Ultimate Warrior WWE packout at Target, NOW!

Ultimate Warrior WWE packout at Target, NOW!

Live Strong, Act Bold, Be Brave!” – The Ultimate Warrior.

Not bad words to live by.  I remember this freight train; bottled up energy like a can of soda that had been flung up into the air 15’ smacking back down, seeing the canister swell, ready to blow, a different kind of uncontained energy with muscles popping off his finger nails, muscles in his hair, his ears, his eyes…he was the culmination of inescapabilty from a frenzy unleashed…unmanageable, a spire of disaster with a sprinter’s purpose.  The Ultimate Warrior was a sight to be seen, with the war paint, a sort of neon warrior filled with aim and determination, the flying W’s curling inwards like spikes, his eyes hiding behind the black paint, the snarl, the stare down, the flex, the streamers barely holding on to his biceps which looked like penned hogs on each arm.  The knee pads with the Ultimate Warrior bat signals, the Flying W’s resembling a pair of vampire’s teeth, more insidious than a straight, do-gooder’s freedom fighter emblem…the Ultimate Warrior sourced, and sorcerer in augury, a presage to his opponent.

Once the shock wears off, sense a little glam, a little Body Glove action, a little day-glo, some hair metal – the Ultimate Warrior was the culmination of pop culture and an evolving WWF, into a slicker, faster, stronger, more acrobatic brand of wrestling.  No cheap tricks, just full table tops off the top ropes with the agility of a gymnast but the strength of an NFL linebacker, and the rock n’ spirit of the time.  He was a game changer and the game went his way, exploding the super star realm into rockstar realm, the seeds sewn by Hogan, now, a faster, leaner, meaner, stronger Terminator, no fat, no frills, just slick, lean, a new wrestling machine.  A new face for the WWF, and an end to the 2nd generation, who brought down the Pontiac Dome 100,000 strong on their toes, watching two giants (one real giant) duke it out on the stage fit for Super Bowls.  Beside a select few who’s fame kept them in the routine until the routine changed again, the Ultimate Warrior was the new wave, with remnants hanging on to his tassels, being pulled into a new era of exciting, acrobatic, and daring Wrestling Super Stars.

The Ultimate Warrior was a dominant sports figure of the unusual sorts – part man, part animal, part warrior, part comic book hero, part mystery.  He’s pure nostalgia, and he tugs at those friendly heartstrings, like those cascading letters conveyor’ing into a vanishing point, “In a galaxy far far away…”  He hits similar notes, and those notes are keys to the time machine, pulsar’ed into memories like it was yesterday.

“Finally”.  “Finally”, some may say.  Finally, the WWE Action Vinyls set comes out with Ultimate Warrior as the anchor!  We’re with you!  We’ve been wanting this set to come out, at one point the working title was “Walmart, Packout” but alas, it's Target who scored the much anticipated Action Vinyls set!  This sucker is rare, we produced very boutique numbers so definitely, if you’re a fan of heroes, villains, classics, and currents – this set is for you!  Everything is unique about this set; Brock Lesnar’s red shorts, the Ultimate Warrior character exclusive and exclusive variant, the blue shirted Club 28 referee, John Cena in his jean shorts, and construction orange hat and wristbands, Roman Reigns with the red outlined logo, Styles in his Evel Knievel getup, the Undertaker with his omnious insignia, Sting in his red face paint!  One of the best wrestling sets to date (in my totally unbiased opinion).  I think Zack Ryder gave us a big thumbs up, and, oh yeah, the Bella Twins starting following TLS too…rad!  Another Easter Egg – there are hidden “WrestleMania” rings in this packout!  Another reason to go fleece Target for all things TLS, all things TLS x WWE!  Also, when you’re over at your local Target, don't forget, Game of Thrones, Gudetama, and Splat!  It's a TLS takeover, help support the cause and clear those shelves.  We have a ton more coming this year!

Last parting words of wisdom from none other, the Ultimate Warrior – “It’s never wrong to fight for what is right, never!

Go get your face paint game on, and we’ll see you at Target!

John Cena

WWE Action Vinyls



It’s hard not to be Pollyanna about your Brand.  Hopefully my stoke transfers, and becomes your stoke.  I make collectibles because I like to build, I build because I like to share, I create because creating is sharing on a much more intimate level, sort of a soul bond per se, especially if your creation connects with another human, and hopefully your creation takes on a whole new meaning, or an amplified meaning with it’s new owner, and it becomes their creation…so the cycle continues and everyone takes ownership and authorship of what was once an idea, now an object, and eventually an experience.  This is the beauty.  THIS is why I do what I do, it gives me a raison d’etre, a purpose, and ultimately a way to connect to all of you with shared passions, with fun, with playfulness, with strong spirits, open hearts, and most importantly good times. 

I’m not saying it’s easy, nothing is easy worth striving for.  We’re constantly fine-tuning, constantly evolving, hiccups, hills, valleys, successes, exhilaration, disappointments, elation, ten steps forward, two steps back, new heights, new plateaus – the whole emotional arc of what it means to be a creative entrepreneur.  We party, dance, battle, laugh, cry, - all of it.  After all, we’re human, and this is a human experience we’re having.  TLS is not a trading Company; we don't simply find other creations, lean on them and passenger our way through a story arc where we’re only the watchful observer.  We dig in, we become the costume designer, the makeup artist, the producer, the director, the casting….we put a TLS spin in our own 5 act play but with the spirit of the story in tact; i.e. be it Ghostbusters, or Game of Thrones, you can still tell those dynamic stories from the lore created by their respected authors, but TLS has put their story on the TLS party bus, given it a spin, and it's a new play, although still intact with all the necessary details and familiarity!  In this, we’re much more an active creative participant, more invested, less transactional, more meaningful, and ultimately Pollyanna because it’s nearly impossible to divorce ourselves from the creative process.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

What does this have to do with Target?  A lot!  For TLS to have 5 products in Target (5!), it’s taken a lifetime workshopping our ideas, our vision to get the creative enough in shape where we’ve developed a product that people connect with, not just one but many, thus TLS in Target.  All the hills, the valleys, the defeats, the successes, each experience is a culmination to this one moment, where TLS gets a shot at the big time in a big way.  I get it, the products aren't always easy to find, we’re working on that!  However, to have 5 different lines in Target at the same time is insane!  When I started this Company that was never on my radar, how could it be?  I was shocked when a single person bought something I made…that blew me away.  This is just the start, 10 years in the making but it’s finally starting to open up because we have all journeyed together with shared passions – e pluribus unum!  PS We’re working on getting a store finder for all of you. 

We have a great distribution partner in Bandai, they are making some heavy in roads for TLS, it's exciting, and I can't stop being Pollyanna!  My stoke is your stoke, and I’m even more stoked when you're stoked.   Bandai has Splat (literally, one of the best characterizations and articulation for the beloved Nick 90’s brands that I’ve seen – am I biased?  Me thinks not, check them out, I think you’ll agree), WWE (turns out to be the Ultimate Warrior packout – it’s ridiculously sick!  Includes a Wrestlemania Build-A-Ring!  For chimney sakes!), Gudetama (it’s the laziest egg with the cutest derrière – if this doesn't make you smile…), Horror (one of the coolest, playable, poseable, lovable, band of killers, creeps, and kooks on the market), and Game of Thrones (probably down to the skin and bones right now, but dang, to have a small part in TV’s biggest most watched show is nuts, plus the characters are killer!) – ALL IN TARGET, NOW!  Please support our Target campaign, the more support we get the more lines we get to release through their illustrious shelves!  Clear the shelves, make room for MHA, Ghostbusters, Hot Wheels, and all the new releases coming down the pike.  Let's really turn this into a pop culture movement – TLS Army Builders 4 LIFE!  We can all say, we built something special, and more importantly, FUN!

TLS at Comic Con, Part I - Inside the Booth!

TLS at Comic Con, Part I - Inside the Booth!

SDCC 2019 is in the books.  It's a long journey; no wonder there’s a void, a little emptiness the week after.  We’re busy all year; we have deadlines, releases, timed releases, retailer exclusives, set dates – a smorgasbord of frenetic activity played to the cacophonic, yet harmonic tune of everything and all things into the stew pot at once.  And the stew still tastes good…better than good…great!  We have no downtime, there isn't much space to reflect, let alone acknowledge that the only option is forward without a second to waste.  So, why the void?  A 5 day pop culture love fest in the middle of July, just five days, 360 days shy of the balance of the year…why the emptiness for a seemingly innocuous blip in time?  I’m slammed this week pulling together deliveries for Aggretsuko, and My Hero Academia.  Also delivering a compendium of content, updates, commercials….the whole enchilada, as they say.   There is no down time, no time to be down, no down when everything is up, and when nothing is down…then why the SDCC blues?   The following year’s SDCC is being conceived not so long after the current year’s SDCC is finished.  SDCC is the only project we work on for nearly a year’s time, a full lap around the sun – through all the seasons, nearly all the months, in every day there is a small action dedicated to the 5 day summer crazed carnival of pop culture delights, banked on the sunkissed bum of So Cal’s San Diego Bay.  TLS in its best year delivered 10 lines, although each line consists of multiple populations, upwards to 66 skus in it’s most compulsive form…lil’ ole us have out performed, if quantifying by sku count, some mighty industry giants…and all things said, all things underscored, to make San Diego a reality, a destination, a raison d’etre, TLS concocts nearly 20 individual, completely unique skus of the micro run variety.  Essentially 19 different production runs, mixed in addition all the complexities- stickers, tees, Fan Jam, totes, shopping bags, schedules, hotel rooms, travel arrangements, rentals – “and the kitchen sink”, as they too also say. 

It’s momentous, mountainous, Everest-like…this 5 day event, a titan amongst the lesser, and defenseless microbes rowing our way across the earth’s surface.  The baby is born, similarly near the same cycle as my own embryonic experience, carried through the Fall, and Winter of ’73, to breath my first breath of air in the summer of ’74.  The impact for feeding this baby for nearly a year is nothing short of…well…impactful!  And so is its post partum.   For a year’s time we’ve toiled to make sure we can deliver a fan experience worth noble acts of participation, to set a tango if only to be so lucky to have a partner to tango with.  TLS’ showing at SDCC has historically been the toran, and rune for what the year brings.  It’s no wonder why we invest so heartedly, in which “heart” is the key, and invest, merely our great emotional currency.  We aim to turn you on to the TLS vision.

SDCC is filled with big, bright shiny lights, inside, outside, up, down, all around.  It's a miracle TLS can find it's voice through the Marrakesh markets of all things and then some.  Not just lights but sounds – “booooom, grooooowl, sparkle, pop, crash”  - it’s as if ILM is having indigestion, or a barf off with Dolby, but all over the convention!   In the Marvel, Star Wars, Batman, Celebrity appearing, Hall H loving climate, transfixing laser beams of hypotonic powers to the Jonestown Jonesies, how on earth is TLS going to cut through?   We don't have a hypnotic laserbeam!  Or do we?  It (SDCC and all of its options) seems like an exercise Sisyphus would envy, but the years are increasingly becoming different; a different awareness, acceptance, enjoyment, and participation with the TLS Brand vision, all because of the growing TLS Army. 

I was asked, “What's different this year, is it the range of licenses”?  I don't think so?  We had Turtles at it’s prime, MOTU just two years ago, Predator (a fan favorite), Xenomorphs (another fan favorite), Power Rangers when they still had mucho powers, Mega Man, Street Fighter, My Little Pony (still when Pony was king), Horror (The Freddy/Jason/Pennywise SDCC exclusives were fire) – TLS has always had some of the best selection of licenses, some of the best exclusives (IMO) – I couldn't say that having Leonardo is less attractive than Stewie?  They're both cool, but we all know TMNT fans are mad about their Turtles!   So what is it?  How did TLS cut through the static, to sell out of nearly all exclusives on the floor, some in record time, and more on the website?  I think it's the magic of 10!  10 years pounding the TLS message, of fine tuning Action Vinyls, of valuing the Fan Experience, the want to create unique, dynamic, thoughtful, energetic, and imaginative products, but under the parabolic timeline of 10 years, and the undying desire to turn you guys on, and include like minded folks who want something cool, and unique!  I think 10 years later we’ve hit that new level…we leveled up (queue the Zelda music)!  TLS is like that Sub Pop Brand who is now getting play on mainstream radio dominated by Aerosmith (you can tell I came of age in the 90’s, right?  Lol).    TLS is cutting through, we’re cutting through the static, we’re bringing in new fans, new folks wanting to have a fun and engaging experience, and it’s all because of the core TLS Army who has believed in TLS since Day 1.  The success of SDCC 2019 is your achievement!  Thank you!

I’m shaking off the void, which is more just an exhale (zephyr-like in expulsion).   A much needed exhale, to put a bow on this fantastic chapter, and to open the sails to new winds, a new energy, and more of it!  Here's to the rest of the year.  Thank you SDCC 2019!  Thank you TLS Army!  Thank you to all the new faces, welcome to our family, our brand of fun, jump into the deep end, the water is fine, and we’ll make sure you swim, just like Michael Phelps, powering through your 400meter into an imaginative Action Vinyls experience!

An unequivocal and Special thanks to Team TLS – our staff is the best in the biz, we do more with a little than those who have a lot….I’m thrilled, and profoundly proud to be a part of Team TLS.

Enjoy the Video, a look at SDCC 2019 through TLS’ eyes.  Stay tuned for new blog updates: Fan Jam wrap up, and how life and art collide, via Action Vinyls and Cosplay!  I’ll have those up in the next couple of days!  Carpe diem!


TLS at Comic Con, Part II - Cosplay!

TLS at Comic Con, Part II - Cosplay!

I’ve explained this for years – Comic Con is like Halloween but in July.  It’s colorful, a celebration of (nearly all) things pop culture; folks are happy, engaged, invested, and whole heartedly adopt the suspension of disbelief for the better part of a week as (most do) dive in head first into the “Let your freak flag fly” mantra.  It’s a general psychic energy, bonding everyone, all who’ve come to “play” to let loose, be accepted, enjoy passions, share passions, and walk heads held high now matter the shape, color, size, preference, gender, or form…all is welcome, one of the most democratic institutions quilted from the love for the popular arts, aka comic books.   It’s hard not to smile seeing characters lifted from the pages, and movie screens interpreted by (ostensibly) your neighbor, or colleague who quietly sits in the cubicle next to you, showing off rows of Funko Super Heroes or TLS Action Vinyls, adorning victory from the drab drapes and melancholy of an 8 hr work day, finding the power of inspiration through the imaginative, character mythos from decades of story telling, truth to the truth seekers, and aspirational to those searching for inspiration.  Story is powerful.

Comic Con is it’s own story, a “choose your own adventure” filled with meet ups, meet and greets, factory direct interactions, and more importantly, all the like mindedness; a will to step in another’s shoes, show off all the wily creative cleverness through transformation, of one’s self into the avatar of their choosing….for the time, psychically bonding oneself to the powers, prestige, and forces of the character portrayed.  At the same time, being recognized for the transformation, and the audience too agreeing; suspending all judgments, biases, prejudices, and the disbelief in magic if only to accept this brand of magic for the entirety of the half week before returning to rules of habitual normalcy.  That is magic.

The costumes, the roll play, the transformation into heroes, villains, zombies, out of this world creatures, and creatures from undiscovered worlds is the theater, the main stage, the true play at hand which delights the spirit, ultimately leaving smiles all around, and if not, inspiration to participate and play the next round.  As much as we have our agenda, which is to help participate in this magical experience for all who are willing to find us, we too are extras in this magnificent play, if not an enjoying and willing audience, inspired by the creativity from the nation of prop builders, costumers, and makeup artists who flock to San Diego each year to present their masterpieces to the public.  It’s difficult not to take notice, and drink it in.

TLS is part of the fabric of a greater pop culture quilt, at least a stitch or two.  We are excited to be involved in any conversation pertaining to the creative arts, and imaginative experiences.  It’s exciting to be a cell working inside the larger organism, symbiotic with the goal to tell story in an authentic way, be custodians of great stories which briefly graze our hands, and with great pride and fiduciary duty we hold this task with all do seriousness, if only to stay focused while imaginations open up and lounge effervescently inside the topography of a great mythos.

Thank you Comic Con, thank you cosplay, thank you cosplayers for lending your talents, your imaginations, and intrepid spirit, which embodies all things San Diego Comic Con; the true guardians of the Comic Con galaxy.  Also, thank you to all the cosplayers who allowed TLS to film them.  Lucky us, we caught a few adorning the garb, wares, and wigs of many of the TLS Action Vinyls we had on display.  Til next year!  Please enjoy our Video!


TLS makes a Hot Wheels Commercial!

TLS makes a Hot Wheels Commercial!

I think the question I was served up the most upon our announcement that TLS had linked up with Mattel to launch a new Hot Wheels line was…..hmm, let me think about it, there were a lot of questions!  Question 1 – What are you going to do different that Hot Wheels hasn’t already done?  Question 2 – Do they roll?  Question 3 – How is this going to fit in as an Action Vinyl?   Question 4 – Why?  I suppose the last question was all around spiritual in nature, perhaps bigger than life on earth, but sure, I’ll tackle it?

TLS isn't willy nilly - an aside tangent, did you know “willy nilly” is derived from the phrase “will he, or won't he?”  Like, in Hamlet.  Carry on.  As I was saying, TLS is of the deliberate sort, at least in our impulses, however impuls’d in the yeoman or layman’s eye they may be, rather all choices are very strategic in nature because said impulses are reliant on a simple criteria – “Will this be fun”, and “Do we like it?”  Not to suggest we’re of the un-serious nature, and roam like plebes subject to all prehistoric, and reptilian inclinations, because we certainly are not.  By gum, we’re a toy company, a proper one at that, we’ll operate with professional proficiency, and nothing short of.  In defining our impulses, those of the simple nature; “is it fun, do we like it?” – we are serious folk who apply all due seriousness to our impulsive fun, and that’s not the corny garden variety of fun, as in, I, Jonathan Cathey do not have a business card with the job title “Proprietor of Fun”… my (business card) is to the point, CEO – however, “Fun” meaning, “Wouldn't making Hot Wheels be fun?”  And the only answer was/is, “Yes.”  So that’s that, and what is is, so let's move on to the other questions.  To back up a tiny bit in an effort to reorient the disoriented, if I’ve offered additional insight to help the reader form a more developed opinion, another quick volley to the question existential in nature, “Why?”  The answer to this question would naturally be, “Because.”  

Now we’ve cleared path to the other nuts and bolts; “What will you do different?”  Being a gentleman of sound mind, turbulent passions, and creative adroitness, I put myself to the task of using the gifts born to me by my mother, with cooperation from my father, those gifts commonly established as ones own imagination.  “If this is that, then what will this be?”  If I may?  “That is clearly This!”  So it is, and that is how “this” became “that”, and per further cross-examination “that” is now “this”.   Modestly, these are trade secrets, mortgaged to myself, deed and all, from said imagination, a common agent.   If further clarity is needed, let me first qualify such clarity with the accord of my better visual and syntactic aid, “I yanked on this, pulled on that, pushed in there”…the divination of discovery, and as the chicken is to the egg , and vice versa, alas, “This” becomes “That”.  One simply needs to look with one’s own eyes to acknowledge this to be of an ardent, steadfast truth. 

For the question, “Does it roll?”  Of course, what is the point of a car if not to roll?  If not to roll, then what?  A smart looking car on cinder blocks?   A car with an oil leak, overflowing oil-pan, grease stains on the driveway, with small insects making their way like Woolley Mammoths to the La Brea tarpits into said oil-pans, only to become permanent fixtures and future residents of the oil rivers we drill from sludge, millennia old, comprised of grease matter pertaining to dead insects, foliage, and animals?  Of course ittheythem roll!  Don't be silly.

Instead of playing pepper with the spray pool of inquiring minds, I found it best to write a commercial to illustrate with earnest, an observable investigation to quench the inquiring minds of all questions related, relatable, and relative to support the following premise, and premises: “Indeed, these are different, indeed they are great, indeed they roll, indeed they are fast!”  The eyes do not lie.  And if in fact a commercial I did write, then it is also fact a friend, he did direct, and my colleagues, they too joined me in the telling of story, with this thespian exercise, to naturally disclose to the viewing public what we so whole heartedly claim to be a truth amongst truths – “TLS Hot Wheels are the cats pajamas!  GO get your race on!”   SO, without further ado, enjoy our visual proof.