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Monday, July 04, 2011

Aquaman Shrine Interview with Kyall Coulton

Previously, the Shrine has interviewed writers, artists, editors, and other creative people involved in producing material concerning the Sea King. But today I thought we'd do something a little different--we're going to interview a fellow obsessive collector!

F.O.A.M. member Kyall Coulton runs the truly amazing--dare I say wondrous-- WonderWomanCollectors.com site, a comprehensive and stunning showcase for his WW collection, which spans decades and covers hundreds, if not thousands, of items.

Since obsessive collecting of character-centric merchandise is something I (if not all of us) can relate to, and Wonder Woman and Aquaman are currently center stage in Flashpoint, I thought it'd be fun to talk to Kyall about collecting the Amazing Amazon:

The Aquaman Shrine: Okay, let's start off with the obvious: why Wonder Woman?

Kyall Coulton: I never really chose Wonder Woman...I think she chose me! The first time I saw Lynda Carter on TV I was around 4 years old and have loved Wonder Woman ever since. She has such a cool origin story, an amazing costume and her values/ethics appeal to me greatly.

TAS: Were/are you a fan of the WW comics, or is more of a merchandising thing?

KC: It is more a merchandising thing with me--I would much rather buy a Wonder Woman statue than a comic book. I am not much of a comic book reader although I do have a collection of Wonder Woman comic books (mostly from the 70s and 80s and a few 60s). I intend to eventually own all 70 years worth of comic books but they are not my priority right now. The comic books I do get excited over are the foreign ones as they sometimes feature different cover art than the regular US releases. I recently discovered a comic from Italy that contains reprints of various Wonder Woman comics, but features Lynda Carter in costume on the front and back cover, so I am excited about adding that to my collection.

TAS: What was your first piece of WW merchandise?
KC: My parents were buying me Wonder Woman items when I was 5 years old. I remember having the 8" Mego doll and Mego action figure as well as colouring books, records, posters and costumes. These all disappeared when we moved house and to this day my parents do not know what happened to them. I have a photo of me and my brother when I was 5 years old holding a Wonder Woman sliding tile puzzle, so when I started to collect seriously this was one of the first items I bought.

TAS: Like a lot of kids, I was mercilessly teased for liking comic books and/or superheroes. I would imagine a young boy who was into Wonder Woman probably drew even more fire. Did you go through this?

KC: I didn't experience that and the main reason was because I kept it a secret (kind of like having my own secret identity lol). There were two girls at my school who new but they never told anyone thankfully. I did live in fear all the boys would find out I loved Wonder Woman and make fun of me.

TAS: Boy, did you dodge that bullet! Was there a "tipping point" of collecting, where it went from occasionally buying something to a full-blown hobby?

KC: The tipping point was in 2000 when a friend bought me a book on Wonder Woman's history. It re-sparked my love of the character as well as my interest in collectibles. Up until that point I really only collected Wonder Woman magazine clippings and photos.

TAS: I've always read that Wonder Woman has had a tough time selling comics, but has always done well in merchandising (like a certain Sea King I know). Any insights as to why this might be?

KC: I'm not too sure about this as I dont really keep track of the comic book sales. I am glad they keep the merchandise pumping though--lots of cool things to add to my collection. I have heard that DC doesn't think that Wonder Woman's "values" sell in this day and age so they seem to be making her a darker character which 99% of fans are very upset about--along with all of the current costume changes!

TAS: When and why did you decide to go online with it?

KC: Over many years of collecting I had gathered a lot of info that I felt would be beneficial to other collectors, so I decided to put it all together in a website that went live in August 2007. Until that point there were no websites that listed Wonder Woman memorabilia in any great detail. My ultimate goal is to list every known piece of Wonder Woman memorabilia in existence.

TAS: How do you find some of the more obscure pieces in the collection? Is there a lot of stuff made exclusively for the Australian market that we in the US never get to see?

KC: Running the website has put me in contact with collectors from all over the world, some of who are happy to get items for me that I normally would have trouble getting (eg. items from non-English speaking countries). There have been quite a few items produced in Australia over the years. Wonder Woman has appeared in numerous Australian-only fast food promotions. Its great to be able to walk into a shop and buy Wonder Woman items from time to time as I mostly buy items online from the US.

TAS: What are some of your favorite pieces of your collection?

KC: I always have trouble with this question as I have favourites from each category. I recently got a Lynda Carter Wonder Woman belt buckle that she had made as Christmas presents for the crew of the show. It has a message from Lynda and her signature engraved on the back of it so that is a definite fav.
Another favourite is a life-sized statue I got from the Philippines which stands over 6 feet tall. I also really love the Wonder Woman figural telephone from 1979. I have the large figure that stands on the phone, but not the actual phone itself.

TAS: Is there a piece from your collection that you really desired, for a long time, and then when you got it you were kinda disappointed?

KC: I am really lucky that this has not happened to me as yet (fingers crossed it wont happen either!!!)

TAS: What's the single oldest piece of WW merchandise in existence? Do you own it?

sgKC: Even though Wonder Woman first appeared in 1941 merchandise was almost non-existent before the super hero craze of the 1960s. The first piece that could be considered merchandise would be a Sensation Comics mail away Wonder Woman pin from 1942. According to a character collectibles price guide this 1" pin is worth $2,650. I don't own this piece and doubt I ever will. It is such a lot of money to spend on something so small! A company named Ata-Boy recently released a reproduction of it so that's probably as close as I will get to owning one.

TAS: Post-DC Direct, there's so much more DC-related stuff out there, much of it aimed at the collector and kinda pricey. Do you have a certain limit to what you'll get?

KC: I went through the 'I have to have everything' stage but have become a lot more selective with what I buy these days. I just don't have the money to keep up with it all--I seriously don't know how people collect multiple characters! I buy direct from the US as comic shop prices here in Australia are ridiculously expensive. My preference has always been for vintage items but I still buy most of the action figures and statues that come out.

TAS: How often do you discover "new" pieces, items that you never knew existed before?

KC: After ten years of searching the net every day for Wonder Woman items there is not a lot that I haven't seen, but I do come across things every now and then I have never seen before. A lot of these new discoveries are often items produced outside of the USA. I get very excited when I find something I have never seen before.
TAS: Concerning the recently-scuttled Wonder Woman TV pilot (another thing she and Aquaman have in common!): I haven't seen it, but heard it wasn't great. That said, what do you think about it? As a WW fan, is it better to just have a series on TV, even if it isn't that good, to get WW's name out there as a live-action character again? Is a mediocre series better or worse than no series at all?

KC: When NBC decided not to pick the series up, I created a facebook page in support of a DVD release of the pilot. But after reading the reviews by people who have actually seen the pilot, including a big WW fan, I changed my mind. For starters Wonder Woman kills a man without blinking an eyelid and also apparently tortures a man by breaking his arm to get the information she wants (she could have easily obtained this information by using her golden lasso). I do not want people, especially children, thinking that this is who Wonder Woman really is. It appears that the writers of the pilot did not research the character enough, or they thought Wonder Woman is 'too nice' and decided to make her a bad ass.

All that said, I definitely approve of Adrianne Palicki playing the character though. She looks great. The good thing about the pilot being made is that there was a lot of worldwide media surrounding it which could mean the project isnt dead yet. Hopefully another network will pick it up and reshoot some of the scenes to make it more in line with what the fans want to see.

Quite an amazing collection Kyall has; someday I'd love to have my personal Aquaman Shrine look like that. Thanks for the interview Kyall, and good luck collecting!


Joseph Brian Scott said...

Wow! The word "impressive" does not do that room of collectibles justice. How cool would it be to be able to browse through it?

Funny note: that jointed, cardboard Wonder Woman cutout visible on the wall behind the life-size WW statue--I had that as a kid! Along with a similar Superman cutout. My friends never gave me any real grief over it, but when they came over they'd act out disgusting things with it.

Wings1295 said...

Amazing collection and collector! That is a lot of hard work, determination and love there. Great interview!

Brent said...

Incredible collection! WW has always been a fave of mine, too. And I actually got to meet her last year! http://on.fb.me/kLrTb9

And here's my son meeting her! :)

David J. Cutler said...

I'd come across a video of this guy's collection on youtube, as well as a video of ANOTHER hardcore WW collector, who runs his own site, Experience the Wonder.com--which is pretty impressive in its own tight. Like Aquaman, though her fans are fewer than Batman and Superman's, they make up for it in intensity!

Great interview!

Kyall said...

Thanks for the great comments guys !!!!

Joseph - that cardboard cutout is shown in the madonna movie 'desperately seeking susan' and they posed it to look like she was grabbing her crotch lol

Brent - congrats on meeting lynda carter. that is something i have yet to do !!!

David - Ughh i hate that video... i will have to take it down !!! it is from a tv show in 2008 - i was so incredibly nervous that i vowed to never go on tv again haha...