is. You can read his answers below.
Archie McPhee: How has having an action figure of yourself changed your life?
Seth Godin: You wouldn't believe it. First came the movie offers--but Brad Pitt wanted top billing, which was completely unacceptable. And of course, the groupies... Then, the inevitable crash. My hair fell out.
AM: Has anyone questioned your sanity for having an action figure of yourself? Would you recommend it to others?
SG: Many aspire, few are chosen. The action figure proceeds go to charity (the wonderful Acumen Fund) and I'm proud of every one you've sold. But I'm amazed that some people think that this is serious, that I actually believe that I'm a guru and that I might expect you to put this on your dashboard. I don't. However, if you want my face on your grilled cheese, that's fine with me.
SG: There are some great photos on flickr of me with an Archie McPhee unicorn.
AM: Nancy Pearl offered you the following advice: "Don't get the real you confused (in your own mind or others) with the action figure of you." Has this happened to you yet?
SG: I have some advice for Nancy Pearl: quit hogging the action figure limelight! You outsell me. Curses!
AM: If you had to say something awesome about Archie McPhee what would it be?
SG: Archie McPhee is so awesome that it's not even necessary to say anything awesome about it. Are you on the bus?
AM: Unicorns or Narwhals?
AM: If your action figure were to fight Mr. Bacon, who would win?
SG: I hate Bacon. Bacon is my kryptonite.
AM: Why does your action figure wear mismatched socks?
SG: Because *I* wear mismatched socks. Every single day for the last four years (different socks every day, of course). You can buy yours at LittleMissMatched.com.
AM: What did you have for breakfast this morning?
AM: Does the word "blogosphere" irritate you? What about "webinar"?
SG: I find it irritating if it gets in my eye. But in general, it's fairly easy to digest. Same with webinar. Word I hate the most: axe. As in, "I need to axe him."
AM: What is the best CD you've heard this year? Best book you've read that isn't related to business or marketing?
AM: Have you ever walked out of a movie? Which one?
SG: When I was filming that movie with Brad Pitt, I walked out. But that's a special case.
I walked out of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It might have been the sound system. Or perhaps I was going to vomit.
AM: Do you think Squirrel Underpants can fix the economy?
SG: Ohmigod I can't tell you how important a breakthrough the Squirrel Underpants are. If we all did a webinar on them, the Dow would hit 12,000 overnight. They are amazing. (Do they come in boxers?)
AM: Any final thoughts or stories that you want to tell?
SG: Do your part. Buy something.
Click on the pictures below for insight into the design and manufacture of the figure! Including Demon Eye Seth Godin and Army of Albino Seth Godins!
We at Archie McPhee are experts at the useless, impractical and stupid. In that vein, we offer our list of the Top Five Completely Useless Christmas Gifts of 2008! They're currently featured on our homepage, but here are the links to individual products. There are no better gifts to surprise, bewilder and confuse the people on your gift list. Just remember, they'll forget the socks and sweater, but they'll remember Squirrel Underpants forever!
Here they are:
3. Bacon Floss