In May of 2012, after another unsuccessful attempt at pursuing his Hollywood dreams and being forced to move back home to New Jersey, writer/comedic personality Jarrett Kruse decided to do what he did best–go to TOYS R US. Finding nothing and heading back home, Jarrett was struck by another car and suffered traumatic physical and neurological injuries. In that moment, his life was thrown into an even more dire situation. It was not your run of the mill fender-bender, Jarrett was hit by a wanted felon with open warrants for her arrest.
Jarrett describes his memory of the experience. “Through the smoke, oil and airbag debris, I made out a woman’s shape and I presumed she was coming to my rescue. She was not. Instead, she took off like a jackrabbit on one of New Jersey’s busiest highways during rush hour. The lack of humanity was appalling. In her defense, it was an Olympic year!”
When Jarrett awoke, he spent the next several weeks confined to a hospital bed near the Jersey Shore. In order to keep his mind occupied during this difficult time, Jarrett began a Facebook page from his iPhone dedicated to fans of the action figure collector’s market. He had long been a fan, collector and writer about toys and thought it would be fun to capitalize on his love of social media; where this avid community could meet and share their interests. He named it Action Figure Junkies, AFJ for short. What he did not know at the time was how his passion would quickly draw others to his brainchild.
Jarrett continues his memory of the formation of AFJ. “I was in so much pain laying in that hospital bed and I remembered I had purchased the domain name months earlier for AFJ for like $8 thinking ‘Junkies’ was a clever term for collectors. I thought, ‘let me be proactive because I’m definitely not going anywhere.’ I figured my immediate family, high school and some college friends would join as a courtesy during my recovery and that would be that.”
Over the past three-plus years, Action Figure Junkies has experienced growth in fans, media scope and offerings. Along with his artist brother Jason, whose graphic novel was turned into a cartoon on The CW for two seasons, Jarrett has created the “Junkieverse” led by Captain Junkie, Scalper and over 20 original characters targeted at the serious collector. “Jason is not a toy guy, but I write fairly detailed character descriptions and he manages to capture our world’s look. I think the AFJ members love the names of our characters. Chase, The Variant, Peg-Warmer, Shortpack, etc.–they are targeted at a niche audience of collectors that will know these terms with a smile and a wink. Having that air of exclusivity is key to action figure collecting and being part of the Junkieverse. AFJ members are some of the brightest people and savviest shoppers I have ever met and interacting with them daily is incredibly rewarding,” Jarrett says.
1) This month Action Figure Junkies reached the goal of 20,000 members on Facebook! This is a very significant milestone when one considers less than four years ago, Jarrett began his journey.
2) In addition to the AFJ Facebook page, AFJ now has an interactive website, Instagram and Twitter. In fact, the new website is being realunched and it’s new look and feel reflects the level of commitment Jarrett has continued to show to his members. The Junkies are in for a state of the art rebuild of the AFJ website by our company, NarraSoft. Our marketing department had contacted Jarrett last summer intrigued by his dedicated following.
3) After realizing what a big part buying, selling and trading is to social media groups, Jarrett provided the capability for fans to conduct one purchase, trade or sale per day for free as customers continue to leave eBay due to their high monthly fees. “We limit it to one per day to make sure our Facebook feed still has a steady flow of news, pics and reveals so as not to clog the entire page with buying, selling or trading. I think it has helped develop the AFJ brand tremendously. We want it all to be in one place for all Junkies on the new site–news, pics, reviews, unboxing’s, pre-orders, live feeds, the works.”, Jarrett explains.
This service has been so successful, Action Figure Junkies will be moving it to the website and there will still not be any charge for a single trade or sale per day per Junkie. The exciting news is the capability to execute multiple trades and sales will be available for a small flat monthly fee. Through AFJ Select, AFJ Black & AFJ Influencer, Junkies will take advantage of affordable, non-fluctuating selling fees for each month and build their own reputation as a key community member by earning “Junkie Points” and building a detailed feedback profile for easy reference. Additional services which are now offered include 20% discounted shipping on UPS through the AFJ membership, Toypedia, FigureWars, FigureSpec.com, opportunities for advertising, subscriber discounts to exclusive figures, contests and exclusive interviews with toy and collectible industry leaders.
“AFJ has become its own world and we have grown completely organically. I would love to have a bi-monthly AFJ subscription box with an exclusive figure featured every other month because their really is no sub box that has your classic 6-inch or even 3.75″ figure. Or maybe some BAF (Build-A-Figure) parts where at the end of the year, each subscriber can put together an Exclusive AFJ figure. The dream is to vertically integrate this whole universe and see Captain Junkie usurp Geoffrey the Giraffe as the face of toys in America, that’s my dream. I love Geoffrey but the Junkies of the 21st century get up in the morning for the smell of opening a sealed case of figures! These people are dedicated like nothing I’ve ever seen and so passionate. I love that ,” says Kruse.
The story of Action Figure Junkies should be inspiring for us all. A passionate fan who suffered a significant setback in life takes his time recuperating to start what will soon become a significant brand within the global toy and collectible industry. Kudos, Jarrett!