Posted by collect3d, December 2nd, 2009

tomopop img 1 Tomopop

“Now, the medium has become more flooded, and I think this has significantly changed the designer vinyl world from what it was when Tomopop launched in 2008.”

Collect3d: Please introduce your site. When did you start it, and what was your biggest challenge in the initial development? How did you overcome the challenge?
Colette Bennett: Hi, I’m Colette Bennett, the editor-in-chief of Tomopop is a collectible toy blog for enthusiasts of every type of toy, from designer vinyl to plush to Japanese figures. In our mission statement, I explain that I want the web site to be a community where collectors can not only read about new toys, but have fun showing off their own and meeting other collectors.

Tomopop is the sister site of successful gaming blog Destructoid, which serves 1.3 million unique users monthly (Tomopop’s not quite there yet!). In developing Tomopop (which launched in February 2008), we wanted to bring some of the same elements that lent their success to Destructoid, such as our community blogs where anyone can register and post pictures, interact with other site members and more. However, we also wanted Tomopop to have it’s own flavor, and the biggest challenge was identifying what that would be.

Initially we were inspired by major designer vinyl blogs such as Vinyl Pulse and ToysREvil, along with Japanese figure blogs like Happy Soda, FooBarBaz and Heisei Democracy. As time went by, we were able to feel out what worked and what didn’t, eventually creating the cool mix of toys we report on today. It was really a matter of finding the right voices and how they worked together to create a cohesive and enjoyable experience for the reader.

Collect3d: Since starting your site, what have been the most significant changes in designer toy culture, specifically as it relates to media?
Colette Bennett: When we launched Tomopop, designer vinyl was still a fairly fresh avenue, introducing a medium of collectible that carried no shame with it whatsoever. The designer vinyl toy was a cool one, and you could proudly display a few of them in a living room or kitchen area as a conversation piece.

People were also really inspired by the medium at the time and a lot of really unique stuff was out there. Now, the medium has become more flooded, and I think this has significantly changed the designer vinyl world from what it was when Tomopop launched in 2008. Of course, we make it a point to report on what we feel is hip and cutting-edge in all collectible markets, and designer vinyl will always be a part of that vision.

Collect3d: With many development opportunities available on the Internet and in other media, why have you chosen to remain a blog?
Colette Bennett: We started out as a news blog, but have already begun the process of evolving into keeping the flow of news going while fostering a community within the site and growing out from there. We also rolled out a new feature where you can browse the site as a picture gallery instead of in blog format, and we’ve recently launched a podcast as well. We’re always looking for ways to improve and adapt as the web changes, but we do also feel that the blog format is popular and don’t want to discard it entirely.

Collect3d: With so much of the same content being distributed on the Internet, how does your site separate itself from its competitors?
Colette Bennett: Tomopop has two advantages: one, we don’t limit ourselves to any one type of content, so if you want vinyl, plush, customs, Japanese figures, poseables, even objects d’art, we write about them all. Rather than scour dozens of blogs for what’s cool and new in collectibles, you can come read our top picks and save yourself some time.

We also are proud of our community blogs, which focus on everything from personal collections to events and trading. Best of all, our community is accepting, friendly, and love to meet new people like them, which is something you don’t find enough of on the Internet.
tomopop img 3 Tomopop

Collect3d: To what degree do you feel your site develops, and/or, influences toy culture?
Colette Bennett: Tomopop brings like-minded people together, so there’s always a lot of dynamic interaction going on. We also showcase a lot of independent artists and smaller indie shops, and we receive emails frequently from these sources that indicate a lift in attention after being featured.

There’s also that social element of our community – we do a lot to get the news out there, but sometimes it’s our readers that spot new trends and share them, and we often get thank-you’s from collectors who learned where to begin or how to expand their collection because of what they learned on the site. In this, we hope that we do have some influence on toy culture, however small it may be!

Collect3d: To what degree is your site a reflection of your personal interests?
Colette Bennett: The original vision of Tomopop was very much a reflection of my personal interests. However, as site traffic grows, you must pay attention to what people enjoy and what they don’t when it comes to content, or you will never have a successful web site. I regularly poll my readers on what they want to see.

When they ask for more of one type of toy or popularity of another is waning, I pay close attention. People have described writing for a blog as ‘cool hunting’ before, and that’s very much the philosophy I fall in line with when it comes to Tomopop. The readers always come first.

Collect3d: What are the biggest challenges your site is currently dealing with?
Colette Bennett: Well, Tomopop is still fairly new, so we have to prove to toy fans that we are worth a daily visit by trying to beat the rest of the Internetto posting whatever is new and cool. We also want manufacturers to notice what we’re doing and work with us, so a big challenge has been getting our toy reviews on the map. There are only so many hours in the day and we’re a small company, but we try to get eight to ten posts a day up for the readers. That’s job #1. It’s truly a labor of love for everyone involved, but we’re dedicated to turning this small business into a fire-breathing Kaiju monster!

Collect3d: What advice can you offer to someone interested in starting a blog for commercial interests?
Colette Bennett: Blogging is, as you may have suspected, possibly one of the coolest jobs in the universe. It’s also impossibly hard to succeed at it, so you have to go into it with no expectations and a world of patience. As a start-up, it can literally take years of doing it consistently before anyone notices or cares, so if you’re willing to make the personal sacrifice to make it your day job, I couldn’t recommend it enough. If you’re starting up with friends, know that nobody will care more about that blog than you will.

Pay extremely close attention to your readership, learn what they want, and then adapt. Put yourself out there. Attend events and meet everyone you can. If you can do that and do it consistently, the commercial stuff will show itself when you least expect it. Until that day comes, do it for the love of it like you have a billion people waiting for that next post even if it’s only your dog following your RSS!
tomopop img 2 Tomopop


One Comment

  1. garison says:

    Great interview, guys :)

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