June 15, 2001


The above is the motto that the Navy adopted back a few years ago. Which, incidently, was the same exact motto we had back when I came in 28 1/2 years ago, except it was spelled, "TOAST, GUZZLE, & PASSOUT"! Our Politically Correct world required the slight rewording, [...damn Tail Hook!] and I've often wanted the word Loyalty or Personal Integrity to be tacked on there as well. A couple of words that I've felt not many people know the definition of, and many times use only when it's convenient for them to do so.

There's a fine line in this Scale-Model Hobby of ours that we walk each & every day. On the one side, this IS just a hobby and in the scheme of Life's many twists and turns, isn't really that important to get all wound up about. After all, it is only toy figures that we glue together and apply paint to! On the other side is the fact that this hobby is still made up of Human Beings who interact with each other on a daily basis, and that means we bring the baggage of our personalities with us.

The power of the Internet is one that many people don't grasp, but yet in reality can be the conduit in forming relationships, via message forums, chat channels and e-mails, that are just as strong as if these same people lived in our neighborhoods and we were hanging out on the front steps during a 3 month summer break!

The number of 'Friends' that I only know via the Internet far outweigh the number I've actually been lucky enough to meet in real life, face to face. Yet the friendships between the two are just as strong.

For those of us in this hobby that have been around the 'Net for any length of time know how quickly reputations can be torn down and how quickly the sharks can appear to encircle the lonely raft! And there's enough cliques in this hobby that most times one needs a freaking score card just to figure out whose not talking to who this week!

But Loyalty & Personal Integrity seems to be, many times, absent and maybe it's time we addressed this.

There is a core group of people, thus far low in numbers, (thank Gawd), in this hobby of ours that have no problem or ill feelings in ripping us off. Be it the illegal recast faction, or the producers who accept our money quite quickly and never deliver said product, or fellow hobbyist who make replacement parts and then disappear, or upstart companies who contract out sculptures & artwork and then never pay. The one's who can look you straight in the eye and tell a wide variety of lies to your face without blinking, only to walk away laughing their asses off.

We all know who they are. They all know who they are. Usually when I'm up on AIM, I'll have one of them send me some angry abuse and then quickly log off before a reply can be given. They're slime balls that don't deserve a reply anyways, so I don't lose any sleep over it.

But what boggles my mind is the ability of some people to roast, burn and condemn these folks via the 'Net, but when they see these people in public, smile and shake their hands!?! Or worse, think that some are less guilty than others, or that a certain time duration has passed and their ills should be forgotten.

It's one thing when some guy comes outta the blue who we don't know from Adam, sucks us in on a really cool product, takes our money and is never heard from again, but it's quite another matter when we felt we 'knew' these people over a long period of time and they do the same thing to us or other people we know and call friends. And yet, over time we can 'forgive' them their indiscretions and years down the road politely smile at them and shake their hands when they come up to us at shows??!

I mean, they didn't actually rip ME off, so what the hell!

I'm sorry, I just don't get this mentality! There's a serious character flaw here! If you feel justified in expressing your opinion via your computer keyboard that you are unwilling to express verbally to the guys face, but instead just smile and shake hands, then you are one chicken-shit Mo'Fo'! And if I know the full story of how you screwed over any of my friends, either in a monetary or emotional hardship, and you come up to ME in some show with a smile on your face and your hand out, let it be known right here you'll be walking away with blood spilling off your lower lip.

No matter how many times it's said, folks still don't get it! 'THIS IS A VERY SMALL HOBBY!' Go on, read it again! Not much happens around here that isn't repeated time and time again. It doesn't take a Sherlock Holmes to find out the FULL STORY either, no matter where it takes place. Everyone of importance around here has an email address or a phone number, and all it takes is a little time to figure out all the facts, from BOTH sides of the fence. And that's the other problem with this group of Modeling Hobbyists... the ability to go off full cocked with only one side of the story! The knack to crucify people with no idea of what really went down!

All in the name of Loyalty! And maybe with a hefty lack of Personal Integrity!

The POLAR LIGHTS' fiasco is a good case in point. The news of Lisa Greco's release swept the April CHILLER show like a whirlwind. It quickly jumped onto the Internet giving birth to a whole new Bulletin Board just for this topic alone. Besides only knowing the 'fact' that Lisa was let go, since she had signed a non-disclosure act upon her departure, no one really knows to this day the WHY. But that doesn't stop a few hot heads from burning Tom Lowe in effigy.

The recent news is even better. That Jerry Gustafson was similiarly let go, although PL's corporate line so far is that he's just on vacation. But the 'Consumers-At-Large' KNOW for a fact that Jerry has been dismissed, and have no problem taking this as fact and displaying their anger on the PL BB.

Whether he has, in fact, been dismissed I don't know at this time. But until I know one way or the other I can't very well express an opinion either way, can I? Even if I learn this second that he's been let go, or sacked, or kicked out on his keester, I still don't know the reason behind said move. Doesn't stop some people, though. Maybe they KNOW all the facts?! But then again, maybe they don't?!

But what gawls me is that these same people say they have a right to express their opinions to Tom Lowe & Company because they are loyal to both these people! These people shouldn't have been treated, as one put it, like Shit, and they have the right to express that opinion. Whether they know all the facts or not!!!

Well, excuse me...but who the fuck are we??!

What if it was Tom Lowe that was treated like shit? Or other people were treated like shit by these employees and it was the reason for their dismissals? Or hell, Tom had a lousy, bloody day and just walked through the 'cubes' pointing out people randomly exclaiming 'Out!!....You!! Ya you! GO!, your eyes are ratty..pack your, in my office at 10, you 10:10!' How the hell do you folks know what's happening up there?!

And who or what gives you the right to use THEIR bulletin board to express it??!

One even said, out of loyalty to Jerry's hard work on getting the new C-57D on the hobby shelf, that he bought it simply out of respect for Jerry's hard work!!


Can we put some thought into our actions, please?!?!! Showing your loyalty to Jerry by putting money into Tom's pocket isn't the swiftest plan I've ever heard! You want to show loyalty to Jerry? Then realize that Tom paid Jerry a bunch of money during the development of the C-57D already, and if you really want to screw Tom over, DON'T BUY THE KIT SO THAT TOM CAN'T RECOUP THE MONEY HE PAID JERRY!!!!

That's the point, people!!! If you truly, truly feel in your hearts that Lisa and Jerry were unfairly treated, even though you don't know the facts that Tom had in making that decision, then don't piss and moan on the PL BB in vindication and then go out to your local hobby shop and pick up the 'Forgotten Prisoner' or the 'C-57D'!! If that's your interpretation of Loyalty then we have different dictionaries! And certainly don't validate your purchase by saying you're doing it for the guy who got canned!!! I know this dude's intention was honorable, but why not just throw that gallon of gasoline on this here fire!! Then sit there on the ground with your eyebrows shinged off wondering what the hell happened?!

Someone even asked why should their product be connected with how the 'management' handles their people?!

Is it me??! Is it really just me???! Am I the soul person in this hobby that see's the stupidity of that statement??!

If you're running off your mouth in condemnation, WHY would you buy their product??! Are you that fucking shallow??! Are you even aware of what 'Personal Integrity' is??!!

"...yeah, I think you're a despicable piece of shit and I really hate how you treat the people who work for you, but hey! that tiny Robby the Robot packed in that C-57D kit was really far-out, man! Thanks!!"

Give me a break!!

You really want to be loyal to Lisa and Jerry, folks? Then you owe it to both yourself and them to find out the full story of why they were let go! You use to say you had loyalty to POLAR LIGHTS! Well then FIND OUT what really went down! You don't have to share what you learn with the rest of us!! Just for your own personal satisfaction don't you want to be FAIR!?! If only in your own mind and out of loyalty to what Tom, Lisa & Jerry meant to you??!

But let me warn you. You can't go into this with any bias, or rose-colored glasses here. There might very well be facts uncovered that you really don't want to hear or learn! Things about people you'd be happier being ignorant about. Hell, you might even discover that there really isn't any Good Guys vs. Bad Guys... that like most things in life there are a lot of variables, and when taken together leave limited choices and unfortunate decisions.

Are these people worth your effort & committment to discover the whole truth? Or are you going to continue to stomp your feet and type idiotic messages on the PL BB and smirkly say, "...I know what I'm doing...", when in fact many don't have the first freaking clue!

Frankly, I doubt you will. It's all lip service. I'll hear whining about "How can little ol' me find out?", "THEY won't tell us nothing!" And next WONDERFEST you'll all slobber up to the PL table with smiles on your face and your hand outstretched, fanboyishly gushing how great they are and 'thankyouverymuchforgivingusthisgreatkit', while you hug Lisa and Jerry and tell them how badly you feel for them!

And time will pass, and new people will come into the hobby not knowing who the sharks are or who the dolphins because everyone is smiling politely and shaking hands. And all is wonderful in the world... (away from a computer keyboard, that is).

If that's your idea of friendship and loyalty, them maybe Lisa, Jerry and Tom aren't that fortunate afterall!

I'm holding up a mirror, people! What reflection do you see??!

For those who were giving us that 'deer in the headlight' look in regards to why David Metzner left PL in the first place, let me take this opportunity to remind you what was going on prior to and during this time that was pretty much "common knowledge".  *

In the early days of Playing Mantis it was a pretty neat place to be working. The atmosphere was ripe with enthusiam and it was basically a bunch of folks who were coming to work and having a great time doing it. As the success of both PM & PL products grew and increased revenue started pouring in, as with any company expanding, things started to change, as they are want to do in these circumstances.

People's vision of future company direction started to conflict. And among other issues going on at this time, one... and I say again, ONE of the contentions was us and the bulletin board(s). What was once a happy group of folks working in an office became a splintered group of cliques, each with ideas and suggestions of how things should be done... and more importantly how it shouldn't be done. In light of present events, it was the beginning of the end of a tight cohesive team, and once David left, it only infested and grew.

And it wasn't all going on 'behind closed doors' and it wasn't that hush, hushed. There was the 'What If this board closed' period that caused Steve to rally support, there was the attacks on PL concerning dismay over the Phantom kit, which was actually the boiling point and which fed into the infamous 'Bellringer' episode... and it wasn't that long since the Klaatu fiasco! Not to mention the problems over on the JL board. If folks just stopped and thought about it you'd realize not everything in Mudville was all Baseball and Ice cream.

For every employee you talked to in the PL offices, after David left, depended on which version of the situation you were hearing. And it certainly didn't sound like a fun place to be employed!! After the smoke cleared there were some deep wounds that I don't think ever really healed.

And if it is true that David is coming back... well, that chapter remains to be written. Ultimately it's Tom that has to make the decisions affecting HIS company. It's not the first time a company has been faced with these problems, and it certainly won't be the last! What the future of PM and PL will be, whether you agree or disagree with that future, remains to be seen. And frankly,'s really none of our damn business.

Until that time, give that computer a rest and go build a model!!

[* if you want to know all the reasons why David left, you could ask him!]

Around the hobby scene this week...

Next large show up on the ol' calendar is the infamous San Diego Comic Con! Five fun filled days of Comic celebrities, Science Fiction authors, and with each year more and more kits are showing up!!

Was lucky enough to attend the 1980 shindig and the memories I brought back from that con remain strong! Seeing my fanboy idols such as Jack 'The King' Kirby, Larry Niven, George Perez, plus many others, was a once in a lifetime event!! So if you get the opportunity to attend, do yourself a favor and do so!!

July 18 - 22!! Be there!

Well, I've been spending the last two weeks since WONDERFEST got over trying to pin down ALL the new kits that weren't at the April CHILLER and every time I thought I had a complete list, I hear of another one!! This is what I was able to gather so far...

  • Fighting Monk Studios - Bugs Bunny & Mr. Hyde, and Bugs Bunny & Beaky figures.
  • Dimensional Designs - Colossal Man, Colossal Beast, and a Vincent Price bust.
  • Jimmy Flinstone - Lara Croft, Altaira, and a Bride of Frankenstein. (need a photo of the Bride!)
  • Raven Hood - Taz
  • Two different Jack Pierce busts, sculpted by Brent Armstrong. Yes, Janus will be producing these!
  • Janus - One Million Years BC and a new Hyde figure.
  • Koma - Marvel's Rhino
  • Jim Phillips - Last of the Mohicans, and a Blue Zombie figure
  • Azimuth Designs - Sleeping Beauty ...(was Mike there?)
  • Jayco - JAWS diorama
  • MojoResin - 120mm Adam West Batman
  • Creature Arts - The Fly
  • Diceman Creations - The Mummy's Curse
  • GEOMetric - The Fly, Drac and Blacula busts
  • Nagle/Manit - Kong vs T-Rex
  • Model Prisoners - Escape - O - Nauts

That's twenty-six new kits to add to our already bulging kit closets!! And how much you wanna bet that someone will email and tell me that I missed a couple up there!?! Not a lot of new stuff, uh?

Til next week...

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