Kevin Smith: The Jump-On

I saw a question on a Facebook group earlier asking what everyone’s jump-on was to Kevin Smith.  For some it was Clerks, the one that started it all.  But, based on different generations, availability etc. everyone will have a different movie/medium that drew them in.

I figured, seeing as I hold Kev’s book “Tough Sh*t” as the reason/inspiration to start running my own business and based upon the recent news that Mallrats 2 is gonna be happening, that I will drop my 2 pence (cents as the folks over the pond would say).

Mallrats started me off.  I would have been 11 when it came out but it wasn’t until around 2003/04 (I was 19/20) when I discovered my first Kevin Smith flick.

I worked in a town called Galashiels in the local Council offices in Non-Domestic Rates. It was 9-5 Mon-Fri.  I’d get an hour for lunch but I’d only take 30 minutes – if I could take less I would have; we worked on flexi-time so I’d take shorter lunches to bank up time for days off/early finishes/late starts.

Each lunch, I would do the same thing.  I’d walk up through town to WH Smiths and Woolworths (way before they went bust and went online only).  I would spend a while browsing the movies and games sections and always leave with at least 1 purchase (5 times a week every week – expensive lunchtimes!)

I remember the cover of Mallrats caught my eye and seeing as it was only a fiver I decided to buy it along with a couple other titles (can’t remember what they were).  After my first viewing, Mallrats became my go-to; I would watch it whenever I had nothing new to watch and often I’d watch it over and over until I fell asleep.

After that, not really knowing anything about the dude that made it, I bought Dogma.  I didn’t realise the movies had any connection until I watched it and met Jay & Silent Bob again.  At this point, the View Askewniverse had me.  I bought Clerks and them bought the Clerks animated series on eBay (imported from Australia).

And since then, I have made a point of watching/buying everything he has done.

If it hadn’t been for Mallrats all those years ago, I might not have become the outspoken, filthy animal that I am.  I may never have learned to let my geek back out after he was caged back in high school.  I may never have ventured on this journey that I have embarked upon.

Then again, I may have made something sooner instead of being as close to a slacker as I was…(reference intentional 😉 )

Where did you “jump on”?

Knowing Me, Knowing You

I recorded a podcast and seem to have lost it amongst a plethora of recordings that I haven’t had a chance to sit down and edit.  The premise was that I would have an episode to speak about me (which I both hate and am not good at).  The idea behind it was to allow folks to know who is behind Nerdgazzum and to, I suppose, inspire more confidence in the sense that there is no anonymity or clear accountability behind the face of the business.

As I hate talking about myself in a serious manner, I don’t really know how to start so I guess I shall begin by telling you that my name is Craig Stewart.  I was born in Edinburgh in 1984 and currently live in South Wales (for almost 10 years at the time of writing this).

I work in a call centre in customer services full time (12 hour shifts practically) and started Nerdgazzum in February of 2014 as a means of breaking free from the tedium that has set in after (at the time) 8 years of working there.  As of this April, it’ll be 9 years.

On top of working full time, I also have 3 daughters – at the time of starting the business I had 2 with one on the way.

I always wanted to do something I enjoyed – my previous jobs have lost their novelty at a certain point and so I moved on to pastures new but, working for others soon became my issue and working for myself is the dream.  I read Kevin Smith’s “Tough Sh*t” – yes, I’ve blogged and posted on social media about this before – and it inspired me to do something I want to do; something I’m interested in.

I inadvertently started on my path when I subscribed to Nerdblock — a monthly subscription of mystery goodies – and had some items I wasn’t particularly interested in and sold them on eBay.  The biggest sells were 2 Funko POP!s – Invisible Bilbo Baggins and Jabba The Hutt…these sold for way more than I expected and my ‘eureka’ moment hit me.  I soon set off on a journey that I didn’t think would amount to anything – I e-mailed companies and chased up leads to figure out how I’d start.

At the time, there were to be 3 of us involved.  Myself and 2 of my colleagues but due to events in their personal lives (one was expecting a baby and the other was having issues that I need not mention here).  So, it was either a case of sink or swim.  Let the seminal idea go or stick with it.

I stuck with it and, with a small investment from each of us (£13 each) I started the website – this had been done prior to the decision to go it alone.  With another £80 I started off with 6 Funko POP!s (Harley Quinn with Mallet figures).  It was a struggle, mainly selling to friends and eventually friends of friends.  But, by securing some San Diego Comic Con 2014 items, it pretty much set me on course for a more successful venture.

It’s been tough, and it still is – as time goes on, managing a website that displays almost 1500 items and trying to maintain it whilst holding down a full-time job and just general family life and domestic chores there have been times that I have been close to jacking it all in.  At one stage, I came so close it wasn’t even an idle threat.

But, despite how hard I found making my mark and getting people to hear of my site and trust me enough to spend their hard earned cash on me, an unknown in an ever growing market, I carried on – to which I am glad as it’s the only thing that got me through the darkest part of my life and the hardest part of 2014.

In May, I discovered my Mum had been diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in the January just gone.  The cancer was untreatable and it was basically months that she was given.  In June, I took the family up as we always do each year, to visit and spend time with my family as well as celebrate my 30th birthday (June 16th).  My Mum’s birthday is the day after mine.

In August, it turns out she had been admitted into hospital into the Margaret Kerr Unit (palliative care).  At this time, my partner was heavily pregnant and our third addition to the family was expected on 2 September, but on the run up it seemed like she may arrive sooner.

I had a tough decision to make – do I go and see my mum one last time and leave my family behind to possibly miss the birth of my daughter (or worse, not be there if any issues arose).  In the end, we all went up.  That was the toughest decision of my life but I am glad I did it.  I dropped them off at my Mum’s house and got them settled (this was around 1am by the time we arrived).  By 1:30 I was at the hospital to meet my sister and I stayed up all night (well, morning).

I won’t give a blow by blow account of my time there but, the following night, I stayed with my Mum on my own in the hospital to give my sister a break and my Mum, throughout the night and the wee hours, opened her eyes which she had never done before.  She showed signs of strength that she hadn’t demonstrated since being admitted; trying to move and re-position herself in the bed as well as wanting a drink.  In my mind, I wanted to believe that my presence was giving her some form of strength and a bit of fight back.  Maybe my Mum would come back?  Immediately as that thought occurred, my senses kicked in and told me not to be stupid.  She was not being fed nor watered, she was on a drip of painkillers and nothing else.

On August 29th, about an hour into my shift in work, I had the fateful call that my Mum had passed away.  The following week, after my daughter was born and had come home, I hit the road to Scotland.  Alone.  I recorded a solo podcast on the road which was a shoddy rant at a few things.

To say 2014 was challenging is to say that Batman is a little bitch.  But, by the time my Mum had passed, I felt I had come so far that to give it all up would be criminal.  My father passed away earlier in the year, but as I hadn’t spoken to him since I was 12, his passing didn’t affect me all that much.  But the fact that both of my parents were now gone, it made me question my own mortality.

I know children should survive their parents – it’s the natural order, after all – but I would have traded places if I could.  But I couldn’t, and all I could and can do is do my Mum proud and not quit.  I normally choose the path of least resistance.  At the first sign of difficulty I usually quit – a videogame mentality, hit a hard part, save it and maybe come back later.  Or, quit and put something else on, haha!

But, as I always believed, things that are worth doing are never easy.  If they were, everyone would be doing it.  And so, I carry on and at this stage I feel like I’ve accomplished something.  There’s still a lot to do and it’s only going to get tougher before it gets easier, but I’m not getting any younger and I need to focus on this.

I’ve had some criticisms and some shitty e-mails and comments from people.  Yes, sometimes I may take a while to update folks on their orders or or maybe take a while to update my store with date changes and what-not.  But, for those that keep coming back – they know they can drop me an e-mail or Facebook message and double check.  Considering how hectic life is generally, no one can deny that I am pretty damned diligent in my responses – if they’re not straight away they’re mostly not far off it.  Some may take longer as I may be in work and can’t use my phone unless I’m on break.  Or I may take some time to look into something.

But how many retailers will reply to a private message at 3am?  Or message you straight back and have a laugh and joke with you?

A lot of people seem to think, and have called me a liar when I have said to the contrary, that Nerdgazzum is a big business.  It’s not a limited company.  It’s not a buzzing hive of employees all working together as one.  It’s just me.  And considering that I have no business experience prior (except Business Studies and Accounting & Finance in high school) and the fact that this is my pet project as a dream to get me out of my day job and into this as my career, I haven’t done that bad (I’d like to think).

Anyway, I need to get back to number crunching as I’m amassing a HUGE order (including the much anticipated Gold Smaug figures and a few other figures of sheer awesomeness).

I wanted to take the time to let folks know who is behind the name, what drives me and that, after all, I am one mere mortal trying to fight it out amidst the bigger names and companies with buying power and remaining pretty damned competitive while I’m at it.

Remember, if you have any doubts about something on the store (item availability etc) just drop me a message on the Facebook page or send a Tweet or even an e-mail.

Have a good ‘un!

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Radio Silence

Hola!

It has been a VERY long time since I’ve posted anything here – since going back to work things have been a bit chaotic and trying to find time to sit down and write/podcast has been pretty hard.

I’ve got a few podcasts recorded, both for here on Nerdgazzum as well as for The Trying Scotsman (my personal podcast over on my blog).

I won’t delve into all the stuff that’s been going on (I’ll save that for my personal blog) but let’s just say the business has been pretty busy, work has been exhausting me, sickness and generally just conducting my day to day with a houseful of women (no, not a brothel – other half and 3 girls)!

I’ve been looking into having authors on the blog(s) again as I don’t want the content to just “die” and it’d be interesting to have different perspectives and stuff going on.

In the meantime, I’m gonna get to editing some of these recordings and try to get these podcasts out!

I Throw My Hands Up In The Air Sometimes Singing Ayo I’m A Lego

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I raided my attic last night to bring my old Lego collection down.  What a trip down memory lane!  I knew I had a few sets but I didn’t realise I had as many.  The majority of them are nothing but bricks in boxes waiting to be rebuilt – some of which I did last night.

To my surprise, I also discovered a shed load of instructions (I thought I’d thrown them away as a kid but it turns out I’m more of a hoarder than I thought!)

Continue reading “I Throw My Hands Up In The Air Sometimes Singing Ayo I’m A Lego”

So Fresh, So Clean

Yes, I’ve just ripped this post title from Outkast…so what?  It’s appropriate considering!

So yeah, you may have noticed the blog looks totally different.  A cleaner, fresher look.  The previous theme seemed a bit too bogged down; very busy with sluggish load times.  Some elements were also a struggle – the font was hard to read at times and he formatting was a tad messy despite my best efforts to keep everything neat and tidy.

But, I have a question for you…what do YOU think of it?  Does it look good?  Are there any changes you would like to have implemented?  I’m open to suggestions (within reason).

Leave a comment and holla at your boy!

Peace.

WTF (What’s The Funko)?

It seems many people haven’t heard of Funko or what the very notion of such wonderment is.

I must admit, I was a late bloomer into the whole collectible malarkey.  I hadn’t collected or had toys since I was around 12.  To this date I still have many of them, namely Batman figures (The Animated Series).  I lost touch with toys and, for the most part, didn’t care much as the quality of most kids toys these days are cheap, tacky and nothing compared to those of the late 80s and 90s.

But, the more top end region of toys and collectibles, are far from cheap and tacky.

Funko have a diverse range of toys spanning countless IPs such as Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, DC Comics, Disney, Breaking Bad, 80s classics and so many more.  From POP! Vinyls to Wacky Wobblers and many more shapes and sizes – they are an unstoppable force in the collectibles industry.

Just looking around on the web, people have amassed large collections showcased on shelves, glass cabinets…even installations as if it were an art gallery!  The money these folks have spent and are willing to spend is insane!  But, a diehard collector will be willing to pay anything for the ‘chase’ pieces.  Their Holy Grails.

Funko products are far from toys.  They, for the most part, have become a way of life.

As a result of this newfound inspiration, Nerdgazzum aims to get the best and coolest of these types of products and supply them at the lowest price possible.  The markup at Nerdgazzum is low purely because more sales = more money.  Lesser sales at higher charges will still make more money but long-term that wouldn’t work well.

Keep your eyes peeled for more Funko goodness.  And remember, they don’t just to the cutesy looking toys.  Action figures and no doubt many other inventions to come!

 

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We Are Family (All My Funko Vinyls & Me!)

Hello! Yesterday I posted a status on Facebook to get votes on what the next Funko vinyl figure should be acquired to enhance everyone’s collections (or even get them started).  I’m mindful of the fact there are a lot (GASP!) of folks out there who do not use Facebook or even have an account.

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So, I open up the voting on a less restricted platform (you will need to be signed in here to be able to vote – it only takes a sec) – vote for the one you REALLY want to add to your collection next.  If you don’t collect already, which one would be an awesome start to kick your collection off?

Place your votes before midnight 30/04/14!

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This Cat’s In The Bag

Comics are full of powerful men; good and bad. Batman, Iron man, The Joker to name a few. But as they say, behind every great man there is a great woman.  So let’s talk about one: Selina Kyle more fondly known as Catwoman.  She’s a strong independent woman, she’s got the looks and the brains. She’s not so different from you or I…well sort of.  I find it somewhat comforting to relate to a character like this.  Unlike people in the movies; they have trouble in their past.  Catwoman is no different, losing her mother at a young age to suicide, and living with a violent father who drank himself to death.  Although a tad extreme, like with many of our beloved heroes, it’s something to relate to. Admittedly yes, she breaks in to places and steals stuff,;not really something we should aspire to be like.  But at the same time, she works fearlessly to protect Gotham.

She has the struggle within herself between doing good and bad, as we all do to a certain extent.  I think deep down she has a caring and loving heart, she just uses it in a dishonest and selfish way.  She steals from the rich, mobsters, corrupt politicians…for herself.  You could call her a sort of reverse Robin Hood!

And, like any young woman she falls in love with the hero who, despite his best efforts tries to steer her away from the thievery, but greed gets the better of her.  He falls for her because he can relate to her in a way he can’t with anyone else; she’s ambiguous in contrast to his right and wrong way of thinking.  The way in which they started off were total opposites to each other and, they do say opposites attract.  It was a case of love at first sight.

And then there’s how she looks.  Although a little impractical for the modern woman; she dons a tight black cat suit of course, although it varies slightly across the different depictions of her, the basis remains the same, giving her that unmistakeable look. Surely any woman now would aspire to have a figure that will look good in an outfit! I mean I certainly would!  C’mon what’s not sexy about a woman in a cat suit yielding a whip!?!