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UPDATED (7/7): how to obtain a signed COA.

Yesterday, I received the three Limited Edition Re-Release Series 2 Dioramas from World In Advance.

Some of you may wonder why I, as an opener, would purchase the Limited Edition dioramas in the first place... and that's a good question. It's a matter of dedication to the site and the necessity to follow all the twists and turns that the World of Springfield line takes to the very end.

When I read the auction information, at first I was a little confused.

"To celebrate this release Playmates has sequentially numbered and certified 100 pieces of the first production run. Each diorama comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by Lou Novak, President of Playmates toys, Inc. World in Advance is offering these limited edition collectibles for auction exclusively through eBay, before they are available in stores."

After confirming with Playmates Toys that the auction was on the up-and-up and that it was a promotion to try and garner some new attention to the line from those who did not already collect it, it was clear that a new day was dawning in the World of Springfield.

A line that started in January of 2000 with a barely-aired television spot and continued with only the occasional action figure magazine advertisement had made a new friend in Martin Hitch, President of World In Advance.

"World in Advance has an established database of action figure collectors and has sent out word via e-mail to these people notifying them of this Simpsons offer" (excerpted from email from Playmates Toys regarding the promotion)"

Now it was all starting to make at least some sense. Playmates Toys is trying to get people who don't visit our site to get excited about the Simpsons line again with this offer. It's the same notion that's at the heart of the decision to re-release figures in the first place. Re-releasing figures is a great idea, I'm all for it! This idea isn't so bad after all.

And so, with the thought in my head that this offer was at least in some small part a milestone in the history of the World of Springfield toy line - representing it's rejuvenation in the form of the re-release two packs - I placed some bids and broke the news to our visitors and members. To make a long story short, I won all three #045 dioramas that evening.

I believed that I would receive a certificate signed by Lou Novak, the President of Playmates Toys. The certificate represented to me an acknowledgement of the role of the Simpsons line in Playmates continuing success and the place of the collector in the equation. Something that this site deals with every day.

When I unpacked the box, I looked at the figures in their plastic and cardboard prison, checked out the hologram seal.

The seal does not say Playmates - I don't know whether it was really applied at the factory or whether it was applied right before it was packed into the box it was shipped to me in. The seal says "World In Advance" but doesn't say anything about Simpsons or Playmates Toys. OK, I expected that, that was in the auction. The real telling is the certificate. That signature is the thing that isn't a fake, that signs the deal between Lou Novak, President of Playmates Toys, Martin Hitch, President of World In Advance and yours truly, Webmaster of Simpsons Collector Sector.

That's the signature that bonds us all, folks. And it was pre-printed on the form. By a computer.

I was not happy... I spent yesterday evening taking pictures of the new sculpts and paint jobs for the members of the site, enjoying the toys but still with the fact of the signature gnawing at my belly every once in a while.

So this morning, before I finished posting all of the pictures, I wrote emails to Lou Novak and Martin Hitch, discussing my feelings about the Limited Edition promotion and my disappointment with the certificate.

Here is an excerpt from the email I sent to Mr. Hitch:

"A certificate with a printed signature is not the same thing as a certificate that has been signed by someone, in the same way as a signed "Art D' Bart" trading card or any other item autographed by Matt Groening is not the same thing as a common product which bears Mr. Groenings [sic] signature as part of the printed artwork (as required by the Simpsons licensing program)."

I have not received a response from Mr. Novak yet, but Martin responded that:

"Your mail clearly denotes the perceived difference and to avoid any further confusion we will revise our terminology for future auctions to reflect the pre-printed nature of the signature.

I would like to offer you and your members an acceptable solution that addresses your concerns. I am in discussion with Playmates Toys about the best way to do this and will contact you later this week with details."

It remains to be seen whether there is a way to bring things back to where they should have and could have been. I hope that there can be.

In this equation of licenser, toy company, retailer, marketer and customer, we can use as much honesty, communication and sincere appreciation as we can get -- otherwise what is any of it worth?

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Copyright © 2001-2009, Simpsons Collector Sector. All rights reserved. "The Simpsons" is a registered trademark of 20th Century Fox Film Corp. and "World of Springfield" is a registered trademark of Playmates Toys -- this website is in no way affiliated with either company or any other company whose products or services are represented here.

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