Never tell Rob McCallum and Jay Bartlett they’re not up for a challenge. Shifting away from a centrally-focused Star Wars based venture, Rob and Jay doubled their efforts to come up with a project that proved ultimately to be larger in scope than what their original idea could have ever evolved into. The enigmatic duo (whose credits together include the hit documentaries Nintendo Quest, Nintendo Quest: Power Tour and Missing Mom) have teamed together once more, this time in search of rare and valuable pieces of pop culture history as they take an Action Figure Adventure (2020, Zero Cool Films/ Pyre Productions USA, 10 episodes, Directed by Robert McCallum, Pre-Orders Now Available). With that in mind, did this change in plans turn out to be a beneficial one for them?
Their latest mission has Jay venturing off to selected collectible stores in various parts of the United States and Canada in search of some of the most desired action figures on the market. His best friend Rob captures every step of the journey as Jay’s ultimate goal is to take the items collected and list them in one giant charity auction to benefit the Children’s Health Foundation of London, Ontario, Canada. The items gathered across the spectrum of popular cultural icons include Transformers, GI Joe, Ghostbusters, He-Man, and the aforementioned Star Wars among others and Jay’s determination in obtaining some of these higly sought after collectibles provide many of the highlights across the ten episodes. Negotiations made with shop owners and fellow collectors make for some tense decisions for Jay as he determines how much of his $5000 budget does he part with for each of these hallowed objects so that it can hopefully return a tidy financial boost for the charity he wishes to help when each of these items go up for bid at the end of the season.
It goes without saying that many of those who will watch this series have a familiar idea of what transpired in their previous trek, Nintendo Quest. As alluded to in my review, the growth and maturity of Jay as he continued his mad dash in that film and the emotions it brought out were the main reasons why the movie bccame such a favored gaming documentary. And yes, while the feelings don’t stir for viewers quite as much in AFA as it did in NQ, and Jay has now been in front of the camera so much you can call him now a “seasoned” entertainer, the series still finds moments of charm in his enthusiasm for collecting these rare items and the ultimate goal of benefitting a great charity in which he is trying to achieve. The detailed look into many of the objects Jay covets, including a sealed Ecto-1, a “loose” Yak face from Kenner, and a full-sized U.S.S. Flagg aircraft carrier set along with others, provide much of the information and explaination why these would make for valued trophies for anyone’s collection.
Director McCallum’s style and presentation in documenting this journey will be familiar to those who have witnessed his previous films. But the pacing, placement of interviews, and historical tidbits fit much better into the scheme of AFA than almost any of his previous efforts. Only an episode where McCallum himself has to take up the reigns as front man and head out to a convention (due to a scheduling issue for Jay) for a possible transaction does this series take a slight shakeup. While Rob is perfectly comfortable in front of the camera, his best attributes show up when he is interacting on a personal level with his lifelong friend.
Viewers of GINX TV in Canada were among the first to check out the latest adventure for this pop culture-loving duo, and they were treated to ten episodes of collecting enjoyment. The series as a whole turned out to be time well spent and should come with high recommendation whenever this series becomes available to all audiences. Even though Rob and Jay have followed a similar path, Action Figure Adventure still does an outstanding job of providing these two a platform for another entertaining look at one aspect of popular culture that will have viewers wanting to see more. While the big question of how much did Jay’s efforts ultimately earn for the Children’s Health Foundation won’t be answered here (you’ll have to check out the series for that), the question for this reviewer remains something different. With so many more properties that also deserve a much deeper dive (WWE, Thundercats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, among others) and the rare action figures that could be found from those libraries, could a season two be on the way?
Donations to the Children’s Health Foundation can be made HERE.
(Please note that for this review Pop Culture Cosmos/Game Source did receive a code/copy/product from the Public Relations Firm, Developer, Manufacturer and/or Publisher responsible for distribution to the press.)